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Government bypassed parliament to support EU aid for a Malian police squad that massacred protesters, investigation finds

MINISTERS bypassed Parliament after the Brexit vote to support an EU aid package for a Mali police squad that went on to massacre protesters, according to an investigation. 

Between 2017 and 2019, the British government partly funded the EU’s Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali), which trains security forces in west Africa. 

One group which benefited from the programme is Mali’s counter-terrorism police unit, the Special Anti-Terrorism Force (Forcat), which in 2020 was accused of shooting 14 protesters. 

The Foreign Office approved funding for the EU programme in December 2017, 18 months after Britain voted to leave the EU, investigative website Declassified UK revealed today. 

Foreign Office staff have been accused of over-riding parliamentary scrutiny to approve the deal.

Then foreign minister Alan Duncan recently apologised to a committee of MPs, admitting that the agreement was “not handled in the correct manner.” 

Declassified UK reported that Britain contributed to approximately 15 per cent of EUCAP Sahel Mali’s €30 million (£23.4m) annual budget up until January 2019. 

It also contributed troops and funding up until May last year to a separate scheme, the EU Training Mission Mali, of which Forcat also benefited. 

The investigative site, which focuses on British foreign policy and defence, also revealed that the killings allegedly carried out by Forcat took place just three months after it received training from the EU. 

The armed police unit’s commander, Oumar Samake, was arrested over the July 2020 massacre, which took place amid mass protests demanding the resignation of then president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has since been deposed by a coup. 

More than 150 protesters were also injured during the protests. 

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths, who is also the chairman of left Leave campaign group Lexit, said that the investigation confirms that British and EU support for foreign security forces “is almost always a major part of the problem rather than a solution.”

“There is something deeply suspicious about the British government avoiding parliamentary scrutiny in order to continue funding a dubious EU programme in Mali years after the Brexit referendum result,” he told the Morning Star.

“As French covert action continues in that country, this report confirms that the Malian armed police we have helped to train have massacred civilians.”

British troops were sent to Mali earlier this year as part of an international UN peacekeeping mission against rising Islamist attacks in the country. 

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