Tag: World Jurist Association

Opening Session Caracas: Distortion of the Rule of Law

Together with the Permanent Conference of Ibero-American Legal Academies (CPAJI in Spanish), the World Jurist Association (WJA) organized this preliminary session of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which has taken up the importance of underpinning the Rule of Law to ensure human dignity:

“It must be cared for and protected from constant threats and must always lead to justice and equity, because the only guarantee of freedom and peace is submission to the laws, not to the rule of force.”

Javier Cremades

President of WJA & WLF

During the opening, representing the CPAJI, Augusto Trujillo, Professor of Constitutional Law and President of the Colombian Academy of Jurisprudence, pointed out that “the rule of law is a guarantee of coexistence and, if this is not the case, we are facing a state of arbitrariness with laws”.

Humberto Romero Muci, Professor of Financial Law at the Andrés Bello Catholic University and President of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences of Venezuela, was the host and moderator of this debate titled “Falsehood of the Rule of Law”. He highlighted the situation in Venezuela and described it as “dramatic” due to the “dysfunction of democracy and the systematic violation of the Rule of Law suffered by Venezuelans”.

“There has been a disfigurement by those governing who come to power determined to use and adulterate the institutions for their own benefit, with the aim of undermining the balance between the different government bodies”.

Humberto Romero Muci

These statements were endorsed by Karlos Navarro, professor at the Universidad Santo Tomás, director of the Ibero-American Institute of Higher Studies (IIES) and president of the Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation of Nicaragua, for whom “the authoritarian model in Latin America has the capacity to resist, mutate and survive, developing mostly in poor societies lacking democracy”.

For Allan R. Brewer-Carías, professor emeritus of the Central University of Venezuela and member of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences of Venezuela, the Rule of Law implies seven principles: constitutionalism, democratization, deconcentration of power, legality and judicialization, decentralization of power, primacy of human rights and civil government.

This position is shared by Laura Chinchilla, president of Costa Rica (2010-2014), who emphasized that:

“the rule of law is the most important guarantor of democracy against those who exercise power, and therefore is the favorite prey of politicians with weak democratic convictions, because it stands in the way of their will or the ends they pursue and the rules”.

For his part, Néstor Pedro Sagües, Professor Emeritus of the University of Buenos Aires and Member of the National Academy of Law and Social Sciences of Buenos Aires, pointed out that “a country whose Congress becomes a factory of institutional laws contributes to significantly diminish the normative force of the Constitution”.

Along these lines, Manuel Aragón Reyes, academic director of the World Law Congress, professor emeritus of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, magistrate emeritus of the Constitutional Court of Spain and member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation of Spain, warned about the risk posed by the abusive use of emergency legislation, “what we know as a decree-law”. And he highlighted the obligation that jurists have:

 “to protect the Rule of Law, to denounce its breaches and to contribute with our voices to confront situations of real distortion”. 

Marisol Peña, first woman president of the Constitutional Court of Chile (2013-2014), minister of the Chilean Constitutional Court (2006-2018), university professor and member of the Chilean Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, highlighted the work carried out by the Ibero-American Academies of Jurisprudence within the World Law Congress, inviting virtual attendees to the next Opening Session Córdoba, which will also be organized by the Ibero-American academies.

This is the eighth session preceding the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, promised to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/EshNgDt1SDo

SUMMARY SESSION: https://youtu.be/LcvobsDVxZw

The Rule of Law through the Educational System WLC Opening Session Dominican Republic

Chaired by Luis Henry Molina Peña, President of the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic, the World Jurist Association celebrated the Opening Session Dominican Republic of the World Law Congress “Higher Education: A dialogue in the Market”, on January 19, 2021. The event focused on the need to promote the rule of law through the education system.

Javier Cremades, President of the World Jurist Association (WJA) and the World Law Foundation, opened the debate by calling for collaboration to “educate the population on the importance of the rule of law through all educational structures and thus ensure that the new generations of judges, prosecutors and jurists can have access to a coherent legal system”.

Along these lines, María Eugenia Gay, president of WJA Spain and dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, acknowledged that the education system at its highest levels has to provide students with the tools they need to perform their work in decent conditions, and added that we must ensure that we provide all the mechanisms to ensure that lack of experience is an intermediate stage between training and employment.

William Adams, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education at the American Bar Association, emphasized that training around the rule of law will have a greater impact on higher education if it starts at the grassroots: “civics education in elementary schools was very common, it disappeared and now it is coming back into the curriculum, and I hope that the school boards start acknowledging that this is as necessary as it used to be.

For his part, Antonio García Padilla, president of the Puerto Rican Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, coordinator and moderator of the panel, directed the debate towards the dichotomy that arises from the possibility of pursuing an entire law degree online, while there are countries that do not recognize the quality of a distance education. In fact, Joseph K. West, partner and head of diversity and inclusion at Duane Morris, insisted on the need to “be aware of how you are educating and what education you are providing, because schools need to focus on inclusion, as they have begun to understand what the real situation is in dealing with people.”

Maite D. Oronoz Rodríguez, president of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, emphasized that currently “we are training lawyers for the 20th century because, although the world has evolved, the judiciary has not evolved as fast”. She believes that it is “imperative to rethink the way we educate,” but acknowledged that “while it is true that technology facilitates justice and the search for truth, I am not sure that it makes a student complete with the needs that we will keep on having in courtrooms.” In this sense, as she pointed out, “the interpersonal intelligence and communication that occurs in an academic environment, in a classroom or in a courtroom, I don’t think is fully and completely achieved by a fully online preparation or education.”

Regarding the role technology is playing in the legal aspect, Luis Henry Molina Peña, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Dominican Republic, said that “the Internet has become an essential element that, until now, had only had an impact on the processing of paperwork. Now, it has transformed the operators of the administration of justice and has allowed citizens to get closer to justice, enabling them to have control over the provision of a service, for example, and providing them with greater transparency”.

Jaime Granados Peña, lawyer and university professor, specialist in criminal law, emphasized that the most difficult thing in the Colombian judicial system has been to understand that technology is not a threat, but a tool to achieve different circumstances: “they represent an opportunity to bring respect for the law closer to citizens and generate new possibilities for their rights to become a reality”.

This meeting is the sixth session prior to the World Congress of Law to be held in Colombia this year, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”.

FULL SESSION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWvjTrOtlFM

Opening Session Strasbourg “International Protection of Families & Children”

In collaboration with the European Bars Federation (FBE), the World Jurist Association (WJA) celebrated on February 25, 2021 the Opening Session Strasbourg of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, focused on the importance of the Rule of Law in protecting minors in vulnerable situations, while maintaining their human dignity. Javier Cremades, president of the WJA and the World Law Foundation, opened the webinar by emphasizing that this is a very important area for the society, acknowledging that “if the rule of law is anthropocentric, the protection of families and children is essential”.

Under the title “The International Protection of Families and Children”, María Eugenia Gay, president of the WJA Spain and dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, moderated this debate in which Silvia Giménez-Salinas, president of the FBE, assured that “from its beginnings, the protection of children provided the administration with the necessary speed to protect a child immediately in the face of abuse or negligence, as we cannot allow procedural deadlines to harm them”. Along these lines, she pointed out that “family law and the protection of children has advanced thanks to European regulations”. However, she acknowledged that each State has its own independent regulations and has its own family law.

The same situation occurs in the United States where family law is statutory: “There is no American divorce law, for example,” acknowledges Pamela M. Sloan, chair of the NYC Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee and Council at the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), who assured that, during these processes, children are given a voice. “The lawyer’s job is to advocate for the interests of the child, they have a confidential relationship, and the child does not have to be present at court because the judge can question them outside,” she said.

For her part, Dominique Attias, first vice-president of the FBE, was concerned about the cause of ghost children and wanted to pay special attention to these minors who are not registered, since, as she pointed out, “every minor must be registered at birth to have a legal identity”. Adding that “children whose birth is not registered do not exist in the eyes of their country’s governments, complicating access to their rights, health and education, which could even be denied to them”.

International child abduction is another problem related to the protection of children. Ignacio Goicoechea, representative of the Regional Office of the Hague Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC), called for “less rhetoric and more effective protection” to solve this issue since, he stressed, “what children need is to be protected”. Carolina Marín Pedreño, vice-president of the IAFL and former president of the Westminster and Holborn Bar Association (UK), also referred to this issue, pointing out that “the Hague Convention is a very good instrument to comply with the need for a child to be returned to his or her country of origin after having been abducted”. In addition, she highlighted the training of lawyers and recognized that “on occasions, we see children who have not been returned because the parent has declared that he or she is not aware of the existence of treaties that solve the situation”. In this sense, Diana Hamade, a lawyer from the United Arab Emirates and member of the IAFL, pointed out that “in many countries there are deficiencies when a parent takes a child away and the child is not returned to the other parent”.

Regarding child marriage, Dilia Leticia Jorge Mera, Vice Minister of Innovation, Transparency and Citizen Services of the Dominican Republic, stated that “it is a real situation of violation of human rights, since child marriage is carried out without the consent of children and adolescents, who are coerced by their families or by the social environment around them”. She also pointed out that “Dominican Republic and Nicaragua occupy the first place in Latin America with 8,000 minor girls and teenagers married between 2001 and 2019”.

For Pakistani lawyer Sulema Jahangir, member of the IAFL, the global culture of justice and equality could be used in benefit of minors in Pakistan where “judges try to help families and advance laws that are fairer for women”. She also highlighted the goal “to improve the lives of hundreds of women and families in Muslim countries”.

For Daniela Horvitz, president of AIJUDEFA (International Association of Family Lawyers) and governor general of the IAFL, giving children, young people and families the protection needed, also implies “an imperative need to standardize basic principles in relation to family law”.

This meeting has served as preview of the family law topics that will be discussed during the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Colombian Constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/FmXQmqcK1No

Opening Session Washington: “Human Rights and Justice”

On November 12, the WJA celebrated the fourth Opening Session of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021 from the Headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.

“We are far from a reality where human rights are protected in real time, and there is a long way ahead to guarantee effective mechanisms”.  This is how the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, assessed the current situation in the debate “Human Rights and Justice: Fundamental Pillars for the Strengthening of Democratic Systems“. Almagro recognized that “political systems have to be structured in the best way to make justice work in societies, and this is the independence of power”.  He also pointed out that “the main problem of democracy is impunity, a red line that separates it from dictatorship.

Tamara Sujú, WJA Representative before the International Criminal Court and director of the CASLA Institute, chaired the panel and highlighted its importance, assuring that “respect for human rights and justice tells us when democracy degenerates into dictatorial government”, and she bet on universal justice to denounce the crimes of Latin American dictatorships.

In this direction, the former president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, highlighted how tyrannies are detrimental to justice in the Latin American region and assured that “in this area everyone talks about human rights, but for many it is an electoral ploy”. He added, furthermore, that “we must be careful to avoid people who do not really believe in human rights from reaching power, since not everyone can defend human rights”.

Regarding the situation in Latin America, Dita Charanzová, Vice President of the European Parliament, highlighted the fundamental role played by international institutions against countries that violate human rights and highlighted the action of the European Parliament, which, she said, has openly supported investigations into crimes against humanity. In this sense, she requested “that the international community continue to speak out in order to continue rejecting dictatorships and, thus, achieve the absolute reestablishment of human rights in those Latin American countries subject to these regimes”.

Meanwhile, Karen Longaric, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, emphasized that “only when the rule of law is solid, the justice system is independent” and noted that “even when governments emerge from elections or votes, they can have dictatorial and totalitarian characteristics”. Regarding justice, she stressed that it “does not exist in times of dictatorship, because the judicial body and the Public Prosecutor’s Office are obsequious with dictators” and she questioned the role of international human rights organizations since, she assured, “they have a role to play in protecting human rights, but some of them do not work or do so poorly because they have a biased view towards judging or appreciating human rights violations”.

Javier Cremades, president of the World Jurist Association, concluded the panel alleging that “there is no assured peace if there is no submission to the law” and stated that “human rights are there so each person can live their life with dignity and see all their objective value recognized”.

This Opening Session was the fourth meeting preceding the World Law Congress to be held in Colombia in 2021. The President of the host country, Iván Duque, also participated in this session, and through the projection of an institutional video he committed himself to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and well-being, development and freedom for citizens” and assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all, based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/cmUDv5-R1o8

SUMMARY SESSION: https://youtu.be/TIhVmX_wtuA

The WJA at the UN conference of the states parties to the un convention against corruption

The World Jurist Association made a presentation at the United Nations Vienna, during the plenary session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on September 2-4, 2020. The conference was chaired by the Attorney General of the United Arab Emirates, Harib Saeed Al Amimi, and Gabriel Fernández Rojas, WJA Representative to the UN Vienna and Financial Coordinator of the World Law Congress, participated on behalf of the World Jurist Association.

During his speech, Mr. Fernández Rojas mentioned the commitment of WJA in the fight against corruption and assured that the rule of law is incompatible with corruption. He stressed that a rule of law capable of preventing corruption is needed, in order to guarantee human rights and freedom, as well as to promote cohesion between societies. Additionally, he pointed out that the balance of power must be optimized, ensuring the efficiency and neutrality of public administrations, as well as improving citizens’ trust in institutions. In conclusion, he recognized that in a global context, open to new challenges and opportunities, the fight against corruption is one of the most urgent ways to defend the rule of law and remarked that this will only be possible with a strong commitment from society.

On the occasion of this meeting, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) also met, and as NGO with special consultative status before this institution, the World Jurist Association participated in it.

In the framework of the different events in Vienna, the WJA future activities were promoted in one to one meetings, increasing its network within this key forum.

The most important meeting was limited to UN State Parties and accredited NGOs. During that event, participants shared the progress made by their country in the fight against corruption, in light of the upcoming General Assembly against Corruption (UNGAS) to be celebrated in June 2021. One of the issues that caught greatest attention was the initiative presented in 2019, coincidentally, by the Government of Colombia at the UN New York. Colombia proposed the creation of an international court specialized in fighting against corruption and transnational corruption, in order to overcome limitations such as those that became visible with the Odebrecht case, the existence of blatant money laundering issues from the highest governmental levels in some countries, and the impossibility of making justice owing lack of judicial independence.

Opening Session Chile “Transnational Crime and Corruption: Protecting Judicial Independence”

The President of the Supreme Court of Chile, Guillermo Silva Gundelach, participated in the Opening Session Chile of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, titled ‘Transnational Crime and Corruption: Protecting Judicial Independence’. Silva Gundelach stressed the importance of discussing corruption and the protection of judicial crime, since “if we do not do so, we put our common future at risk”.

The meeting was chaired by Javier Cremades, president of the World Jurist Association and the World Law Foundation, who welcomed the speakers, stressing “how important the independence of judges is, as well as the fight against crime and corruption”. Organizer Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2010-2014), introduced the topic and highlighted its importance since “the strengthening of organized crime networks has generated a new type of challenge and threat to the judicial independence of the powers”.

Leonor Etcheberry, Vice President of the Chilean Bar Association, has been in charge of moderating the debate in which Cheol-Kyu Hwang, President of the World Association of Prosecutors, has defended that “we are doing our best to apply the conventions against corruption” and has pointed out that international cooperation is fundamental, as well as ensuring that prosecutors’ offices work collaboratively beyond the traditional framework. During the discussion, the Attorney General of Spain, Dolores Delgado, bet on the functional and budgetary autonomy of the judiciary and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in order to confront corruption, which she considers “the dirty game of democracy” and highlighted the need to resort to cooperation as the tool to tackle impunity.

María Eugenia Gay, President of the WJA Spain and Dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, ratified the “firm commitment” of the group to make law and the laws the safeguard of citizens’ rights. As she highlighted, political parties and the different public powers must act with transparency and rigor in favor of society, so that the political formations are capable of redirecting the deviation of power and recovering the institutions they represent, the people, reinforcing the sovereignty of the states. The great challenges ahead demand the development of the structure in which dialogue is the maximum expression of democracy.

In this line, Héctor Humeres Noguer, President of the Chilean Bar Association, assured that “it is the responsibility of all the powers and ministries, in addition to the bar associations, to contribute to the prevention, eradication and information about the dangers of corruption and the forms in which it may appear”. For Humeres Noguer, “corruption can deteriorate the basis of a country causing severe damage to society, because the corruption that falls on the administration of justice affects the guarantee of human rights protection”.

Jorge Abbott Charme, National Prosecutor of Chile and President of the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors, believes in the autonomy and independence of public prosecutors’ offices and promotes the use of international cooperation tools. During the debate, Luz Ibáñez, Judge of the International Criminal Court, recognized that “the problem of corruption and judicial independence does not respond to the individual conduct of judges, but rather it is a structural problem and therefore the response must be holistic and structural”.

In his intervention, José Igreja Matos, Vice President of the International Union of Judges, explained that it is always clear that the domestication of judges is a fundamental tool to promote impunity, and he highlighted the role of the multiple institutions that play a decisive role in the defense of the rule of law. “Difficult times demand a firm and courageous voice from international institutions”.

Roberta Solis, Judicial Integrity Team Leader from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, closed the debate, stressing that “support among judges is fundamental because it helps prevent judicial corruption.

This Opening Session was the second session prior to the World Congress of Law to be celebrated in Cartagena de Indias on November 17-18, 2021. The President of Colombia, Iván Duque, participated in this session via institutional video, in which he assured that his country “receives this congress as recognition to the efforts of the Colombian society to defend the rule of law as a guarantor of freedom, order, peace and harmony”.

FULL SESSION: https://youtu.be/7F5jNVq1KDU

SUMMARY SESSION: https://youtu.be/YzuKod1v6sI