May 27, 2022 12:14 pm

Pablo Tonelli: “It is paradoxical that the President criticizes the functioning of the Court when he cannot manage the Executive Power”

After almost six years as a member of the Council of the Judiciary, the deputy Paul Tonelli (Together for Change) admits that this experience made him change his mind about how this key body in the Judiciary should work. For instance, he now holds that it would be beneficial for it to be presided over by a judge of the Supreme Court since, in his opinion, this would allow not only to solve the serious budget problems facing the Council but also to temper the political conflicts which often hinder their work.

The presence or not of a Supreme Court judge in the body that selects and controls judges is the main point of discussion with the ruling party in Congress. After the ruling of the Supreme Court that declared Cristina Kirchner’s 2006 reform of the current composition of the Council unconstitutional, the Government sent a bill in which it proposes a composition of 17 members, without any representation from the highest court.

The animosity of the Government with the Court is undisguised: Not only did he question the decision of the supreme judges, but he also joined the march called by Kirchnerist sectors for next February 1 against the Court.

“What is truly serious is that the Executive Power, in the voice of the President of the Nation, joins a march against the Court to promote the departure of its judges through a non-constitutional route. This is indeed a violation of the division of powers. The President cannot interfere in judicial cases: article 109 of the National Constitution prohibits it. That is why I think Alberto Fernández’s attitude is out of place. It is paradoxical that the President confronts the Court and says that he has a serious operational problem when he, who holds the reins of the Government, has a lousy management of the Executive Power. Because, the truth is, he doesn’t put one in,” said Tonelli in dialogue with THE NATION.

Tonelli together with the deputy Graciela Camaño, also a member of the Judicial CouncilSantiago Filipuzzi – THE NATION

What is your opinion of the Court’s ruling on the Council of the Judiciary?

– It was predictable. The 2006 reform broke the balance between the estates proclaimed in article 114 of the National Constitution. There is general agreement that the law promoted by Cristina Kirchner gave it greater prominence in the representation of politics in the Council. What did come as a surprise was that the Court set such a short deadline, 120 days, for Congress to enact a new organic law or, failing that, for the Council to complete its composition of 20 members (as the original law stated). ) with the incorporation of seven new directors.

What will be the strategy of Together for Change? Will they promote the sanction of a new law or will they let the term expire so that the composition of the Council is completed with 20 members?

-Our space has the aspiration that a new organic law of the Council of the Judiciary be sanctioned. We are going to do everything possible so that there is a law. It is the most republican and democratic decision. But if this does not happen within the term proposed by the Court, in mid-April seven new advisers should be integrated: a judge of the Court, two lawyers, two legislators, a representative of the judges and an academic. In the Council we have been very active in recent days defining the regulations for the election of the new representatives, but the optimal thing would be for Congress to pass a new organic law.

Doesn’t it seem suggestive to you that the Court has issued its ruling 15 years after the 2006 reform was sanctioned?

-Yes, this delay may be striking, but the responsibility is not exclusive to the Supreme Court. Successive governments have promised that they would send their proposals to Congress to modify the composition of the Council, but they did not. The Court had no alternative and finally delivered its ruling. We are used to certain resolutions of the Justice taking years; it is enough to observe what happens with the causes of corruption, a real shame. The deadlines are stretched and the causes become eternal. That is an unjustified delay.

But doesn’t this ruling that is being issued now support the Government’s criticism of the Court? The Vice Minister of Justice, Martín Mena, warned that it interferes with the other powers of the State.

-Not at all. The Court ruled within the scope of its jurisdiction. One may or may not agree with the content of the ruling and no one can be denied the right to criticize it, but in no way can it be said that the Court incurred in excess or that it intended to interfere with other powers.

One of the points that generates discussion is whether or not a judge of the Court should be part of the Council. The Government disagrees. What do you think?

– Indeed, this will be one of the most difficult points to resolve in the parliamentary debate. In Together for Change there are several projects presented, we want to arrive at a unified position and, in our internal debate, we are leaning towards having a judge of the Court integrate the Council. In the current circumstances I think it would be the most beneficial.


-For a budget issue. The Council of the Judiciary today has a budget that is barely enough to pay the salaries of the Judiciary. It does not have enough items to address the infrastructure problems of Justice, which are many. On the other hand, the Supreme Court is rich, it has billions deposited in fixed terms that are idle. I think that if the Court were to preside over the Council it could be a solution to this budgetary imbalance. In addition, it could serve to moderate internal conflicts between the different estates. I did not think the same years ago, but now I think it would be beneficial for a judge of the Court to preside over the Council. It could help tone down political bickering and focus on our specific work.

What do you think of the project presented by the Government? It proposes an integration with 17 members.

–It is reasonable like any other integration. It is also balanced: it complies with the constitutional mandate and with the ruling of the Court. I have two discrepancies. The first is that it does not contemplate the representation of the Court. The second has to do with the way in which the two academics are elected: the ruling party proposes two representatives elected by the deans of the law schools and by the National Interuniversity Council, respectively. I think they should be chosen by all academics.

The Government still has to fill the vacancy left by Elena Highton on the Court and the appointment of a new Attorney General is pending. Do you think that Together for Change should agree with the ruling party on these appointments or wait until 2023?

-The sooner these vacancies are filled, the better. But this requires dialogue and consensus. Unfortunately, until now the ruling party has done little or nothing about it. Two years ago he sent Daniel Rafecas’ statement to the Senate and did not even put it under consideration by the commission despite the fact that Together for Change anticipated his willingness to debate the matter, even to approve the application. As for the Court, the Government did not take any steps. Until now he only said that the vacancy would be filled by another woman. He is letting the terms of President Néstor Kirchner’s decree 222 expire to start the appointment process.

This year is not electoral. What institutional laws will Together for Change promote?

-The most urgent law is that of the single ballot. Without a doubt, it is the initiative that we believe to be a priority to debate this year. It would also be very good to start the treatment of the clean record law. In addition, we should advance in the application of the new Code of Criminal Procedure in more districts, a process that has been delayed. We should take advantage of this non-electoral year to advance on pending institutional issues.

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