Death Isn’t Mute is a report on violations to life, freedom and integrity of trade unionists in Colombia during 2008 and situation of impunity of violations in the period 1986-2009

For over 15 years, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international human rights protection bodies, have urged the Colombian State to adopt measures to ensure that workers organizations can “freely and meaningfully exercise their activities in a climate that’s free from violence”.

In addition, the final session of the Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labor Conference urged “the government to end the ongoing situation of violence and impunity through innovative and effective measures and policies implemented continuously […]”. That commission, which has been in charge of the Colombian case for over 10 years said that “further action are required and it expressed the hope that the government will ensure that the Judiciary be vested with all powers necessary for that purpose, and that additional funds will be delivered for a better protection of threatened trade unionists, along with a clear message about the role of trade unions in society and that anti-union violence will not be tolerated.

This panorama of violence and impunity of the crimes against trade unionists continues and it worsened during 2008. This report contains two parts where this statement is developed. In the first part, the ENS produced a diagnosis of anti-union violence relating to abuses against life, liberty and integrity of unionists occurred in 2008, an account of the historical violence which has been exercised against unionists over the past 23 years and the persistence of such violence during the government of President Uribe Vélez. The second part contains an overview of the continuous situation of impunity of crimes against trade unionists. The analysis of the role of the Office of the Attorney General in developing an investigation on the facts and perpetrators of antiunion violence and a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the work of judges who are in charge of these cases is presented there. This report allows us to ensure that violence is not in the past, that it was and is still serious, and that impunity for these crimes continues.