President Ivan Duque on Friday revoked a decree that sought to make the election of Colombia’s chief prosecutors more transparent weeks before he is expected to propose candidates for the vacancy.
Duque controversially revoked a decree issued by former President Juan Manuel Santos that made it obligatory for the president to publish the CV’s of his candidate chief prosecutors on the presidential website.
The revoked decree was meant to increase transparency in the election process of the Prosecutor General as it facilitated public scrutiny of the candidates proposed by the president.
The country’s former chief prosecutor, the highly controversial Nestor Humberto Martinez, resigned in May, days before the prosecution was expected to be removed from the Odebrecht bribery scandal.
The chief prosecutor’s resignation immediately made the special prosecutor appointed by the Supreme Court redundant because, with Martinez, the chief prosecutor’s conflict of interest had gone.
Since then, the investigation has been led by one of Martinez’ henchmen, Duque has said he would not present his shortlist of candidates to the Supreme Court despite the profound crisis in the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The president and Martinez are both implicated in the Odebrecht bribery scandal, but have so far evaded criminal prosecution, partly because they decide who investigates the Brazilians’ bribery practices in Colombia.
Three prosecutors general who have served so far this century have been implicated in major corruption scandals revealed by media and other watchdogs, but were never called to court.
Duque, his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, have also been accused of possible criminal activity that would have brought any Colombian with less political power to court.
Colombia’s culture of impunity, particularly in the corruption cases, has sunk people’s confidence in the justice system and the president.
According to the last Gallup poll, 82% of Colombians disapproved of Duque’s self-proclaimed efforts to combat endemic corruption.
The same poll revealed that the same number of Colombia’s had a negative opinion about the country’s judicial system.