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Colombia: Accused of killings, excessive use of force and sexual abuse by human rights groups, members of the police ‘must responde before the authorities’, states national police director

“Colombia police will be held accountable for violence, abuses amid protests: top cop”, 16 May 2021

...Members of Colombia’s national police force who are responsible for abuses or acts of violence amid ongoing protests will be punished to the full extent of the law, the head of the force said. Demonstrators and human rights groups have repeatedly accused police officers of killing civilians, excessive use of force, sexual abuse and the use of firearms, both during current protests and previous ones...“They must respond before the authorities and whoever has knowingly committed a crime; the response will have the full weight of the law,” national police director General Jorge Luis Vargas told Reuters in an interview...Vargas said 122 disciplinary proceedings have been opened against police since protests began last month, while three have been arrested on murder charges tied to civilian deaths...Accused officers will have due process, he said, adding cops have also been the victims of physical aggression, firearm attacks and one incident where a mob set fire to a station. One police officer has died and nearly 900 have been injured...Protesters, who originally called marches against a now-canceled tax plan, have expanded demands to include a basic income, an end to police violence and opportunities for young people, among other things...Leftist politicians and student groups have long demanded the police be transferred out of defence ministry control, use of lethal weapons during protests be banned, the riot police disbanded and officers implicated in abuse be tried in civilian and not military courts...

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