International community must urgently intervene in support of the Colombian peace process – Gavan
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on the international community “to step up and speak out” with regard to the faltering peace process in Colombia.
Senator Gavan has been taking part in a week long Peace Monitor Mission for Justice For Colombia, involving a series of meetings with all actors in the peace process including the FARC, Government representatives, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and a wide range of Human Rights Defenders.
Speaking about his experience of the mission so far, Senator Gavan said:
“The first hand testimonies we have heard about an organised campaign of slaughter of community and trade union leaders has been truly shocking.
“The peace process is in crisis due to an ongoing campaign of murder against community, indigenous and trade union leaders. 132 ex-combatants of the FARC have been executed by right wing paramilitaries, another 32 have disappeared. Over 600 community and trade union leaders have also been assassinated. While the FARC have complied fully with the terms of the peace agreement, the Colombian Government appears to be deliberately blocking the implementation of the agreement, whilst turning a blind eye to the ongoing slaughter of community leaders.
“The experience of the Irish peace process has been cited many times by the various parties we have met and I do believe there is potential for a positive role for our Government, in conjunction with Norway and Cuba in trying to unlock this crisis.
“The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs must call on the Colombian Government to honour the peace agreement and raise this issue at the highest level in the EU and UN and in the strongest possible terms. There must be an urgent review of the EU-Colombia Free Trade Deal as the human rights provisions in that deal have been completely disregarded.
“The Colombian people have struggled for justice against a series of corrupt governments for decades. Their voices must be heard now in order to pressure their Government to re-engage with the peace process and end its policies of frustrating key elements of the peace agreement around rural reform, reincorporation of ex-combatants, and judicial justice and truth.”