The Association of Chilean Magistrates Coordinated a Round Table to Review the System of Appointment of Judges

The President of the Association of Chilean Women Magistrates (MACHI), Magistrate María Francisca Zapata, coordinated a round table with the Association of Magistrates (ANM) and the Chilean Bar Association, as well as several lawyers and writers, to review the country’s system of appointment of judges. The round table on appointments convened in 2018.

ANM President Soledad Piñero and Rodrigo Carvajal represented the ANM; Carmen Domínguez and Pablo Alarcón Jaña represented the Chilean Bar Association; and renowned lawyers and writers, Luis Cordero, Francisco Zùñiga, Juan Enrique Vargas and Mauricio Duce also participated. Carla Troncoso coordinated.

The Hon. Lidia Poza, IAWJ Member and Director of MACHI, wrote about the experience for MACHI’s September newsletter. She explains that she participated in the meeting, along with IAWJ and MACHI member, the Hon. Pilar Maturana, as national directors. Professor Yanira Zúñiga also participated in the debate. She brought in the gender perspective to the analysis.

Magistrate Zapata, writes Judge Poza, has been promoting the establishment of essential guidelines for a new system for appointing judges, “in accordance with the standards of professionalization, transparency, and coherence that are associated with a democratic country to comply with the imperative of access to justice.” She notes that, while there has been consent on the need for these new guidelines, it has not been considered imperative.

The meeting was a success, “not only because it compiled high-quality material, it had a passionate debate, and it concluded in an important document, but also because the commission, created by the Ministry of Justice on this matter … incorporated the following guidelines” for the appointment of judges:

  1. Redefinition of the notion of merit, aligning it with the requirements of the position.
  2. Replacement of the variable “seniority” with “experience” which leads to the elimination of a privilege that only benefits men.
  3. Ensuring that when two candidates have equal merits, the decision is made based on gender in order to repair a historical injustice.

The debate led to the creation of a document published in March at the Universidad de Chile. Moreover, these ideas were included in the proposal from the ANM and the Ministry.