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On the subject of the Public Prosecutor’s Office: an unstable place is not conducive to hope

On November 16, I had the honor of being invited to present before the Criminal Affairs Justice Commission of the Senate of the Nation about the reform projects of the Public Prosecutor’s Office under treatment. Taking into account that there were several exhibitors, the time of each was not enough – at least in my case – to make my position more explicit.

The issue is important, and so much so that it refers to nothing more and nothing less than the future of a State institution, an independent Constitutional Body, with functional autonomy and financial autarky such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Nation (art 120 CN).

Three projects were put to my consideration, that of Dra. Lucia Crexell, that of Senator Martín Lusteau and that of Senator Weretilnek, which have their positive and negative aspects. But nevertheless, deserves main attention, due to the deep concern generated by the bill recently presented by Senator Weretilnek in which the claim to ingest in the government of the Public Ministry is directly observed.

Namely:

to) it creates a new cause for the removal of the attorney general that is quite diffuse and linked to the annual report that must be presented to Congress; b) modifies the mechanism for removing the attorney general by eliminating two-thirds and even being able to be suspended by the will of the Executive Power on duty (see article 11 of the bill), with the agreement of the absolute majority of the Senate. Also the proposal of any Deputy with the approval of the absolute majority of both Houses; c) It is intended to modify the integration and balance of the Prosecution Court by avoiding the previous administrative procedures that provide stability and security to the prosecutors. More representatives of the Political Power are incorporated into the Jury of Prosecution and it is provided that the President of the Prosecution Court – which until today is chosen by lot – be a representative of Congress (art. 12). This is aggravated when it is noticed that the power of the President of the Court has been strengthened (art. 13); d) The autonomy of the Public Ministry is affected when the intervention of the Bicameral Commission of Congress is intended in a kind of co-government with powers that are proper and exclusive to the Attorney General.

Without further consideration, which there are in abundance, I want to mean that this project is clearly unconstitutional, limits the powers of the Attorney, modifies most of the mechanisms of his appointment and removal, also constituting for the entire body of prosecutors a enslavement of their independence and stability.

My long experience as Attorney General of the Nation, after being appointed at the proposal of the Executive Power with the agreement of two thirds of the members present of the Senate, allowed me to exercise the function with the authority that said agreement confers on me, with the serenity that you grants the never having given a particular instruction to any prosecutor in the country and with the commitment to have organized from its constitutional birth a solid institution, with permanent training, accepting external control as an indispensable condition, but rejecting any pretense of undue interference of the three powers of the state.

For years the Public Prosecutor’s Office suffers a gradual deteriorationIt is well known that the political system has been unable for years to appoint the Attorney General, a position that has been vacant for 3 years. This function is exercised according to the law by an Attorney General before the Court who has been able to respond and rise to the occasion.

If the State through its laws does not offer references that provide coherence, preservation of the constitutional order, ultimately respect for the institutions, society little by little becomes an inhospitable place, without borders and without limits. An unstable place.

* The author is a Doctor of Law, former Defender General of the Nation, former Attorney General of the Nation