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Colombia's human rights record demands investigation of GSP+ status


11 Mar 2010


Global Europe

Strasbourg 11/03/10

GUE/NGL MEPs Joe Higgins and Helmut Scholz welcomed yesterday's passing of a resolution on the GSP+ (General System of Preferences plus) trade scheme in the European Parliament. 

The ongoing violation of human rights in Colombia and in particular the murder of trade unionists, indigenous people and other civilians requires increased attention from the international community. Furthermore an EU investigation is needed with regard to future EU-Colombia relations. 

The GSP+ status grants favourable trade terms with the EU, but it is linked to the respect of 27 international Conventions, and many of them have been habitually violated by the Colombian Government for years.

"Colombia is a killing field for trade unionists. According to Amnesty International Colombia is still the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. I call for the voices of the workers and the trade unionists in Colombia to be heard by the Commission. The Commission must tear up the trade deal with this viciously anti-worker regime. In the light of the possible conclusion of a free trade agreement between Colombia and the EU in the near future, human rights defenders and trade unionists have a responsibility to closely watch the development of workers rights and indigenous peoples' rights on the ground" said Joe Higgins.

Helmut Scholz commented that "the latest revelation of a mass grave in the Macarena region in Colombia is a sad new example of the violation of human rights. This is intolerable and puts into question the compliance with GSP+ rules. Therefore the Commission should stick to its obligation to initiate a thorough investigation."

Also passed in the resolution was a call on the Commission to closely monitor the situation in Sri Lanka and for the Sri Lankan government to normalise the situation before GSP+ is restored.

Speaking about the situation in Sri Lanka, Joe Higgins stated that: 

"The Rajapaksa government is responsible for some of the most brutal war crimes and violations of human rights against the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. The GSP+ status for Sri Lanka must not be restored to this regime."


Gianfranco Battistini + 32 475 646628

Sonja Giese + 32 486 94 50 21

David Lundy + 32 485 50 58 12