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Petro changes military leadership and asks them to guarantee respect for human rights

Colombian President Gustavo Petro renewed on Friday the military and police leadership with which plans to develop a new security policy focused on the defense of human rights and the search for peace in the country, where illegal armed groups still persist.

In addition to seeking to reduce violence and crime, Petro entrusted the new leadership “guarantee a substantial increase in respect for human rights and to civil liberties, as in any democracy it should be”.

Petro, who in his youth was a member of the extinct guerrilla M-19, told the press that during the selection of candidates they studied whether they had judicial ties and citizen complaints.

Both the Police and the Army have faced questions for alleged excessive use of force and operational errors in which civilians were injured. The UN confirmed that 28 of the 46 deaths that were recorded during the massive anti-government protests of 2021, were allegedly the responsibility of the police.

The new commander of the Armed Forces is General Helder Giraldo Bonilla, who was the Inspector General of the Army and an expert in International Humanitarian Law.

Army Commander will be General Luis Mauricio Ospina Gutiérrez, who until now directed the Escuela Superior de Guerra, the highest instance of military education, and has studied human rights. He has served as commander in Atlántico and Magdalena, in the north of the country, and in Bogotá.

The police will be commanded by General Henry Armando Sanabria with experience in the Directorate of Judicial Police and Investigation and in actions against organized crime in the Intelligence Directorate.

Petro, recently sworn in and first left-wing president in the country, it aspires to reform the police, so that it no longer depends on the Ministry of Defense and falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior or a new Ministry of Peace and Security.

This transition will be led by Defense Minister Iván Velásquez, a lawyer with a long career in the investigation of corruption who presided over the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.

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