Guatemala to track cops with computer chips

2012-10-24 20:34
An SA police officer (File, Sapa)

An SA police officer (File, Sapa)

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Guatemala City - Police in Guatemala will be equipped with computer chips to track their movements starting next year in a new bid to restore public confidence in a security force plagued by charges of abuse.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez said on Tuesday that the chips, which will be fixed onto officers' badges, will allow supervisors to track their movements and ensure they are responding to orders.

Police will also get new uniforms “so they can be considered friends of the population,” Lopez told reporters, without providing further information.

All police currently wear black uniforms, which Lopez said would be reserved for special forces and other elite units.

Guatemala's 24,000-strong police force has instilled little confidence in the public following the arrest of former top officials on a wide array of charges, including murder.

In August former police chief Erwin Sperisen was arrested in Geneva on charges of murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal detention, extortion and drug theft.

Guatemala had been calling for the arrest of the dual Swiss citizen since 2010, along with 18 other former members of the police and interior ministry.

The 42-year-old, who was chief of the national police from 2004-2007, is wanted by Guatemala over the 2005 killing of seven detainees and three other prisoners who had fled.

By law, Sperisen cannot be extradited because he has Swiss citizenship.

In March, Guatemala's former deputy interior minister Marlene Blanco was arrested on charges of involvement in several extra-judicial killings in 2009.

Guatemala and other Central American countries have seen a rise in drug violence in recent years as Mexico's powerful cartels - which have long conspired with corrupt local officials - have expanded their reach.

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