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Within the Framework of the Fourth Round, the Committee of Experts of the MESICIC, during its Twenty-Second Meeting, held from September 9 to 13, 2013, adopted the report on Colombia by consensus, following a examination of the information provided by that country, as well as that gathered during an on-site visit carried out from April 8 to 10 of this year. This visit comprised of members of the review subgroup, Costa Rica and Guatemala, with the support of the General Secretariat of the OAS, and meetings were held with Colombian authorities as well as with representatives of civil society organizations and the private and academic sector. The following aspects of the report are highlighted:
First, recommendations were formulated to Colombia for its consideration, with respect to the oversight bodies selected by Colombia to be examined in the Fourth Round, as follows:
Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ): that its Criminal Appeals Division should have its own investigative police; training is received specifically related to the investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption; the adoption of measures for an information system that would enable it to access the information of other entities and thereby facilitate its performance of that function; conduct an analysis of the possible reasons underlying the prescription, at the appeals stage, of criminal proceedings dealing with crimes against public administration and those underlying the adoption of decisions not to handle cases (decisiones inhibitorias) in “soles instances,” with a view to identifying challenges and recommending corrective measures, if applicable; and that the reports on its work be posted on its website.
Higher Council of the Judiciary (CSJd): adopt appropriate measures to give permanent status to the positions established on a temporary basis in order to reduce the backlog of criminal justice cases; provide training specifically related to the investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption, through the “Rodrigo Lara Bonilla” Judicial Academy; enhance implementation of the Judiciary’s Technological Strategic Plan - PET and of the Justice Services Strengthening Project; allocate a larger budget appropriation for the Judiciary; strengthen interinstitutional cooperation to make additional use of the “transferred evidence” mechanism; prepare statistical data on the disciplinary proceedings brought against officers of the judicial branch and lawyers; and conduct an analysis of the possible reasons underlying the adoption of decisions not to handle cases (medidas inhibitorias) or to declare disciplinary proceedings for corrupt acts prescribed in such proceedings, in order to identify measures for improving them, if applicable.
Office of the General Prosecutor (FGN): include the National Anti-Corruption Unit in the organic structure established for the FGN by law; strengthen inter-agency coordination with other organs performing judicial police functions; strengthen interinstitutional cooperation to make additional use of the “transferred evidence” mechanism, as well as adopt the pertinent measures for the transfer of evidence among the various oversight bodies conducting criminal, fiscal, and disciplinary proceedings; take steps to overcome the regulatory gap regarding the administrative career system; strengthen the Technical Research Corps; and conduct an analysis of the possible reasons for the adoption of decisions not to handle cases (medidas inhibitorias), for the very low number of judgments, and the duration of termination of ownership proceedings in corruption cases, in order to identify measures for improving the effectiveness of the mechanism, if applicable.
Office of the Attorney General (PGN): strengthen inter-agency cooperation with other oversight bodies; strengthen its preventive function; strengthen inter-agency cooperation to make the “transferred evidence” option more operational; endow the institution with the funds it need to conduct competitions for the positions that the Constitutional Court recently ordered to be filled in that manner, and to be able to provide anti-corruption training and promote citizen engagement with the exercise of social oversight; and adopt appropriate corrective measures to avoid declaring that disciplinary proceedings have prescribed because of the statute of limitations.
Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR): enhance inter-agency cooperation with other entities; strengthen the coordination of actions between officials performing judicial police functions and the FGN; strengthen inter-agency cooperation so material and physical evidence can be transferred between fiscal proceedings and criminal trials; adapt its structure and staffing to the new regulatory framework for fiscal oversight; and recover for the Treasury more of the monies that it should receive as a result of fiscal liability proceedings.
Second, as a result of the follow-up to the recommendations formulated to Colombia in the First Round, the Committee made a determination as to those which still have to be considered, including, among others, those aimed at the following purposes: preventing the crime of embezzlement; boosting the effectiveness of internal audit and fiscal oversight systems to avoid the “diversion of budgetary funds”; optimizing systems for analyzing the content of sworn statements of net worth, so as to detect and prevent conflicts of interest and detect possible cases of illicit enrichment; regulating the conditions, procedures and other appropriate terms under which those statements may be disclosed; adopting measures to promote, facilitate and consolidate or ensure the effectiveness of mechanisms for consultation; providing the necessary protection for those who denounce acts of corruption; and developing procedures and indicators for verifying follow-up to the recommendations put to Colombia in that Round.
The report also summarizes the progress made in the implementation of those recommendations, including, the measures adopted to train government officials in their responsibility to report acts of corruption and those adopted to ensure that subnational entities take advantage of advances made in “connectivity” and that national entities take advantage of information technologies; and the provisions of the new Anti-Corruption Statute, regarding such matters as the inclusion in basic and secondary school curricula and in their Institutional Educational Project of pedagogical content geared to forging a culture of respect for the law and care for communal property, and the prohibition of reprisals against civil servants who denounce acts of corruption; and the establishment of the National Ethics Commission.
In addition to the foregoing, the report highlights the best practices which Colombia provided information. These refer to a “National Prioritization and Context Unit,” established in the FGN, “which changes the paradigm for investigation, which now no longer examines isolated deeds, but rather macro crimes”; the use of oral proceedings in the PGN’s disciplinary proceedings, with the efficient and effective outcome that officials involved in acts of corruption or misconduct are punished at the time; the Open Government Index (IGA), which is a synthetic indicator that measures compliance with strategic anticorruption provisions; with the Technological Infrastructure System of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Higher Council of the Judiciary; the implementation of public hearings for drawing up lists of eligible candidates for justices of the Supreme Court and of the Council of State; the agreement between the CGR and the CSJd’s Administrative Chamber to strengthen interinstitutional cooperation in the fight against corruption; the strengthening of the judicial career; and the streamlining in the trials for the impeachment of members of Congress through oral proceedings at public hearings.
During this Twenty Second Meeting, similar reports were adopted for Chile, Guatemala, Panama and Uruguay. The Colombia report adopted by the Committee, as well as the aforementioned countries, are available at: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/mesicic4_rep.htm
142 - Sept. 2013
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