Calls Grow For Canada To Condemn Government Violence In Colombia

TORONTO (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 12th May, 2021) Canada must do more to denounce the Colombian government's violent repression of protests in the Latin American country and put pressure on the government of President Ivan Duque, foreign policy advocacy groups told Sputnik.

Canada's top diplomat, Marc Garneau, issued a statement on Sunday evening in which he condemned the violence and chided the "disproportionate use of force" by security forces and acts of vandalism by protesters, however, foreign policy advocacy groups believe this does not go far enough.

"We do not believe the Canadian government has gone far enough," Bianca Mugyenyi, Director of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute (CFPI), told Sputnik on Tuesday. "We would like to see stronger criticism of the security forces violence and the government's responsibility for it."

Mugyenyi said that Ottawa "reluctantly" reacted to the deteriorating situation in Colombia only after sizeable protests propped up across Canada, noting that the Minister of Foreign Affairs squared blame at the feet of both parties, despite Duque being accused of employing excessive and often deadly force to quell the protests.

The Canadian Latin America Alliance (CLAA), in a statement to Sputnik, also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be stronger in its condemnation of the Colombian government, citing increased Canadian responsibility amid growing economic ties between the two Americas countries.

The CLAA urged Ottawa to press Bogota to disband Colombia's anti-riot police, the mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD), investigate state security officers believed to be responsible for the violence and to begin negotiations with the National Strike Committee.

The CFPI's director also pointed to reports of Canadian-made armored vehicles being employed by Colombian security forces during the crackdown, saying that the Trudeau government must probe the allegations.

A Peace Brigades International Canada report published last week alleged that Canadian-made light armored vehicles are possibly being used to commit human rights violations.

In 2014, the Colombian army procured 24 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) manufactured in London, Ontario and later in the year Toronto-based INKAS Armoured Vehicles Manufacturing announced that it inked a deal to supply the National Police of Columbia with its Huron armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

Global Affairs Canada, which would have had to approve each of the shipments to Colombia, did not respond to Sputnik's request for comment by the time of publication. Earlier this year, Canada canceled military exports to Turkey after a probe found that Canadian weapons were used in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Protests against an increase in gas prices and utility bills as part of state-proposed tax reform have been underway in Colombia since April 28. Despite Colombian President Ivan Duque withdrawing the controversial reform on Sunday, protesters have continued to rally across the country for a better health system and higher salaries, among other demands.

Colombia's Ministry of Defense has reported more than 430 detentions and more than 800 injuries, both amid law enforcement and protesters, who have been demanding social and healthcare reforms, as well as the demilitarization of cities.

At least 49 people have reportedly been killed and several hundreds have gone missing in the first week of demonstrations.