U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Opening Up Argentina's Courts

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 80 Issue: 5 Dated: March-April 1997 Pages: 237-240
G W O'Reilly
Date Published
4 pages
Argentina's transition to democracy includes adoption of reforms that make its criminal justice system more open and adversarial.
Argentina is moving from an inquisitorial criminal justice system based on closed, written proceedings toward a more democratic adversarial system that is open to the public and based on oral proceedings. Many Argentine legal experts have even weighed adopting the jury trial, although proposals to do so have been controversial. Argentina's constitution of 1853 guaranteed the right to a jury trial, but no statute has ever provided for juries. The move from a strict inquisitorial system toward an adversarial system seems, to some degree, to be a reaction to the abuses of past military regimes. Various political parties, human rights groups, and bar associations advocated the reform, which justice minister Leon Carlos Arslanian guided through the Argentine Congress in 1992. Under the law, police officers must advise prisoners of their rights to counsel and to remain silent until the lawyer or a judge arrives. Police must also notify a judge of an arrest within 6 hours. Under the new system, trials are open to the public; some trials are even televised. Although judges may be more neutral than before, the tradition of judicial review of the dossier continues. Argentine lawmakers have long debated whether to adopt the jury trial, and they did so again in 1992 before again rejecting it. Opponents of juries are concerned about the impact of prejudicial press coverage on jurors and question whether there is a sufficient base of educated jurors, as well as the costs of starting and operating a jury system.


No download available