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Colombia – Demystifying the Judicial System for Citizens

Colombia – Desmitificación del sistema judicial para los ciudadanos 

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Colombia’s legal system is complex and its citizens often complained of its inaccessibility. As part of their second OGP action plan, Colombia’s Ministry of Justice and Law committed to developing a platform to help citizens gain better understanding and access to the judicial system. LegalApp contains information about the legal system for every Colombian municipality and covers many areas including civil and administrative to criminal and environmental law. The application outlines more than 260 “routes of justice” (steps citizens must take to resolve legal issues) and notes whether procedures require a lawyer and involve fees.

In addition to information on how to proceed with legal issues, LegalApp offers a glossary of legal terms, a directory of judicial institutions, and a list of approximately 20,000 public officials to consult for guidance. Visitors can schedule appointments via the app to receive personalized advice. Its legal document templates save citizens time.

To date, the app has had more than nine million visits. In 2019, the most popular inquiries pertained to property ownership, the reporting of crimes, vehicle sales, parental rights, and social security. [2] To ensure accountability, visitors can submit petitions, complaints, and claims. At the end of each search, visitors can take a satisfaction survey to give feedback on the maintenance of the app.

The app has been well received by civil society and was nominated for the 2016 Award of Excellence in Justice from the Excellence in Justice Corporation (part of the monitoring committee for the OGP process). The app sealed Colombia’s place as a leader in the Justice Studies Center of America’s Index of Online Judicial Services. LegalApp also gained the number one ranking among 130 websites from 32 countries assessed by the Justice Studies Center of the Americas in its Index of Online Judicial Services. [3]

[2] Ramiro Santa, “Justice with an Engine,” La Republica, 14 March 2019, https://www.larepublica.co/analisis/ramiro-santa-513971/justicia-con-motor-2839509 .

[3] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Ninth Periodic Report of Colombia under Article 18 of the Convention, due in 2017 , 10 November 2017, http://docstore.ohchr.org/SelfServices/FilesHandler.ashx?enc=6QkG1d%2FPPRiCAqhKb7yhsoVqDbaslinb8oXgzpEhivjlJmWDQC5S3LFoLMVFQXb%2Bo9XNLfAa9Uylprfa%2BptDr3zw7EDUzDJ4hT%2FzJgjpbQ4PuoFFNOKvv26wLF5HREiu (accessed 20 June 2019); “LegalApp Colombia: ‘Legal Guidance with Just One Click,” Perspectives, Open Government Partnership, accessed 20 June 2019, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/stories/legalapp-colombia-legal-guidance-with-just-one-click .

Photo Credit: Consejo Estado – Rama Judicial (Colombia)

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