Confirman retiro de ayuda militar de Gran Bretaña a Colombia

Tras varias décadas de suministrar la asistencia, el Reino Unido cesó esos recursos.

Gran Bretaña confirmó acabar con una década de ayuda militar a las fuerzas armadas de Colombia después de acusaciones de flagrantes violaciones de derechos humanos, que incluyen el asesinato fuera de combate de civiles que fueron presentados como guerrilleros.

La información fue revelada por el diario inglés The Guardian, indicando que el Gobierno colombiano quedó "muy sorprendido" por la decisión de cesar los programas bilaterales de cooperación, según dijo el viceministro de Defensa, Sergio Jaramillo.

El diario inglés indicó que el ministro de relaciones exteriores inglés, David Miliband, anunció que la decisión había sido comunicada hace un mes a la Cámara de los Comunes. Dijo que el gobierno inglés "comparte la preocupación".

"Nuestros proyectos bilaterales de derechos humanos con el ministerio colombiano de defensa cesarán", dijo el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores inglés.

El diario inglés recuerda que los proyectos de ayuda contemplan un programa de limpieza de minas antipersonas vigente desde 2000 y otro proyecto de derechos humanos que empezó en 2006. Revela el diario que la ayuda militar totalizaba 190,000 libras esterlinas por año. Jaramillo calificó la decisión como un "golpe severo" a las fuerzas armadas de un "gran aliado", según el diario inglés.Jaramillo indicó que "ningún otro país europeo ha trabajado de cerca con el ejército (colombiano) como el Reino Unido", según el diario.

El siguiente es el artículo del diario inglés.

UK ends bilateral military aid to Colombia

Concerns over human rights prompts decision
• Colombia says move is 'severe blow' to military
Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá, Wednesday 29 April 2009 12.31 BST Article history

Britain has quietly ended nearly a decade of military aid to Colombia's armed forces after accusations of gross violations of human rights, including the murder of civilians who were shot and reported as guerrillas killed in combat.

The Colombian government was "extremely surprised" by the decision to cut off the bilateral cooperation programmes, the deputy defence minister, Sergio Jaramillo, told the Guardian.

The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, announced the move in a written statement to the House of Commons last month, stating that the government "shares the concern ... that there are officers and soldiers of the Colombian armed forces who have been involved in, or allowed, abuses".

"Our bilateral human rights projects with the Colombian ministry of defence will cease," the statement said.

The projects included a landmine clearance programme that had been under way since 2000 and a human rights training project that began in 2006. Together, funding for the programmes totalled £190,000 a year.

While the financial value is relatively small, the termination of British military aid has symbolic significance for Colombia. Jaramillo called the decision a "severe blow" to the armed forces from a "great ally".

"No other European country has worked as closely with the army as the United Kingdom," he said.

Colombia's military had long been accused of colluding with illegal rightwing paramilitary groups. Investigators are looking into 1,296 cases since 2002 of reported executions of civilians by army soldiers who dressed the victims in rebel uniforms and planted weapons on them to present them as legitimate guerrilla casualties.

The UN high commissioner for human rights described the practice as "widespread and systematic". Many of the cases came to light after a public outcry over the fate of 11 men missing from a poor suburb of Bogotá who were then reported as combat deaths thousands of miles away, days after their disappearance. Twenty-seven officers, including three generals were discharged over those killings.

A Foreign Office spokesman said none of the aid had gone directly to any of the units involved in the killing of civilians, adding it would be "extremely unfortunate" if they had, since the UK training programme had been aimed at raising awareness of human rights.

Jaramillo said that precisely because of the situation, "it makes no sense whatsoever to cut support for human rights at this critical time."

In November, the US, Colombia's largest military aid donor at about $500m (£340m) a year, suspended the eligibility for funding to several army units that were believed to be involved in the extrajudicial executions, known as "false positives".

While welcoming the UK's decision as "a step in the right direction", the London-based group Justice for Colombia said that the "more offensive" elements of British military aid, labelled counter­-narcotics assistance, was not affected.

The Foreign Office spokesman acknowledged it would continue to work with "some members of the armed forces" on anti-drug programmes. The UK does not reveal the financial value of that assistance due to "security concerns", he said.

The UK will also continue to fund landmine clearance projects through the UN office in Colombia, as well as more than £1m for civilian human rights projects, £900,000 to support UN drugs projects, and £250,000 to fight what has been described as rampant impunity from prosecution enjoyed by some Colombians.

In the statement to the Commons, Miliband said: "The challenge for the Colombian government is to ensure the strategic human rights principles we have helped to promote are embedded and consistently practised by all members of their armed services."


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