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Colombian Union organizer faces death threats in the face of privatization; Jorge Lerma, President of the Colombian Telecom workers, to visit Canada

(Disponible en anglais seulement)

News Release

For Immediate Release: November 28, 2003

Colombian Union organizer faces death threats in the face of privatization
Jorge Lerma, President of the Colombian Telecom workers, to visit Canada

Threats and assassinations against trade unionists continue with impunity in Colombia. The most dangerous country in the world for trade union activity, Colombia accounts for 184 of a global total of 213 trade unionists murdered in 2002. The continued undercutting of trade union activity, and the activities of human rights defenders broadly, is evidence of Colombia's chronic lack of progress towards its United Nations (UN) obligations, obligations that Canada has committed to monitor.

Jorge Lerma, National President of the Colombian Telecommunications Workers Union (USTC) will be in Canada from December 1-15, 2003. As the leader for the Union opposing the liquidation of 13 public telecom companies, Lerma has been the target of harassment from state officials and death threats from several groups including the national police force. Lerma also spent 9 months in a Colombian jail for his union activities. In Canada, Lerma will discuss the impacts of privatization in Colombia, and work to build trade union solidarity between Colombian and Canadian workers.

At an international donors meeting in July 2003, after years of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights denouncing Colombia's lack of progress in defending human rights, Canada was designated to monitor Colombia's progress towards the UN recommendations.

"Paul Martin has told Canadians he believes in multilateralism and will strengthen the United Nations system" says Gerry Barr, President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC). "Canada now has a clear opportunity to put its weight behind the UN recommendations, and insist that Colombia respect human rights." This summer and fall, the Government of Colombia acted in clear violation of these UN recommendations. The Government accused human rights defenders of terrorism, pushed to further empower the military through proposed changes to the constitution, and tabled legislation granting amnesty to illegal armed actors. Canada has remained silent.

Lerma will be in Ottawa from December 1-3, Montreal from December 4-8, and in Toronto from December 8-14. On December 2, 2003, Lerma will speak at the PSAC Meeting Room, Ground Floor, 233 Gilmour Street, Ottawa at 7 pm.

For more information contact:
Katia Gianneschi
Media Relations
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
613-241-7007 ext. 311

 

news_2003-11-28_colombian_organizer_threats


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