Peru Ombudsman urges new Minister of Interior to stamp out police bribery

Peru’s public ombudsman, Beatriz Merino, has called on the new minister of the Interior, Mercedes Cabanillas, to eliminate bribery at police stations and stamp out mistreatment of the public.

Merino’s announcement was in response to Cabanillas’ request, made when she was sworn in as minister Thursday, that the Public Ombudsman office work jointly with the ministry to improve the police system.

Merino said that she will present the minister with an integrated proposal, which her office has been preparing over the past year, to reform and reorganize the police force. The plan will be ready in May, developed after monitoring work in 350 police stations nationwide, reading 800 case files and revising the complaints of police corruption and abuse filed over the past several years a the Ombudsman office.

“Three things must be done,” said Merino. The first, she said, was for citizens to be able to file a complaint at a police station without having to pay commissions and without being mistreated or their complaints rejected.

“Second, design a public policy on the police force for the next 10 years, and third, broach once and for all the issue of police salaries, working hours and logistics.” Merino also said that the infrastructure of police stations, “the face they give to the public”, must be improved immediately.

Cabanillas’ appointment as minister of the interior came as a surprise mid-week, although the resignation of Remigio Hernani from the post was already a given. Cabanillas is fairly new to security issues, serving only recently on Congressional committees on security, but she is an able and seasoned politician, aware that the Interior portfolio has seen many politicians stumble. Additionally, she has strong backing within the Apra party and in Congress, and undoubtedly will be one of the stronger members in the cabinet, which cabinet chief and premier Yehude Simon has tried fill with more independents than Apra card-carriers.

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