Thursday, December 16, 1999 (Meeting no. 17)
It was agreed:
Reaffirming the importance of the universal protection and promotion of human rights;
Noting the stated commitment of the Government of Colombia to the protection of human rights and the achievement of peace in that country;
Noting that another round of peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the guerrillas is to begin in January 2000;
Noting that Canada is an important trading partner of Colombia as well as a donor of official development assistance;
Noting the repeated criticism at the UN Commission on Human Rights by the Government of Canada of the poor human rights situation in Colombia;
Deeply disturbed by the findings of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in Colombia have increased and are "serious, gross and systematic";
Deeply disturbed over evidence provided to this committee both by Canadian NGO representatives as well as Canadian government officials that illegal paramilitary groups continue to receive active and widespread support from Colombia's state security forces;
Noting the public statement by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs after the 1998 massacre in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, calling on the Government of Colombia "&ldots;to investigate these assassinations thoroughly";
Having met and listened to Church, human rights and trade union organizations as well as Canadian government officials, deeply concerned with the situation in Colombia;
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade:
Condemns the repeated violence, kidnappings, massacres and the abuse of human rights by all parties in Colombia;
Calls upon the Government of Colombia to intensify both its investigation of the Barrancabermeja massacre and its activities to reduce and prevent violence and the abuse of human rights in the country and to end impunity especially with regards to crimes against humanity;
Calls upon the Government of Colombia to implement without delay the recommendations made to it repeatedly by UN and OAS human rights bodies, in particular those calling on the Government "to permanently disband paramilitary groups by apprehending, trying and punishing those who belong to, lead, organize, support or finance them";
Calls upon the Government of Canada to intensify its multilateral and bilateral efforts to bring an improvement in the situation in Colombia and to examine the question of whether it has legal jurisdiction to charge and prosecute the perpetrators of the Barrancabermeja massacre in Canada and report back to the Committee on this issue;
Calls upon the Government of Canada to exercise increased monitoring of the impact of Canadian Corporate trade and investment in Colombia in order to ensure that the presence and activities of Canadian corporations are not worsening the conflict or the human rights situation and to report back to this committee on this issue.
Will hold a meeting early in the new year and invite the Canadian Ambassador to Colombia to follow up on these issues and ensure that the Committee's deep concerns are conveyed to Canadian and Colombian officials at all levels.
Will remain seized of this issue, and will consider what further bilateral measures may be appropriate to increase pressure on the Colombian authorities.
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