Posted by Caitlin Trent on Oct 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Strike shuts down Colombia’s justice system

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Ninety percent of court cases in Colombia were suspended after judges and court workers went on strike to protest for better wages and a bigger budget to be allotted to the judicial branch.

Luis Fernando, president of the judicial branch syndicate, Asonal, said that, “court officials have spent more than 17 years looking for income equalization from the government” and that “the State has failed to fulfill its commitments,” newspaper El Tiempo reported.

The judicial branch is demanding more and better salary guarantees as well as a larger budget for the branch. According to the President of the Corporation of Judges and Magistrates, Maria Pilar, there is a huge gap between lower level magistrates and high level judges, a problem that has not been addressed for almost twenty years.

The result has been a halt in 90% of the country’s judicial hearings. According to newspaper El Espectador, Fernando also claimed that judges would only attend to the most urgent hearings.

The indefinite halt of hearings in all judicial offices in Colombia was decided by a vote.

The Colombian government earlier attempted to reform the judicial branch, but stumbled upon fierce criticism by judicial workers and human rights groups who said the bill would not solve the ongoing problems in the country’s clogged justice system. President Juan Manuel Santos was ultimately forced to reject the bill after congress altered the proposal and the final draft would grant excessive judicial benefits to members of Congress.