A South Shields lawyer is travelling to Colombia as part of a delegation of UK human rights and labour lawyers.
David Mole, a team manager with the national trade union and personal injury firm Thompsons, is joining the Law Society and Peace Brigade initiative which will work with Colombian lawyers who are defending the rights of Colombian trade unionists.
Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist, with hundreds of union activists assassinated and “disappeared” each year and many others tortured and imprisoned without charge. These attacks are committed by Colombia’s para-military groups with almost complete impunity.
Trade union lawyers too face daily threats to their lives and liberty.
David travels to Colombia on Saturday (23 August) and the delegation will travel around the Latin American country, meeting lawyers and trade unionists currently detained in prison in Bogata. Members of the delegation will record testimony from trade unionists and lawyers.
Thompsons Solicitors has been working with British and Colombian trade unions for a number of years, providing support to projects which are setting up legal advice units for union members who have been unfairly imprisoned for their activities.
David Mole said: “Colombia has an appalling record on human rights and consistently fails to implement the UN’s human rights recommendations and core ILO labour standards. Trade unionists are murdered and imprisoned for activity that unions elsewhere take for granted, such as opposing the government’s privatisation of public services.
“Delegations such as ours are intended to raise awareness of the situation in Colombia beyond the media headlines of drugs and left wing guerilla groups. In particular we want the British government to listen to our case for ending military aid to the Colombian regime. The Foreign Select Committee - an all party committee - recently urged the government to rethink its policy and to stop military aid until such time as Colombia’s human rights record is substantially improved.
“When I return I plan to give talks to local trade unions and other groups to raise awareness of the situation in Colombia.”
This news story was also published by The Shields Gazette.
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