Administrative And Grand Corruption Within The Judiciary

Katya Salazar, 12th IACC, Workshop report, Sustainability

Main Issues Covered


Presentation of Keith Henderson

Professor Henderson provided the background and global overview of the state of research and experience in the area of addressing and preventing judicial corruption, including references to various strategic frameworks, best practices and lessons learned white papers on a range of issues directly and indirectly related to judicial corruption.

His main challenge to the panel and participants was to note that it was essential for countries and civil society to adopt a systematic monitoring and reporting framework that promotes and balances both judicial independence and judicial accountability reforms. He noted that such model frameworks now exist and that they now needed to be developed for purposes of implementing many of the reforms in the new UNCAC. He also noted that many reforms in the UNCAC can not be successfully implemented or sustained until the issue of judicial corruption is addressed.

During his presentation he advanced a formula for action in this area during the next phase of judicial reforms, which he dubbed the Mack Solution, in recognition of the many contributions that Helen Mack has made to advance justice in Guatemala. He noted that we now know that the best way, if not the only way, to promote the actual implementation of governance reforms, such as those in the important areas of procurement or, labor and the environment, or the sensitive area of judicial corruption, is by building up the demand for reform through the following reform formula: It has five key elements:

The Mack Solution

  1. promoting broad based coalitions and public awareness

  2. promoting access to information

  3. promoting safety-oriented whistleblower laws and policies that are laced with incentives;

  4. promoting systematic monitoring and reporting by both governmental and non-governmental frameworks and mechanisms and

  5. promoting local, country and international peer pressure, voluntary compliance and rule of law culture.

He closed by stating that only question today is how to get governments, judiciaries and civil society to follow this formula for real action.

Presentation of Helen Mack

Helen, a human rights defender, described the case of her sister –Myrna Mack- who was assassinated by Guatemalan governmental officials because of her critical work as a social anthropologist. Helen explained the main obstacles she had to overcome through the years in the criminal processes opened in Guatemala and the link between these obstacles and judicial corruption. She described how the courageous police and judges in charge of her case were continuously threatened and intimidated by members of the military and that a policeman offering evidence was actually assassinated. She recounted how the case took ten years to resolve because of various roadblocks often instituted by corrupt judges who were essentially taking orders from the military. After many years seeking justice, Helen learned the hard way that the many obstacles to justice in her sister’s case were the same that many others were confronting in the criminal process in Guatemala.

Presentation of Judge Delores Espanol

Judge Espanol, a former judge of the Philippines Intermediate Court and Founding Member of TI/Berlin and the TI Chapter in the Philippines, outlined how judicial corruption works in the Philippines within the context of executive/judicial branch interaction. She gave concrete examples of how the President’s office sometimes uses the judicial appointments process to mandate judicial decisions and noted that while the Bangalore Principles for judicial conduct have been adopted in theory that they are not being implemented in practice. She strongly supported the need for civil society to adopt a monitoring and reporting framework for purposes of promoting judicial independence and judicial accountability including addressing judicial corruption.

Presentation of Eduardo Bertoni

Bertoni, an Argentinean lawyer and former Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the OAS, described a methodology designed by DPLF to approach and address judicial corruption in Latin America. He said the first important step of this methodology was to define the institution that was the subject of the investigation, such as the judicial power, the public ministry or the public defense office. The second step was to define the concept of judicial corruption within country context, and to illustrate that it relates to the principle of impartiality. The third step was to define the methodology and perspectives of how judicial corruption worked in practice and how it should be approached, such as through public perception surveys and interviews or also through more empirical surveys and information from key stakeholders and users of the system, or other sources of reliable information, such as the media. He also referenced some preliminary findings from an on-going DPLF project that begin to outline the steps they were using to evaluate judicial corruption in Central America. Some of the research related to the need to strengthen the disciplinary bodies, the need to reduce the excessive power of the supreme courts and the need to strengthen the impact of civil society work.


Main Outcomes


A powerful presentation by a victim of judicial corruption set the stage for an engaging and informative debate. It also served to paint a clear picture of how judicial corruption works in practice and how justice can be obtained and judicial reforms effected through personal persistence, courageous judges, prosecutors and police, access to judicial information, an informed media, broad based advocacy and a supportive public.


Main Outputs


A regional and global framework and methodology for promoting judicial independence and accountability, including addressing and preventing judicial corruption.


Recommendations, Follow-up Actions


The need for all countries, particularly those where judicial corruption is systemic, to adopt a monitoring and reporting framework that can be used by multiple stakeholders for multiple purposes, including promoting targeted reforms, measuring reform progress and identifying implementation problems, advocacy and public awareness, disseminating judicial information and garnering public support for judicial reforms.


Workshop Highlights (including interesting quotes)


Helen Mack{s passionate presentation and plea to participants and panelists to help her root out judicial corruption and promote judicial reforms in Guatemala.

docAdministrative And Grand Corruption Within The Judiciary

Brazil 2012

Brazil 2012

IACC Video

IACC Video