The Judiciary and Prosecution Office

Interaction between SAIs and the Judiciary/Prosecution Office

Traditionally, the interaction between SAIs and the judiciary system is limited to filing claims on behalf of SAIs regarding the discovery of illicit activity. Interaction may also be in the form of a request from the judiciary system and public prosecutors for information that SAIs may have regarding the investigations that they are carrying out.

However, this interaction can be much more ambitious and productive. As an example, the public prosecutor’s office and SAIs could establish cooperation agreements that complement each entity’s work and improve efforts by exchanging valuable information. The officials that belong to these bodies could create horizontal training opportunities to identify structural problems and share investigation strategies.

How can the interaction between those entities and SAIs be improved to enhance public accountability?

The judiciary system often is the government branch least accustomed to policy and action accountability. For that reason, oversight agencies such as SAIs can facilitate and promote changes in judges’ and public attorneys’ accountability practices.

On one hand, they could favor the horizontal accountability that this branch must carry out, whether strengthening their own oversight capabilities in cases in which the SAIs are the knowledgeable authority, or collaborating with other oversight bodies that may be knowledgeable.

On the other hand, the SAIs and the judiciary system can mutually cooperate to strengthen social accountability possibilities. This can occur through various strategies: as public audits in which both bodies present their discoveries about subjects common to the public and subject to public consideration, calls to the public to promote topics that require joint auditing, and other methods.

The Civic Inspectors for Integrity is an initiative that was launched in 2007 to promote commitment of citizens in the public administration’s transparency processes by installing a “civic inspector,” a participation mechanism to exercise social control in the use of public resources. The civic inspector acts as a link between the comptroller general of the republic (CGR) of Paraguay, the attorney general, and the judiciary to follow up on the files of crimes against the ptate’s patrimony. The initiative also contributes to dissemination of the results of corruption cases.

This program was led by the CEAMSO, a local NGO, which took the responsibility to make a public call to citizens who wished to become civic inspectors and developed training material on monitoring techniques. The CGR’s Department of Citizen Control was in charge of coordinating with the CSOs the civic inspector’s activities, which entailed following up on corruption cases standing to be judged, which had been turned over to the attorney general by the CGR and that had been investigated. In this sense, the CGR articulated actions with the attorney general and the judicial branch in view of promoting civic engagement to watch the process, make it more transparent, and guarantee public access to the information related to how corruption reports are handled.

With the first trained and CGR-certified civic inspectors (more than 120), a body was created to follow up, the Citizen Observatory against Corruption, integrated by CSOs. In 2008, in the second stage of this program, the organizations and the SAI broadened the scope of action and results and engaged with the Federation of Neighborhood Entities of Paraguay to incorporate the civic inspectors within the organic structure of the Neighborhood Commissions of Asunción.

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