UNISON Northern Ireland


Trade unions in Britain and Ireland express our profound condemnation of the terrible state violence currently taking place in Colombia.

Since the latest round of trade union-led National Strike mobilisations were initiated on Wednesday 28 April, Colombian state forces have committed human rights abuses on a massive scale. According to national human rights organisations, state forces have killed at least 18 people, have left numerous others with permanent eye injuries and there are several reports of sexual violence committed against detainees. Human rights observers and journalists have also been attacked.

Following the police killings of up to 13 people during protests in September 2020, Colombia’s Supreme Court found state forces to act with systematic violence towards peaceful protest. Despite this ruling and repeated warnings by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other bodies, state violence in Colombia has continued.

We cannot stay silent in the face of these brutal attacks against protesters. We support the right of every Colombian to protest and to raise their voice to call for a brighter future. We congratulate the trade unions, the social movements and particularly the thousands of young people who have had the tenacity to stand up and continue their protest in the face of so much intimidation and violence from the police. The Colombian state must respect citizens’ democratic right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.

On behalf of the millions of workers across both Britain and Ireland who our unions represent, we call separately on both our governments, in Britain and Ireland, to publicly condemn the state violence which has taken place over recent days and to demand an immediate end to the violence and full accountability for the perpetrators.

Download the statement here.