CCALCP awaits Constitutional Court ruling on aerial glyphosate spraying in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Members of CCALCP and CREDHOS at the Amnesty International office in Ottawa, November 2019. Amnesty International opposes the resumption of aerial spraying of glyphosate in Colombia.

On September 28, Al Jazeera reported: “The [Colombian] government [of President Ivan Duque] is now waiting to see if it has met new environmental and health requirements set out by the Constitutional Court in 2019 – a requirement to restart aerial fumigation with glyphosate. It is unknown when a ruling will be announced.”

When Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove from the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) took part in a PBI-organized advocacy tour in Canada in 2019 they highlighted concerns about the forced eradication of coca crops in Colombia.

Earlier this year, CCALCP tweeted: “Breaches of the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS) in Catatumbo will be studied by the Constitutional Court in a guardianship review filed by CCALCP together with [other organizations].”

The National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS) is a crucial component of the Peace Agreement (2016). Under the program, farmers agreed to voluntarily uproot their coca fields. In exchange, the government would provide subsidies and training programs to help them swap illegal crops for alternative, legal ventures.

But Al Jazeera now reports: “Long lags in the delivery of funding to set up government-led crop substitution and voluntary coca eradication programmes caused many farmers to lose faith in the state’s promises.”

That article also quotes Jose Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch who says: “Glyphosate fumigation … puts peoples’ rights and lives at risk while doing little to reduce coca cultivation in the long-term.”

Vivanco adds: “The Biden administration has rightly been putting human rights and the rule of law at the centre of its statements on Latin America. But its words will mean very little in rural Colombia if the US doesn’t openly oppose aerial coca fumigation, a misguided plan that puts the rights of countless vulnerable Colombians in peril.”

The article also quotes Pedro Arenas of the think-tank Viso Mutop who says: “Glyphosate has been questioned in courts of law – in the United States and also in Europe – we even know that Germany in 2023 could ban it completely. We are working very hard so that the Biden administration does not put money into the fumigation programme.”

And it highlights that Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) cautions that the resumption of fumigation could spur a wave of violent rural protests and blockades that could be as dramatic as the mass national strike protests this year.

Ten United Nations Special Rapporteurs have told the Colombian government: “[Spraying poses] enormous risks for human rights and the environment, at the same time that it would not comply with the conditions established in the ruling T-236 of the Constitutional Court, nor with international obligations. in the matter.”

T-236 concluded there are elements to affirm, provisionally, that glyphosate is a toxic substance that, depending on the level of exposure, can cause cancer or have other health implications.

Canada’s position on glyphosate spraying in Colombia is unclear.

Health Canada completed a re-evaluation of glyphosate in 2017 that found it does not present unacceptable risks to human health or the environment when used as directed. The aerial spraying of glyphosate is still permitted in Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied the Bucaramanga-based CCALCP since 2006.

Photo: During their advocacy tour in Canada, Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove from CCALCP and Ivan Madero from CREDHOS met with Sonia Furstenau who is now the leader of the Green Party of British Columbia.

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