Colombia to ‘modernize’ police after criticism of protest violence | Protest news

Colombian security forces have been accused of using excessive force during nationwide anti-government protests.

Colombian President Ivan Duque has announced plans to “modernize” the country’s police force, including human rights training and tightening control over officers, as his government has been criticized for using force against protesters.

Anti-government demonstrations They have been taking place in Colombia since the end of April, when thousands of people took to the streets against the now-proposed tax reform, which critics say would disproportionately hurt the working middle class.

Huge rallies continued. Protesters have expanded their list of demands, including health and education reforms, while violence has escalated, especially in Cali. the epicenter of the protest,

The exact number of victims of the protests remains controversial, but human rights groups say dozens have been killed by security forces. The Prosecutor General’s Office says the 20 deaths were related to direct protests.

Speaking at a ceremony marking police advancement on Sunday, Duke said his government would ask Congress to approve the creation of a police human rights directorate that would seek international assistance in politics, a new officer training directorate.

Duke said he had ordered “a decree that would modernize the structure of the national police, in particular strengthen human rights policy.”

“Human rights protection, prevention and respect will be mentioned in this structure, because a human rights directorate will be established in the National Police,” said the President, who added that human rights support should have all the institutional support “today more than ever.”

The bill, which will be proposed on the first day of the next legislative session in July, will also create a new grievance system – extended disciplinary standards for officers, which is overseen by an independent center.

The government is drafting a law establishing legal standards for the use of force, another law to regulate the use of less lethal weapons, and a sale.

Not giving in to the protesters’ demands for “police reform”, Duke promised a “transformation” of the police, which responds to the Ministry of Defense.

The statement coincided with a visit to Colombia by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to investigate allegations of violence. Commission: he said It plans to hold personal-virtual meetings with civil society actors in the coming days.

On May 28, people in Kali take part in a protest demanding government action to tackle poverty, police violence and inequality [Juan B Diaz/Reuters]

Last Sunday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights alerted to recent violence Potassium, which left more than: Dozens of people died At the end of last month, he called for an independent inquiry into responsibility for the violence.

“It is possible that anyone reported to be involved in causing injury or death, including government officials, will be promptly, effectively, independently, impartially, transparently investigated, and those responsible will be held accountable,” the United Nations said. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

Negotiations between the Duke Government’s National Umbrella Strike Committee stopped last week, but is expected to resume on Sunday afternoon. The committee is made up of unions, student groups, and other civil society organizations.

The protesters demanded that Duke condemn the excessive use of force by the police to work to eliminate injustices in the country.

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