Cablegate: President Signs Revised Criminal Procedure Code

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) On August 31, President Uribe signed into law a
new criminal procedure code consistent with Colombia's
transition to an accusatory criminal justice system.
Approval of the code by the Colombian Congress was a
somewhat novel example of cooperative relations between
the GOC and both houses of Congress. The new code
imposes dramatic changes in the roles of judges,
prosecutors, police, and defense attorneys, as well as
new methods for the presentation of evidence, i.e., in
oral, public trials. It will be introduced gradually
throughout the country over the next four years,
beginning in 2005 in the cities of Bogota, Armenia,
Manizales, and Pereira.

2. (SBU) The code is not perfect, and several provisions
are problematic, including sections authorizing
representatives of the Inspector General's Office
("Procuraduria") to participate in court proceedings (a
holdover from the current criminal justice system and
expression of political power by the Procuraduria),
limiting prosecutorial discretion, and complicating
prosecutors' ability to obtain cooperative witnesses in
narcotics, terrorism, and human rights cases. On
balance, however, the code is stronger than most codes in
Latin American countries that have adopted accusatory

3. (SBU) The conversion to an accusatory system will be
complicated. Moreover, although the Prosecutor General's
Office ("Fiscalia") and law enforcement agencies are
generally well prepared for the transition, serious
concerns remain about the preparedness of the judiciary
and the support of the public defenders system.

4. (SBU) Current Prosecutor General Luis Camilo Osorio
has been very supportive of the transition and
instrumental in the development of the new code. His
term of office, however, ends in July 2005. Osorio's
replacement will have a major impact on the
implementation process. Continued high levels of USG
assistance to Colombia's judicial system, including
training, technical assistance, and political and
financial support remain critical to the success of the

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