At least 21 killed in Colombia protests, Human Rights Watch says

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BOGOTA, June 9 - Brutal abuses by the Colombian police during recent anti-government protests are not isolated incidents but part of extensive failings by state security forces, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday.

According to the Government figures, the national demonstrations against the President Ivan Duque's economic policies, which began in April and have been direct connected with at least 21 deaths.

Local rights groups say that dozens more have been killed by police and HRW says it has confirmed 34 deaths are linked to protests, including 20 people probably killed by security forces.

It has also documented beatings, sexual abuse and arbitrary detention of protesters and bystanders by security forces.

These violent abuses are not isolated incidents by Colombian officers, but rather the result of systemic shortcomings of the Colombian police, said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch in a statement.

The report suggested that the police killed 16 protesters or bystanders with modern ammunition. In 15 of these cases, the killings may have been intentional.

At least one other victim died after being beaten by police, while three others were killed following the excessive use of teargas or flash-bang cartridges, it said.

Duque has repeatedly insisted that the majority of Colombian police respect the human rights of civilians, and he has said that any cop who acted illegally will be punished. On Sunday, he announced his government will ask Congress to increase training and further oversight of police.

Representatives from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrived in the country over the weekend for a three-day visit to gather information about possible rights abuses during the protests. They are expected to release a report next week. How often do I see my wife?

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