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Cablegate: Argentina: Wha a/S Shannon and Ambassador Wayne

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1052/01 2131223
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311223Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1654
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001052

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KJUS KCOR AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: WHA A/S SHANNON AND AMBASSADOR WAYNE
MEET WITH CHIEF JUSTICE LORENZETTI

REF: BUENOS AIRES 00643

1. (SBU) Summary: WHA A/S Shannon and Ambassador Wayne met
with Argentine Chief Justice Lorenzetti on July 11 to discuss
bilateral cooperation in the area of judicial reform.
Lorenzetti praised the Argentine Supreme Court's close
cooperation with the Embassy and the U.S. Supreme Court,
citing a number of Embassy-sponsored programs and judicial
exchanges. On judicial reform, he explained that the Court's
priorities are strengthening the rule of law and judicial
authority. He noted that progress in transitioning to a
U.S.-style judicial system has been "mixed", adding that
major judicial changes should be done gradually. A/S Shannon
praised the Court's reform efforts and asked what more can be
done to help. Lorenzetti noted the growing demand for
judicial services and the need to improve access to the
courts for the poor. To address these issues, he expressed
an interest in expanding alternative dispute resolution
mechanisms such as arbitration. Lorenzetti also highlighted
efforts to improve public access to the Court by broadening
dissemination of its rulings and opening more Court
proceedings. When A/S Shannon asked about the GOA's efforts
to try cases related to human rights abuses committed during
the military dictatorship, Lorenzetti said there is strong
public support for redressing the most egregious cases. He
stressed, however, that even when the Court tries cases for
crimes against humanity it must ensure due process for all.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Tom Shannon and Ambassador Wayne met with Chief Justice
Ricardo Lorenzetti on July 11 during Shannon's July 10-12
bilateral consultations visit. Justices Elena Highton de
Nolasco and Juan Carlos Maqueda were also present.

---------------------------------------
Strong Relations with the United States
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Lorenzetti claimed the Argentine federal justice
system was originally modeled on the U.S. system, and that it
continued to look to the U.S. for inspiration. He praised
the U.S. Embassy's ongoing close cooperation on several
projects with the Court. Lorenzetti noted that our similar
constitution, political system, and institutions, in addition
to specific exchanges on issues, such as access to justice
and technology, help facilitate this close partnership. He
referenced the importance of the U.S.-sponsored Justice Under
Change program, which began in 2001. Justice Highton, who
studied law at Harvard, chimed in noting U.S. efforts to help
Argentina strengthen its institutions and the robust
cooperation at the university level, including student
exchange programs. The Ambassador highlighted an
Embassy-Sponsored youth program for high school students
called "Judges Go to School" as another example of our
ongoing cooperation. Highton readily agreed, noting that the
program allows students to participate in mock trials.
Lorenzetti also noted the Argentine Court's close working
relationship with the U.S. Supreme Court. He said his Court
will be hosting in the next year or so a hemispheric meeting
of Supreme Court presidents. (Note: This is an initiative
launched in 1995 by then-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice
William Rehnquist.)

------------------------
A Challenging Road Ahead
------------------------

4. (SBU) A/S Shannon noted that, throughout the region,
judicial reform had not kept pace with Latin America's
remarkable economic and political progress over the last 25
years. In reply, the Chief Justice stated that economic
development is important and relayed that the Court is
seeking to tackle the key areas important to any democracy
first, such as strengthening the rule of law and judicial
authority in Argentina. He acknowledged that reforming the
judicial system is a big challenge given Argentina's
complicated government structure, adding that 50 years ago a
judge's job was much simpler. He indicated that he favors a
gradual, rather than drastic, approach to implementing major
judicial changes.

--------------------------------
"Mixed Progress" in Penal Reform
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) A/S Shannon then asked about the status of
Argentina's transition from an inquisitorial penal justice
system to an accusatorial one. Lorenzetti described

Argentina's progress as "mixed" with some provinces making
more headway in implementation than others. He explained
that judges still direct the investigation process. Justice
Highton added that many judges and attorneys have a hard time
making the transition, no matter how much retraining they
get.

-----------------------------------
Efforts to Improve Access to Courts
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) A/S Shannon praised the Court's judicial reform
efforts and asked what more can be done to help Argentina in
this regard. Lorenzetti said a major challenge for him was
to secure sufficient resources to address the rapidly growing
demand for judicial services. In that connection, he is
interested in exploring and expanding alternatives such as
arbitration and greater access to the courts for the poor.
Lorenzetti told A/S Shannon and the Ambassador that the Court
is striving to make the Court more accessible by broadening
dissemination of its rulings and opening more Court
proceedings to the public. He said allowing the public to
observe Court proceedings serves an educational purpose, in
addition to providing greater transparency. A/S Shannon
agreed, noting that televised court programs in the U.S.
helped to educate the public on the U.S. legal system.

---------------------------------
The Chief Justice on Human Rights
---------------------------------

7. (SBU) A/S Shannon asked the Chief Justice about public
attitudes towards human rights cases related to abuses during
the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. The Chief Justice said
there was strong support for redressing the most egregious
cases. The Court's concern was also to guarantee due process
for all those on trial, even for crimes against humanity.

--------
Bio Note
--------

8. (SBU) Lorenzetti is soft-spoken and has a warm and
welcoming demeanor with U.S. officials. He is acquainted
with the U.S., having served as an assistant professor at
Austin University in Texas. Born in 1955, Lorenzetti hails
from Rafaela in Santa Fe. He received his law degree from
Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe in 1978 and has
a Ph.D. in Social and Legal Sciences. He practiced law and
remained active in academia prior to being appointed to the
Supreme Court in December 2004. Lorenzetti is a prolific
author, having written over twenty books in Argentina and one
hundred plus articles for various Argentine publications.

9. (U) This cable was cleared by WHA A/S Shannon.
WAYNE

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