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Cablegate: Update On Labor-Related Violence, Impunity, And

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1017 0771830
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171830Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1946
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8100
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0115
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 9325
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6016
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1403
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6672
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4343

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001017

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON LABOR-RELATED VIOLENCE, IMPUNITY, AND
PROTECTION IN COLOMBIA

REF: BOGOTA 6746

--------
Summary
--------

1. Colombian labor confederations report eleven possible
union homicides so far in 2008. The Social Protection
Ministry (MSP) has confirmed ten of the cases. The
Prosecutor General's (Fiscalia) labor sub-unit--which was
only set up in November 2006--has resolved 40 of the 73 labor
cases solved since 2001. The Ministry of Interior and Justice
(MOIJ) Human Rights Protection Program increased the number
of individuals covered by over 50 percent in 2007. End
Summary.

---------------------------
Unionist Homicides in 2008
---------------------------

2. Union confederations have reported eleven possible
unionist homicides so far this year to the Ministry of Social
Protection (MSP) and the ENS. The MSP has confirmed ten (one
victim was part of a peasant group, not a union) of the
eleven cases. MSP does not include members of peasant
groups, because they lack the employer-employee relationship
required to register with the MSP as unionists. The MSP
noted that based on informal conversations with the police
investigating the crimes, union-affiliation did not appear to
be the motive in any of the homicides. The motives ranged
from robbery to domestic disputes.

3. The ENS has confirmed eight of the confederations' cases.
The ENS includes in their statistics any "union-related
killings", which can include peasant leaders (not formally
registered as unions), family members of unionists they
determine are targeted due to their family members' union
affiliation, or members of any organization that has a
"union-like" structure.

-----------------------------------------
New Labor Sub-unit Speeds Up Convictions
-----------------------------------------

4. The Fiscalia's Human Rights Unit has been assigned 1262
cases, all of which stem from ILO case 1787 of 1994 (a labor
violence complaint filed with the ILO by the International
Confederation of Free Trade Union Organizations - ICFTU).
Since 2001, the Fiscalia's Human Rights Unit has resolved 73
of these cases, leading to the conviction of 156
perpetrators. The new sub-unit on labor crimes - which began
operations in November 2006 (see refel) - resolved 40 of the
cases, convicting 67 individuals. The Fiscalia expects the
number of cases resolved/convictions obtained to rise rapidly
as the sub-unit continues its work.


---------------------------
Protection Program Expands
---------------------------

5. In 2007, the GOC's $39.5 million protection program
included 9444 human rights activists, journalists, local
elected officials and other threatened individuals, including
1959 unionists. In 2006, the program covered 6097
individuals, including 1504 unionists. The increase in 2007
reflected the GOC's extension of the program to include
displaced community leaders (502), Union Patriotica (UP)
members (410), and local politicians running in the October,
2007 local elections (1266). The GOC added the UP members are
protected due to an Inter-American Human Right court
proceeding regarding this group. The UP was a leftist
political party with ties to the FARC, many of whose members
were murdered by paramilitaries and narco-traffickers in the
late 1980s and early 1990s.
Brownfield

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