Canada: Uphold Land Rights in Colombia
The numbers are staggering. Some six million people have been forced to flee their homes in Colombia during decades of armed conflict characterized by horrendous human rights violations against civilians.
In the process, at least 8 million hectares of land have been abandoned or misappropriated.
At the same time, Colombian authorities have granted licences to mining and other companies looking to exploit these lands and their natural resources, failing to guarantee the internationally-recognized right of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples to decision-making about their territory without fear of harm.
This is the tragic story of the Embera Indigenous people of Alto Anádagueda. As Amnesty documented in a recent report, thousands of men, women and children, have been forced to flee amidst atrocities and terror. Their exodus from their lands has escaped the attention it deserves. But so too has the fact that while Embera families were fleeing for their lives, Colombian authorities granted mining concessions to multinational mining companies on over 60 percent of their territory.
The Embera of Alto Andágueda won precedent-setting court orders in September 2014 to enable a sustainable return to their lands. The court ordered suspension of all mining activities and titles until the Embera provide their free, prior and informed consent, as required by international treaties.
But implementation of the court orders is another matter. Mining titles have not been suspended, including the title of Canadian-based Continental Gold. In fact, the company told Amnesty International that while it did not oppose land restitution, it opposes losing its mining licence.
Canada has a close relationship with Colombia via a free trade agreement that expanded opportunities and investor rights for Canadian resource extraction companies.
Write to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
• Share your concerns about the Embera of Alto Andágueda and appropriation of land for resource extraction amidst human rights abuses in Colombia.
• Urge the Prime Minister to require Canadian companies by law to ensure they do not operate on land appropriated through human rights violations or on the land of Indigenous or Afro-descendant peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.
• Also urge that Canada’s annual report on human rights and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement be transformed into a credible, impartial human rights impact assessment that carefully analyses human rights violations experienced by the Embera of Alto Andágueda and other vulnerable communities in areas of Colombia where Canadian companies are present. Tell the Prime Minister It is time to responsibly monitor what is happening and address the obligations of Canada and Canadian-based companies under international human rights treaties like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Send your message to:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
What else can you do?
1. Download our petition to the Prime Minister and collect the signatures of others in your community
2. Create a photo message that AI Canada can use to strengthen our advocacy for human rights in Colombia. Messages could include:
- Trade must not trump human rights in Colombia
- No profiting from rights abuses in Colombia
- No Rights, No Mining -- it’s 2016!
Send your photo messages to campaigner Kathy Price at firstname.lastname@example.org and signed petitions to her attention at Amnesty International, 1992 Yonge St. 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z7
Thank you for taking action!