Recent revelations show the UK government has been supporting Colombia’s security services, who have killed dozens of protesters since May.
UK media outlet Declassified UK recently revealed that “as Colombian security services killed dozens of protesters in May, a UK military team of up to nine soldiers was assisting them in a secret programme”.
Since April, Colombia’s rightwing government has been brutally cracking down on people taking part in mass protests against the government’s neoliberal economic policies and widespread human rights abuses.
According to the human rights group Justice for Colombia, between 28 April and 30 June, Colombia’s police “committed over 4,000 acts of violence, 44 killings of protesters, 82 permanent eye injuries, 28 cases of sexual violence and over 2,000 arbitrary arrests”.
Declassified were told by the UK’s Ministry of Defence that British soldiers “have ‘supported’ Colombia’s police, but won’t say how”. The British military also “assists” Colombia’s armed forces, who are responsible for killing thousands of civilians in recent years.
The British government invited a Colombian delegation to attend Europe’s largest arms fair in London in September this year, despite it being on a Foreign Office list of countries flagged up for their human rights record. The arms fair included over 800 exhibitors, with the vast majority of the world’s top 10 arms manufacturers present. This was met with protests from human rights activists
According to Declassified, since 2016 the British government has approved “the export of £28-million worth of military or “dual-use” (military and civilian) equipment to Colombia”. And the UK was reportedly the 2nd largest arms exporter in the world during the last decade.
Remember this the next time the British government says it has strict checks on who the UK sells arms to, and cares about human rights and respect for the rule of law abroad.