Virtual Course on Challenges to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Latin America

Over the past two decades, the criminal procedure systems of the majority of the countries of Latin America have experienced significant changes. One of these changes has involved giving new roles to the prosecutor’s office, which has taken over the task of criminal prosecution.

This requires prosecutor’s offices to study how they perform their role, strengthen their strategic tools, and especially take on an active leadership role within the criminal prosecution apparatus with adequate coordination with the police.
To provide participants with the knowledge and tools that will allow them to address and develop new work methods, approaches, and dynamics in order to confront the practical problems related to the implementation and functioning of the criminal procedure system and the efficient exercise of its various powers.

In this context, the program offers an introductory assessment of the current state of prosecution services in the region and the main challenges that the institution must address in the context of the operation of adversarial criminal procedure systems introduced as a result of criminal procedure reforms. The program also explores the main challenges that prosecutors face in regard to issues of public safety, criminal prosecution, gender, and treatment and protection of victims, suggesting pathways for each of them.
MODULE 1: The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Criminal Procedure Reform in Latin America
Over the past two decades, the criminal procedure systems of the majority of the countries of Latin America have experienced significant changes. Many of these changes have involved giving new roles to the prosecutor’s office which has taken over the task of criminal prosecution. In response to these changes, the prosecution services of several countries were weak or practically non-existent while others had relatively strong institutions but focused their work on very diverse tasks ranging from protecting legality by submitting legal orders to presenting appeals in more important judicial processes. All of that was occurring in the context of a significant increase in social demands on the justice system and complexities in the institutional sphere of the sector. This model was meant to clarify the situation, proposing a description of the changes that had occurred and their effect on public prosecutor’s offices in Latin America. The curriculum then moves to the main challenges produced through that new context. Finally, the instructor will present some elements that should be included in the new set of tasks and concerns of the institution in the coming years.

MODULE 2: Procedure reform and public safety: Impact and courses of action
In addition to the implementation of the criminal procedure reforms, most countries in the region have faced increasing demands related to the increase in public insecurity and fear of crime. While it is true that these are separate phenomena, many countries in the region justified the need to change the procedure system based on these aspects. This also allowed for consensuses to be reached and for political support to be gathered for the reforms. These problems have generated significant demands on reformed systems that have not been capable of satisfying them and that generate displeasure with the new criminal procedures. This module explores the various responses that the system could offer to these demands and showcases successful experiences with interventions developed by system stakeholders. Experiences developed by public prosecutor’s offices will be analyzed.

MODULE 3: Victims and the new criminal procedure system: From theoretical discourse to satisfying interests in the process
Reformed systems have operated under the assumption that the victim is a key stakeholder in the process and holds a set of rights that must be protected throughout it. However, this discursive logic has not been capable of penetrating the specific actions of reformed systems that have made such goals a reality. The module will review specific and alternative experiences in the design and management of the system institutions that allow the victim to be a key stakeholder in practice. Students will review aspects such as the development of mechanisms for guaranteeing effective participation in the process through the use of victims’ protection mechanisms in order to safeguard their rights and provide them with services.

MODULE 4: The impact of criminal procedure reform on gender-related matters
Justice administration reforms have been designed to increase efficiency and respect for procedural guarantees. This should also be reflected in the treatment of women as subjects of criminal procedures as defendants or victims. Recent JSCA studies conducted in various countries in the region show that the criminal procedure reforms have not always led to improvements in the treatment that women receive on the part of the criminal justice system.

The goal of the module is to present the main findings of these studies and discuss solutions to potential problems that reformed systems have faced in regard to increasing respect for the rights of women involved in the same. These include topics such as the informal development of filters that prevent women’s cases from reaching public prosecutor’s offices, practices in which both prosecutors and judges engage, which tend to assign guilt and question the testimonies of sex crim victims, inadequate use of selection criteria in cases of sex crimes and domestic violence, and a lack of adequate mechanisms for providing women with services and treatment when they have been the victim of such a crime.

This course is directed at judges, prosecutors, public defenders, officials of state agencies and non-governmental organizations, academics, and anyone interested in learning about the issue of pretrial detention in Latin America.
If you wish to receive an electronic certificate of completion, email and submit the following information:
  • Full name
  • Course
  • Proof of undergraduate enrollment (where applicable)

The electronic certificate costs US$40, which must be paid electronically to our institution. The payment information will be sent via email once the request for certification is made.