Thursday, 12 October 2017
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
85. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will make representations to ensure that those responsible for the massacre in Tumaco on 5 October 2017 in Colombia are brought to justice and held to account for their crimes. [43296/17]
86. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will condemn the violence in Colombia, the militarisation of territories and the use of repressive strategies against rural dwellers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43297/17]
87. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will propose immediate political dialogue in Argelia and Cauca in Colombia to ensure the end of the militarisation of the area and the ongoing threat of state violence. [43298/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 to 87, inclusive, together.
I wish to express my sincere condolences to the families of those killed and my sympathies to those injured in the violence which took place in Tumaco in the Nariño province of Colombia on 5 October, which resulted in the deaths of at least six civilians and the wounding of many more. Such violence is entirely unacceptable. It must be thoroughly investigated and its perpetrators brought to justice.
I note that the President of Colombia has instructed the National Police and the Colombian Armed Forces to cooperate with the Colombian DPP to determine what occurred on 5 October and that the Colombian National Police have ordered the suspension of four of its officers in connection with the incident. I welcome this as a sign of the resolve of the Colombian government to ensure that the events are investigated in full.
I am also deeply concerned at the attack which took place on 8 October against the United Nations-led humanitarian mission which travelled to the scene of the violence in Tumaco to investigate the shooting of civilians. I urge the Government of Colombia to carry out a full investigation of this incident also.
Tumaco is among the regions of Colombia which has suffered most the consequences of the country’s conflict. My Department has an ongoing commitment to supporting peace and human rights in this troubled region and officials from my Department visited the region in 2015 and 2016.
Incidences of violence and intimidation against local communities in the Departments of Cauca, Argelia and Nariño, and elsewhere in Colombia, as well as the continued presence of armed groups in such communities, remain a matter of great concern. As well as ongoing exchanges with the Colombian authorities at Government-level, officials of my Department engage regularly with human rights defenders and civil society leaders active in Colombia, including those working in some of the communities most affected by conflict.
I reiterate that I am deeply concerned at the recent violent incidents, which must be thoroughly investigated.
At the same time, I must acknowledge the extraordinary strides which have been made in the implementation of the peace process to date. The full decommissioning of FARC weapons was complete by July 2017, eight months after the agreement was finalised. A ceasefire with the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN, took effect at the beginning of October. The peace process provides the framework in which the endemic violence and impunity which has afflicted Colombian society can successfully be addressed. Ireland is committed to supporting its full implementation to ensure a future of peace for all Colombians.