Government officials will send an NGO to 85 of Colombia’s 1,100 municipalities to identify political candidates with “legal inconsistencies,” reported El Espectador Monday.
According to the newspaper, Justice and Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras is making an effort to reduce the number of political candidates with criminal backgrounds with the help of Nuevo Arco Iris, a NGO specialized in analyzing Colombia’s violent conflict.
The minister is also pushing for political parties to be more accountable for the candidates they endorse, backed by a law passed by Congress last year that disallows parties to replace lawmakers who are suspended because of criminal investigations against them.
According to Colombia’s intelligence agency DAS, more than 400 candidates in the upcoming local elections have criminal records.
Illegal armed groups, particularly the now-defunct paramilitary AUC, were able to infiltrate political parties and the country’s previous elections, which led to criminal investigations against hundreds of congressmen, governors, deputies, mayors and city council members.
Colombia will take to the polls in October to elect new governors, deputies, mayors and members of city council.