Free Trade Agreement Said to Be in Violation of Rule of Law in Colombia

(Translated by Buddy Bell, a CSN volunteer translator)

Brussels, March 21, 2014

EU deputy asks for the suspension of the TLC UE-Colombia because of Bogota mayor’s removal from office.

Member of EU Parliament Jürgen Klute called to suspend the trade agreement between Colombia and the EU until the Interamerican Court of Human Rights makes a ruling on the controversial dismissal of Gustavo Petro, mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and the second-most-important publicly elected official in the country. He was removed from office by unelected persons and in violation of preventative measures ordered
by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights.

The trade agreement between the European Union and Colombia ought to be temporarily suspended,according to Jürgen Klute, deputy from Germany, in light of this possible violation of the rule of law in Colombia. The suspension was provoked by the recent decision by Colombian authorities to extrajudicially remove Gustavo Petro, mayor of Bogotá and second-most-relevant elected Colombian personality behind
President Juan Manual Santos. The controversy and presumably irregular removal of Petro and his 15-year ban from exercising public office, ordered by President Santos on March 20, constitute a grave violation of the legal process and of the international system that defends human rights, because these orders do not
comply with legally binding preventative measures adopted by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights in favor of Petro on that same day. The measures specify clearly that the Colombian government is expected to put an end to extrajudicial removal and to reinstate Petro to his duties as mayor, until such time as the Interamerican Court of Human Rights makes a ruling on the issue.

According to Jürgen Klute, member of European Parliament representing the party European Left United,this irregular maneuver against Petro is questionable because it reveals a worrying lapse of Colombian jurisprudence and a disquieting lack of subjection to these specific measures of process and to the international legal norms on which they are based. In order to keep the Colombian government from enacting parts of the trade agreement between Colombia and the EU (TLC), Klute calls for it to be suspended until the Interamerican Court of Human Rights makes a pronouncement with respect to the violation. Klute is going to follow through to the European Commission, expressing his concern over the skirting of the rule of law, and he asks for this issue to be included as a “human rights urgency” in the next plenary session of the European Parliament. He asks that they make a resolution expressing their
concern regarding this presumed violation of the rule of law and asking for the immediate suspension of the free trade agreement.

“To not follow established legal process is to disobey the judicial branch. That means that the Colombian President, his administration, and the Colombian government itself are in serious non-compliance with CIDH resolutions and international law,” explains Jürgen Klute. “To act in this manner constitutes a grave lack of respect toward the rule of law, human rights, and democracy, which are mentioned explicitly in
Artilce 1 of the TLC (free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia) as it’s very foundation. In these circumstances, I submit a request to the European Parliament to leave the TLC in suspension until the case of Petro is resolved by a judge bound by the legal guarantees and norms of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, which is how the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights rightfully established it to
be,” observes Klute. “Apparently the Petro case is of illegal, arbitrary, unfounded, and politically motivated character,” reflects Klute. “But beyond that, the disobedience to the legal system and disregard to the Colombian Constitution, the American Convention of Human Rights, and other international agreements
signed by Colombia shows how untrustworthy the rule of law is today and it awakens serious doubts about the intent of Colombian authorities to comply with the human rights provisions of the TLC and other international legal obligations. At this time, the European Union cannot permit the TLC itself to remain in force. Therefore I request that the European Parliament and the European Commision suspend the TLC,
until such time as the Interamerican Court of Human Rights casts light on the case and follows through with its ruling,” added Klute. The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, together with the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, constitutes the defense for human rights arm of the Organization of American Sates (OAS), and it is respected on a worldwide level as a key agent for the defense of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)

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