Skip to content

Lawyers Without Borders questions Canada-Colombia FTA

“While the Government of Canada hopes to see Parliament ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia, we believe that a preliminary study on the impacts of such a treaty on human rights is more justified than ever,” writes Lawyers Without Borders Canada in a June 30 report on the Colombian government’s surveillance and intimidation of human rights associations and the judiciary.

According to the report, a secretive branch of the Administrative Department of Security called the G-3 was involved in “Operación Transmilenio,” a surveillance initiative targetting the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR), a partner organization of LWBC.



Documents acquired by Colombia’s Attorney General, Mario Iguarán Arana, “contained photographs of lawyers and their family members, along with their psychological profile, curricula vitae, and details of their whereabouts,” according to the LWBC report. “To obtain this information, emails and telephone conversations made by the CCAJAR and its members were intercepted by G-3. This is a blatant violation of the fundamental principal of solicitor-client privilege.”

The report continues:

“The seized documents include minutes of G-3 meetings, in which it is made clear that the aim of the surveillance initiative is to ‘restrain and neutralize’ the opposition (restringir o neutralizar su accionar). The documents also make reference to a strategy of ‘judicialization’ that amounts to the baseless criminal prosecution of CCAJAR members in order effectively to impede their ability to practice their profession.”

You can read the full report here.

LWBC and CCAJAR will work together from July 4 to 18 on a project aimed at improving access to the judicial system for Indigenous groups and others most affected by the continuing armed conflict in Colombia. The Council of Canadians, and over 60 other Canadian groups, agree with LWBC that it would be irresponsible to sign a free trade accord with Colombia before a human rights impact assessment is carried out.