The Colombian Prosecutor General’s office does not have the budget to investigate crimes committed by paramilitaries, nor to improve surveillance technologies, according to Vice Prosecutor General Fernando Pareja.
Pareja told congressmen during a House of Representatives session that there are 157,000 murders and 32,000 forced disappearances allegedly committed by paramilitaries, of which to date only 7% have been investigated. He added that there is a backlog of 4,700 exhumations of human remains because “we don’t have sufficient resources.”
Pareja also said that the Prosecutor General’s Office only has the capacity to intercept 6,270 cell phone lines at a time without the system collapsing. It lacks the funds to modernize the system, meaning the office is unable to intercept communications via Blackberry or voice messages sent over the Internet.
“Criminals know that and are taking advantage of it,” Pareja said.
The vice prosecutor also said that the government of former President Alvaro Uribe did not address requests by the Prosecutor General’s Office for additional funding, which has made it difficult to meet international requirements demanded by international bodies such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Pareja asked for a budget increase and said that insufficient resources contribute to failures to prosecute criminals before the legal deadline to bring them to trial expires.