All of this has led to what the Ombudsman calls the blurring of the constitutional design,
weakening of the rule of law by imposing severe limitations on the functions and autonomy of judicial
institutions through laws passed by a Congressional majority submissive to the Executive. Formally, the
institutions established by the Constitution do exist. In practice, however, such institutions do not
exercise their basic prerogatives or have lost the necessary power to counterbalance an overpowering
Historically, Peru's judicial branch has been organized into a Supreme Court and a set of Superior Courts
in each judicial district, judges of first instance, and justices of the peace who are called upon to
adjudicate minor infractions. The 1979 Constitution established the Public Ministry as an autonomous
organ of the judicial branch, heading up penal actions and leading criminal investigations, among other
functions. During the last two decades, however, the judicial system has sunk into grave disrepute.
Despite constitutional regulations guaranteeing the autonomy and independence of the judiciary, the
selection of magistrates by an Executive Commission of the Judiciary has evolved into a tool to maintain
political control. Poorly qualified judges and attorneys, combined with high levels of corruption in the
system as a whole, the continued use of outdated procedures, and a deep resistance to change, have
eroded the credibility of the judicial system.
Judicial reforms enshrined in the 1993 Constitution were considered positive changes. The National
Judicial Council was given the task of monitoring the designation, approval, promotion, and dismissal of
Judicial Branch and Public Ministry judges. Seven members of the Council were to be designated by the
Supreme Court, supreme attorneys, public and private university law faculties, and the Peruvian bar
Colegio de Abogados
), along with other professional associations, theoretically excluding
the direct participation of Executive and Legislative branch agencies in the process.
The National Judicial Academy was charged with the selection of applicants to judgeships and
promotions, and given responsibility for training judges and magistrates at all levels. The Constitutional
Tribunal was given the authority to monitor the constitutionality of laws and review cases where the
judicial branch had breached
accion de amparo,
. Formally outside
the Judiciary, the Ombudsman was entrusted with the defense and protection of fundamental rights, the
supervision of public administration and the provision of public services.
After the 1992
, the Government suspended the Judiciary and ordered the dismissal of
numerous judges. To fill the void, it promoted lower administrative officials, judges, and attorneys to
serve on a provisional basis or designated lawyers to serve as substitute judges. In November 1995,
Congress created the Executive Commission of the Judiciary, comprised of three Supreme Court judges,
to oversee the judicial branch and the reform process. The President of the Supreme Court and the
natural governing entities established in the Organic Law of the Judiciary were barred from participating
in the commission.
In June 1996, Congress declared the Judiciary, the Public Ministry and the National Judicial Academy
under reorganization, and established the Council of Judicial Coordination to oversee the
reorganization. Initially, the reorganization was to have taken one year, but the term has been
continuously extended. As a result, new tribunals and attorney offices were created in order to process
Primer Informe del Defensor del Pueblo ante el Congreso (First Report of the Ombudsman before the Congress
1996 1998), pp. 394 397.
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