Street crime and violence have triggered a major political crisis in Chile, because of rampant insecurity, and the third police officer in less than a month was killed on duty. The leftish/populist government of Chile has had to sign draconian laws favoring law enforcement officer's right to use their arms, increased penalties for crimes involving firearm possession, plus US$ 1,5 billion in funds to fight crime,
President Gabriel Boric and three former elected presidents, the Attorney General, the head of the Carabineros police force attended the burial mass for the latest law enforcement officer to be shot dead on duty, Meantime the catch-all coalition which supports Boric in congress voted divided on the new laws, finally approved overwhelmingly by the rest of the two houses.
The president, who has seen his support standing erode because of the insecurity, made a strong call to stop political bickering and face organized crime united. We face organized crime together. Our unity is the most powerful weapon against crime.
Boric announced US$1.5 billion in added security spending and signed off on four new laws that the government says will help fight organized crime, drug trafficking and crime. The measures include criminalizing extortion as well as increased penalties for kidnapping and some instances of firearm possession.
One law increases penalties for crimes against police while giving them more leverage in using force if their lives or lives of others are at-risk.
The law has been criticized by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which issued a press release stating the law could increase police abuse and impunity and is a enormous step back” in terms of advancing police reforms.
Chile's police force has faced human rights abuse accusations following a heavy-handed crackdown of the violent 2019 protests against inequality.
Boric, a former student protest leader, was a vocal police critic as a legislator and promised to reform the police as a candidate. Polls show voters largely disapprove of the government's handling of crime and Boric has since hardened his stance.
At an earlier press conference, hours after police officer Daniel Palma, 33, was killed on duty in downtown Santiago Wednesday night, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said the government was implementing an intervention plan in 30 districts earlier than scheduled.
Palma is the third police officer to be killed on duty in less than a month, sparking public backlash.