Resolution Number: A250

Subject: Colombia

Moved By: Matthew Kett, from the Diocese of Toronto

Seconded By:

Note: The mover and the seconder must be members of the General Synod and be present in the House when the resolution is before the synod for debate.


That this General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada,

Colombians have experienced an internal armed conflict that has lasted over four decades, a conflict fueled by large and growing equities. In this context, the Colombian military has responded with a counter insurgency strategy that has targeted the civilian population. Numerous U.N. reports have documented how paramilitary death squads, operating with support of the army, have carried out hundreds of massacres, as well as targeted assassinations and disappearances of leaders of trade unions, churches, human rights groups, indigenous, peasant and other organizations. As the war escalates, guerrilla movements mainly the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) are also guilty of violations that have included the use of child soldiers, assassinations and attacks that have claimed civilian victims.

The human rights situation in Colombia remains the worst in the hemisphere and one of the worst in the world. The average number of people killed or disappeared as a result of socio-political violence has increased from 10 people a day (1996-1997) to about 20 people a day (2002-2003). About 15 of these victims are non-combatants and are killed at home, on the street or in their workplace.

The fragile peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC collapsed in Feb. 2002 and the language of the “peace process” has been replaced by the language of “democratic security” and the “war on terror”.
Under the rubric of the “Democratic Security Agenda”, President Uribe has taken measures that have led to the further militarization of civilian life and the weakening and reduction of democratic institutions. In September 2003, the President publicly accused human rights and other civil society organizations of being fronts for terrorist groups; in Colombia, such accusations can be tantamount to a death threat as they give the paramilitary the green light in their campaign of terror.

The conflict and the violations of human rights have been fueled by massive amounts of military aid to the Colombian armed forces from the United States. This military aid has increased above and beyond the $1.3 billion aid package received through Plan Colombia. Although the European Union has spoken out against Plan Colombia, the Canadian government has remained silent on the issue of U.S. military aid to Colombia.

Colombia has become the 4th largest export market for Canadian exporters in Latin America and Canada’s 25th largest export market in the world. In addition, the Canadian government provides foreign aid to the Government of Colombia. In July 2003 at an international donors meeting in London, Canada was a co-signatory to a declaration which “underlined the importance of the UN” and urged the Colombian government to implement the (UN Commission on Human Rights) recommendations promptly”. The Canadian government is proud of its role in helping to insert these conditions around human rights into the London Declaration. The Colombian government has not only made no progress towards implementing these recommendations they are actively pursuing policies that are contrary to them.

Through the ecumenical programs of the Inter-Church Coalition for Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA) and now KAIROS, the Canadian churches have been working in partnership with these social movements in Colombia since 1988. This work has involved advocacy with the Canadian and Colombian governments and with multilateral organizations like the UN, policy development, education and solidarity. In May 1999 ICCHRLA organized a tribunal on a massacre that took place in Barrancabermeja in May 1998. The findings and recommendations of this tribunal resulted in the Canadian government holding hearings on Colombia within the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT). More recently, since 2000, Inter-Church Action (ICA) and now KAIROS has provided financial support to Colombian partners including human rights organizations, women groups and churches for their work in human rights and peace building.

At the General Synods of 1998 and 2001, motions similar to the one presented here were carried.


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