El Salvadoran Court Orders Open Proceedings on Judges

23 October 2014

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice in El Salvador has decided administrative proceedings against judges must be transparent.

The court ruled that the Access to Information Act, through its article 110, tacitly abolishes the provision (article 70 of the Judicial Career Act of 1990) that established the confidentiality of the administrative punitive (or penalizing) procedures against judges, judiciary collaborators and other magistrates. (See La Prensa newspaper report, in Spanish.) (Text of ruling, in Spanish.)

The plaintiff was a citizen who challenged the constitutionality of article 70 which made confidential all proceedings, administrative or judicial, against judges, judicial collaborators, and other court officials. This prevented disclosure of their names and the allegations.

The plaintiff argued that there was a collective right to know about the violations. So the plaintiff said article 70 violated articles 2.1 and 6.1 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court said that sometimes articles from the legislation are abolished or derogated by another act. This happened with the Access to Information Act and its article 110 which tacitly derogated every provision contained in any special or general law that may go against the principles and rules created by the ATI Act. The Court highlighted that other provisions were expressly left in place by article 110, not including article 70 of the Judicial Service Act. The Court said that this was the evidence of a true derogation for legal incompatibility.

Moreover, articles 6 (e) and 19 from the ATI Act establish the exceptions or cases in which information should remain confidential and do not mention or make any reference to information producedĀ in proceedings against judicial officers or judges. So, the plaintiff won the case and court decided that the information should be released.

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