In 2017, Pablo Echeverri, Assistant Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law, and Laurent Mayali co-hosted a symposium a the Robbins Collection, “Judicial Independence and Accountability in Latin America.” Participants in the conference were asked to write response papers, which we are publishing here as a collection of essays. The essays begin with an introduction by Pablo Echeverri, followed with essays by Agustín Barroilhet, Édgar González López, Ángel R. Oquendo, Álvaro Pereira, Javier Tamayo Jaramillo, Javier Velasco, and Cristián Villanga Torrijo. Click on the title of each essay below to read them.
In December 2017, the Robbins Collection welcomed a group of legal scholars and jurists from Latin America and the United States. The workshop began with the premise that judicial accountability need not represent an attack on judicial independence. A primary objective of this meeting was to explore the possibility that accountability, when properly conceived, can enhance independence by bolstering and embracing a system of checks and balances in order to prevent and punish bad behavior by judicial actors.
We have come a long way since Domingo described Latin American supreme courts as relatively unable to assert their political function because of their lack of independence and efficiency. Never in the history of the subcontinent has the judiciary shown more power than it shows now. Portales and Bolivar would be baffled.
“Sobre la independencia, transparencia, publicidad y responsabilidad en el ejercicio de la función judicial. El caso Colombiano” by Édgar González López, Magistrado de la Sala de Consulta y Servicio Civil
El principio de la independencia judicial, expresión de la separación de poderes y del Estado de Derecho, implica en términos generales que los jueces no se encuentren sujetos a interferencias o presiones externas en el ejercicio de su función. En Colombia, este principio encuentra consagración expresa en los artículos 228 y 230 de la Constitución Política y 5º de la Ley 270 de 1996. Con todo, su reconocimiento constitucional, legal y jurisprudencial, no es suficiente para su efectiva realización. Por consiguiente, es fundamental que existan garantías y acciones que lo protejan y permitan su adecuado desarrollo.
The all-important pursuit of judicial accountability can occasionally lead to disaster. If taken over by the political branches of government, it may compromise and even destroy the judiciary. The 1999 Venezuelan constitutional crisis provides a case in point
“Judicial Independence and Accountability in Colombia: A Brief Contextual Reaction” by Álvaro Pereira
As a reaction to the thoughtful discussions that [this symposium] propitiated, in this short text I reflect on the Colombian judiciary, tracing the origins of its weaknesses and strengths. I find that, through history and due to identifiable circumstances, the judiciary has been perceived as neither independent nor accountable.
I believe that the tutela or amparo action, enshrined in the Colombian constitution, is an indispensable element of democracy. But in Colombia, all conflict has ended up being solved by these two means, a situation which has led to the corruption of justice at all levels, and to the detriment of this exceptional mechanism.
Analyzing the divergent trajectories of the Chilean and Colombian Constitutional Courts in the development of Reproductive Rights in their respective countries, this article highlights the relevance of indigenous influx in the outcome of legal translations.This article states that despite the differences between both institutions, the public reception to their rulings shows how their role and institutional design are in tension with the expectations circulating in the public arena.
“Judicial Independence and Accountability in Latin America: The Challenges of Assessing the Judges’ Performance” by Cristián Villalonga Torrijo
In this brief report, I examine the context in which the debate on the equilibrium between judicial independence and accountability have emerged in Latin America during the last several years. I intend to address one of the critical institutional knots puzzling policymakers: the assessment of the judges’ performance.