SHAME: Harper Government Whitewashed Colombian Human Rights Abuses

by: Obert Madondo | May 20, 2014

Stephen Harper. PHOTO: The Prime Minister's Office

Stephen Harper. PHOTO: The Prime Minister’s Office

To quote Amnesty International Canada’s Alex Neve: Canadian mining companies lead the mining world; but none aspire to lead the world in mining-related human rights abuses.

That’s serious human rights abuses committed by Canadian mining companies particularly in the developing world.

The Harper government had both the opportunity and obligation to highlight the serious mining-related human rights abuses happening in Colombia in its third annual Human Rights Impact Report for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.  The report is mandatory under the Canada-Colombia free trade deal, signed by the Conservatives and Colombian government in 2011,

Instead, the Conservatives chose to whitewash the abuses serious human rights abuses in the South American country. In one instance, the report claimed that “it is not possible to establish a direct link between the (agreement) and the human rights situation in Colombia.”

That’s absolving Canadian mining companies from the requirement to meet human rights and corporate social responsibility standards on “issues such as labour, the environment, human rights, community relations and anti-corruption.”

International human rights groups and indigenous groups in Colombia were not invited to contribute to the report. And so, their side of the story was deliberately excluded.

Then, as usual, the Conservatives quietly tabled the report in Parliament, denying MPs the opportunity to study it.

“Such reports must be produced by independent experts, as recommended by the Standing Committee on International Trade in 2008,” said NDP International Trade critic Don Davies in a statement. “If, as the report claims, there are no human rights issues in Colombia related to Canadian trade and investment, why, then, did the Conservatives make it near impossible for human rights groups to tell a different story? What do the Conservatives have to hide?”

Another black eye for Canada on human rights.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.