Judiciary, The Last Stand Against Corruption
Dr. Claudia Escobar Mejía's talk on the judiciary will focus on strategies that can be used to combat corruption as well as the importance of the independence of the judiciary and the need of impartial judges. She will also discuss problems of the Justice System in Central America, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Her talk will then delve into how corruption undermines the rule of law.
Most Latin American countries suffer from high levels of corruption. According to the "Corruption Perceptions Index" published by Transparency International, only a few countries in the region are above the world average. https://www.transparency.org/en/news/cpi-2020-americas
The average for the entire American continent is 43/100, with Canada at 77 and Uruguay at 71, followed by the United States and Chile with 67/100. At the same time, Nicaragua (22), Haiti (18), and Venezuela (15) are among the most corrupt countries, not far behind Honduras (24), Guatemala (25), and El Salvador (36).
When we talk about corruption, we have to understand that it is much more complex than simple bribery. Corruption is used by international crime to guarantee impunity for their crimes. Organized Crime and other Illegal international structures used corruption as a way to get away with their illicit activities. Take for example the case of Odebreck that affected every country in Latin America … how many rulings have been issued against them? Besides the case of Brazil … the rest of the countries were not able to prosecute them because there are many gaps in the criminal procedures.
Corruption has devastating effects on the region's development and its institutions. Also it undermines the rule of law because corruption promotes and generates impunity. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed this: On one hand, there is a severe problem of systemic corruption trying to explode the situation to the advantage of corrupt officials. On the other hand, the lack of capacities and competencies of public officials reflects the institutional weaknesses.
Claudia Escobar Mejía is a Guatemalan Lawyer, a former Court of Appeals Judge, and a Scholar with a Ph.D. in pluralistic law from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. She works as a Legal Specialist on Anti-Corruption and International Consultant in the Justice Sector. Doctor Escobar was one of the experts elected for the International Experts Commission against Corruption in Ecuador. Georgetown University elected her as a Centennial Fellow at the Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, she was a fellow at Harvard University – in Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
*Please note the talk will be in Spanish