Colombia: trade union leaders killed and threatened

The ITUC and the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) have firmly condemned the most recent killing of a trade union activist and the serious intimidation suffered by union leaders.

The international trade union movement also expressed alarm at the deteriorating climate of insecurity, manifested in the form of direct threats against the trade union movement’s national leadership.

According to reports received by the ITUC, two death threats have been made in recent days against the national and regional leaders of both the CGT and the CUT, affiliated to the ITUC-TUCA.

In addition, regional trade union offices have been threatened and trade union leaders involved in struggles to defend labour rights have been killed.

On 28 January, a well-known union leader representing sugarcane workers, Juan Carlos Pérez Muñoz, was murdered on his way to work at La Cabaña sugar mill, in Valle del Cauca, in southwest Colombia.

"We demand an end to the violence and the impunity, and that urgent steps be taken to protect the leaders threatened. We continue to have serious fears for the safety of the trade union leaders and are concerned at the failure to respond to the urgent demands presented by trade union organisations," said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC.

In a letter to the Colombian authorities, the ITUC and TUCA urged President Juan Manuel Santos and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to take every step necessary to end the impunity and to ensure that these crimes are investigated and that all those responsible are brought to justice.
The trade union organisations also called on the government to urgently respond to the written demands recently sent by the trade union centres.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 62 10 18