The Prosecutor General’s Office has said that only 1,243 bodies have been identified and returned to their families out of a total of 3,892 exhumed from mass graves across Colombia in the last five years, media reported Monday.
The remaining 2,649 bodies are still in the hands of the government waiting to either be identified by relatives or through successful DNA testing.
These figures underline the difficulties experts face in identifying the murdered victims of Colombia’s long running internal conflict.
Colombia has previously vowed to use all available tools to identify the human remains of victims of violent crimes. To facilitate this, in November last year the Interior and Justice Minister signed an agreement with the National Registry and the forensics agency Medicina to streamline operations.
The electronic database maintained by the National Registry is used to match fingerprints and identify bodies. Colombians over the age of 18 are now required to submit their fingerprints when they apply for an identification card, however, thousands choose to opt out of this process. Furthermore, there are currently no fingerprint records for minors.