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LatinNews Daily - 24 May 2021

US asked to stop selling weapons to Colombia

Colombia: On 20 May international human rights NGO Amnesty International (AI) said that there is “verified visual evidence” that “[US] weapons and equipment are being misused to commit human rights violations against protesters in Colombia”. AI called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “immediately cease the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of equipment used for repression such as small arms, shotguns, and related ammunition; less-lethal equipment, such as tear gas, riot control projectiles and launchers; armoured vehicles, dual-use surveillance technologies, training, and any other technical or financial assistance”. There have been anti-government protests in Colombia since 28 April with recurrent mass demonstrations across the country to which the government responded by deploying the military and anti-riot police (Esmad). Colombian human rights organisations have recorded at least 47 deaths, 39 in the context of violent repression by the Colombian police. AI has verified the use of “Venom high-capacity grenade launchers and Penn Arms hand-held grenade launchers, both manufactured by the American company Combined Systems”. It highlights that the US “had historically been one of the main providers of police weapons and other equipment to Colombia and there are reports of new purchase orders of [US] equipment from the beginning of 2021”.

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