Judiciary Reform: Chapultepec Peace Agreement

MEXICO AGREEMENT (27 April 1991)

II. Judicial system and human rights

1. Agreements on constitutional reforms designed to improve significant aspects of the judicial system and establish mechanisms for safeguarding human rights, such as:

a. Reorganization of the Supreme Court of Justice and a new procedure for the election of Supreme Court judges. Henceforth, a two-thirds majority of deputies elected to the Legislative Assembly shall be required to elect judges to the Supreme Court of Justice.

b. An annual allocation from the State budget to the judiciary amounting to no less than 6 per cent of current income.

c. Creation of the post of a National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights, whose primary function shall be to promote and ensure respect for human rights.

d. Election of the Attorney-General of the Republic, the Chief State Counsel and the National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights by a two-thirds majority of deputies elected to the Legislative Assembly.

2. Other issues raised in the negotiations were referred to secondary legislation and to other political agreements. Although the set of political agreements on the judicial system envisaged by the Parties in the Caracas Agenda has still to be negotiated, the following agreements have been reached during the current round:

a. National Council of the Judiciary

Agreement has been reached to restructure the National Council of the Judiciary so that its composition guarantees its independence from the organs of State and from political parties and its membership includes not only judges but also sectors of society not directly connected with the administration of justice.

b. Judicial Training School

The National Council of the Judiciary shall be responsible for organizing and operating the Judicial Training School, whose purpose shall be to ensure a steady improvement in the professional training of judges and other judicial officials.

c. Career judicial service

The secondary legislation shall contain provisions to ensure that admission to the career judicial service is based on mechanisms guaranteeing objective selection, equal opportunities for all candidates and the selection of the best-qualified candidates. Such mechanisms shall include competitive examinations and attendance at the Judicial Training School.

Political agreements elaborating on the constitutional reform

With a view to elaborating on some of the aspects which the agreed constitutional reform refers to secondary legislation, the Parties have agreed to the following:

A. Judicial system

a. Supreme Court of Justice

For the purposes of the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Justice as envisaged in the constitutional reform, the National Council of the Judiciary shall keep a list of 60 candidates representative of the main schools of legal thought, which shall be renewed after each election of judges. Thirty of the candidates shall be nominated by the lawyers associations of the different regions of the country.

b. National Council of the Judiciary

Agreement has been reached to restructure the National Council of the Judiciary as follows:

1. The composition of the National Council of the Judiciary shall be such as to guarantee its independence from the organs of State and from political parties, and to ensure as far as possible that its membership includes not only judges but also representatives of sectors of society not directly connected with the administration of justice. The act regulating the National Council of the Judiciary shall be amended to bring it into line with the provisions of this Agreement within 90 days following ratification of the constitutional reform by the Legislative Assembly whose term begins on 1 May 1991. A new National Council of the Judiciary shall be elected within 90 days following approval of that legislative reform.

2. The National Council of the Judiciary shall be responsible for organizing and operating the Judicial Training School, whose purpose shall be to ensure a steady improvement in the professional training of judges and other judicial officials and of members of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic; to investigate the country’s judicial problems and promote solutions thereto; and to foster greater bonds of solidarity among members of the judiciary and a coherent overall vision of the function of the judiciary in a democratic State.

c. Career judicial service

The secondary legislation on the career judicial service shall satisfy the following requirements:

1. The secondary legislation shall contain provisions to ensure that admission to the career judicial service is based on mechanisms guaranteeing objective selection, equal opportunities for all candidates and the selection of the best-qualified candidates. Such mechanisms shall include competitive examinations and attendance at the Judicial Training School.

2. Candidates shall be admitted to the career judicial service only if they fulfil the admission requirements established by law.

CHAPULTEPEC AGREEMENT (16 January 1992)

Chapter III: Judicial System

1. National Council of the Judiciary

A. The Parties reaffirm that, as already agreed in the Mexico Agreements, the composition of the National Council of the Judiciary shall be such as to guarantee its independence from the organs of the State and from political parties and its membership shall, as far as possible, include not only judges but also sectors of society not directly connected with the administration of justice. In accordance with the New York Agreement, they refer the matter to COPAZ to prepare the corresponding preliminary legislative draft.

B. Judicial Training School

a. Pursuant to the Mexico Agreements, the preliminary draft referred to in the preceding paragraph shall include provisions regulating the Judicial Training School, which shall function under the responsibility of the National Council of the Judiciary and whose purpose shall be to ensure a steady improvement in the professional training of judges and other judicial officials and of members of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic; to investigate the country’s judicial problems and promote solutions thereto; and to foster greater bonds of solidarity among members of the judiciary and a coherent overall vision of the function of the judiciary in a democratic State.

b. The rules for the administration and organization of the Judicial Training School shall be such as to ensure its academic independence and its openness to the various schools of legal thought.

2. Office of the National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights

A. The National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights shall be appointed within 90 days following the entry into force of the constitutional reform resulting from the Mexico Agreements.

B. COPAZ shall be entrusted with preparing the preliminary bill organizing the Office of the National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights.

C. The preliminary bill shall establish appropriate means for putting into effect the firm commitment assumed by the Parties in the course of the negotiations to identify and eradicate any groups which engage in a systematic practice of human rights violations, in particular, arbitrary arrests, abductions and summary executions, as well as other attempts on the liberty, integrity and security of persons. This includes the commitment to identify and, where appropriate, abolish and dismantle any clandestine jail or place of detention. In any event, the Parties agree to give top priority to the investigation of such cases, under ONUSAL verification.

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