Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International Slam UK Military Aid to Colombia

Justice For Colombia News | on: Wednesday, 21 May 2008

In testimony before the Foregin Affairs Select Committee of the British Parliament, Kate Allen, the Director of Amnesty International, and Tom Porteous, the London Director of Human Rights Watch, told MPs that the UK should freeze military assistance to Colombia. They also pointed out that "the military aid the British Government grant to Colombia is unconditional with regard to any kind of human rights improvements."

Colombia came up during the April 30th hearing when select committee member Andrew Mackinlay MP asked the two to comment on British policy towards the country. According to the parliamentary website this was their response:

"The important issue the Committee should focus on is UK military aid to Colombia. We think the British Government could be doing more to use aid as a lever for improvements in the record of the Colombian military. The military has a record of being associated with paramilitaries, which are responsible for very serious abuses. It also has a record of being involved in extra-judicial executions.

Those paramilitaries have been involved in the assassination of large numbers of trade union activists over recent years. That should be of concern for the Labour party in particular but also for anyone who cares about human rights. The problem is that the military aid the British Government grant to Colombia is unconditional with regard to any kind of human rights improvements. We think that that sends a bad message. The military in Colombia will go on getting these military goodies without having to do anything in return with respect to human rights. So we would very much like the British Government to make its aid conditional on an improvement.

In fact, the UK seems to be being saddled with a policy that even the American Government have moved beyond. After the Democrats took control of Congress last year, they froze some military aid to Colombia on human rights grounds. We think that the UK should at least get back into step with the policy of the Americans."

For the entire testimony see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmfaff/uc533-i/uc53302.htm



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