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ARGENTINA | 28-05-2024 15:54

Milei sends documents supporting nominees for Supreme Court vacancies

President sends two three-page files to Senate kickstarting nominations for candidacies of Ariel Lijo and Manuel José García Mansilla for seats on nation’s highest tribunal.

President Javier Milei has sent documents supporting his nominations to fill vacancies on Argentina’s Supreme Court to the Senate, continuing his bid to appoint federal judge Ariel Lijo and lawyer Manuel José García Mansilla to the nation’s highest tribunal.

The files, two pairs of three pages, were sent to the upper house on Monday, said government sources.

Lijo, a federal judge, and García Mansilla, a lawyer and professor, have been proposed by President Milei to occupy Supreme Court vacancies. 

Lijo is a replacement for former justice Elena Highton de Nolasco and García Mansilla would replace current Supreme Court Justice Juan Carlos Maqueda, who is due to retire on his 75th birthday as of December 29. 

The documents are reports of the process so far and accounts of assessments of the candidates and their “technical and legal expertise of the aforementioned professional,” according to the files.

Within such procedure, “there were filings from institutions, non-governmental organisations and professional legal and academic associations; human rights organisations; unions and social organisations and renowned national and international jurists, and citizens in general, with a large number of people favourable to his proposal.”

In the case of García Mansilla, the Milei government underlined that “most opinions were in favour” of his appointment to the court. The President pointed out that they “are grounded on the proven expertise for the post in question, his career as a university professor, the many articles he has written and his renowned intellect.”

After providing details about his career and education, the Milei administration states that García Mansilla “has attested throughout his personal and professional path to his full observance of our Constitution, the democratic system, and his commitment to the defence of human rights, all of which make him a worthy applicant for a spot in the Supreme Court.

 

Lijo controversy

Lijo’s nomination has been less straightforward, with a greater number of dissenting voices.

For the Executive branch, “most opinions in his favour are based on his proven expertise for the post in question, his career in the Judiciary, his work as a university professor and his remarkable legal training and consistent specialisation in the field of Criminal Law.” 

Regarding criticism of the federal judge, the document observes that “a considerable number of them are not related to the qualities or conditions of Lijo in particular.” The government argued many of the critiques were focused on the lack of “gender balance” in the nation’s top court, which, it argued, should “preclude” Lijo’s nomination.

Some legal NGOs have sought to challenge the nominations. The INECIP Institute of Comparative Criminal and Social Science Studies this month criticised Lijo as “statistically the most inefficient judge in all [the] Comodoro Py [federal] courts,” while noting that the  García Mansilla appointment may “affect the state’s international liability” in terms of diversity and plurality.

“If the Senate were to approve him, Lijo will be in the Supreme Court until 2043. The government’s nominations fail to observe, for different reasons, the requirements to be a member of the Supreme Court,” the INECIP said in a statement. 

“A quality democracy warrants a quality judiciary,” which should include “expertise, integrity, independence, commitment to human rights and diversity,” it added, stating that the duo do not “meet these requirements.”

INECIP accused Lijo of “poor performance” and noted “systematic delays in the resolution of high-profile court cases, and in particular, corruption ones.”

“Whether due to inefficiency or, as reported by the Council of the Magistrates, due to political usage of court timing, those systematic delays in serious cases are unacceptable for a candidate for the highest court,” said the NGO, highlighting that Lijo had the most delays when it comes to corruption cases, with most investigations lasting at least six years.

It further warned that Lijo “has criminal complaints against him and reports of poor performance, which are unbecoming of a candidate for the Supreme Court.”

“There are no prior cases in the recent democratic history of this country of judges appointed to the Supreme Court with such a volume of reports against them. The Executive Branch ought to suspend the submission of documents on Lijo,” said the NGO.

 

– TIMES/PERFIL

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