A report claims Colombia’s military criminal courts are too clogged and ill-prepared to support a complete restructuring of the Military Justice System, proposed for January 2010. However, the Colombian Military maintain that they are sufficiently equipped and intend to proceed with the January launch.
The military courts have processed 707 cases throughout the past four years, yet, there are still 16,000 to address before the new Military Justice System takes effect in the new year.
The management of the Ministry of Defense met urgently with army and police commanders three months ago, to hear a report about the situation across the Military Justice System, which is responsible for the supervision of the 497,000 members of Colombia’s Security Forces, reported newspaper El Tiempo on Monday.
According to El Tiempo, the report warned that the system could implode if launched as soon as January.
The document revealed the chaotic state of the military forces, allegedly involving members from almost every rank in a country with one of the largest armies in Latin America as well as an ongoing armed conflict.
In addition to the 707 cases being dealt with by the Military Justice System, which have accumulated over the last four years, there are some 16,000 more to address – 4,345 for homicides allegedly committed by Armed Forces members.
Further findings included suggestions that various military judges had allocated more than 580 homicide cases to ordinary courts. There were also accustations of judges dragging out cases for up to eight years without advancing processes.
The document revealed that up to 90% of cases in military trials do not have an effective defense and lawyers often disregard evidence or fail to request it altogether.
The reason for this disorganisation appears to be insufficient funding, bad management and lack of infrastructure. El Tiempo claimed that the system requires an estimated budget of 14 billion pesos to function effectively but apparently they have not had more than 4,300 billion pesos at their disposal.
Apparently there are also not enough personel with the experience to manage the proposed new technology that would come in January.
As a result of these findings, the report warned that there was not enough order and organisation to support the launch of a new system as early as January and that the Military should delay the restructuring for a year while they remedy the numerous problems.
However, the Military intend to proceed with the January goal. A spokesperson for the Defense Ministry told El Tiempo that in the three months since the report was announced, the Military have rectified many of the outstanding issues with a budget of 12.5 million pesos and have reorganised much of the disorder.
The spokesperson declared that the new Military Justice System “will not need to delay for a year.”