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After weeks of protests, Colombian president finally announces police reforms

SHARE After weeks of protests, Colombian president finally announces police reforms
A man waves a banner representing Colombia’s national colors.

A man waves a banner representing Colombia’s national colors during an anti-government protest triggered by proposed tax increases on public services, fuel, wages and pensions in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, June 2, 2021.

Fernando Vergara, Associated Press

Large-scale, anti-government protests have continued in Colombia for over a month. Sunday, Colombian President Iván Duque finally announced new measures to “modernize” police forces, according to Yahoo News.

Protesters, led by an umbrella group called the National Strike Committee, have demanded for health care changes, new economic policies and police reforms for weeks, reported the Deseret News.

What did President Duque say?

Sunday, Duque announced a number of measures to reform the country’s police system. The measures will be proposed to Congress at the start of the next legislative session in July, said Yahoo News.

  • The president will propose new laws with international input that set clear criteria for the legitimate use of police force, said Axios.
  • He will also propose new laws that regulate the use and sale of less lethal weapons, which have been misused by police to cause deaths, Reuters reported.
  • He will ask Congress for additional human rights training and expanded disciplinary standards for officers, reported Yahoo News.
  • He will propose a new human rights directorate position, according to Yahoo News.
  • He will push to develop new uniforms for officers that will incorporate body cameras and will display officer names and ranks more clearly with QR codes, Axios reported.

These measures have not been formally proposed or approved, according to Axios.

Why did the Colombian president finally respond?

No clear explanation has been given for the president’s decision to reform police now. However, three developments have coincided with the new announcement:

  1. Saturday night, the military judicial system said it will prosecute seven officers who had dressed in civilian clothes then fired on protesters, reported Reuters.
  2. Sunday, an envoy from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrived in Colombia, reported Yahoo News.
  3. Sunday, the National Strike Committee suspended negotiations without addressing the roadblocks currently limiting key supply chains, a topic pushed by the Colombian government, said Reuters.

Negotiations between the government and the National Strike Committee are expected to resume soon, reported Yahoo News.