Colombian President Ivan Duque Pledges Police Reform After Deadly Protests

Colombian President Ivan Duque pledged an effort to “modernize” the police with better human rights training and increase oversight of officers amid widespread allegations of police brutality during protests.

Duque announced on June 6 that he would ask Congress to approve measures to reform police, including the creation of a new human rights directorate headed by an outside expert and a new education directorate for officer training.

A new complaints systems and disciplinary standards for officers would also be set up, according to a statement from the defense ministry.

The defense ministry also said that new police uniforms will incorporate body cameras  and a systematic use of identification badges that will make names and ranks more visible.

The goal of the measures is to ensure “professionalization” to train all police officers in human rights and use of force,” Defense Minister Diego Molano told AFP News.

According to Duque, the law will be proposed on the first day of the next legislative session in July.

Duque also said that the government is working on two laws: one that would establish a criteria for legitimate use of force and another that would regulate the use and sale of less-lethal weapons.

The announcement also comes as a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrives in Colombia to evaluate the recent unrest in the capital of Bogota and the city of Cali.

Over 60 people have died in protests where police allegedly opened fire on demonstrators and also stood by as people in civilian clothes shot protesters, sparking international condemnation and calls for independent investigation.

At least three officers are charged with murder.

Later in the day, an umbrella group of protesters called off talks with the government, accusing them of “purposely delaying negotiations” to address socioeconomic inequities in the country.

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