Lib Dem Euro MP Catherine Bearder has called on the European Commission to delay the signing of a free trade agreement with Colombia until there is an improvement in their human rights record.
The Spanish Presidency of the EU has indicated its wish to sign a free trade agreement with Colombia, but with increases in the number of reported deaths of trade unionists year on year, there is great objection to the signing of this agreement. 2008 saw a reported 25% increase in the number of reported deaths of trade unionists when compared to 2007.
Catherine has called on the commission to investigate the Human Rights situation in Colombia. The Commission recently held a similar investigation on reported human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.
A member of the Parliament's Committee on International Trade, Catherine said, "why is the Commission not investigating reported human rights abuses in Colombia, when it recently investigated the Sri Lankan government on similar grounds? It seems very hypocritical."
"If the EU signs a free trade agreement with Colombia we will be sending a message of double standards on human rights."
"The European Union was built on a respect for human rights and we must remain true to this."
"A free trade agreement with the EU is a big prize for any country, and once given it's hard to revoke."