Colombia vows to use all available tools to identify human remains, including the 30,000 unidentified bodies the government says have been buried in recent years.
Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras signed an agreement with the National Registry and forensics agency Medicina Legal today to identify the 30,000 unidentified bodies. The agreement will also facilitate the coordination among institutions to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for human rights violations.
“Without the signing of this agreement, the process would take more than six years,” Vargas Lleras said. “Now, Medicina Legal will find the remains of these individuals and notify their families. This is, ultimately, the minimum respect that the state owes to the families.”
The government intends to exhume the bodies that have already been buried so they can be identified, and hopefully returned to their families. Many of the bodies buried without identification were victims of violent crime. The government plans to use the electronic database maintained by the National Registry to match fingerprints and identify bodies.
Colombians over the age of 18 are required to submit their fingerprints when they get their identification card, but almost 50,000 people have failed to complete the process. There is no record of the fingerprints of people under 18.
The recovered bodies will also be cross-checked with the National Register of Disappeared Persons.
“There is to date a register of 50,621 missing persons, among which 14,067 are subject to investigation for forced disappearance,” Vargas Lleras said.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is currently conducting a survey of the unidentified bodies in all Colombian municipalities. With less than half of the cities reporting, more than 10,000 unidentified bodies have already been counted.