Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has described the Government’s support for the EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia as a travesty that is ill-timed and will undermined societal change.
The FTA came before the Dáil for ratification today and Crowe said that it will do little if anything to improve the human rights situation in Colombia.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Sinn Féin opposed this Agreement in the European Parliament and we opposed it in the Dáil today.
“We oppose the timing, the content, and the lack of viable human rights safeguards and mechanisms within this Agreement.
“Colombia continues to be one of the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist or human rights activist, and the human rights provisions in this FTA are crucially not robust enough and will not deliver safety for activists.
“Colombia is the world leader in ignoring regulations regarding human rights that it actually signs up to in international agreements.
“The Government’s new review of Foreign Affairs launched two weeks ago placed human rights at the key of Ireland’s foreign policy. Passing this FTA flies directly in the face of that.
“While the Government may sight human rights provisions in the Agreement, crucially, no impact assessment around the implementation of this agreement on human rights has ever been done.
“A recent US Senate report on the US Free Trade Agreement with Colombia states very clearly that labour rights have actually deteriorated since the passing of that agreement and warns other trade agreements to really carefully re-consider how human rights can be enhanced and protected.
“It is clear the EU has not done that with this Agreement.
“For all the talk of human rights provisions being far-reaching the agreement provides no means of compellability on parties to respect those rights.
“We see the same with the EU-Israel FTA, which supposedly has human rights provisions, which were also described as far reaching. Yet they flattened Gaza last summer, killed over 2,000 people in a few weeks, and the EU continues to be its largest trading partner.
“The Dáil had a real chance to stand up for human rights today.
“This FTA needs to be passed by all the national parliaments of EU Members States. If it is rejected by one it collapses.
“When the FTA came before the EU Parliament Labour MEPs voted against it. Today Labour TDs ensured that it passed through the Dáil and sadly the Government stood in favour of big business and against human rights, justice, equality, and fairness, and supported this counterproductive FTA.”