Education International
Education International

Colombia: killing of teacher unionists must end

published 16 February 2011 updated 16 February 2011

The Colombian teacher and trade unionist, Carlos Alberto Ayala, was shot dead on 5 February. The gunmen who murdered him had been laying in wait for him as he returned to his home in Puerto Asís.

Ayala was the director of the Caucasia Rural Education Institute and a member of the Putumayo Teachers' Association, ASEP. He is the third teacher unionist to have been killed since the beginning of 2011. This continues a shocking trail of assassinations that claimed the lives of up to 28 teacher trade unionists in Colombia last year.

EI Deputy General Secretary, Jan Eastman, said: “The continued killing of teacher unionists in Colombia is wholly unacceptable. The government continues to minimise the problem in the diplomatic arena, but with close to 1,000 educators killed in the last two decades, teacher unionists are paying a price that is too high for their commitment to make freedom of expression and of association a reality in Colombia.”

EI firmly condemns the murder of Carlos Alberto Ayala and calls on the Colombian Government to break the cycle of impunity that persists, by holding the perpetrators accountable for their crimes. EI also demands President Santos’ implements robust measures to protect teachers and trade unionists, as well as to preserve schools as safe sanctuaries and zones of peace.

A high-level mission of the ILO will visit Colombia this week to examine the human rights situation and scrutinise the respect for core conventions ratified by the country.