The Justice Ministers of Albania, Armenia, FYRO Macedonia, Argentina, and Georgia formed a coalition to push for access to justice in OGP during the OGP Global Summit in Georgia. European Youth Press spoke to the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, German Garavano, about the way the legal system is transforming the country, especially after Argentina took a leading role in OGP.
How has Argentina’s legal system changed over the recent years?
OGP is very important for us, as we are working on a process of transparency and opening the government. We have an initiative called Justice 2020, which is a digital platform to reform the justice system. It includes an open database with information for all the people about the judicial system, the penitentiaries, and other frameworks. It has been very successful, because we changed the culture and mindset of people when it comes to the judiciary.
How do you enable changes outside the capital?
We have 23 provinces, and we work with all the local governments and judiciary branches. We work with OGP and access to justice initiatives, too. We have 89 centers of access to justice across the country, and we specifically target the indigenous population, which is very remote. We move to them to provide them with legal services if they need those.
How do you reach other vulnerable groups?
For us, the challenge is not only about providing services, but also empowering these groups and giving them legal assistance and knowledge about their rights. We work like a legal hospital or legal training; we cooperate with vulnerable communities and their leaders all around the country, to much success. We work with indigenous groups, elderly, and youth, and also in schools, so we collaborate with [the] education ministry on the contents of the legal classes. This is very important because we give people information about their rights.
How do you cooperate internationally?
We are leading G20, and we work with OGP. Besides multilateral cooperation, we have bilateral relations with other countries. Today, we signed an agreement with Ministers of Justice of Georgia and other countries. We cooperate on penitentiary system, access to justice, and other judicial forms.
What is the most important component that has to work between open government and legal system?
There is an important invisible link between these two. If we want open government, we need justice, too. The last century was the century of the executive branch and the parliament. I think this century is the century of justice. People need justice, which gives them their rights. It is essential that [the] judiciary is open to the public, so there is information, transparency, and access for all the people, especially for the vulnerable ones. Many years ago, I did research for the World Bank about who used the legal system. The people and organizations using it were not the ones needing it the most; and the people in need did not have access to it. This is something that has to change.
What is the future of open government?
It is a long path, but technology is a key to opening government to the public.