As the European Parliament debates the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Colombia, MEPs are hearing two deeply contrasting views on the human rights situation in Colombia.
After hosting a meeting at the European Parliament on human rights in Colombia, Catherine Bearder MEP said, "Two very different pictures are being painted of human rights in Colombia. From the Colombian government I hear one thing and from human rights organisations on the ground I hear something entirely different."
"I feel very strongly that a prize as sought after as the free trade agreement should not be awarded unless our potential trading partner reaches certain standards of human rights and environmental protection."
"Colombia has undoubtedly made improvements, but the EU should not offer such a prize if protection of human rights still falls short of what's acceptable."
"If the human rights situation on the ground begins to improve and wrongdoers are prosecuted, as should be expected from any country wishing to participate in the international community, then Colombia should be congratulated. But to award them with an agreement before there is a visible improvement would be a failure of EU trade policy."
"There is a need for more debate and a clearer picture of what is actually happening on the ground with regards to human rights."