Quick and Dirty: Speeding up Criminal Procedures at the Cost of Defendants' Rights

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Seminarsaal 20 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Pablo CIOCCHINI, University of Liverpool, Singapore
Since the late eighteenths, following the transition to democracy, there has been a process of reforms in criminal courts all over Latin America. They were carried on by governments applying programs designed and supported by local and international experts and sponsored in most cases by international financial organizations. Those reforms were aimed at democratizing Latin American criminal courts by introducing adversarial-based procedural systems. However, in the new century, the focus of the reforms has changed from expanding defendants’ rights to improving the efficacy of the system, especially to speed up procedures. After more than three decades of reforms, the results show that changes have deeply affected the way criminal courts work. By drawing from the example of reforms made in Argentina, particularly in the Province of Buenos Aires, this article argues that those reforms introduced a managerial rationality in criminal justice. However, the historical, cultural and material local context has limited and shaped that rationality. The undesired results are criminal courts that promote the resolution of cases through plea-bargaining, probation or penal mediation instead of public trials. The final consequence is that most sentences are passed without a comprehensive debate on the grounds of the cases, which in the vast majority of the cases is sustained by police reports. Therefore, criminal courts end up legitimising police action without properly reviewing it.