“We have complicated life in the face of our justice” – Jaime Bernal Cuéllar

Within the framework of the XL International Criminal Law Conference, experts presented various perspectives of the criminal justice crisis in Colombia.

For Colombians, it is no secret the country’s criminal justice system has been experiencing multiple problems seriously affecting the role of Justice in our society. Therefore, the Externado Criminal Law Department wanted, within the framework of its 40 years of uninterrupted Conferences, to center the discussion on the Colombian Criminal Justice crisis.

The inaugural conference was offered by Professor Jaime Bernal Cuéllar, director of the Criminal Law Department, who stressed the need to decongest the Attorney-General Office, stating: “there are offences which by their nature do not justify full involvement by the Prosecutor’s Office; we must go back to something elemental in Colombia (… ) Many times we legislate here, for Bogotá, not for the regions. We must return to what is called criminal contraventions. Such offenses, though minor and insignificant, are still felonies that should be treated as contraventions, with a single hearing, and immediate response, to respond to society… Thus, freeing the Prosecutor’s Office to deal with ‘true crimes’ generating social impact.”

The above is one of the formulas proposed by Bernal to relieve the justice congestion in the country, because, he argues, in Colombia, “we have complicated life in the face of our justice system.”

Several of the guest experts stressed the need for urgent Justice mechanisms to remove those who violate the Law from their political work and stated it is essential to train real agents of change and collective leaders to contribute to the solution of the current crisis affecting the criminal justice system.

The event also addressed the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) with the presence of its President, Patricia Linares Prieto, who said “we must find very efficient, very agile, very clear mechanisms” of Justice processes to achieve effective results. Similarly, Linares stressed the importance of taking into account the communities: “We should learn a great deal from indigenous peoples, and need to impart restorative justice.

On the Special Justice and its big dilemmas, María Paulina Riveros, the Nation’s Deputy Attorney General, said: “In the personal application of the scope of the Law, we must determine who benefits from this Justice (JEP), model among ex-combatants, State agents, third parties, and paramilitaries.”

Once again over the years, through its well-known Conferences, the Externado Criminal Law Department provides public debate elements contributing to the understanding of the Colombian justice crisis.