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Impunity for anti-union violence in Colombia: ongoing and worsening

12 January 2011 News
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Colombia leads the world in anti-union violence, accounting in 2009 for nearly half of the global count of murdered trade union members and leaders. A new report from the US Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) shows that judicial impunity continues and is worsening, nurturing and encouraging the violence.

While the government established special courts in 2007 to deal with violent crimes against trade unionists, convictions lag behind the rate at which unionists continue to be murdered.  Forty-one convictions for the murder of trade unionists in 2009 were outpaced by the 47 new murders that year – and the court has still to address some 3,000 earlier cases.

According to USLEAP, "In only three cases were both the intellectual and material authors convicted, virtually no progress has been made in addressing impunity with respect to other forms of violence (e.g. kidnapping, torture, sexual violence, disappearance), and convictions are especially rare for murders committed in recent years, which might explain why convictions achieved to date have so far had no apparent deterrent effect on the level of violence against trade unionists."

Click here to read the 2009 Annual Impunity Report.