CEJ is a non-profit Colombian organization with experience in the design, promotion and monitoring of justice policies that aim to make the collective desire for speedy and timely justice a reality; the formation of public opinion based on research and empirical data; the diffusion of excellence practices and lessons learned, especially for improving the administration of justice; and fostering the legal education of citizens as well as a culture of legality. The CEJ has gradually become a think tank on justice issues, an indispensable information resource, and one of the main interlocutors with authorities.
The principles that we constantly defend are: dignified justice, which means better infrastructure, training, motivation and incentives for justice operators and the education of the general public; transparency of the system; simplification, discipline and procedural updating, along with adequate technology and management; improved service to citizens; a State policy that includes a long-term vision and justice reforms linked to concrete action plans, and that is funded, feasible and based on cost-benefit studies; coordination of a rational supply of formal justice services with administrative and informal justice services, adequately located in the territories in order to allow easy access by every citizen.
Thanks to our technical capacity, our independence and our recognition as speakers of interlocutors with national authorities, we have been invited to serve as a member, permanent guest or technical secretariat of the main commissions on the reform and monitoring of the justice system that have been created in the country during the past few years, such as the Commission for the Drafting of the Criminal Procedure Code (Law 906); the Constitutional Commission for Monitoring the Penal Reform (now functioning as the Interinstitutional Commission for the Monitoring of the Criminal Accusatory System CISPA); the National Negotiating Commission on Peace Justice; the District Committee for Community and Alternative Justice; the National Commission of Justice on Fairness; the Commission for Timely Justice; the Expert Commission on Reforming Justice (created by former President Uribe); the Committee on Justice Issues, endorsed by President Santos’ Government; and the Interinstitutional Commission for Constitutional Justice Reform, created by President Santos. We are also frequently invited by the Congress to participate in public hearings on justice issues in order to enrich parliamentary debate, and by the Constitutional Court to render our opinion on non-constitutional claims regarding justice issues and the judicial apparatus.
The CEJ has also developed channels of communication with decision makers, such as members of Congress and government agency officials. In recent years, the CEJ has submitted observations on a number of legislative bills, such as those related to judicial decongestion, the Administrative Litigation Code, the General Procedure Code, misdemeanors and citizen safety. The CEJ’s input has enriched the legislative debates and stimulated the introduction of amendments to strengthen the bills. Our organization has also issued press releases as a mechanism for expressing its opinion on bills and policies.
Additionally, we have perfected the way we examine the Colombian justice system and we have established many observatories. The most important one, due to its members and time of existence, is the Observatory on the Implementation of the Criminal Accusatory System, dedicated to overseeing not only the system’s responsiveness (both quantitatively and qualitatively), but also the various legislative initiatives that involve or will have an impact on the system. We play an active role in legislative debates, analyze jurisprudence and take the pulse of public opinion by monitoring the media. With our research studies and knowledge of the system, we cooperate with official bodies in designing action plans for their improvement and to correct mistakes. We have also implemented observatories on real estate loans and peace justice.
We measure judicial congestion, analyze its causes and propose a portfolio of solutions to avoid the reproduction of its generating factors; some of our proposals have been laboratory-tested for effectiveness. Using such analytical tools, accumulated during years of experience, we have been able to contribute to the design of various legislative initiatives. For instance, we worked with the Procedural Law Institute on the very first draft of the General Procedure Code, which evolved into the bill that was recently submitted by the Government to Congress, which will substantially change the procedural aspects of civil law, commercial law and family law.
Recently, with the approval of the new Administrative Litigation Procedure Code, the CEJ developed a methodology to determine the cost of implementing the reform and a new management scheme.