Campaigns. It is important that I continue to know the strength of feeling on an issue and I prefer to respond to every inquiry, but the sheer size of campaign correspondence means that it is hard to justify to the tax payer the cost and time taken for individual written replies, so regrettably I will no longer reply to every item of campaign correspondence.  I will  post a response to the campaign on the "Responses to campaigns" page of my website.

I am sorry to do this, as it is rather impersonal, but can see no other way of maintaining a good service for all my constituents unless I approach campaigns this way.

15 MAY 2019

Human Rights Defenders in Columbia

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Human Rights Defenders in Colombia.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 2232 on this matter, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

Nonetheless, you may be interested to know that the progress of the Colombia peace process was raised in the House of Commons last month and you can view this here.

There was also a debate held on Women's Human Rights Defenders in which those in Colombia were specifically mentioned, you can view the transcript, including the Minister's response here.

You may also like to look at the following information about Colombia and the UK Human Rights Fund, one of the aims of which is the protection of human rights defenders through legal assistance to community leaders and developing self-protection and collective protection measures.

Lastly, the following statement by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefings on Colombia, made last month, highlighted concerns about the safety of Human Rights Defenders.

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