The performance of trade union activities in Colombia is still extremely dangerous. On 15 July, Elsa Paez was attacked. On behalf of CGT, she is closely involved with the trade union for employees at prisons and penal institutions (Unión de Trabajadores Penitenciarios y Carcelarias de Colombia; UTP). The attack took place shortly after the union protested against corrupt prison administrations.
The car in which she was transported got hit by seven bullets. This was not the first attempt on Elsa Paez' life. Fortunately, she was not hurt. The perpetrators of the shooting remain unknown. But it is a fact that the shooting occurred shortly after the UTP filed complaints on the relationship between a number of corrupt prison directors and jailed drug dealers.
CNV brought the attack to the attention of the Colombian government in letters. In accordance with international guidelines, the Colombian government has the responsibility to protect labour and human rights, and to ensure that human rights defenders - such as Elsa Paez - can do their work safely. The government was urged to do everything within its power to identify the perpetrators of this cowardly attack, and bring them to justice.
Safety programme for trade unionists
This attack on the life of Elsa Paez demonstrates that the need for a sound national safety programme for trade union representatives still is extremely urgent. This is why CNV joins the call of the Colombian trade union movement for the government to do everything within its means to uphold the safety programme for trade unionists, and expand it where necessary.
Publication date 22 08 2016