The national entity charged with safeguarding Colombia’s threatened individuals needs a multi-million dollar boost in order to keep up current levels of protection, according to Colombia’s Minister of the Interior.
Colombia’s Minister of the Interior Juan Fernando Cristo stated Tuesday that the National Protection Unit requires additional injection of $36.32 million to maintain the current level of security it provides until the end of the year.
Cristo requested the Ministry of Finance make an “extra effort” to makes these funds available, according the Ministry of Interior’s website.
Many individuals receive protection from the UNP, including journalists, human rights workers, and candidates for political office, among others.
Cristo claimed that the government had committed substantial resources to the UNP in recent years; nevertheless, he says the budget will be insufficient to maintain the security schemes until the end of the year.
UNP’s multi-million dollar private security contracts, kickbacks
Last week, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced it had discovered a corrupt ring within the UNP that trafficked in contracts and received hefty kickbacks.
According to the Prosecutor General’s special investigative unit, CPI, THe UNP’s financial head Luis Eduardo Molino was caught in flagrante in when he received over $5,000 as a kickback to expedite the payment of a contract.
CTI director Danny Julian Quintana said that a search of UNP headquarters uncovered documents showing that the specifications of the recruitment process were directed to favor certain individuals. During the past two years, officials involved in these events, which reflect a high degree of corruption, received over over $300,000 in kickbacks and bribes from those who were favored by the contracts.
Several national NGOs met with members of the government and the National Protection Unit in June to discuss protection measures and guarantees for those threatened by the impending release of paramilitaries.
According to Carlos Guevara of the We are Advocates Program, which has monitored the UNP since 2012, $160 million of UNP jobs get contracted out a handful of private security companies, who collectively employ 2,400 guards to protect 3% of the population. “This [system] makes no sense, and there isn’t gong to be any budget to support it,” said Guevara.
According to Andres Sarmiento of the Colombian Judges Solidarity Fund (FASOL), the UNP has several more failings that result in “worryingly mediocre” performance.
Threats against individuals are registered first with the police, who decide whether to pass it along to the Prosecutor General’s Office, who then in turn decides whether to call on the UNP. According to Sarmiento, many people have died while waiting for protection, as the different agencies pass the buck.
Additionally, those with friends in high places get better and more timely security details, said Sarmiento.
- MinInterior pide recursos para poder mantener esquemas de seguridad (Interior Ministry’s website)
- ¿Y DE LAS GARANTÍAS DE NO REPETICIÓN QUÉ? (Meeting transcript)