Thursday, June 18, 2015

Police State?

Police watch a demonstration by displaced people on Plaza Bolivar.
One of the first things which foreigners remark about when visiting Bogotá is how many police and soldiers they see on the streets. There is a reason for this, of course - Colombia's terribly
 high rates of street crimes such as muggings, even murder.

Police detain a man on Carrera Septima.
However, the ever-present police could become scarier. Even tho they are frequently accused of abuses against the public, a new Police Code now in Congress would enable police to enter private homes without a judge's order when the officer feels it's case of 'hot pursuit'; the code would also enable police to detain someone 'for their own protection' or that of the public. And the code authorizes police to use polemical electric stun guns, known as tasers. Public protests would be illegal without previous authorization.

Altho some say that the police already have some of these powers, the code has generated protests from opposition politicians and civil rights groups, who say that it opens the door to more police abuses.

The reform bill is still under consideration in Congress. Expect protests if it advances.

Posters protest police abuse.
Anti-riot police along Carrera Septima.
Police at night in La Candelaria.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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