The bill to modify the Criminal Procedure Code was passed by the Senate last night, by 39 votes to 24. It is yet to be approved by the Lower House.
The bill, which includes several reforms to the existing 1991 law, proposes a switch from an inquisitorial system – in which judges both conduct criminal investigations and rule on them – to an accusatory system, where prosecutors take charge of the investigation.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced she was submitting the reforms to the Senate on 21st October. After extensive debate in commissions, the bill underwent over 40 changes. One of them involves one of the most controversial aspects of the bill, related to the deportation of foreigners who are caught committing a crime.
Whilst the original bill sent by the Executive proposed the possibility to deport foreigners who are caught committing a crime and do not have the proper migratory documents for up to 15 years, the version passed yesterday does not take into account the migratory situation of the accused. However, those who are in Argentina legally can request to serve their sentence in the country. This clause applies to crimes which carry a penalty of over three years in prison, and as long as the right to family reunification is not affected.
Minutes before the reforms to the Criminal Procedure Code were voted, opposition senators held a press conference in which they announced an agreement whereby they will block any attempt by the Executive to name a new Supreme Court judge to replace Raúl Zaffaroni, whose resignation will become effective on 31st December.
Meanwhile, in a particularly productive session, the Lower House passed a bill which will ban the application of pardons, amnesties, and commutation of sentences in cases of crimes against humanity and one which will establish Political Scientist Day on 29th November — both still need to passed by the Senate to become law.
They also passed and sent to the Senate a bill to support local social and sports clubs and one which amends the Labour Contracts Law, excluding public holidays from the amount of annual leave days awarded to workers. Both bills were passed unanimously.
Finally, Deputies also approved the creation of a new public university in the city of Hurlingham, Greater Buenos Aires; a law by which public transport vehicles will have to show a sign reading “Las Malvinas son argentinas” (“The Falklands/Malvinas are Argentine”) and a declaration in which they expressed their “strong condemnation” to the threats received by journalist Germán de los Santos, who writes about drug trafficking in Rosario.