Colombia's criminal jurisdiction is most commonly associated with impunity and corruption. Elvira Maria Restrepo delves beneath these beliefs to reveal a system driven at a fundamental level by fear and distrust. Not only is the judicial system partially immobilised, but the political system is unable to act authoritatively over a range of illegal forces within the country. The poor performance of the judiciary is compounded by its failure to deal with those cases it does prosecute with equity and impartiality. This generates distrust in the justice administration. In view of this crisis, judicial reform in 1991 laid the foundations for a more independent and powerful judiciary. While the crisis is still far from over, the criminal jurisdiction has shown some modest, but significant, results since 1991 in its struggle against impunity. Restrepo concludes that the present judiciary has a hidden potential to contribute to the reconstruction of trust and peace in Colombia.

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