Electoral fraud in Colombia is committed with almost total impunity, with none of the 5,000 complaints filed between 2002 and 2007 resulting in a conviction, newspaper El Tiempo reported on Saturday.
In the 2002 and 2006 elections, of 5,000 allegations, only fourteen cases resulted in an official indictment and none of the suspects was convicted.
Of the 2,926 government officials who were accused of illegally promoting candidates in these two elections, only 82 were punished.
According to the newspaper, 50 people were arrested following accusations of fraud during the March 14 congressional elections. None of the suspects is currently in jail awaiting trial, even though the suspects were caught red-handed committing fraud.
The Superior Council of Justice blames the impunity on an amendment of the law in 2005, which shortened the period permitted for prosecuters to come up with the necessary evidence to indict a suspect.
“The lack of a unit within the Prosecutor General’s Office that dedicates itself solely to the investigation of electoral crimes guarantees this impunity,” the Electoral Observation Mission, a Colombian NGO monitoring the elections, told the newspaper.
In the lead up to the 2010 presidential elections, candidates’ supporters are accusing other contestants of vote-buying and illegally using government entities and officials to promote candidates.