Justice for Colombia

Justice for Colombia (JFC) is a British NGO that campaigns for human rights, workers' rights, and the search for peace with social justice in Colombia.

Established in 2002 by the British trade union movement, JFC was created in response to the appalling human rights crisis in Colombia, and particularly the abuses committed against trade unionists and other civil society actors. Though the core backing continues to come predominantly from the trade unions, JFC’s support base has expanded to include the legal profession, the student movement, and numerous politicians, journalists and academics, and JFC now has a chapter in Ireland – JFC Ireland – and supporters in several other European countries.

Social movements in Colombia face some of the most daunting challenges of anywhere in the world. A reactionary political establishment demonises all critics of the status quo as "accomplices of terrorism" and uses the State intelligence services to spy on journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders. Paramilitary death squads use ruthless terror to intimidate their opponents, carrying out assassinations and massacres with the complicity of the State. Calls for democracy and social justice are greeted with bullets by an elite determined to cling onto all of its privileges. Yet the struggle for a better Colombia continues - and it needs our support!

For more information on Colombia:

Justice for Colombia

ICTU Global Solidarity

Colombia Update

Two more leading FENSUAGRO activists arrested
10 Aug 2011
Many of you signed the urgent action calling for the release of 4 FENSUAGRO agricultural workers’ union activists imprisoned in Putumayo. However, in the last days two more leading FENSUAGRO activists have also been arrested on July 30th and August 7th. Please support the call for their release. For more information and to sign the letter click here

In other news from Colombia, a trade union leader from the mining and energy workers’ union, SINTRAMIENERGETICA was shot and killed last week. This brings the total number of trade unionists killed in Colombia so far in 2011 to 18.

Additionally, oil workers have been targeted as retaliation for protests against poor working conditions. During strike action on July 14th an USO oil workers’ union activist was arrested on charges of ‘terrorism.’ The industrial action also saw USO President Rodolfo Vecino receive death threats. During oil workers’ mobilisations in Meta, police attacked workers, setting their camp aflame and injuring 16. In Putumayo, oil sector trade unionists in the SINTRAPETROPUTUMAYO union survived assassination attempts and received threats.

Meanwhile, last month a respected Colombian NGO released a report which concludes that the war is far from over, underlining the growing need for a peace process. Meanwhile President Santos issued an order to the armed forces allowing them to destroy civilian buildings from which they perceive attacks. Indigenous groups, trade unions, and human rights groups have rejected the move, saying it will lead to more civilians being killed.

The government has also refused to ratify an additional protocol to the UN Convention on Torture, and has passed a controversial Intelligence Law, which critics say will be used to legalise spying and repression of trade unions and the political opposition.

Rosalba Gaviria released from prison on June 3rd
07 Jun 2011
On 30th May, political prisoner and trade unionist Rosalba Gaviria Toro was finally absolved by the Judge presiding her case after being imprisoned unjustly for over two years. The collapse of the case comes just days after another imprisoned trade unionist, Aracely Cañaveral, was released. Rosalba was jailed on 9th March 2009, and accused of ‘rebellion’, a catch-all charge used against critics of the Colombian regime. The evidence against her was flimsy and contained severe irregularities.

JFC, with the support of trade unions in the UK and Ireland had been campaigning for her release. Several MPs in Britain had also protested her incarceration. Rosalba’s is yet another example of trade unionists being held in prison unjustly for lengthy periods of time simply for being a member of a union and opposing the regime.

In the meantime, however, there are hundreds of political prisoners still held in Colombia's jails. They include numerous trade unionists, student activists, community and indigenous leaders, human rights defenders and academics - all imprisoned for their opposition to the Colombian regime.

More Trade Unionists Killed in Colombia
07 Jun 2011
Three trade unionists were murdered in recent days, bringing the number of trade unionists killed so far in 2011 to 11, with teachers the majority of those assassinated.

In a statement, the CUT trade union confederation condemned the murders and called for justice to be done.
On the morning of May 26th, Carlos Julio Gomez, a teacher in the city of Cali and member of the SUTEV teachers union was shot and seriously injured. He was taken to hospital where he died three days later on May 29th. This murder comes days after the killing of another trade unionist, Carlos Arturo Castro Casas, a 41 year-old engineer and father of three, who was killed on May 23rd while working in the El Poblado sector of the same city. He was a member of SINTRAEMCALI trade union.

On Friday 27th May, teacher trade unionist Freddy Antonio Cuadrado Nunez, was shot in the head as he celebrated his 46th birthday in Cienaga, Magdalena region.

These latest killings show that despite Colombian government claims to the contrary, the assassination of trade unionists continues at an alarming rate!

Publications

Grupo Raíces - Winter 2011 Update

Grupo Raíces - Summer 2011 Update

Grupo Raíces - Spring 2011 Update

Grupo Raíces - Winter 2010 Update

Grupo Raíces - Autumn 2010 Update