Colombia and the Philippines – Human Rights Defenders and Community Representatives

The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) met with Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and community representatives from Colombia and the Philippines on 27 November 2017 to discuss human rights violations resulting from operations of mining companies.

The speakers were:

  • Camila Méndez – land rights and human rights defender in Colombia (“CM”);
  • Clemente Bautista Jr. – National coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) in the Philippines (“CB”).

The main points which arose were as follows:

  • The UK government should help raise awareness of new forms of conflict caused by extractive industry operations within the context of the Peace Accord in Colombia. Many mining, fracking and oil programmes are linked to UK investment. (CM)
  • Six public consultations in Colombia have been put on hold because the Government will not release funds to pay for related costs.
  • Getting support for these consultations is very important in order to protect the environment and the lives of HRDs. A new era of conflict has developed between communities and multinational corporations, with forced displacement and the breakdown of the communities’ social fabric resulting. (CM)
  • This year 135 leaders have been killed defending human rights and their territories in Colombia. (CM)
  • The Colombian Government should investigate assassinations, and also guarantee and recognise fundamental rights, including through the use of popular consultations. Colombia is the only state in Latin America which has popular consultations of a binding nature. The Colombian Government has, however, tried to shift the financial costs of popular consultations onto municipal councils. (CM)
  • 7,000 to 14,000 people have already been killed in the war on drugs in the Philippines. There is increasing impunity, including in connection with violence against environmental defenders. Since June 2016, 32 environmental defenders have been killed. A 2017 Global Witness report noted that the Philippines was the most dangerous place in Asia for environmental defenders. (CB)
  • There are clashes between rebel groups and the military, with the latter trying to ‘flush out the rebels’ with bombings. Fact-finding missions are forbidden to enter certain areas by the military. (CB)
  • A legislative proposal in the Philippines to ban open-pit mining was rejected. Local Government units and national Government units are in conflict, with the local Government having banned mining projects and the national Government encouraging them. (CB)

The PHRG will continue to monitor the situation of HRDs and environmental defenders in both Colombia and the Philippines closely and to raise its concerns with relevant interlocutors.