Proposed changes to Colombian intelligence and counterintelligence laws, including the dismantling of DAS, have been approved following debate in the First Commission of Congress, local media reported Wednesday.
The proposed laws seek to “protect the country from the possible excesses” of officials charged with gathering intelligence on behalf of the state, as well as imposing strict punishment, including prison sentences, against those who divulge state secrets to the press.
Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera explained that the proposed legislation “not only seeks to better protect citizens against criminal and terrorist threats”, but also safeguard against any abuse “that may occur in the gathering of intelligence to counter such threats.”
Rivera went on to explain that the new laws will enable the government to improve its intelligence gathering procedures and refine its intelligence databases to ensure that they are not influenced by any political, religious or media interference.
He summarised the laws, which are now subject to further debate in congress, as enabling the government to provide “better protection both to citizens from criminals, and to public officials who work in intelligence”.
These changes are being debated as part of a wider process of reformation of state agencies and institutions that were enabled last month when the Senate approved the granting of extraordinary powers to the Santos administration for a period of six months.