Wednesday
December 17, 2014

Decision to affect relations with gov’t and ‘legitimate justice’ movement

Monday, January 20, 2014

S. Court discusses how to release sworn statements

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff
As the judicial recess is about to end, justices are getting ready to start discussing one of the topics that divided waters last year: the release of judges’ sworn statements.

Sources from the highest tribunal told the Herald that justices are considering some aspects of how they are going to release that information. It is highly likely that it will be through the Centre for Judicial Information (CIJ), the news website operated by the Supreme Court.

The way that decision is made will inevitably affect the relation between the government, which has long been demanding equal rules for all the state branches, and the pro-judicial reform association Legitimate Justice.

Last year,the Kirchnerite administration sponsored a package of bills to “democratize the Argentine judicial system.” The Supreme Court quashed the centrepiece of the so-called judicial reform when it declared that a popular election of the members of the Magistrates Council would be unconstitutional, which led to a conflict between the justices and Kirchnerism.

The president even devoted one her most memorable speeches last year to harshly criticizing the justices.

“They analyze the president’s affidavit — that’s great and I agree — but let me ask you: have you ever seen a judge’s sworn statement?,” the president said when the controversy between the Executive and the judiciary reached its apex.

Transparency

The issue was reignited days ago after the Supreme Court decided not to accept the request filed by two journalists and by the head of the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ), lawyer Gustavo Maurino, to reveal the justices’ affidavits.

On December 27, the seven members of the Supreme Court agreed on the refusal, saying that the Supreme Court had yet to decide how the affidavits are going to be released.

Earlier this year, ACIJ launched a website devoted to making available officials’ affidavits. Their project is conducted alongside Fundación Directorio Legislativo, Poder Ciudadano and daily La Nación. The organization headed by Maurino has insisted that sworn statements are necessary tools to avoid corruption because they provide a detailed description of the official’s assets developments. For the organization, affidavits are essential in order to make civil servants report back to citizenry.

Hints

After declaring unconstitutional the law that established direct election of members of the Magistrates Council, the highest tribunal delivered three administrative resolutions making reference to other bills included in the so-called judicial reform package sponsored by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

On August 21, 2013, the highest tribunal made it clear it supported the idea of making the assets of public servants more transparent but expressed a number of incompatibilities between law 26,857 (Ethics for civil servants) and the independence of the Judiciary.

The bill established that every civil servant had to submit its affidavit before the AFIP tax bureau and then before the Justice Ministry’s Anti-Corruption office. However, justices considered that in order to preserve their independence they wouldn’t follow that route. The seven members of the highest tribunal agreed that they would be the enforcing authority and that judges had to submit their sworn statements directly to the Supreme Court.

@LucianaBertoia

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