After months of delay and much congressional wrangling, the law replacing the suspended National Magistrates Council (CNM) was finally passed on 1 February. It brings into being the National Justice Board (Junta Nacional de Justicia, JNJ).
The old CNM was suspended last year after it had become clear that it was embroiled in a major judicial corruption scandal. President Martín Vizcarra promised in his 28 July address that a new mechanism to appoint and remove judges would be decided upon by referendum. This was finally approved by a large majority last December. What remained to be done was for Congress to pass the necessary legislation.
Rosa María Bartra, the Fuerza Popular head of the constitutional commission in Congress, delayed the process as much as she could, also seeking to twist the spirit of the law. However, Daniel Salaverry, the president of Congress, extended the sessions to see the new law through, refusing to heed the decisions of the constitutional committee. Salaverry was formerly a prominent Fujimorista member of Fuerza Popular but has cut his ties with the party and is now working as an independent.
A major disappointment for those on the more progressive deputies was that the issue of gender parity in the new JNJ was not approved.
The JNJ will have the authority to appoint and reappoint all judges as well as remove them. It is also in charge of appointing the head of the electoral body (ONPE) and that of the public registry (RENIEC).
Its seven members will hold office for five years. They will be chosen by competition, and at least three must be women. They must all be lawyers in good standing with at least 25 years of experience in the law or as university teachers, or 15 years if they are experts in legal research.
The competition to appoint them will be run by the president of the judiciary, the chief public prosecutor, the president of the Constitutional Tribunal, and the vice-chancellor of a law school elected by his peers from either private or public universities of more than 50 years standing.