On 18 February, President Vizcarra promulgated the new law creating the National Justice Board (Junta Nacional de Justicia, JNJ). The JNJ replaces the defunct National Magistrates Council (Consejo Nacional de la Magistratura, CNM) as the entity responsible for appointing (and sacking) judges and prosecutors.
The CNM was at the heart of the Callao corruption scandal that broke last year. It is widely hoped that its successor will be resistant to the sort of corruption that has for so long plagued the workings of Peru’s judicial system.
In passing the law, opposition politicians in Congress made amendments which Vizcarra has condemned, but he pins his hopes on reforming the law subsequently. Among other things, the law as it stands does not specify gender equality in the new JNJ. Also, those putting their names forward for nomination will not have to disclose their banking details.
The JNJ will have five members. They include the human rights ombudsman (currently Walter Gutiérrez), the chief public prosecutor (Zoraida Avalos), the president of the Constitutional Tribunal (Ernesto Blume), the president of the judicial branch (José Lecaros), the comptroller general (Nelson Shack), and the rectors of two universities (one public and one private) as yet to be selected by a special commission. The setting up is expected to take at least three months.
Whether or not the creation of the JNJ will be the silver bullet that will cleanse judicial corruption will depend a great deal on who finally makes up this body and whether they are themselves above reproach. If past experience is any guide, it will take more than institutional engineering to really make a substantial difference. Also, a number of other executive-backed legislative proposals are still languishing in Congress where the Fujimorista-heavy committees have held back progress.