Two prominent think tanks have proposed a constitutional reform that would allow an independent judicial body to investigate widespread corruption in Colombia.
According to the Anti-Corruption Institute (IAC) and the Peace and Reconciliation foundation (Pares), only the creation of an additional judicial body could effectively curb rampant in the country.
The IAC and Pares proposed the creation of a new Supreme Court chamber, which would be dedicated exclusively to investigating and trying prosecution cases.
The two NGO’s proposed an independent judicial body to effectively combat corruption, which costs Colombia’s tax payers approximately $10.3 billion (COP50 trillion) per year, according to IAC and Pares.
This is the equivalent of more than 12% of the government’s entire budget for this year.
Anti-corruption court not well received
The proposal to create an anti-corruption court was immediately rejected by Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa, whose office has been devastated by high-profile corruption scandals.
Barbosa called the proposal “reprehensible and despicable” in an initial response.
Justice Minister Nestor Osuna said that the creation of an anti-corruption court would “entangle the processes” that supposedly are being investigated or tried in courts.
The Supreme Court said that it “opposes any effort to modify national institutions that put the rules of democracy it has defended for more than 120 years to the point of sacrificing its own magistrates in danger.”
Lower courts sent at least three former Supreme Court magistrates to prison after 2017 when the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration revealed that the prosecution’s top anti-corruption official was mediating bribes on behalf of members of the Supreme Court.
Both the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Supreme Court have been criticized over their apparent failure to effectively investigate corruption, which has been common in government and the security forces for decades.
Proposals echo those of Truth Commission
The Truth Commission’s final report on Colombia’s armed conflict named impunity as one of the main causes persistence of armed conflict and violence, and confirmed how corruption has weakened the State.
In fact, the Truth Commission recommended to “carry out a process that counts on the participation of watchdog agencies and independent experts” in order to “propose reforms and necessary normative and institutional revisions” in order to “prevent corruption in State entities” and “guarantee effective controls.”
This would “improve the relation between citizenry and the institutions that administer justice” in order to reconstruct the “confidence between citizens and the State,” according to the Truth Commission.
The think tanks appear to have followed this recommendation, but apparently can’t apparently count on the support of the State institutions that are responsible to combat corruption.