Above photo: On February 26, 2021, the PBI-Colombia accompanied organization CREDHOS tweeted: “Day against #BrutalidadPolicial [police brutality] in #Barrancabermeja we demand the dismantling of #ESMAD.” CREDHOS.
On May 1, the British independent media outlet The Canary reported: “Over recent days, the Colombian national police have killed a number of civilians protesting a proposed tax hike on basic goods. Many more civilians have been injured, and Colombia’s riot police reportedly sexually assaulted a woman.”
The article by independent journalist John McEvoy further notes: “Documents obtained by The Canary can reveal that the UK’s College of Policing has been training Colombian police over the past three years.”
Is there a similar relationship between Canada and Colombia?
On October 30, 2017, the Canadian Press reported on a “bilateral police initiative” between Canada and Colombia.
At that time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “This effort will support post-conflict policing efforts in Colombia and will see Canadian police providing training, capacity building and strategic advice to our Colombian friends.”
Given the timing of that announcement, this police training would likely have taken place in 2018 coinciding with UK College of Police training.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has also noted that they maintain a “liaison officer” in Bogota. The RCMP says their role is to “act as the link between law enforcement agencies in Canada and in their host country.”
There does not appear to be more publicly available about the relationship between Canada and the Colombian police, but we will look more into this. (We can add though that the Toronto-based firm INKAS sold 4 Huron armoured vehicles to the National Police of Colombia in 2014.)
The Bogota-based NGO Temblores has documented that Colombian public forces have committed 639 homicides between 2017 and 2019. That includes 289 killings by Colombian Police along with killings by the Armed Forces and the intelligence services.
Temblores has also noted in December 2019 that at least 34 people have been killed by Colombia’s Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD) since it was first established in February 2019. Justice for Colombia has further noted with concern: “At least nine peasant farmers have been killed by the ESMAD during rural protests over state abandonment, human rights and underdevelopment.”
And referencing the 14 people killed in September 2020 following the police killing of Javier Ordonez, dhColombia tweeted: “It is necessary to disarm the [CAI/police sub-stations] of torture and sexual violence that they have become.”
The full article by John McEvoy in The Canary can be read at: Colombian police are killing civilians. British police are training them.