The government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos presented a bill proposing a set of judicial reforms which aim to make the country’s justice system faster moving and more efficient.
The reforms include scrapping the nation’s Superior Council of the Judiciary, which is responsible for administrating resources to the judicial system, and replacing it with a council presided over by the presidents of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, and the State Council.
Santos met with high-ranking members of the judiciary Wednesday to propose the project, which, he said seeks “to arrive at a consensus with all of the courts regarding the reforms that the judiciary needs, in order to provide Colombians with fast and effective justice.”
Santos said that the project would also seek to limit the use of “tutelas,” which are widely used in the Colombian justice system to challenge court rulings. The government proposes that tutelas only be used in Constitutional Court cases, in order to limit lengthy court battles.
The executive also proposed extending notary privileges to lawyers as means of freeing up congested judicial processes.
Santos also reiterated that his administration would not be pursuing the proposal by the administration of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe that the power to appoint Colombia’s Prosecutor General be transferred from the judiciary to the executive.
In June, Uribe suggested the president name the prosecutor general because of the Supreme Court’s continued failure to elect the nation’s head prosecutor. To date the Supreme Court has held eighteen unsuccessful election sessions.
The executive clashed with the judiciary throughout Uribe’s tenure, over issues such as the arrest of prominent government officials implicated in the DAS wiretapping scandal, the sentencing of retired army Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega for his role in the 1985 Palace of Justice siege, and Colombia’s extradition treaty with the U.S
Santos stressed that it was important that all three branches of power – judicial, legislative, and executive – reach a consensus on judicial reforms, while maintaining their independence. “Harmony between the three powers is what Colombian democracy needs,” he said.