Sunday, September 27, 2020

ARGENTINA | 28-05-2019 18:26

Chief Justice Rosenkrantz: Argentina must live within its own laws

Judiciary, espionage, politics — Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Rosenkrantz goes on the record.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Rosenkrantz warned Sunday that Argentina's democratic institutions were at risk due to ineffective and poor decision-making in the Judiciary.

"I believe that Argentina has no future if it's incapable of living within the rules that it sets for itself," Rosenkrantz cautioned, during a wide-ranging interview with Perfil's Jorge Fontevecchia.

"It is easy to identify the problem but difficult to resolve it. The problem is systematic," he said, insisting the "responsibility" of his role implied he must often "deliver sentences with people in opposition, lawmakers or senators in opposition, with the Executive branch in opposition, the people in opposition, friends in opposition, family in oppositions. But it's possible. And today, this doesn't happen" in the Judiciary.

In 2017, Rosenkrantz famously voted in favour of the so-called '2x1' ruling, which established that the time a criminal spent in prison prior to receiving a conviction should count double toward time served. Its application on sentences for dictatorship-era criminals convicted of crimes against humanity prompted one of the country's largest street protests in May that year. The Supreme Court voted four-to-one to overturn the ruling for dictatorship-era criminals, with Rosenkrantz's the dissenting vote. 

The Supreme Court insisted the Legislature had the responsibility of responding to societal demands, not the Judiciary. He urged for greater action in legislation, saying "in general, systematic problems are resolved with systematic solutions" and said the Judiciary had a mandate to act according to the laws set for it. "We're not the saviours of the world."

"The Argentine problem is the mediocre solution. We cannot think that everything is exceptional, that everything is a tragedy. If we think everything is a tragedy, that everything is exceptional, invoking tragedy, the exception will bring more tragedies and more exceptions," he said.

Rosenkrantz said he experienced "absolute surprise" when he learned Supreme Court justices may have been exposed to illegal espionage.

Argentina is currently enthralled with allegations and conspiracies tying the country's politics to the shady activities of alleged underground spies operating with deep ties in the Judiciary.


On the issue of his dispute with his predecessor as Supreme Court Chief Justice, Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti, Rosenkrantz indicated the problem boiled down to "a debate about the correct way to proceed wit the transition" of power.

"The result was the outcome of our exacerbated emotions, but I consider the issue resolved."

He denied that he had a bad relationship with his colleagues Justices Elena Highton de Nolasco, Juan Carlos Maqueda, Lorenzetti and Horacio Rosatti.

"That's incorrect. Many times, we have significant differences of opinion but we also agree. We all know that we are part of a collective and that the proper functioning and reputation of our collective depends on each one of us," he said.


Rosenkrantz refused to answer questions about the so-called "Vialidad" case into alleged corruption in public works contacts granted during the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administrations, after claims the Supreme Court made a political slip when it placed a judicial order on the case just days before the beginning of the trial - only to reverse the decision days later.

The Supreme Court had said it would review the case file to evaluate legal arguments presented by the former leader.


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