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Three Countries Launch Comparative Law Post-Graduate Diploma

On May 3, 2004 three distinct legal cultures will mix for a novel experiment in education. University professors, law enforcement officials and judges from Europe, North and South America will come together to launch the first post-graduate diploma program of its kind - "The Rule of Law and Judicial Reform". The University of Heidelberg through its Heidelberg Center for Latin America, the Faculty of Law at the University of Chile, and Calfornia Western School of Law in San Diego, along with the German government technical cooperation agency GTZ have joined to build the rule of law and learn from the unique reforms that are sweeping Chile.

"It has long been a dream to develop a program such as this," exclaimed Jorg Stippel, a German lawyer who heads the German government´s rule of law program in Chile. The idea of a comparative law program came to Stippel, who works in the Ministry of Justice, last year as he worked with other foreign and local judicial reform specialists. "We need to better understand what we are doing, how we are doing it, and how we can do it better," he explained. Stippel approached the Heidelberg Center, the University of Chile and Proyecto ACCESO, a legal skills training program headquartered at a U.S. not for profit law school, to develop this once in a lifetime opportunity.

"In this difficult time when there is talk of Old Europe and New Europe, when the major powers are divided, we thought it would be great to find ways to show what we have in common," said James Cooper, Assistant Dean at California Western School of Law, "What we share is a commitment to the rule of law and the desire to spread it around the Hemisphere."

The post-graduate program will feature a series of lectures and workshops for Chilean legal professionals, diplomats, politicians and journalists all related to legal areas subject to the reform process. Since 2000, Chile has undertaken an intensive reform process in its criminal procedures as it moves from the Inquisitorial system to the adversarial system. More than $US500 million has been spent in the process and the reform is due in the metropolitan region of Santiago in June 2005.

With this in mind, the partners thought a considered study of the reform process, and those that must follow, was due. "The time was right to bring some pedagogy to the exercise of reform," said Professor Maria Ines Horvitz of the law school at the University of Chile, and a professor in the program. "We have much to learn from each other."

Professors from the Chile, Germany and the United States meet regularly with program participants to compare their national laws and juridical approaches and develop new ways to solve problems that affect their respective countries. Federal Magistrate Judge James Stiven of San Diego, New York Supreme Court Judge Laura Safer Espinoza and California Western School of Law Professor Thomas Barton are scheduled to represent the U.S. approach to legal issues. Professor Dr. Johannes Feest of the University of Bremen, Professor Dr. Rainer Grote of the Max Plank Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Hamburg Police Chief Reinhardt Bromm, Professor Dr. Reinhard Mußgnug of the University of Heidelberg, and Professor Dr. Felix Herzog of the Humboldt University of Berlin are all coming from Germany to teach in the course. Chilean professors include Miguel Soto, Raul Nunez, and Francisco Maldonado, all from the University of Chile´s Faculty of Law. The program runs from early May to November 2004.

"This is a very unique approach and we are most excited to be be part of this post-graduate program," said Dr. Walter Eckel, Executive Director of the Heidelberg Center for Latin America, "Chile is a leader in the Criminal Legal Reform and there is now movement toward reform in other legal areas as well. This is a great opportunity to take the best lessons from each legal culture and help promote justice issues in Latin America."

The program is co-sponsored by Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Ministry of Justice of Chile. For more information, please call Isabel Aliaga Rosson at the Heidelberg Center in Santiago de Chile at 02-234-3466 or email her at isabel.aliaga@heidelberg-center.uni-heidelberg.de.


v.R.n.L.: Paul Resch, Geschäftsträger der Deutschen Botschaft; Dr. Helmut Wittelsbürger, Vertreter der Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Santiago de Chile; Joachim Schmillen, Botschafter der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Chile


Jörg Stippel, GTZ Projekt Justizreform; Dr. Jorge Litvak, Prorektor Universidad de Chile; Prof. Roberto Nahum, Dekan Juristische Fakultät, Universidad de Chile; Dr. Walter Eckel, Heidelberg Center para Amérika Latina; Dr. James Cooper, California Western School of Law

 

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