Colombia’s judicial branch continues to strike in demand of better wages and a larger budget as they march Friday in Bogota without the permission of the mayor.
Nelson Cantillo, the president of the National Association of Professional Employees of the Judicial Branch (Asonal), claimed that they had no time to follow protocol for the march, therefore disregarding Bogota’s stipulation to request permits for protest marches, reported newspaper El Espectador.
“The country knows that we are on strike, the union marches are an outgrowth of this movement. We know the democratic spirit of Mayor Gustavo Petro and we know that there will not be any situation that impedes the protest. We have not had time to follow these procedures, but it is a fact that it’s going to happen,” said Cantillo.
Approximately 42,000 judicial officers have been on strike since October 11, consequently shutting down courts. An estimated 6,000 people marched on Friday, reported El Espectador.
Allegedly district authorities and police were unaware of the march due to Asonal’s disregard of protocol, and therefore did not accommodate for traffic changes or security procedure.
The judicial branch is striking in demand of 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 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.