Peace Brigades organizes meeting between CREDHOS and Global Affairs Canada, Embassy of Canada in Colombia officials

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 5, Peace Brigades International helped convene a meeting between the Regional Corporation in the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) and officials from Global Affairs Canada and the Embassy of Canada in Colombia.

Among the key issues discussed at that meeting:

A statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau

Following this tweet from the Canadian Ambassador to Colombia, it was expressed that a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau would also be warranted given the concerns about the violence against the national strike in Colombia.

Police violence

Given the documented reports of instances of violence by the public forces (the police and military) against the national strike and the deployment of the military in the city of Cali and on the outskirts of Bogota, the concern was raised about the sale of Canadian-manufactured Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to the Colombian army in 2014. Beyond the question of if they had been deployed during this national strike, the ask was made by CREDHOS that Canada stop its military exports to Colombia.

Fracking and extractivism

It was noted that Canadian companies have expressed interest in fracking in Colombia. That includes Toronto-based Sintana Energy (that co-owns the VMM-37 block near the community of Puerto Wilches in the Magdalena Medio region where ExxonMobil intends to conduct a fracking pilot project), Calgary-based Canacol Energy (that has conducted an assessment on the potential to frack on another block of land in the Magdalena Medio region), and Calgary-based Parex Resources (that was named by the Colombian Minister of Mines and Energy as a company interested in the fracking pilot projects).

Escazu Agreement

On March 5, during a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council with Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor on the threats against and killings of human rights defenders, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Leslie E. Norton stated: “Some states have established specific protection mechanisms to prevent risks and attacks against HRDs and to intervene when need be. Canada wants to stress these important milestones such as the Escazu Regional Agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

At the meeting with Global Affairs and Embassy officials, it was noted that while Colombia has signed Escazu, it has not ratified it. It was further suggested that Canada should communicate with Colombia its support for the Escazu Agreement.

There was a productive discussion about these and other issues, and hopefully the meeting also provided an opening for further discussion and action.

We are grateful that Montreal-based Karen Hamilton from the human rights and corporate accountability project Above Ground was present at the meeting and tweeted:

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