Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UK government and military supports terrorists

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In a revealing addendum to this post earlier the campaign group Justice For Columbia released a report (pdf) examining the assistance and training the UK is providing to the Colombian army and security forces, despite their record of systematic human rights abuses and failure to restrict drug trafficking. There is evidence from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines to suggest that the Colombian military continue to produce and deploy land mines, despite being signatories to the Ottawa Treaty, which prescribes the end of development and production of such devices and the destruction of all remaining stock within four years. Colombian military units in receipt of UK training in counter-narcotics are more frequently involved in "counter-insurgency activities" and are regularly implicated in the murder of civilians, being in the pockets of the drug barons and even being deployed against other Colombian security services carrying out counter-narcotics operations.

The most damning reports refer to the supportive activities of UK intelligence services:

According to the UN there is “suspicious coincidence between the names of the persons who appear in the intelligence reports prepared by the [Colombian] intelligence services and the victims of extrajudicial executions, threats and disappearances” and “clear parallels between the information collected by [Colombian] military intelligence regarding human rights defenders and the information that appears in public threats issued by paramilitary forces”
A 2003 investigation by The Guardian uncovered that there had been a surge in the supply of British military hardware and intelligence equipment to the Colombian military and that HMG was providing assistance in establishing a national intelligence centre in Colombia. More recently, Colombian press reports have frequently referred to military intelligence assistance provided by the UK with one report alleging that the UK intelligence services are the second most active in Colombia after US agencies.
Do you support the provision of intelligence to paramilitary organisations who will inevitably use it to identify, threaten and possibly murder people working to improve human rights and employment conditions? Maybe not, but your elected government does.

It is of note to observe that the US policy of tying assistance to independent, public certification of improvements in human rights is far superior to the UK's throwing of money at any death squad that wants it. It should also be observed that the US itself is not a signatory of the Ottawa Treaty.

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