The current situation in Colombia is grave indeed and I share many of my constituents’ concerns regarding the extraordinary events that have unfolded following the ongoing national strike that began on 28 April.
I stand in solidarity with the people of Colombia who, despite the violence and abuse of power from the police force, continue to peacefully demonstrate to demand change.
It is imperative that the international community, including the United Kingdom, condemn the ongoing violence, and call on the government of President Ivan Duque to protect the right to peaceful protest and put a stop to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the police and armed civilians targeting protestors, activists, and social leaders.
I signed this Early Day Motion (EDM) 4 tabled by 6 MPs soon after it was tabled; it has now attracted the signatures of 84 MPs, a significant number and reads as follows:
That this House expresses profound concern on reports of excessive use of force by the Colombian police, against overwhelmingly peaceful social protests as confirmed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights across Colombia from 28 April 2021, as part of a national strike; believes the right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly are essential tenets of democracy; condemns serious human rights violations allegedly carried out by the police, including the use of live ammunition resulting in the deaths of over 30 protesters, numerous cases of sexual violence and serious injuries, over 100 people reported disappeared, over 800 arbitrary arrests, and targeted attacks on civil society organisations and human rights defenders, some of whom were trying to monitor the police; also condemns the small minority who infiltrated the peaceful protests and perpetrated violence; notes with alarm the Colombian Government’s order to militarise the cities and urges them instead to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the protest organisers to address their legitimate grievances; calls on the Government to review its training of the Colombian Police, suspend the sale of riot control materials and review all other arms exports to Colombia in light of the current situation; and further calls on the Government as pen holders for the Colombian peace process at the UN Security Council to promote substantive reform of the Colombian security services and full implementation of the Peace Accord.
I will continue to monitor the situation in Colombia closely and I offer my heartfelt solidarity to those with friends and family in Colombia at such a difficult time.