Between 2005 and 2011, LWBC organized on four occasions tours of major Canadian cities for representatives of its partner organization in Colombia, the Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvéar Restrepo” (CAJAR). These tours allowed CAJAR delegates to share their views and concerns about the political and legal context in Colombia, which remains plagued by rampant impunity and persistent attacks against human rights defenders, including lawyers who represent victims of grave human rights abuses before national and supranational tribunals.
These tours seek to reach out to the Canadian legal community, in an attempt to foster new collaborations likely to contribute to the fight against impunity in Colombia. On each of these tours, meetings were held with members of the Canadian Association of Labor Lawyers (CALL) throughout Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal). Further to these meetings, CALL generously decided to support CAJAR’s endeavours through LWBC. CALL’s donation focuses on CAJAR’s work in representation of unions and union workers, who for years have been facing serious challenges and threat, including targeted assassinations, intimidation, forced exile, abusive disciplinary measures, etc.
Among others, CALL’s contribution has enabled the CAJAR to make representations so that the pending case of crimes against humanity committed on the person of Edgar Sierra Parra – leader of the largest union of workers from the health sector “Asociación Nacional Sindical de Trabajadores de la Salud y de la Seguridad Social (ANTHOC) – could make significant progress. More to the point, CAJAR was able to help the Bogota Office of the International Labour Organization move forward with its investigation of the crime of torture against Mr. Sierra, whose body was recovered several days after his disappearance.
CALL has vowed to shortly renew its support in a similar fashion. LWBC salutes this significant contribution, and strongly recommends other Canadian legal organizations to follow suit.