ITUC responds to the press release issued by the Colombian Interior Ministry concerning its survey

The ITUC annual survey on human and trade union rights is aimed at presenting an overview of the most significant violations in 140 countries around the world. It, under no circumstances, seeks to discredit any government. On the contrary, the purpose is to draw attention to situations where trade union rights are violated so that States and union organisations can look for ways of overcoming them.

The ITUC and its Colombian affiliates, the CUT, CTC and CGT, hope that the Colombian government will recognise the serious and persistent violence facing people belonging to trade unions, and not seek to conceal the situation with figures and declarations that contradict the facts.

The ITUC reminds the Colombian government that, according to our figures, Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for those exercising the right to freedom of association, and that Colombia accounts for 63.12% of the trade unionists murdered over the last decade around the world. At least 10,887 acts of violence were committed against trade unionists between 1 January 1986 and 30 April 2010, including 2,832 murders. Five hundred and fifty seven trade unionists have been murdered during President Uribe’s time in office. At least 48 such murders were committed during 2009, and 29 trade unionists have been killed thus far during 2010.

The ITUC is aware that there is a protection programme and a special unit of public prosecutors, but expresses its concern because, in spite of these measures, trade unionists are still being killed and the rate of impunity remains at 97%.

The ITUC hopes that the Colombian government will comply with the recommendations of the Committee on the Application of Standards, which underlined in 2009 that a trade union movement can only exist in a climate that is free of violence, and urged the government to bring an end to the current climate of violence and impunity through the application of continuous innovative and effective policies and measures.

Although Colombia was not included in the list of 25 countries to be examined by the Committee on the Application of Standards, the government has had to agree to a high-level tripartite mission of the International Labour Organisation. "The ILO does not send a mission of this magnitude to a country where trade union rights are not violated," underlined ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

To see the ITUC Survey

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018

Photo: A Look’s Askance