El Salvador Investigating 80% of Country’s Judges

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The announcement that El Salvador has over a thousand unresolved complaints against 80 percent of the country’s judges paints an unsettling picture of the country’s widespread judicial impunity.

The Salvadoran Supreme Court (CSJ) has 1,085 unresolved denunciations against the country’s judges, some of them tracing all the way back to 1995, reported La Prensa Grafica. So far this year, 130 new complaints have been made.

Out of the country’s nearly 600 judges, 487 have had complaints made against them, with many receiving multiple. One judge alone has accumulated 63 different denunciations.

Since the creation of the Department of Judicial Investigation in 1995, 3,474 cases have been brought against judges, 2,389 of which have been resolved.

In accordance with Salvadoran law, none of the identities of the judges being investigated will be revealed.

InSight Crime Analysis

Revelations of judicial incompetence are nothing new to El Salvador, a country where the impunity rate is estimated to be above 90 percent. Nonetheless, the scale of judicial corruption, with over 80 percent of the country’s judges having complaints made against them, is worrisome. The large number of complaints made, as well as the number that have yet to be resolved since the Department of Judicial Investigation’s inception, suggest that the problem is deeply entrenched.

Even the plenary court that investigates the denunciations is not free from complaints. During the tenure of former CSJ President Belarmino Jaime, who had a petition of impeachment brought against him, two groups of magistrates were accused of hindering investigations of corruption to protect certain judges.

Moreover, in 2010, the then head of the Department of Judicial Investigation, Mateo Alvarez, was removed from his position when judges were accused of committing “excess entrapment” during investigations.

The US signed a Partnership for Growth earlier this year with El Salvador, an initiative aimed at transferring expertise to the Central American state to help it strengthen its institutions and fight organized crime. A comprehensive strategy to reform El Salvador’s justice institutions is a key component of this.

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