EL TIEMPO, October 22, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The United States Senate submitted a new bill with the purpose of providing Colombia with a total of $463,000,000 in 2022.
This time there is a series of conditions, associated with the guarantee of human rights, which has been proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee for the first time.
No economic aid may be furnished to the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD).
Besides that, five percent of the funds furnished may not be delivered until the Secretary of State certifies that the Colombian government is investigating the police officers that “ordered, directed, or used excessive force and performed other illegal acts against persons who were demonstrating peacefully in 2021”.
“International attention is crucial to assure justice for the recent police abuses in the country,” wrote José Miguel Vivanco, Director for the Americas of the NGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW), with reference to this decision.
“It’s very significant that ESMAD has been forbidden to receive cooperation funds by the United States Congress,” stated Jaime Carrión, a political scientist at the National University of Colombia.
Colombia has received international cooperation money for many years. And every time, the U. S. has made demands when it was financing Plan Colombia.
Nevertheless, this is the first time that those conditions pertained specifically to the Colombian Police, as the U.S. aid has been focused on drug war policy.
“All of the demonstrations of support for human rights at the international level are victories. The subject of human rights has never been a central issue on the agenda (of the U.S.), and the fact that this subject is beginning to be aired now is a conquest for those that took part in the protests,” commented Carrión.
Could this decision by the U.S. Congress lead to reform of the Police?
Reform of the Colombian Police depends mostly on the Colombian administration and Congress. “This government has not yet been able to finalize a reform like the reform of the Armed Forces, and I don’t think there is enough good governance in the Congress to put forward this reform under current conditions,” he asserted.
That will be the task of the next administration, in 2022, which might be able to take the lead in reforming the Colombian Police.
The bill still has to be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, and later by the full U.S. Congress.