Colombia’s Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras on Tuesday defended the dismantling of state intelligence agency DAS against criticism that the process could hamper investigations against DAS officials.
The minister appeared before a Senate commission to answer questions about the planned dismantling of the agency.
Vargas Lleras explained that the dismantling of the DAS will be part of a larger government reorganization involving the creation of two separate Interior and Justice ministries.
In the end, the current secret police will not cease to exist, but only handle “strategic intelligence” work.
All immigration work carried out by the DAS will be transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criminal investigations will be moved to the investigative branch of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the police, while providing security for public figures will be handled by the Interior Ministry.
The minister denied the dismantling of the DAS would hamper investigations against officials suspected of carrying out illegal spying activities, drug trafficking and links to paramilitary death squads.
Varags Lleras also assured the commission that there will not be a “labor massacre” among the 6,000 employees of the intelligence agencies, but that most workers will be transferred to the other institutions that take over the tasks of the DAS.
Former President Alvaro Uribe was forced to dismantle the powerful intelligence organization after numerous scandals that discredited the DAS. Several of the agency’s directors and deputy directors are in jail for paramilitary links, drug trafficking and illegally spying on government opponents.