Prosecutor General Viviane Morales is “surprised” by the Defense Ministry’s creation of a new special unit to deal with the investigations of displaced leaders’ murders, newspaper El Tiempo reported Tuesday.
“Every day the creation of another unit is announced. It surprised me yesterday [Monday] that the Defense Minister would announce the creation of a national unit to investigate the death of land leaders. Without doubt, it is a very important issue, one to which the authorities must give top priority, but it cannot warrant the creation of a new head unit within the Prosecutor General’s Office,” Morales said speaking in front of the First Committee of the House.
The prosecutor general said there is already a human rights unit to deal with these kinds of cases and that just yesterday she had assigned prosecutors from this unit to investigate crimes against displaced leaders from Uraba and San Jose de Apartado.
“You cannot create a new unit every time an act of violence occurs because the Prosecutor General’s Office does not have the number of specialist prosecutors to work in these new units,” Morales said.
In 1994 the number of specialist prosecutors was 293 and by 2010 had grown by 11% according to Caracol, or 36% according El Tiempo. However, the number of active investigations almost doubled from 36,659 to 73,247 in the same time period. She also said that the majority of the prosecutors were later assigned to the other special units.
Morales also referred to the unit within the Prosecutor General’s Office that combats criminal gangs, saying that it is severely understaffed because the number of prosecutors has not grown in proportion to the number of cases it has to deal with.
The Prosecutor General told to the Chamber that in order to combat the criminal gangs, 50 specialist prosecutors would be required, plus some 120 assistants and 137 special agents from the Technical Investigation Team which would cost about $9.5 million.