MPs challenge government on trade and human rights

27 NOVEMBER 2013

As the British parliament decides whether to ratify a new free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Peru, the Peru Support Group alerted MPs to several concerns about its possible impacts. Our briefing sets out:

  • The potential for more social conflict and environmental damage as a result of more mining, logging and agribusiness, according to official impact studies of the FTA.

  • Failures by the Peruvian government to fulfil commitments made during negotiations, such as publishing its National Human Rights Plan (due to start last year).

  • The lack of independent, participatory and enforceable mechanisms to uphold the treaty’s commitments on human rights, labour and environmental standards.

Several MPs raised these concerns in a debate on 26 November, prompting business minister Michael Fallon to promise more information on the current human rights situation and means of redress for violations.

Michael Connarty MP spoke of his own experiences of meeting Peruvians whose relatives had been shot during protests by armed guards working for mining companies. In the context of social context, he warned that the absence of an independent committee to monitor human rights issues “means that trade advantages would be advanced over the human rights concerns of the people. It is a trade agreement with no teeth in the case of abuses.”

Liberal Democrat John Hemming said that, prior to a vote, the government should “produce a much more substantive argument as to how that will act to drive up standards.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP called for a halt to the ratification process until their concerns had been addressed. Members of the House of Lords will debate the treaty on 2 December and a vote was postponed to 4 December.

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  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

  • Historical Overview

    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

  • Human Rights

    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

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