Judicial Growing Pains

Recently Colombia made the shift from strictly Napoleonic Law to a system of “innocent until proven guilty.” This reform was included in the new constitution created in 2002. After 8 years the system is experiencing growing pains. An article published in El Colombiano today quotes the Minister of the Interior, Fabio Valencia, as saying that the new system frustrates the government´s efforts to bring dangerous delinquents to justice due to incorrect application or interpretation of the law.

The implementation of the new legal system created a clear distinction between the prosecutorial and judicial functions. What it did not do is provide  funding for the prosecutors to conduct adequate investigations in a timely manner. Per this article, in the US a prosecutor may have 20 investigators as assistants while in Bogota or Medellin a prosecutor may have 800 to a 1000 cases and a single assistant. This leads to delays and mistakes which force judges to set accused parties free on technicalities.

I greatly admire the Colombian judicial reform effort and wish the country the very best. Based on what I have seen in the US there will always be complaints that the system lets criminals escape justice too frequently. That how ever appears to me to be superior to forcing the accused to shoulder the burden of proof.

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1 Comment

  1. David Beck-Brown said,

    February 19, 2010 at 17:34

    Freedom and justice is indeed a process.


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