The National Ombudsmen Office of Colombia has expressed frustration at the government’s slow progress in terms of recognizing legitimate threats to public officials, as well as the delay in protection for those officials threatened by armed groups.
After learning that 66 ombudsmen from different parts of Colombia had been threatened, Chief Ombudsman Jorge Otalora on Friday went to the National Protection Unit (UNP) – the government body responsible for protecting the rights of public officials – to seek help and to assess the risk of his colleagues.
“This procedure can take between two and six months to produce results concerning the attention, care or protection of public servants, which leaves them very vulnerable.”
The Chief Ombudsman asserted that protocols must be improved so that the ombudsmen and other public servants can get back to their jobs.
Colombia’s ‘Early Warning System’ tasked with detecting these types of threats picked up 63 instances of risk across 109 municipalities in Colombia. So far orders of protection have been requested in 14 municipalities.
So far in 2013 the UNP has reviewed the threats of 66 ombudsmen, of which 27 were labeled ‘extraordinary risk,’ 34 as ‘ordinary hazard’ and 5 cases are still being studied.