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House Democrats Establish Colombia Labor Rights Monitoring Group

Thursday, November 24, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A group of eight House Democrats that includes Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have established a congressional committee to monitor labor rights in Colombia. In a recent letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the group indicates that it intends to work closely with the Obama administration, U.S. and Colombian labor organizations, non-governmental organizations and the Colombian government to ensure that both the U.S. and Colombia continue to make progress on labor rights, including the commitments and timelines set forth in the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. The group, which is composed of Democrats who voted for and against the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, recognizes the important achievements made by the Santos administration to date but notes that additional progress must be made to:

• reduce violence and threats of violence against trade unionists and human rights defenders, including the high number of assassinated union leaders in recent years;

• prohibit the abuse of cooperatives and any other contractual employment relationships that curtail worker rights and ensure they are not replaced by similar entities;

• ensure that Colombian law protects the ability of Colombian workers to exercise core labor rights;

• establish regular and meaningful consultation with labor unions and the Escuela Nacional Sindical to address the backlog of cases related to murdered unionists, and establish similar consultations that include individual beneficiaries of protection over the development and implementation of protective measures;

• produce results in the investigations and prosecutions of cases of anti-union violence, including threats, attacks and assassinations; and

• effectively implement the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law and ensure protection to returning communities and victims’ and land rights leaders.

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