Peru: UN expert concerned about proceedings in Peruvian Congress seeking removal of the Junta Nacional de Justicia
02 November 2023
GENEVA (2 November 2023) – A UN expert today expressed grave concern at the prospect of the removal of members of the National Board of Justice (JNJ) by the Peruvian Congress.
“The right to a fair trial requires an impartial judge. In Peru, this impartiality is closely linked to the free and independent functioning of the National Board of Justice,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
The JNJ plays the role of a judicial council, which are essential bodies to ensure judicial independence and separation of powers, Satterthwaite said. The Peruvian Congress is reportedly considering a report, that is itself the product of a summary proceeding, and recommends the removal of members of the JNJ for “serious cause”.
“I note with concern that the information I have received indicates “serious cause” is not codified in any national law, so its application could lend itself to various potentially arbitrary interpretations,” the Special Rapporteur said. The members of the JNJ have filed an amparo action related to this procedure that has been admitted and is being processed in the judiciary.
The expert noted that a parallel process is also advancing, in a congressional subcommittee, regarding one of four different constitutional accusations presented by Parliamentarians seeking the suspension of JNJ members. The provision of constitutional accusation grants the Congress the authority to investigate, adjudicate, and impose sanctions, including suspension, dismissal, and disqualification for up to 10 years, on high-ranking state officials for “constitutional violations”.
“It's important to note that neither the law nor the Constitution specifically outline the punishable behaviours and their corresponding consequences,” she said.
“I am concerned about the series of actions undertaken that, separately and in combination, appear to be aimed at undermining the independent functioning of the JNJ and thus the independence of the judiciary in the country,” Satterthwaite said. “Pressure on high-level officials through constitutional accusations, as well as the alleged attempts to remove members of the JNJ, may amount to an interference in the independence of this important institution.”
The Special Rapporteur has been in contact with the Government of Peru regarding these allegations.
*The expert: Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite,Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. She was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers by the Human Rights Council in October 2022. Professor Satterthwaite is an international human rights scholar and practitioner with decades of experience in the field. She is a Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law.
The Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
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