Colombia will have a Nobel Prize in Law

Javier Cremades celebrates the 27th edition of the World Law Congress

Although, in general, the Nobel Prize for Law was awarded to a personality, this time, as an unprecedented event, the protagonist will be the Colombian society that will have that award. Javier Cremades, president of the World Jurist Association, in dialogue with The viewer explained the reason for which recognition is given to Colombia. Although he explained the challenges that Colombian democracy still faces, he highlighted his work for several years.

What is the meeting that will take place over the next few days about …

For almost 60 years a meeting has been held that is an international event that brings together the most important in the world of the judiciary, the legal profession, the academy, other legal operators such as the Prosecutor’s Office, the courts, among others. We got together to talk about social governance, the challenges it has regarding the rule of law, climate change, people’s rights and all the great challenges that become challenges for society

The event takes place in the middle of a crucial stage in Colombia …

I would not connect it with the situation of the moment but with the historical trajectory that has shown the world that, under the rule of law, it can be used for an economic and social situation. The famous Constitution of Cúcuta marked an important stage, but then that of 1991 has also been a modern Constitution that has served so that the entire country has some rules of the game, and public and political life are with a vibrant democracy, but subject to the rule of law.

There is progress, as you well mentioned, but what do you consider are the challenges that Colombia still faces?

I think that in the world there are two alternatives to live in society: the first is to live under the rule of law and the other is to live under the rule of force, and the most complete way to protect the rights of a person is in constitutional states. In countries such as Colombia, the United States or Spain that have the privilege of having a very robust rule of law, what they lack is trying to implement it because human rights always have to be taken seriously.

We really have a society where fundamental rights are often a dead letter, the dignity of the person is not respected. It must be remembered that, in the rule of law, basically, the main characteristic is that political power can only be exercised with legitimacy if the dignity of each person is respected. Those would be the challenges they face, guaranteeing effective equality, freedom, free public opinion, privacy, among other fourth-level rights.

There are rights that during a pandemic had to be protected through the courts since it was considered that there was a violation by the Government with the State of Social and Economic Emergency that caused the Covid-19 …

Something unique happened with the pandemic and that is that the power of the State has had a disturbing moment of expansion because, in the states of law protected by the Constitution, they have had the ability to intervene through states of alarm. What is striking is that you never had control over who citizens could meet with, that happened during the pandemic, but immediately that should regain its normality. Those are things that belong to the freedom of the person, not the state. The State does not have the right to condition the lives of citizens to that level. Therefore, the Covid has meant an empowerment so that power has more scope, but it must again be restricted to constitutional spaces where privacy belongs to the person.

An important panel that they will have during the event is precisely the economic challenges left by the pandemic and the restoration of rights, especially that of equality. How can Colombia vindicate itself in this situation?

The Covid has shown us the radical equality of all not before the law but before life, because we have seen how there have been many victims in the most disadvantaged social sectors, but also in the ruling class in power.

What the rule of law does is touch us with a profound equality in dignity before the courts, justice and also before other citizens. In this case, Colombia has a way of responding, with justice, so that the equality that was curtailed during the pandemic returns to its course.

Precisely because of this important role that justice plays in the matter of rights, judicial congestion has been promoted, even more than what already existed in Colombia …

Yes. If there is a delay in justice, justice is denied. I believe that justice must also be independent, equitable and must be precise when it is needed, but undue delays are unacceptable, they are a lack of due process, therefore, it must be demanded that the means for resolution exist and ultimately that the access to justice is guaranteed as it is an essential public service.

The lack of access to justice adds to the corruption that exists in it. How can it be eradicated?

Corruption has occurred in all countries, in some, it is an endemic evil that permeates all structures of the State and society. I believe that there are two ways to combat them: one way that is cultural, from education in schools, colleges and universities, and there is another way that is law. The law must be demanding and forceful in the face of acts of corruption. Corruption is an attack on patrimony, but it is also an attack on conscience in the social body.

The panel that will address situations of corruption is linked to judicial independence, this has also sometimes been permeated in Colombia. What is the way to avoid this situation?

Judicial independence is essential to control power and for there to be a separation of powers to guarantee people’s rights. I believe that there are two ways of working. The first is by training judges well, but also by giving them a statute of independence, of separation, that they are immovable. That they have their own government that executes and plans the means for the administration of justice, but that the jurisdictional function is proper to each natural judge for each matter.

What would you highlight of the legal system and the guarantees of rights in Colombia

Colombia is a state of full law that when there are abuses of fundamental rights, judges have freedom, independence and immobility to correct and punish them. In short, we have a guarantee system where the usual tension between the use of force and rights sometimes suffers and a balance has to be found that in that order must be corrected.

What everyone is clear about is that Colombia is a democracy with one of the most advanced states of rights in the world, that is why we are going there, to recognize it and to give that Nobel Prize in Law to the Republic of Colombia for so many years of life in peace and democracy with no other rule than the Constitution itself.

Peace stands out, but there have been years of violation and armed conflict, however, transitional justice has played an important role in this despite the fact that it is not fully recognized …

I believe that the world has also seen that, as Colombia has been overcoming historical stages where drug trafficking and guerrilla violence were dominating public life and now we are in another stage. I know that the whole question of transitional justice has been very divisive and that there has been a very strong political confrontation, but what it does is that the legal system recognizes it and that therefore it must work and it must be a success.

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Colombia will have a Nobel Prize in Law