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September 30, 2016

US Study Tour Opens Doors to New Peruvian Criminal Justice System through ABA ROLI Justice Sector Project

The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) hosted a weeklong study tour for high-level justice sector officials from Peru, in September 2016. The five member delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. and met with U.S. officials as part of ABA ROLI’s Justice Sector Support Project, which supports Peru in its transition to a new adversarial criminal justice system. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

As part of this transition, initiated in 2004, Peru has moved from a mixed-inquisitorial criminal procedure model, in which a judge is involved in evidence gathering and represents the State’s interests, to a new oral, accusatorial system, in which the parties represent themselves in open proceedings and judges act as impartial fact finders.

During their visit, the delegates met with their U.S. counterparts and members of several U.S. agencies, including high-level officials such as Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Assistant Secretary of INL Ambassador William Brownfield, and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Latin America Assistant Administrator Marcela Escobari.

The participants learned about unique aspects of the U.S. criminal justice system by visiting different levels of U.S. courts, providing them with broad exposure to the U.S. accusatorial system. These included the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo explained the U.S. criminal trial process and the group witnessed arraignment proceedings and discussed the U.S. juvenile justice system. The delegation also went to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to meet with Judge Peter Messitte. There, the delegates had a guided tour of the court, learned about the federal criminal system and watched part of a trial. Finally, the delegation toured the U.S. Supreme Court, where they learned how the Supreme Court selects which cases it will hear and met with Chief Justice John Roberts.

Additionally, the participants had the opportunity to visit with ABA Executive Director Jack Rives. They learned about the role the ABA plays in accrediting law schools, setting ethical standards for the legal system, judicial nominations and continuing legal education beyond law school. They also spoke with ABA ROLI Executive Director, Elizabeth Andersen and Deputy Director, Jeff Borns and learned about the programs ABA ROLI has in more than 50 countries around the world, including Latin America.

The delegation also met with Director James Duff of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; representatives from the FBI;  Executive Secretary Paulo Abrao of the Organization for American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and Dean William Treanor of Georgetown University’s Law School.

Chief Justice Victor Ticona of the Supreme Court of Peru, expressed his gratitude for the study tour stating that, “this memorable trip allowed us to exchange experiences, expand upon areas of common interest in judicial proceedings, with a special emphasis on the criminal reforms that are occurring in our country, as well as strengthening transparency and combating corruption. … I am convinced that the … recent visit to the United States of America will reinforce the ties of mutual understanding and international cooperation between our countries.”

ABA ROLI has worked in Peru since 2012, through programs funded by the Department of State, training justice sector operators and preparing them to work effectively under the 2004 Criminal Procedure Code. ABA ROLI has also worked to promote awareness about the new system and citizens’ rights among civil society organizations and the public, and to improve court administration. ABA ROLI’s newest Peruvian program, awarded in August 2016, continues this work and includes new components to help the government meet its goals related to access to justice and juvenile justice trainings for justice sector operators.

To learn more about our work in Peru, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].