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Police Searches at Discretion? The Tension between Security and Privacy

Sebastián Lalinde Ordóñez | April 9, 2015

This text seeks to harmonize the duty of the National Police to preserve public order and guarantee security with the right to privacy.


For some people, it seems normal and natural for police to intercept, require, ask for identity documents, ask them to withdraw from a place, interrogate them or stop them in a preventive manner. While in other countries these police measures can only be practiced when various circumstances and requirements converge, in Colombia there are no clear criteria guiding the work of the police, which is one of the findings of this investigation.

This normative vacuum leads to this institution concentrating its actions on certain population groups that it considers dangerous, without any empirical evidence and only on the basis of prejudices.

However, this regulatory gloom, like any other lacuna in the law, can be overcome through the application of figures such as analogy. In this sense, this book rescues certain jurisprudential lines of the Constitutional Court that, if applied analogically to the police measures, would remove this activity from arbitrariness and frame it within the limits of the rule of law. In this way, it would avoid discriminatory and abusive invasions of privacy by the Police, which is the main finding that emerges from the Policing and Inequality Survey and the qualitative work done in this book.

Thus, this study gathers the different meanings that the word police has in the Colombian legal system. Likewise, it characterizes the right to privacy and its scope of protection.

Find the entire book here

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