Thank you for contacting me about Colombia and Early Day Motion (EDM) 4.
I am sorry to learn of the recent events you describe, and I thank you for bringing them to my attention. My thoughts are with those affected.
I share your concerns and I know that Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office ministers do too. Indeed, it is for such reasons including, but not exclusive to, those to which you refer why Colombia remains one of thirty human rights priority countries for the UK.
Befitting its priority status, and as a UN penholder, I know that ministers and officials regularly raise human rights concerns directly with the Colombian Government and via the relevant multilateral fora, including in relation to the right to peaceful protest. The UK's Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, for instance, raised concerns on a virtual visit to Colombia in February.
The UK is forthright in supporting the right to peaceful protest everywhere, including in Colombia. I join the Minister for the Americas, Wendy Morton, in calling for an end to the violence and for all instances of excessive force used against protestors to be thoroughly investigated by the authorities, and for appropriate action taken against those responsible.
Police Training: I note your concern for the training provided by the UK to the Colombia police force. I understand that fewer than ten UK personnel are engaged in such roles, and that the programme aims to contribute to the modernisation of the police service by improving police practices with a preventive approach, focusing on building links and trust within communities to help prevent violence; putting human rights first when managing social tensions and preventing violence; and developing strategies for approaching and preventing gender-based violence.
In light of the above, I do not feel it necessary to sign EDM 4.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP