Watch: Mark Durkan raises arrest of Colombian trade unionist on FARC charge

Londonderry MP Mark Durkan has asked the Government to address the arrest and detention of a Colombian trade unionist on charges of rebellion and financing terrorism, including the channelling of Justice for Colombia funds to FARC.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Durkan, asked if the Foreign Secretary would “address the case of Huber Ballesteros, who will face trial in a number of weeks...on a contrived charge of rebellion?”

Foyle MP Mark Durkan.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan.

Mr Durkan said he hoped the Government would address human rights issues in Colombia “in a way that does not just send a signal to the (Colombian President Juan Manuel) Santos regime that they somehow fall within a margin of tolerable excess in the context of a peace process?”

Minister of State Hugo Swire replied: “That is not the case. We are, of course, aware of the detention of Mr Ballesteros on August 25.

“Our ambassador to Colombia wrote to the Colombian prosecutor general on August 28, to highlight our interest in the case and to request information on the charges.

“Staff at our embassy in Bogota are seeking permission to visit Mr Ballesteros in prison.

“It is simply not the case that we turn to one side and avert our gaze to what we regard as human rights violations in Colombia,” he added.