The Colombian government has officially asked the United States to certify the origins of some 65,000 weapons that were sold to Colombia since 2007, national media reported on Tuesday.
In particular, concern has been raised over a batch of some 64,485 German Sig Sauer SP 2022 model pistols, which were apparently sold to Colombia’s National Police between 2006 and 2012.
German law currently prohibits the sale of weapons to countries embroiled in armed conflict and to security forces accused of widespread human rights violations, out of fear that said weapons could be used for “internal repression,” according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
While that would prohibit German arms dealers from doing business with the Colombian state, the German government had allowed the export of Sig Sauer weapons to the United States on the condition that the US Department of Defense not resell them.
Now, allegations are circulating that the US government did precisely that, after a German-manufactured SP 2022 pistol was found in the hands of a young Colombian police officer in May. Since then, almost 65,000 similar weapons have been discovered within the National Police.
The weapons apparently arrived in shipments beginning in 2006, when then-Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos, currently preparing to enter his second term as president, authorized the replacement of the Armed Forces decades-old weapons with newer ones from the United States. The deal brought over 100,000 guns to Colombia, many of which now turn out to be German-made.
If the US government did in fact resell German-made weapons to Colombia, it would violate a commitment made with Sig Sauer and the German government.
According to El Tiempo, up until 2011 only “very small quantities of this weapon [Sig Sauer] were manufactured in the United States,” suggesting that the shipments must have originated from Germany. The German government has declared that “the allegations are serious” and that it would wait “to deduce what American companies or state institutions made mistakes” before determining what course of action to take.
The United States could face sanctions for reselling unauthorized German weapons to Colombia if the accusations prove to be true, according to reports in German newspapers.
In May of last year, another German arms manufacturer, Heckler & Koch, admitted to illegally selling thousands of rifles to Mexico, which were “reportedly used to commit human rights violations,” according to investigative crime outlet, Insight Crime.
The US government has a long history of supporting security forces with poor human rights records, even in the face of international or domestic sanctions. The United States has drawn criticism from the international human rights community for its lack of accountability regarding arms sales, military aid, and military training.
- El lio de las pistolas que EE.UU. le vendio a Colombia (El Tiempo)
- Germany Arms Firm Illegally Sold Weapons to Mexico (Insight Crime)