The homicide rate in Colombia rose by 16% in 2009 compared to the previous year, national forensics agency Medicina Legal found in its annual report.
The forensics agency registered 16,363 murders in Colombia in 2009.
Fatalities in traffic incidents also increased in 2009, with 5,356 deaths, an increase of 1% from the previous year.
Suicide rates decreased by 2%, with 1,638 reported suicides in 2009 compared to 1,674 in 2008.
Violent deaths of undetermined cause fell dramatically, from 950 in 2008 to 369 in 2009, a drop of 61%.
The agency performed 33,017 autopsies over the year, an increase of 7.3% from 2008. Agency director Luz Janeth Forero attributed this rise to the increased number of homicides.
The report does not include murders resulting from Colombia’s internal conflict due to actions by leftist guerrillas and right wing paramilitaries, nor state actions against these illegal groups.
Medicina Legal’s findings contradicted assertions by the national police and the government that the homicide rate is decreasing in Colombia.
Nationally, the police claim the number of homicides fell from 16,140 in 2008 to 15,817 in 2009.
Police regularly produce figures that are different from those of other state entities, such as the ombudsman or the coroner’s office.
The government has been using figures provided by the police to insist that the security policies in Colombia’s biggest cities are working.
Medicina Legal’s director also reported negligence on the part of judges, prosecutors and the Superior Judiciary Council, claiming that they held up Medicina Legal’s work in criminal investigations.
Forero said that Medicina Legal investigators wasted hours waiting to appear in court to give evidence, and that in 2009 2,766 cases had been cancelled without justification.