HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 cc308-9W
Sandra Osborne

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on UK policy on encouraging democratic pluralism in Colombia following recent measures taken against human rights activists, trade unionists and social protest in Colombia; [121835]

(2) what recent representations he has made to the Government of Colombia on the protection and human rights of members of non-governmental organisations. [121836]

Mr. Rammell

[holding answer 26 June 2003]: During my visit to Colombia in May I called on the Colombian Government to make clear their support for the work of civil society, and stressed that civil society needed to be part of the solution to Colombia's problems. I raised our concerns on the situation faced by all vulnerable groups in Colombian society directly with the Colombian President and his Ministers. I made clear that we were following the situation very closely and our continued support for the Government was dependent on complete respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

I am pleased that in a subsequent keynote speech at Bogota's Police Academy attended by senior members of the Colombian Government, police and military, President Uribe made clear that he wanted them to show respect for NGOs working in Columbia. This demonstrates, I believe, that our approach of supporting, but seeking as well to influence the Colombian Government does work.

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