Consolidating the criminal procedure and judicial reform
Programme title: Supporting the consolidation of criminal procedure and judicial reform
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court
Overall term: 2003 to 2015
Peru has been working for over ten years on fundamental judicial reforms. A new criminal procedure act was enacted in 2004, followed by a new labour procedure code. Oral hearings form the basis of both of these codes.
A reform of state administration was also set in motion. However, quality criteria that are in conformance with the rule of law are not yet applied consistently in all areas – neither in the legislative process nor in the administering of the law.
Large segments of the population still have very limited access to the judicial system. Corrupt practices can be found in the court system, among public prosecutors, in the police force and in many sections of public administration. This results in legal uncertainty and inequality before the law.
Quality criteria that are in conformance with the rule of law are actively applied in the revision and implementation of judicial reforms.
The project supports the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in carrying out the following reform measures:
- implementing training programmes geared to teaching legal methodology;
- developing criteria to help judges arrive at and substantiate a criminal judgment;
- analysing and providing expert commentary on the administration of justice by the criminal courts and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on fundamental procedural rights;
- analysing court procedures, producing materials to improve the efficiency of the judiciary and efforts to combat corruption, and identifying obstacles to implementation and strategies to overcome these;
- supporting vertical learning processes among the institutions involved in reform;
- reforming the Procuraduría (government office responsible for uncovering and investigating corruption offences and assisting in the criminal prosecution of them);
- developing and reaching a consensus on crime policy;
- drafting a human rights plan;
- enabling the Public Prosecutor’s Office to more effectively prosecute crimes involving corruption and violence against women.
By January 2015 the new criminal procedure had been introduced in 23 of the 32 judicial jurisdictions.
The average length of proceedings has dropped from 600 to 200 days on account of the reforms to the criminal justice system. The percentage of prisoners awaiting trial has also dropped from over 70 per cent to less than 50 per cent of the total number of prisoners. Performance standards for judges have been introduced for the first time.
While in the past most cases were taken all the way to the Supreme Court, since 2007 it has only adjudicated in 24 cases.
Backlogs in cases have been reduced in proceedings before the criminal, civil, labour and administrative courts.
The number of public defence lawyers more than quadrupled between 2003 and 2014 (from around 300 to around 1,500). Legal protection for women also improved significantly. A major contributing factor was the establishment of a victim protection centre for victims of rape and domestic violence.
With the support of GIZ, Congress approved a variety of reforms and new legislation. This includes legislation on justices of the peace and organised crime, and a reform of the new criminal procedure. This allows for more efficient and quicker proceedings without compromising justice.
The legislative process has become more accessible to the general public. On a website run by the Justice Commission of Congress, the public can now comment on legislative proposals.
The introduction of new software has made it easier to obtain information and investigate corruption. Project support helped improve the organisational structure of the Procuraduría, which represents the state in all corruption offences. The Attorney General has set up a national unit to prosecute corruption offences.
With the support of GIZ, the Ministry of Justice’s new human rights plan was debated and adopted by the Cabinet.
The police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office have drawn up and implemented measures for effectively combating violence against women. Ten universities have developed a new curriculum that covers the new criminal procedure. It will be implemented in stages.