Annual Report on Canada-Colombia free trade agreement and human rights to be tabled within days

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Video of Yessika Hoyos speaking about the free trade agreement, May 2009.

The Implementation Act for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement requires the Minister of International Trade to present an analysis of the impact of the agreement on human rights for the previous year by May 15 of the following year.

That Act carries the caveat: “If that House is not then sitting, on any of the 30 days next thereafter that it is sitting.” The House adjourned for a one-week break on May 14 and will rise for its summer break sometime between June 9 and 23.

As of June 8, the 2021 report covering the period January 1 to December 31, 2020, has yet to be posted to this webpage.

The previous annual reports are posted here.

Findings of previous reports

The first full report for the 2011-12 period found: “It is not possible to establish a direct link between the CCOFTA and the human rights situation in Colombia. There is no evidence of a causal link between reductions in tariffs by Canada in accordance with the CCOFTA, and changes in human rights in Colombia.”

Similarly, the most recent report for the 2019 period found: “No human rights impacts which could be directly associated with Canada’s 2019 tariff reductions.”

Criticisms of the reports

The veracity of the report has long been criticized.

In May 2014, then NDP trade critic Don Davies commented: “It’s a sham. Investment is a very big part of our trade with Colombia and to arbitrarily exclude that is another indicator that the government has no intention of producing a real report.”

By 2017, Amnesty International Canada withdrew from the evaluation process.

Human rights concerns

Yessika Hoyos Morales of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) opposes the free trade agreement.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied CCAJAR since 1995.

During a visit to Ottawa in May 2009, Hoyos stated: “If Canada ratifies the free trade agreement it will give a message to Colombians and to the whole international community that Canada supports a government that violates human rights.”

To watch a 12-minute interview with Hoyos, click here and here.

The agreement came into force on August 15, 2011.

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