Colombian activists says Canadian companies benefiting from human rights abuses


Colombian deputy justice Federico Guzman Duque is asking Canada to do more for his country. Photograph by: Chris Mikula , Ottawa Citizen OTTAWA — Three years after Canada signed a free-trade agreement with Colombia saying our country was committed to helping Colombians live “better, safer lives,” human rights activists came to Ottawa this week with a different message: Their nation is spiralling toward genocide, and some Canadian companies are reaping the benefits.

Colombian deputy justice Federico Guzman Duque and an indigenous rights defender, who said she was afraid to have her name publicized, are here to draw attention to ongoing human rights abuses — including what they say are crimes against humanity, war crimes, even genocide — against indigenous Colombians.

Canada, they said, has a particular responsibility to take action because of its free-trade deal with Colombia and the prevalence of Canadian extraction companies doing business there . Since the free-trade agreement, Canada has also begun selling fully automatic weapons — the kind banned in Canada — and light armoured vehicles as part of “a strategic framework for the growing defence relationship between our countries,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in 2012.