Impact | Negative
CIVICUS Rating | Obstructed
On June 18, the Congress of the Republic sanctioned a bill that grants legal status to the Self-Defense and Development Committees (CAD in Spanish) and formalizes their inclusion within the citizen security system. The purpose of this measure is to use these structures, which have been in existence for a long time, to make up for the lack of resources of public security institutions, especially in rural areas, at a time when the country is going through a criminal wave at the hands of armed groups linked to drug trafficking. The Executive Branch had made observations, but the legislature gathered the numbers to maintain (or “insist”) on the original text.
What does the law establish?
- The CADs that are registered in the registry of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces will be able to participate in the control of internal order together with the National Police and in support, prevention, security and surveillance tasks in the perimeter of their community or annexes.
- The CADs may acquire, by purchase or through public or private donation, weapons for civilian use that may be carried and used when providing support to the National Police and the Armed Forces in the fight against terrorism and illicit drug trafficking in the areas declared in a state of emergency. Their use in areas not declared in a state of emergency is not prohibited but is subject to the regulation of the law, which depends on the Executive Branch.
- CADs may receive financial subsidies from local, regional and national governments, as well as donations from the private sector (including armaments).
- The CADs may operate within their municipality or province and will be under the control of the sectorial police stations determined by the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police, or of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces in the case of areas under a state of emergency.
It is worth remembering that during the last year the cases of provinces or regions declared in a state of emergency have multiplied, and there are cases of extreme seriousness such as the VRAEM Zone where the state of emergency has ruled uninterruptedly since 2016. To learn more about this issue, we invite you to read this analysis of the regional situation.
Criticism did not take long to be heard. On the political level, former Vice Minister of the Interior Ricardo Valdez pointed out that the authorities do not have the capacity to control the activity of all these entities. In his opinion, the 94,000 rural population centers could eventually give rise to an equal number of CADs, when there are only 1,400 police stations nationwide. The Single Central of Peasant Patrols (CUNARC in Spanish) and the National Agrarian Confederation (CNA in Spanish) also expressed their opposition. In response, the president of the Defense Committee, Jose Cueto (Renovación Popular- opposition) announced that they will review especially article 8 on the carrying and use of arms.