The Ministry of Justice and Law has published a draft of the bill, which provides for a reform of five articles of the political constitution and two transitional articles. This project will be presented to the Congress of the Republic in March 2024.
Among the significant changes, Article 117 of the Constitution stands out, which establishes the powers of the Ministry of State and the Chief Auditor of the Republic as control bodies. This will be changed so that they do not have judicial functions or limit the political rights of popularly elected citizens.
This project also reforms Article 118, which deals with those in charge of the public ministry and limits their representation before the judicial authorities.
Regarding paragraphs 8 and 17 of Article 268, which refer to the powers of the Chief Auditor of the Republic, the reform proposes to limit the immediate suspension of officials during the conduct of investigations, criminal or disciplinary proceedings.
Article 277 establishes the functions of the Attorney General and is amended in paragraph 6 to allow supervision and control of public officials, but prohibit the sanction of suspension, dismissal or disqualification of popularly elected public servants.
In the case of Article 278(1), it also limits the Attorney General to removing popularly elected officials from office, with a focus on issuing opinions in disciplinary proceedings against officials subject to special jurisdiction.
These last points relate directly to the controversies that have arisen due to the sanctioning of figures such as mayors or congressmen and have led to a confrontation with President Gustavo Petro, who abides by the rulings of the IACHR.
In fact, on August 16, he wrote on his X account: “Once again the Council of State dismisses a popularly elected official from the Office of the Attorney General. My presidency will respect all rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which are part of our constitutional bloc, as well as all rulings of national courts.”
He also added: “The suspension of elected officials must be carried out temporarily by the controversial judicial system until Congress carries out constitutional reform.” The Council of State ruled in the same spirit, declaring that the Attorney General’s Office had no authority to remove popularly elected officials from their positions to suspend from office.