Date Released: 30 October 2013
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist. According to UN figures almost 3,000 trade unionists have been killed since 1986. In the first six months of 2013 at least 11 trade unionists were killed. State authorities are directly involved in many of these killings.
In addition to physical attacks, imprisonment is often used to punish and silence trade unionists. On Sunday 25 August 2013, trade union leader Huber Ballesteros was arrested and imprisoned. Huber is one of Colombia's most recognised trade union leaders. He sits on the Executive Committee of Colombia's largest trade union federation, the CUT, as well as being Vice President of FENSUAGRO Agricultural Workers' Union and National Organiser for the union-backed Patriotic March movement. At the time of his arrest he was organising mass strikes across the country. His arrest is a clear attempt by Colombian authorities to punish him for his trade union activities and has been condemned by the ETUC and the ITUC. His release must be secured to send a clear message to the Colombian authorities that persecuting trade unionists will not be accepted.