Concerns of PBI-Colombia accompanied organizations raised in Annual Report on Canada-Colombia free trade agreement

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: In February, PBI-Colombia accompanied the Inter-Church Commission on Justice and Peace as concerns were expressed about the bodies that have been dumped by armed groups into the waters around Buenaventura.

Late on Friday June 25, Global Affairs Canada posted its latest Annual Report on human rights and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

It can be read in full here.

The Annual Report states: “The report found no human rights impacts which could be directly associated with Canada’s 2020 tariff reductions.”

It also notes: “One written submission was received in response to the public call for submissions. This submission highlighted the increased violence and forced displacements in the city of Buenaventura, as well as the negative impact of the city’s port activities and infrastructure development on human rights and the living conditions of the local community. The information shared has been taken into consideration in the elaboration of the relevant section of this report.”

It is not clear how the concerns were taken into consideration or where in the report there is any further elaboration on this issue.

That one written submission came from PBI-Canada highlighting concerns raised by PBI-Colombia accompanied organizations:

Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC)

PBI-Colombia has noted that the Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC) has pursued research to show how the port and infrastructure development are linked to human rights violations and the infringement of constitutional and ethno-territorial rights.

Inter-Church Commission on Justice and Peace

The report Buenaventura: Dispossesion for Competitiveness, produced by the Inter-Church Commission on Justice and Peace and Mundubat in May 2015, has documented the impacts of the port on the community.

That report notes: “The magnitude of the international trade agreements that frame the claim to expand the Colombian market abroad, the dimension of the projects and of the groups of companies that participate in them against the extreme vulnerability of the affected population makes us face extremely unequal social actors and makes participation essential of the State as guarantor of the rights of the population at risk.”

Nydia Erika Bautista Foundation for Human Rights (FNEB)

PBI-Colombia highlighted this past February: “Social organizations including the ‘Nydia Erika Bautista’ Foundation for Human Rights (FNEB) accompanied by PBI, are fighting against the port expansion [in Buenaventura], reporting that it would destroy areas where they report common and watery graves.”

Limited scope of the report

The veracity of the report has long been criticized.

The Canadian Press has reported: “[The NDP] said the Harper Conservatives — then in a minority government — were pressured to insert the reporting requirement to win over Liberal support for the deal, and have acted since to make the reports meaningless.” The NDP has commented that it was “arbitrary” to exclude the impacts of Canadian investment on human rights in the annual report.

PBI & RIDH webinar, July 1

On July 1 at 11 am EDT, Peace Brigades International and the International Network of Human Rights (RIDH) will hold this webinar in both Spanish and English: Buenaventura 5 years after the Peace Accords: between massive protests, resurgence of the armed conflict and resistance. To register, click here.

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