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Colombia: Armed Forces

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to encourage the Colombian Government to investigate alleged murders of civilians by the Colombian army. (177147)

Whilst the majority of murders in Colombia are committed by illegal armed groups, we regularly call on the Colombian Government, privately and in public, to ensure procedures are in place to fully investigate alleged abuses against civilians by the Colombian army. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Dr. Howells, did so with the Colombian Defence Minister and Vice President during their visits to the UK last year, and he repeated these concerns when visiting Colombia in November 2007. We have been impressed at the Colombian government’s commitment to tackling this problem, but we recognise that more needs to be done. This is why the UK continues to provide the Colombian armed forces with human rights training and practical advice on military justice reform—which includes forging a closer working relationship between the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and the Colombian armed forces—so to promote their adherence to international humanitarian law.