Monday, May 16

Colombia toughens sentences to combat crime and resurgence of violence

The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, sanctioned a law on Tuesday that toughens the penalties for certain crimes in order to combat security problems, vandalism and the wave of violence that followed the 2016 peace agreement.

“Today the costs are rising for criminals,” warned the conservative president from the presidential headquarters in Bogotá after signing the document.

The so-called “citizen security law” more severely punishes the carrying of bladed weapons, damage to private or public property, allows self-defense in some cases, increases the penalties of those who repeat a crime and establishes the highest possible sanction for those who murder police officers, human rights defenders, journalists or minors, explained Duque.

During the event, the president, the defense minister, high-ranking police officers, the attorney general, and congressmen insisted on the resurgence of robberies, vandalism, attacks on public forces, and murders.

The law, already approved by Congress, “is inspired by ordinary citizens (…) who feel intimidated and afraid,” said Defense Minister Diego Molano.

Its implementation is intended to reduce “the impunity of those who commit crimes”, give “greater protection to citizens and members of the public force as well as greater tools for the judges who apply justice,” the government said in a video projected during the act.

From now on, “violent crimes” that are carried out with dangerous weapons and thefts that exceed the equivalent of a thousand dollars will be jailed, said Duque.

“A sanction without the benefit of release from prison” was also established for damage to public infrastructure or private property.

“Here a clear message is sent (…) to those who have tried from vandalism to legitimize causes clearly influenced by politics,” he added.

During the massive and bloody anti-government protests that broke out in April 2021, the president accused a faction of protesters of committing “acts of vandalism.” Hundreds of them are detained for related crimes, according to the prosecution.

The law also provides for more severe punishments to combat the resurgence of violence that followed the peace agreement with the dissolved FARC guerrilla, which is evidenced by a new wave of massacres, selective assassinations and displacement.

The homicide of leaders, police officers and other cases already described will be punished with a sentence of up to 58 years in prison.

lv / lm