Commissioners: Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, James L. Cavallaro
Petitioners: Requested by the State of Argentina
Representatives of the state of Argentina, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on March 20, 2017, presented Justice 2020, a program that seeks to develop justice reform policies using open dialog and technology as a platform for civic participation. Argentina’s justice system is plagued by corruption, abuse of judicial power, and inefficiency. The State recognizes that a just, objective judicial system free of corruption, that enforces the rule of law, is necessary for a thriving democracy.
Justice 2020 is a digital platform that encourages judicial transparency and discussion between groups including judges, lawyers, civil society organizations, and individuals. The State representative described the seven axes of the program: institutional, penal, civil, access to justice, human rights, management, and justice for the community. All of these axes function to guarantee a transparent and independent judicial system in Argentina by promoting efficiency in the criminal justice system, implementing new civil and commercial proceedings, promoting equal access to justice, guaranteeing human rights protections, and improving training of legal professionals.
The State reported high levels of satisfaction with the program as well as results. The State claimed that the program modernized management of registration, reducing processing times and making citizens’ lives easier. Because of the program, judicial data is now open and transparent. In the criminal justice system, the program has significantly expedited trials for detainees.
A representative of the Unión de Empleados de la Justicia de la Nación participated via webcam and discussed the 1994 constitutional reform. The reform created the modern autonomous judicial system in Argentina. He discussed the need to hold judges accountable because the judicial system has a direct effect on society. He mentioned various issues that need to be addressed in Argentina including poverty, drug trafficking, and impunity for crimes.
The Petitioners recognize the advances that Justice 2020 has made regarding access to justice; access to information; and creating an efficient, paperless system. Its primary concern was with the participation of civil society and the effectiveness of the criminal justice system to reduce the culture of impunity in Argentina.
Author’s Legal Analysis
Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a state is required to have a system in place through which an individual can seek a remedy through judicial processes under Article 2(3)(b). Argentina’s judiciary does not provide equal access to justice, and corruption taints the system, so individuals cannot adequately seek a remedy. Additionally, a person arrested or detained because of a criminal charge has the right to a prompt trial before a judge or other authority pursuant to Article 9(3). The trial must occur within a reasonable time after detention. Argentina’s criminal proceedings have been slow, and detainees are often held for an unreasonable length of time before trial.
Justice 2020 seeks to tackle the issues the judiciary in Argentina faces through reforms aiming to increase transparency, efficiency, and access to equal justice. It has significantly reduced wait times for criminals to receive a fair trial, and the public can view proceedings and participate in public discussion.