Chile creates commission to reform much-criticized police

Santiago (AFP) –


Chile President Sebastian Pinera announced on Tuesday a reform of the Carabineros military police that was accused of excessive use of force during recent social unrest.

"The reform and modernization of the Carabineros is something urgent, indispensable and necessary," said Pinera.

The Carabineros have come under heavy fire for their use of force against protesters since demonstrations broke out on October 18, initially over a modest metro fare hike in the capital Santiago, but then over inequality and the government of Pinera.

Protest violence and clashes between demonstrators and police left around 30 people dead and thousands injured, more than 350 of who suffered eye injuries after being hit by pellets fired by security forces.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the security forces for alleged abuses committed against prisoners as well as excessive use of tear gas and water cannon.

Pinera said the aim of the reform was to improve control of the security forces and respect for human rights, while also building trust.

Since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship in 1990, the police were one of the most respected institutions in Chile.

But a massive corruption scandal and the recent accusations of excessive force have cost the police much public support.