Response to letter sent to Foreign Secretary: Concerns about death threats against Colombia Human Rights Defenders

On 30 July 2019, 24 UK Members of Parliament sent a letter of concern to Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. On 9 August 2019 the Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, the minister responsible for UK relations with Colombia, sent the following response to the letter.

Thank you for your email of 30 July, expressing concern at threats against members of the Colombian human rights organisation CIJP and violence in the Chocó region. I am replying as minister responsible for our relations with Colombia.

I welcome ABColombia’s long-standing commitment to human rights in Colombia, and share your concern at these threats. As you know, the United Kingdom frequently raises human rights issues with the Colombian government, directly and in multilateral fora. We are also making a difference on the ground, in the form of programmes led and funded by the British Embassy in Bogota.

As your letter acknowledges, the Colombian state is already providing protection measures to many social leaders across the country. But the threats you mention prove that there is much work to be done. We consistently press the Colombian government to focus on extending the rule of law to all parts of Colombia: I will continue to reiterate this message in my interactions with members of their government. More widely, the United Kingdom’s significant programming support to Colombia, across a range of issues from rural development to climate change, helps improve the socio-economic conditions in Colombia’s rural areas, creating an environment where it is easier to guarantee human rights.

Our Embassy continues to raise specific threats with the relevant state actors in Colombia, and will follow up on the threats you mention in your letter.

We are proud to hold the pen on the Colombian peace process at the United Nations Security Council. We value the UN’s presence in Colombia and the work done by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR). Given the Colombian government’s recent request of an extension of the UN’s Verification Mission, we hope that they will also extend the HCHR’s mandate. The decision and request can only be made by the Colombian government, but our Embassy in Bogota will make clear to the Foreign Ministry that the United King om supports an extension.”


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