New report warns of rising tide of deadly threats to Colombian trade unionists


New report warns of rising tide of deadly threats to Colombian trade unionists

5 September 2018 – On the day when the Colombia Congress will consider the frightening rise in the number of  death threats and murders of activists, new statistics revealed how trade unionists are being increasingly systematically targeted.

The report launched today by Escuela Nacional Sindical shows that 14 trade unionists have been murdered in 2018, with 16 attempted murders. In total there have been 161 violent acts against trade unionists in Colombia this year, including 35 attacks against union organisations, up from 9 cases in 2017. This increase suggests a systematic threat against both individuals and union organisations that stand up for workers’ rights and peace despite jeopardising both their own lives and lives of their families.

According to other statistics sourced in the report, 90 civil leaders, including trade unionists have been killed this year for standing up against a tyranny that Colombia’s human rights office describes as an “extermination”.  The figures bear witness to the stark reality that since the Peace Agreement was signed with FARC in 2016, the number of murders has increased, with the biggest upswing in 2018: the Colombian human rights office reports that of the 311 murders against human rights activists, including trade unionists, since the peace deal more than 123 have been killed in the first six months of 2018. Furthermore, the latest statistics from the Escuela Nacional Sindical report show that there has been a spike in attacks and threats to trade unionists in the last three months.

UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Christy Hoffman who is attending the L20 in Mendoza Argentina said, “Unfortunately, these findings confirm what Colombian trade unionists and other champions of democracy and peace in the country already know to their cost: the Duque government and the Colombian authorities are failing to protect working people and safeguard the peace process.

“Colombia is expected to be a member of the OECD by the end of the year, and the international labour movement is urging the OECD to take the necessary steps to ensure Colombia abides by its terms of membership, including safeguarding trade union activity as part of the human rights of its population.”

UNI Americas Regional Secretary, Marcio Monzane added, “We are talking about a matter of life and death not the niceties of a treaty. Squads of murderous right wing militia are looking to dismantle the lives of the Colombian people and the peace process for their own gain.”

Read the full report in related files

UNI Americas