Judicial reform runs into resistance

11 August 2018

On 10 August, the permanent commission in Congress in charge of deciding the timetable for the sub-committee of constitutional accusations to investigate wrong doing by Judge César Hinostroza and other CNM members was unable to meet for the lack of a quorum. Only nine of its 30 members turned up.

Congressional President Daniel Salaverry accused his colleagues of boycott, but, as Congressman Juan Sheput has pointed out, those missing came from Salaverry’s own party, Fuerza Popular (FP). Sheput, himself absent from the session, noted that he had been in the parliament building waiting for the session to begin, but it was never called. It has now been re-programmed for 13 August. 

Meanwhile in the judiciary, the newly appointed Fiscal de la Nación, Pedro Gonzalo Chávarry, has started disciplinary procedures against the whistle-blowing public prosecutor from Callao, Rocio Sánchez Saavedra. She has been in charge of the investigation into the port city’s drug kingpins that led to the taped recordings being leaked.

Chávarry seems intent on tainting Sánchez’s reputation, accusing her of not looking after evidence that has since become public knowledge. So far, he has been unable to find a provisional prosecutor to take forward the accusations against Sánchez. Still, the whole investigation is now under threat, and Sánchez has reported that several of the witnesses who are receiving official protection have received threats to get them to change their versions of events.

Thus there is a conflict raging within the judiciary between those who want to clean up the system and those who want to continue with the cover-up

Although questioned over his suitability for the role, Chávarry remains in post. A poll this week showed that 83% of those consulted thought he should resign in view of his connections with the high command at FP.

Chávarry is the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the Fujimoristas’ use of illicit funds that led to their offices being raided last February. It has taken Chávarry more than six months to call those questioned to make a declaration. He finally achieved this last week, and the case should be heard sometime between 20 August and 12 September. 

As Gustavo Gorriti noted in an article published in Caretas on 7 of August, a month after the taped conversations began to appear, there is a clear danger that those groups within the judiciary that are under fire manage to turn the tables and return strengthened. The Lava Jato investigation appears to be closely linked to those concerning judicial corruption; it remains to be seen what the ramifications will be. 

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