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Interchange promotes exchange of experience between MERCOSUR judges

Started in 2009, the exchange program for judges of the MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market) has brought to Brazil seven judges from different countries of the regional bloc. The initiative's goal is to foster dialogue and exchange of experience in the legal area as well as to expand the basis for judicial cooperation, contributing to the strengthening of MERCOSUR and the promotion of legal security in the region. While visiting Brazil, judges have the opportunity to watch closely the whole structure of the Brazilian Judiciary and the auxiliary bodies to Justice.

An innovation among the Southern Cone countries, the exchange lasts four weeks and takes place in Brazil's capital city, Brasilia, where judges have the opportunity to meet the High Courts and Congress. They also attend conciliation hearings, trials of the first instance, visit the federal special courts, the Federal Court of the 1st Region, based in Brasilia, and monitor the work of prosecutors and public defender's office.

This year, Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) public servants will participate in the exchange. In June, eight servants (Law graduates) will know the Judiciary of Southern Cone countries and associated nations such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. The idea is that each semester, a group of servants participates in the initiative.

The "Cooperation and Exchange of Judicial Magistrates and Servants Program" was signed during the sixth edition of the Meeting of the Supreme Courts of MERCOSUR, held in 2008 at the headquarters of the STF. To stimulate the exchange, the Supreme Court created the Joaquim Nabuco Program.

Agreements with associations of judges, as the AMB (Brazilian Magistrates Association) and Ajufe (Federal Judges of Brazil Association), were also signed in 2009 in order to contribute to the program.


Pioneering

Judges Juan Fredd and Dora SzafirThe exchange was inaugurated by the judges Fredd Juan Gonzalez, from Bolivia, and Dora Szafir, from Uruguay. They arrived in Brasilia in April 2009. For four weeks, they had the opportunity to know the functioning of the courts. The two pledged to convey the experience to a greater number of judges in their countries.

When they were in Brazil, Juan and Dora underscored the importance of the initiative. "It is very important to learn from other systems in order to incorporate to our the innovations from other countries”, she said. Juan also said that currently there is a "globalization of problems”, which require different solutions in each nation. "But it's important to know how other countries solve their problems”, he warned.

Among the positive experiences of the Brazilian legal system, the Bolivian judge cited the computerization, which failed to reach their country for economic reasons, and Brazilian magistrates initiatives of implementing concrete actions to approach the judiciary and the society. He said that in Brazil this is mostly seen through the transparent communication between the judiciary and society.

Dora Szafir, in turn, said the Justice TV is a "useful tool" to educate citizens about their rights and duties. "Teaching people easily and creatively about their rights is a very important tool for access to justice because in order to fight for our rights, we must know them”, she said. She also praised the holding of public hearings convened by the Brazilian judiciary, something that does not exist in her country.

The Uruguayan judge also highlighted the work done by the National Judicial Council (CNJ) in prison task forces that freed inmates after a review of court proceedings, and the action of the National Court-inspecting Authority to promote judicial inspections in different states. "This proactivity is lacking to Justice in Uruguay”, he compared.

In addition to Juan and Dora Szafir Fredd, came to Brazil to participate in the exchange, also in 2009, two judges from Ecuador and two from Paraguay. In 2010, a magistrate from Uruguay came.

As part of the exchange, visiting judges produce reports comparing the Brazilian judiciary with that of their countries. They also have the opportunity to speak at schools for Brazilian magistrates. The closeness of the judges of MERCOSUR will mount an information network with data from each country on different legal issues. Among the commitments made by the Supreme Courts of MERCOSUR, it is filling a database with the jurisprudence that has repercussions in every country of the Southern Cone and associated nations.

The 2011 edition of Joaquim Nabuco Program will start on May 2, when the Supreme Court will receive two judges and four public servants, three from Chile, two from Paraguay and one from Uruguay. The Court expect that this edition will be as productive as before.

 

How to participate (Portuguese/Spanish).

 

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