LA Tribuna Feb 26, 2010
Sandra Ponce, the Chief Lawyer for Human Rights in the Public Ministry lamented the decision of the National Congress to repeal the decree which created the Technical Direction of Criminal Investigation (DTIC) as an independent investigation body, given that, according to cases on file, 80% of the denunciations of citizens are against police officers.
Sandra Ponce declared “We deplore this decision of the Congress because we don’t know what the reason for this is”. “When the Legislature approved the creation and assigning of staff to the DTIC as a technical investigative body, it was because all of the studies and diagnostics of experts, including those of the Committee of the Rights of Civilians and Police, the United Nations Committee against Torture, affirmed that the Public Ministry needed an independent investigative organ.”
Ponce considers that in a democratic system there need to be weights, counterweights and mutual controls, so that citizens have the opportunity to present denunciations against the police, which can be transparent investigations.
She also mentioned that “the opinions of the supervising branches of the human rights treaties because for the Public Ministry, not having a police investigative body is even more critical for human rights; where investigations do not happen because the police have a conflict of interest, because they cannot investigate their colleagues.” she said.
She added “it is better that responsibilities are divided and shared, for this reason we do not feel this decision was a good one. Society demands efficiency from the Public Ministry, but it will be difficult for them to realize these expectations if there is not an investigative arm which has more autonomy, which is necessary given the nature of this as a control organ.”
Ponce explained that given the actual structure of the Public Ministry, the attorneys are dependent on investigative services of the Executive Branch, specifically of the National Police, whose agents are recipients of 80% of the denunciations which the office receives, coming from the National Criminal Investigation Office (DNIC) and Preventive Police.”
“For this reason, if this decision is not re-considered, the judicial body will be debilitated, not just the Public Ministry, because it is dependent on the investigative services of the branch it is supposed to control.” she said.