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May 20th, 2021

NDP: Canada must condemn the violence in Colombia and ensure human rights are protected

OTTAWA – Today, NDP MPs responded to the ongoing extreme use of force by Colombian police and military to suppress peaceful protests in the country. Already, more than 40 people have died, hundreds have been injured, and there are reports of sexual violence and forced disappearances at the hands of the police. Among those targeted are community leaders, including union organizers, Indigenous community leaders, and Afro-Colombian activists.

“Canadians are very concerned about what is happening in Colombia and want to be assured that the Liberal government is doing all it can to stand up for human and civil rights,” said NDP international development critic Heather McPherson. “The violence and repressive tactics used by the Colombian police and military is shocking and unprecedented. The right to peaceful protest is important for any society. We all have an obligation to speak out whenever that right is under threat and people who don’t agree with their governments are forcibly silenced.”

Canada needs to condemn these actions in the strongest terms, but also needs to be vigilant regarding arms sales to Columbia. In the past, Canadian Light Armoured Vehicles were sold to Colombia, which have potential risks for use against citizens. The ongoing violence Colombian protestors are facing is a clear example of why New Democrats want to ensure that we are scrupulous to avoid contributing to human rights violations.

“The Liberal government needs to do a lot more to show that they are applying the arms export risk assessment criteria rigorously, to ensure that Canadian arms are not being sold to countries where there are concerns about human rights violations,” said NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris. “Canadians expect their government to be an active participant in building peace and not permitting companies to profit from human rights abuses in other countries.”