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Peru: Political mafia on the way to take over the institutions

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Peru: Political mafia on the way to take over the institutions

The Palace of Justice is the seat of Peru’s Supreme Court. The National Judicial Council (JNJ), as an autonomous constitutional body, is responsible for appointing judges and prosecutors there and at all other levels. Photo: Manuel González Olaechea via wikimedia commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED.

(Lima, 27 February 2024, To be served).- Fujimorism [Ultrarechte politische Strömung der Anhänger*innen des ehemaligen Präsidenten Alberto Fujimori] seeks to remove the National Justice Authority and take over the judiciary, as he has already done with the Constitutional Court and the Office of the Ombudsman. He wants to block judicial investigations and appoint members of electoral bodies.

The Standing Committee of the Congress on February 26 approved the proposal to dismiss and recall the members of the National Judicial Authority (JNJ) for 10 years. The Standing Committee also appointed the subcommittee to submit the report and charges against the JNJ to the Congress plenary, where the final decision will be taken.

The vote was carried out individually for each of the six current members of the authority: Imelda Tumialán, Antonio de la Haza, Aldo Vásquez, María Zavala, Guillermo Thornberry and Inés Tello. The statement concerning Henry Ávila, who recently resigned from the body, was also voted on.

According to the constitutional complaint, the members of the JNJ have interpreted the constitution in such a way that Luz Inés Tello Valcárcel can remain a member even though she is older than 75 years. This means that the age restriction of 45 to 75 years for membership was not met.

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The judges had asked the SERVIR (National Public Service Authority) for an opinion on interpreting the constitutional age limit of 75 years for a five-year term, a power that only the Constitutional Court has.

Negative consequences

The president of the JNJ, Antonio de la Haza, warned that the removal of the members of the JNJ by Congress would jeopardize the administrative and judicial procedures currently underway.

“If the JNJ no longer has members, it would mean that any lawsuit could become statute-barred,” de la Haza said at a congressional press conference.

“If no one is appointed, neither incumbent nor successor, (…) in general all processes (…) but also all other activities such as the appointment of judges or evaluation processes cannot be carried out,” he said.

Paralyzing the JNJ would also bring to a halt the 187 disciplinary proceedings currently underway in the JNJ involving politicians from various parties. Samuel Abad said: “Congress must weigh the consequences because if it removes the seven members of the JNJ, the body will not function because of the seven replacements, three are over 75 years old.”

A purely political motivation

Samuel Abad, lawyer for five members of the JNJ, criticized the attempt by Congress to dismiss all members of the agency because they interpreted a criterion differently, namely the age limit for holding office. In his presentation to the Standing Committee, he pointed out that the members were not violating the statutes and therefore the lawsuit should be withdrawn as it had no legal basis.

Samuel Abad assured that the dismissal of the members of the National Judicial Authority had no legal or judicial basis and that the background was therefore purely political. The takeover plan is being pushed by the Fujimori group Fuerza Popular and supported by Vladimir Cerrón’s Perú Libre party.

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There are also right-wing groups such as Renovación Popular, Avanza País and Alianza Para el Progreso, which are connected to the case against suspended prosecutor Patricia Benavides Vargas.

The common interest in taking over the national justice system lies in the fact that congressmen from different parties have files with the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary, including their leaders such as Keiko Fujimori, Vladimir Cerrón and César Acuña.

They will defend themselves

Aldo Vásquez, vice president of the JNJ, did not rule out bringing in other bodies, including international ones, to defend the National Justice Authority.

“The National Justice Authority has always said that it will defend itself in any case, both in the judiciary and at supranational, media, parliamentary and academic levels, so we do not rule out any legitimate option to defend the authority,” he added.

Political mafia on the way to take over the institutions of News Pool Latin America is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 international.

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