1709420243 The Peruvian Congress is threatening the institution that oversees judges

The Peruvian Congress is threatening the institution that oversees judges and prosecutors

The Peruvian Congress is threatening the institution that oversees judges

It was in May 2023 when Congressman Jorge Montoya, a retired right-wing admiral, filed a constitutional complaint against the National Board of Justice (JNJ) for allegedly unfairly favoring one of its members. The serious crime in question: advocating that Judge Inés Tello continue to be part of the institution despite being over 75 years old (she will be 79 in September). The crux of the controversy in all these months has been: While one side, in view of the present Constitution, points out that this is the age limit for joining the Board and that violation thereof constitutes a serious ground justifying disqualification for ten years from holding public office To hold the position, the other side argues that this condition only applied to taking office, but not to the exercise of this office, and that there are actually other interests hidden behind this regulatoryism.

“I share the concerns expressed by many about the ongoing efforts to remove the JNJ (…) An independent judiciary is the first line of defense for the human rights of all and guarantees the right to seek justice.” “Respect for the rule of law and the Promoting the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary are essential prerequisites for the protection of human rights and democracy,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the case. The National Judicial Council is responsible for appointing, sanctioning and confirming the country's judges and prosecutors as well as its electoral authorities. It is therefore a vital entity and is therefore coveted by various political forces seeking some influence.

This Thursday, March 7, after the adoption of the relevant bodies, the final report proposing the disqualification of the Board members will be presented to the plenary session of the Congress. The approval of two-thirds of the 130 legislators is required, not counting the 30 members of the Standing Commission. In other words: the vote of 66 parliamentarians will be enough. Voting takes place individually for each of the accused judges. Although the board consists of seven members, only six are being tried because lawyer Marco Tulio Falconí Picardo only took office in the middle of the week. Added to this is the resignation of Henry Ávila, who was entangled in an alleged request for a favor from former Justice Minister Félix Chero during the Pedro Castillo government.

He is not the only respondent in the group. Judge Guillermo Thornberry is accused of favoring Patricia Benavides, the suspended attorney general, to obtain the top position in the State Department by passing on information about the competition to her and, moreover, giving her a high rating in the personal interview, an area that corresponded to 30% of the final score. Benavides is accused of leading a criminal organization that pranked various congressional groups: exempting them from their tax cases in exchange for votes that would keep her in power.

Apart from these problems, which cast shadows on some judges and of course also affect the National Board of Justice, the reasons for the removal of its members would have more motives than the enforcement of the Magna Carta. The context before the 2026 election is a fundamental detail of the analysis. A column by Congressman Carlos Anderson in the newspaper El Comercio sheds light: “They must ensure that important institutions such as ONPE (National Office of Electoral Processes) and Reniec (National Registry of Identification and Civil Status) do not fall into the hands of .” again 'red wines'. and caviar'. A second aim is to have some influence over the appointment of judges and prosecutors when the vast majority of their party leaders are on trial for corruption, illicit enrichment or forming a criminal organization. “Firing the JNJ is not an end in itself, but rather the mechanism by which they must respond to their own unspeakable goals,” argues Anderson. To cite one case: the trial of Keiko Fujimori, the leader of Fuerza Popular, begins in July for allegedly laundering $17 million from the construction company Odebrecht. A 30-year prison sentence was requested for the daughter of patriarch Fujimori.

Judge Imelda Tumialán, member of the National Judicial Committee, warns that a success of the disqualification would, in the long run, benefit the judges and prosecutors under the institution's control. “There are around 70 disciplinary proceedings in which serious offenses occur that go unpunished because they expire over time and cannot be punished.” The deputies could see it, but it takes time for them to take over and reopen the cases “So they would just expire,” he asks.

For his part, the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Aldo Vásquez, has stressed that “the JNJ would be prevented from carrying out its constitutional duties” since only three of the six substitute judges meet the requirement of being up to 75 years old to take up the position. Together with Marco Tulio Falconí Picardo there would be four members, without a deciding vote. “For the board to function, a quorum of five members is required. If this is not the case, absolutely no decision can be made on the selection and appointment, the ratification of judges and prosecutors, or the ratification or non-ratification of the heads of ONPE and Reniec. “Due to the call for competition for ONPE and Reniec holders, decisions on disciplinary procedures cannot be made, which leads to impunity in cases where disciplinary responsibility could arise,” explains Vásquez.

Meanwhile, Congressman Jorge Montoya, proponent of the motion, insists: “It is imperative to proceed with the renewal of a court originally created to supervise and supervise judges whose performance was hardly questionable, who violated the Constitution and “have assumed a responsibility.” sacrosanct attitude.” In this sense, the deputy Gladys Echaíz is not clear that the disqualification of the members of the JNJ represents a blow to democracy. “I think that things are being exaggerated and that the impact on democracy is a sensationalist argument to justify or pretend not to be investigated and not held accountable for the actions,” he says.

The National Judicial Office, created in 2018 after the dissolution of the National Judicial Council, had the majority of the groups whose removal is now in hand and was ratified by 86% of Peruvians through a referendum. Next Thursday we will find out the results of the negotiations in the congress hall.

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