Monday, September 13, 2010

Investigating the police

This week the Voices from El Salvador blog has the important story of Zaira Navas, the Inspector General of the National Civilian Police. Conservative legislators, who perhaps have their own past records of disregard of the rule of law, are trying to reign in her investigations of corruption in the PNC:

This week, Diputado José Antonio Almendáriz from the conservative National Conciliation Party (PCN) proposed that the Legislative Assembly Security Commission form a special commission to investigate Zaira Navas, Inspector General of the National Civil Police (PNC). Diputado Almendáriz is challenging Navas’s very clear mandate to investigate Police Commissioners accused of corruption or criminal activities.

Since 2009, Inspector General Navas has made news for her office’s investigations of PNC Commissioner Douglas Omar García Funes, former Commisioner Godofredo Miranda, ex-Director General of Police Ricardo Menesses, among others. Commissioner García Funes is the chief of the Counter Transnational Gang Center and is suspected of drug trafficking. According to an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Commissioner used his officers to provide security for shipments of drugs as they pass through El Salvador, and ensured that other police agencies would not interfere. Godofredo Miranda was accused, among other things, of botching an investigation into drug traffickers arrested under his command. Ricardo Menesses was forced to resign his post last year due to allegations that he has ties to high-ranking gang leaders and organized criminals.

Late last year, Inspector General Navas began receiving death threats for her investigations. The threats were so serious that U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, who has had an interest in El Salvador for many years, wrote a letter to President Funes asking that he provide her with adequate protection so that she is able to complete her investigations. The threats did not deter Navas and her office continued its work.(More)

Today the Minister of Justice and Security Manuel Melgar came out in support of Navas, indicating that she had his full backing in her investigations and that there was no political bias in the decisions of what investigations should be opened.

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