By 30 votes in favor and only one vote against, the Constitutional Convention’s Human Rights Commission approved a first proposal to reform the Carabineros — the Chilean military police — last Saturday (28). Now the text must be approved by the majority of the Convention’s full for the reform to be included in the new Constitution.
“We want to create a public service that exercises the police function with unrestricted respect for human rights”, declared the constituent for the People’s List, Manuel Woldarsky.
Since the October 2019 protests, which called for constitutional reform, 2,499 lawsuits have been filed against the Chilean military police based on complaints by the Chilean National Human Rights Institute (Indh). Of the total, 2,147 cases denounce police abuse and torture against protesters, while 169 are associated with eye injuries. One of the most emblematic cases was that of a 16-year-old boy thrown from a bridge by a military policeman during the demonstrations.
Although the proposal is only a first version, the government of President Sebastian Piñera has already started a campaign against police reform.
The Minister of Interior and Public Security, Rodrigo Delgado, declared: “We cannot believe this idea that it is possible to erase the history of the Carabineros with a pennço”. Delgado also said that a possible change should go through an institution valued “by a sensible majority in the country”.
Chile’s Minister of Interior and Public Security also praised the work of the police, noting that the current government’s work is to “strengthen institutions”.
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The name Carabineros de Chile derives from the ancient cavalry that protected the Chilean aristocracy in the early 20th century with carbines. The military institution was created in 1927 and historically protects the interests of the powerful.
Chile’s Constitutional Convention is made up of 155 deputies and will have until 2022 to propose a new constitution that must pass through a popular plebiscite.
Edition: Thales Schmidt