MEPs want human rights pledge before backing trade pact with Peru and Colombia
Peru and Columbia should pledge to protect human rights, labour rights and the environment before Parliament grants its consent for a trade pact with them in October - and the protection should preferably take effect before the pact does, say MEPs in a resolution passed on Wednesday.
The resolution raises concerns about "a weakening of the current binding conditions" on trade and sustainable development. It calls on the Peruvian and Colombian governments to establish "a transparent and binding roadmap" to protect trade unionists, human rights and the environment.
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining must be guaranteed, along with strict labour inspections, leading to penalties if workers are mistreated. The European Commission must begin immediately to assist Colombia and Peru with this task, says the text.
MEPs suggest that the parties involved establish independent "domestic advisory groups" on human rights and democratic principles, which should monitor the implementation of the trade agreement. These groups should be guaranteed the same level of binding involvement for civil society as is provided in the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, they add.
The resolution praises the Colombian and Peruvian governments' "vast efforts" and fundamental improvements in law enforcement, but says substantial work is still needed to "solve old problems", such as poverty, corruption, violence and particularly murders of trade unionists. Columbia has the world's highest rate of such murders, 90% of which go unpunished there.
The resolution was passed with 525 votes in favour, 94 against and 67 abstentions.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution