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Venezuela: Possible Purge of A Thousand Judges


Buenos Aires, 8 May 2005 | (EFE) The president of the Judicial Commission of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), Luis Velázquez announced a process of “purging” the high tribunal.

A thousand Venezuelan judges may be removed from their positions, in the near term, as part of a process of “purging” the Judiciary, according to information given by the chairman of the Judicial Commission of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), Luis Velázquez.

The purge represents almost 60% of the 1,700 judges that practice in Venezuela, said Velázquez to the Caracas newspaper “Últimas Noticias”.

“Some 1,000 judges, more or less, will be removed. We are going to clean up the judicial process, professionalize it. Let judges know that they must show care in doing their job and the case of the state of Lara is a reflection of this process", affirmed the magistrate.

Last Monday the Judicial Commission removed 16 judges from the western state of Lara for allegedly being linked to cases of corruption and narcotrafficking. The Judicial Commission of the TSJ was created four years ago in order to appoint most titular judges in the country, since 80% of the national courts are in the hands of temporary judges.

The body remained practically inactive until the beginning of this year, when it was reactivated with Velázquez as its new chairman. The Judicial Commission “failed” in its task because “it did not get to the bottom of the problem and we substituted one clique ('rosca') for another,” explained Velázquez, when consulted about the few results obtained from the entity since it was created.

In order to “clean up” the Judiciary and guarantee “for all Venezuelans access to justice, there has to be an effective purging, such as we are doing, and the creation of new theoretical parameters by way of a plan conceived and approved" by the 32 magistrates who make up the TSJ, added Velázquez.

“There are some very honest people in the Judiciary, who will be vindicated”, added the magistrate, as he stipulated that the judges, who would substitute those actually being removed, would be selected not only for their academic capabilities but also for their “vital demeanor”.

Every judge who is appointed “will be investigated in his respective jurisdiction and, furthermore, must be willing to be rotated throughout the country so as to prevent the official from acting in response to good old boys networks ('amiguismo') Anyone who accepts being a judge should assume certain sacrifices," he affirmed.

Translation by W.K.

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