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Bogotá, April 12, 2010 Honourable PARLIAMENT OF CANADA Subject: Refuse to ratify the Colombia-Canada Free Trade Agreement Honourable Member of Parliament The National Movement of Victims of the State (MOVICE) is a coalition of about 300 organizations, as well as communities, victims of violence and relatives of victims of violence, working for the establishment of the truth, the administration of justice and the full compensation for the persons who have been subject to State crimes. On the eve of the possible ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Colombia, we ask the Canadian Members of Parliament not to ratify this treaty, since it implies the continuation of the systematic violation of human rights and of Humanitarian Law, the criminalization and persecution of political opposition, the exile, forced displacement of people and the imposition of an economic model that increases poverty, the destruction of biodiversity and any possibility of obtaining a guarantee and enforcement of the right to truth, justice and full compensation. Here are some points on the Colombian situation: Paramilitarism, as it has been extensively documented, is the result of a strategy of "Dirty War" applied by the public forces (police and army) in Colombia since 1964. In the development of this strategy, other interests have joined these public forces: big landowners, national and international capital, drug traffickers and a new political sector born from this economical class. Over the past ten years, the paramilitaries have infiltrated all spheres of government, and, more than 133 members and former members of Congress to date have been under investigation for alleged links with paramilitaries, as well as a Department Governor, three mayors and six aldermen, all elected for the period 2007-2011, and 14 ex-Governors, 7 ex-members of Congress and 35 former mayors, most of them part of Uribe's party. After the March 2010 elections, several organizations defending human rights have denounced the fact that at least 23 elected Senators were linked to the paramilitary strategy. - Law 975 of 2005 or "Law of Justice and Peace", which concerns the demobilization of paramilitaries, has been characterized by impunity, to a very high degree. Of all the 35 353 paramilitaries who were demobilized, only 698, i.e. 1.98%, were put on trial for crimes they committed and only one was convicted, and this person's sentence was quickly cancelled by the Penal Cassation Court of the Supreme Court of Justice. - The extradition of 23 paramilitary leaders to the United States was a strategy to prevent these persons who have committed crimes against humanity from speaking, because they would have publicly revealed their relationship with politicians, business groups and the present government. - The absence of protection guarantees for the paramilitaries involved in the process of demobilization and who confessed their crimes or have refused to join the new generation of paramilitaries has allowed the murder of over 2 000 demobilized paramilitaries in prisons or in the streets of different cities. And, not one of the perpetrators has received a prison sentence. - Despite the demobilization of paramilitaries, the paramilitary strategy has made it possible to legally acquire property by violence (Example: the Tulapa case) and the infiltration of paramilities in everyday society to deepen social control in large cities. By the end of 2009, the "new" paramilitary groups were able to reconstitute as a force of about 11 000 armed members. - In the armed conflict which is plaguing the country, the International Humanitarian Law is constantly violated through the use of civilians in the armed conflict in different ways such as the "network of informants, the "soldiers for one day ", the "families of forest vigilantes", the "student informants"(Medellín), the"taxi drivers informants"(Cali), among others. - The Colombian government continues its systematic persecution and criminalization of the political opposition, with threats, mass and individual detention of social and political leaders as well as human rights advocates. - The 2009 Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner said the following about the situation of human rights defenders in Colombia: "The Office located in Colombia has observed an increase in the number of intimidations and death threats by letters and e-mail against human rights defenders, social and community leaders and members of other marginalized groups. Although in some cases, there is some investigation, the majority of threats remain unpunished and the complaints are sometimes quickly rejected by the authorities without investigation (...). The Office located in Colombia is concerned that some public, civil and military officials continue to make statements against human rights defenders by accusing or suggesting that their work is contrary to the interests of the State or that these people are supporters of the guerrillas. Such statements increase the risks to the defenders and may hinder their activities, force them to practice self-censorship and increase the distrust between the State and civil society - There are no protection guarantees for victims who seek truth, justice and full compensation. Since its foundation in June 2005, the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes has been a victim of a systematic policy of aggression, as evidenced by approximately 200 documented cases of attacks, including selective assassinations, disappearances, threats, acts of intimidation and unfounded accusations by government officials. In 2008, the "Procuraduría General de la Nación" (supreme body in charge of criminal investigations) received about 800 applications for victim protection. - Colombia is a country suffering a humanitarian crisis. It comes second only to the Sudan for the number of internally displaced persons. According to the agency "Consultoría por los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (consultative body for human rights and displacement - CODHES), during the period of implementation of the "Democratic Security " policy alone, t2.4 million people were forcefully displaced, that is almost half of the 4.9 million people displaced by force ver the last 25 years. The majority of these forced displacements are linked to economic projects such as the exploitation of palm oil, mineral and petroleum deposits. According to the "Procuraduría Nacional de la Nación", since 1997, between 2.6 and 6.8 million hectares have been acquired by violence, most of them through the paramilitary strategy. The "Procuraduría General de la Nación" is investigating more than 1,600 military or extrajudicial executions by government forces (police and army). This shows the systematic nature of a practice which is considered by International Law as a crime against humanity. The cases referred to as "falsos positivos" ("false military targets” are civilians killed by soldiers and then disguised as guerrillas, so the soldiers can collect the reward offered by the government) are a direct result of a policy that encourages, through money, the execution of members of outlaw groups. These "falsos positivos" are part of other falsifications such as false accusations and false judicial demobilization of paramilitaries. The soldiers involved in extrajudicial executions are released in large groups from prison, not because they are presumed innocent, but because they have served supposedly their sentences. - In its two successive terms the Uribe government has focused on intensifying the war, which has led to a rising defence budget from 5.2% of GDP in 2002 to 14.2% of GDP (11 billion 057 million U.S. dollars) in 2010, exceeding for the first time the education budget (13.9% of GDP). - The policy of "Democratic Security" aimed at creating good conditions for the investment of foreign capital. Market liberalization has been accompanied by new laws concerning free trade zones, oil and gas, mining, proposals for water and the Forest Act, which attempted to set a price on all resources in the country. It was accompanied by the privatization of the public sector, the rising insecurity of working people and the intensification of the armed conflict in the areas of natural resource such as mining, petroleum, sugar cane and oil palm (for agrofuel). - The persecution and criminalization of trade union activity. For years Colombia has led the world in the number of murdered trade unionists. In 2009, 42 trade unionists from different sectors of production were murdered. Hundreds of trade unionists were arrested. This is true for the agricultural sector union FENSUAGRO of which many leaders have been accused of rebellion and more than 1,500 members have been assassinated since its foundation in 1976. - The Department of Security Administration (DAS), which answers directly to the President of the Republic, has been the subject of one scandal after another, including that of paramilitary infiltration, unlawful tapping of communications of members of political opposition and the creation of an illegal body, the G3, whose objective is to monitor and intimidate judges, human rights defenders and members of the political opposition. Thank you for your attention and for your interest in the Colombian situation Sincerely yours, National Movement of Victims of the State - Colombia Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE), Colombia