Jun 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Colombia to "modernize" police force amid allegations of excessive force

Ivan Duque

Ivan Duque in 2020. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Colombian President Ivan Duque on Sunday announced plans to modernize the country's police force after weeks of protests, which have sparked an international outcry over alleged human rights abuses, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The mass anti-government protests have entered their second month in the country. Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for investigations into deaths of protestors at the hands of the police.

The state of play: The protests were sparked by proposed tax reforms but then widened into a social movement focused on poverty and inequality in the country.

  • "The attorney general's office says 20 deaths are linked directly to more than a month of demonstrations against Duque's social and economic policies, while rights groups report dozens killed by security forces," reports Reuters.
  • At least three officers are facing murder charges, per the news agency.

The big picture: The proposed reforms, which Duque said he would ask Congress to approve, include the creation of a human rights directorate, which will seek international input on policy, as well as a new education directorate for officer training, Reuters reports.

  • The reforms would also "expanded disciplinary standards for officers" and create a new complaints system.
  • A new design for police uniforms will incorporate body cameras and more clearly display officer's names and ranks, said Duque.

What's next: The law will officially be proposed at the start of the next legislative session in July, per Reuters.

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