Leading lawyers condemn foreign minister's claims over Justice for Colombia19 March 2008
Lawyers who have seen at first hand the abuses of trade union and human rights in Colombia say claims by Foreign Office minister Kim Howells that the organisation Justice for Colombia supports the guerrilla group Farc are reckless.
Thompsons Solicitors, which acts for the majority of UK trade unions, has sent several of its solicitors to Colombia on JFC organised fact finding delegations of lawyers and trade unionists.
Thompsons gives financial and practical support to JFC and Colombian trade union projects aimed at protecting the rights of Colombian trade unions and their members, thousands of whom have been murdered, 'disappeared', imprisoned and tortured for doing nothing more than campaigning to protect jobs and services.
Tom Jones, Thompsons' director of policy and public affairs said:"I was part of a JFC delegation of lawyers and trade unionists to Colombia last year. There I saw and heard first hand testomony of human rights abuses in Colombia, the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist.
"JFC's consistent criticism of the British government for providing military aid to the Uribe regime but not humanitarian aid to civil society does not make it a supporter of Farc. And that has been the experience of all those at Thompsons who have been to Colombia with JFC and campaigned with JFC in the UK.
"Kim Howells should deflect criticism of his perceived support for the brutal Colombian army and regime by announcing a rethink of UK policy towards the country rather than making reckless assertions which could seriously endanger JFC's vital work and the people it works so hard to protect."
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