Colombian justice system lacks the tools necessary to effectively process members of criminal gangs, Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza Diago said Thursday.
“The first thing we need to do is be able to establish if criminals arrested are truly part of reemerging paramilitary groups or simply local gangs,” Mendoza said.
“This needs to be clear because [if they are paramilitary groups] then it should be members of the armed forces who intervene because it becomes a problem of national security… that’s why Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco said that the first thing the country needs to do is reconstruct its judicial system,” he explained.
Mendoza was referring to the NGO’s criticisism of the Colombian government’s response to the rise of new violent groups which have taken the place of demobilized paramilitaries.
According to Mendoza there are gangs that have grown quickly and are incredibly well armed, and the problem stems from having to process all the people arrested for carrying weapons, some of who may be paramilitaries and others not.
“We need to set down clear guidelines as to what constitutes belonging to an illegal organization,” the prosecutor maintained.