Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Jan 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Murder rate in Medellin and Cali lowest in 30 years: Minister

Gabriel Silva

Colombia’s defense minister, Gabriel Silva, on Friday said murder rates in the cities of Cali and Medellin are at their lowest in thirty years and that local security concerns are often exaggerated.

The minister responded to Barranquilla Mayor Alejandro Char’s complaints that the police in his city are not doing enough to catch criminals.

According to Silva, there are “exaggerated” responses to “real facts”. The minister said that the security situation in Medellin has improved, and that there are now 22 homicides per week in the country’s second largest city.

Last year, Medellin saw its homicide rate double from that in 2008; 2,200 people were murdered, the local ombudsman’s office said, despite the deployment of more than a thousand extra policemen and the militarization of some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

In response to Silva’s remarks, Medellin ombudsman Jairo Heran told Colombia Reports the Minister should worry more about keeping the government’s promises made with the city last year instead of making statements that hide the reality in the cities.

According to the ombudsman, Medellin saw 86 homicides in the first ten days of January.

Heran wants the government to invest in the city’s judicial system, so that the prosecution of suspects can improve.

Police regularly produce figures that are different from those of other state entities, such as the ombudsman or the coroner’s office.

Using figures provided by the police, Silva insisted that the security policies in Colombia’s biggest cities are working.