BY Rodrigo Uprimny, EL ESPECTADOR, January 27, 2024

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The Supreme Court owes a very large debt to this country for its horrendous error in choosing, four years ago, and unanimously, Francisco Barbosa as Attorney General, maybe the worst one we’ve ever had, which is no small thing, as the competition for that title is pretty stiff. The minimum that the Court could do to make amends for the tremendous damage done by this selection would be to replace Barbosa, without any delay. And they could have done that already, because President Petro sent them an excellent list of eligible candidates, after changing one name that might have been disputed, and they have had the list since September of last year. Last Thursday, however, once again, and for no solid reason, they postponed the decision.

Let’s remember what Barbosa’s election was like: then-President Duque sent the Supreme Court his list on December 3, 2019; it was Barbosa, a friend of Duque’s from grade school and university days and his counselor on human rights; Camilo Gómez who had been Pastrana’s Peace Commissioner and Marta Ramírez’s vice presidential running mate; and Clara González, Duque’s own legal secretary. So, the list was very ordinary: none of them had any experience in criminal investigation or was at all familiar with the functions of the Attorney General’s Office, which obviously are the qualities central to being a good Attorney General. And worse still, the independence and impartiality of all of them was questionable because of their closeness to President Duque or to other political powers in the administration’s coalition.

In spite of all that, either of the other two aspirants would have been more suitable for the position than Barbosa: Camilo Gómez had some experience in public issues, and Clara González had demonstrated rigor and independence of judgment as Duque’s legal secretary. Barbosa, on the other hand, had been severely criticized by several journalists or columnists, not only because of his closeness to the President and his inexperience in managing an entity as complex as the Attorney General’s Office, but also for some serious ethical criticisms of him. For example, with the journalistic rigor that characterizes him, Yohir Akerman demonstrated that Barbosa was changing his position according to which administration was governing. For example, steadfastly defending the JEP during the Santos administration, then criticizing it ferociously after Duque took power.

For my part, with specific references, I will show that Barbosa ought not to have been Attorney General because, as a counselor to the President, he manipulated statistics about the murders of social leaders for the purpose of sustaining his claim that the situation was improving substantially during the Duque administration, which was a lie, and the slaughter continued.

In spite of the criticisms of Barbosa, and the fact that the Court at that time only had 16 sitting Justices out of the 23 that made it up at first, which made it very difficult to achieve the majority required to select the Attorney General, Barbosa was elected unanimously on January 29, 2020. Thus came his disastrous but predictable administration: four years of Barbosarities.

In less than two months, the Supreme Court chose Barbosa in 2020, in spite of the criticisms against him, and all of the vacancies existing on the Tribunal at the time. On the contrary, in 2024, that Court has not been able to choose a replacement for Barbosa in spite of the fact that it has no vacancies and four months have passed since they received an excellent list of eligibles. The list was made up of three independent women having no ethical criticisms and all with experience in criminal investigations and a good understanding of the functioning of the Attorney General’s Office. Please, Supreme Court: Choose a new Attorney General before Barbosa concludes his term, and avoid prolonging his miserable administration through his questionable Deputy, Mancera.

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