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Friday, September 24, 2021

Colombia: Police reform bill tabled in parliament

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The Colombian government on Wednesday submitted to parliament a draft law on police reform, which has been strongly criticized, both domestically and internationally, for the barbaric crackdown on mass mobilizations since late April.

The text, however, does not provide for the police to cease to belong to the Ministry of Defense.

"The national police must remain part of the Ministry of Defense, because of the special circumstances, the threats and the violence that Colombia continues to face," Defense Minister Diego Molano told AFP.

In a country deeply marked by decades of civil strife, the police operate in areas such as the fight against drug trafficking, the security of civilians (…), the fight against trafficking, and this necessitates maximum coordination with the armed forces. ", Added Mr. Molano.

The reform provides in particular better police training and sanctions against those who do not "fully" provide information during arrests or prevent journalists from videotaping their actions.

The government has been confronted since late April with wave of social controversy. The participants in the mass demonstrations demand more social justice and a more solidary state in the face of economic and social decline due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus.

After the successive incidents of police barbarity in the repression of demonstrations - they are killed more than 60 people - they also claim to have a reform of the police, especially to cease to belong to the Ministry of Defense.

In early July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ECHR) had stigmatized the "disproportionate" and "lethal" response of security forces to the protests.

Among his recommendations to the government was for the police to become a political institution, citing the "obsession with the logic of armed conflict in response to social mobilization."

The government of the right under President Ivan Duque, in power since 2018, has faced several waves of controversy. The most recent, from the end of April, triggered the plan to increase VAT and expand the tax base, which was very quickly withdrawn.

The mobilization, however, then turned into a protest against government policy.

Thousands of Colombians took to the streets again yesterday, Tuesday, after a month of suspension.

A total of 70 people were arrested in police raids in Bogota, Medellin and Cali.

Police "arrested 70 people, 69 of them on the spot, for offenses committed (…) on July 20, and another under arrest warrant for murder," police said in a press release.

In addition, 50 people, 24 civilians and 26 police officers, were injured in the incidents, according to the ombudsman's office, an independent public authority responsible for protecting human rights.

Source: RES

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