THE DREADFUL SITUATION OF THE UNIDENTIFIED CORPSES IN BOLIVIA
Bolivia is going through a serious and controversial crisis in the management and oversight of unidentified corpses “NN” coming from crimes, accidents and other violent events.
The institution in charge of the forensic analysis and identification of mortal remains, (IDIF) has reached his crisis point, because they have nor the minimum basic resources neither own infrastructure to work, that is why it shares facilities with public hospitals morgues and grounds. In recent years the situation has become unsustainable due to the increased number of violent deaths in the capital, La Paz.
With violent crime on the rise, the IDIF uses a small-improvised room, located next to the General Hospital ́s medical waste storage room. This precarious and appalling infrastructure does not have any air ventilation system or cold chambers. Although the weather in La Paz is usually cold, the sanitary conditions and the smell at the morgue forces its workers to operate in the waste storage room. Forensic investigators carry out an average of 30 autopsies per week and at least 70% come from El Alto (the most dangerous city in Bolivia), because it does not have a crime morgue either. The space provided can lodge until 50 corpses but generally overload its capacity up to 100 and more.
The bodies can lie unattended on the floor for months and if they go unclaimed, they are exhumed and buried in mass graves, making impossible any future identification. Human dignity no longer exists.
Although there are agreements for the construction of a new morgue it is far from becoming a reality because the entities in charge refuse to assume responsibility to execute it and therefore, the project did not materialize until now. Meanwhile, the situation is still getting worse in a place where health conditions and the respect not seems to be a priority.
In 2012, a formal complaint argued the crime morgue was an environmental threat for the entire hospital population.
More than a hundred bodies were incinerated and the place was about to be closed in the light of an international demand... now its situation is uncertain.