The former mayor of New York has encouraged Colombia to start using drones in the country’s fight against crime and drug trafficking, Colombia’s presidential office said on Wednesday.
In a meeting with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani encouraged the president to start using new technologies such as unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, as a means of reducing crime in the country.
The former mayor suggested using drones to surveil areas of the country where more traditional surveillance measures have not proved effective.
According to the Presidential Office, other suggestions proposed by the mayor in Wednesday’s meeting included better management of crime statistics, more frequent use of DNA evidence in crime investigations, and the creation of a ministry of public safety.
This is not the first time that the use of drones has been discussed in Colombia.
In July 2013, the country’s air force announced that it would implement the use of drones in the armed forces’ fight against guerrilla groups and drug traffickers.
While drones have acquired an international notoriety, the most controversial aspect of their use in Colombia is the air force’s willingness to use them in big, heavily populated cities. It is not yet known if the “urban drones” will be used solely as a detection tool or whether they will also have combat capabilities.
In 2013, fifty drones had reportedly already been acquired from the UK by Colombia, with additional powerful drones to be supplied by the Israeli government.
In rural areas, one of the tasks that will fall to the drone teams is the protection of oil pipe lines as well as preventing the destruction of important infrastructure, both which have been continuously targeted by the country’s largest left-wing rebel groups, the FARC and ELN.
Drones have previously been used in the country to combat the activities of drugs traffickers, supplied by the United States following a concerted effort between the two nations to increase security in the region.
While proponents argue that drones offer a more tactical approach to war, critics question the program’s legality and point to increasing civilian deaths as proof of its ineffectiveness.
A report released by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in February revealed that civilian deaths from US drone strikes in Afghanistan tripled in 2013.