Comparative law and justice/Colombia

Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project

Basic InformationEdit

Colombia sits in northern section of South America located under Caribbean Sea. Colombia was first inhabited by the Spanish who arrived in 1510. It was not until 1538 that it was an established settlement known to the Spaniards as New Granada. This name remained until the year 1830 when the country split into three, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. It is a tropical area along its coastlines, but has mountainous areas in the midlands. It is 1,138, 914 sq km. This is enough surface area of about twice the size if Texas for an example. This country has the population of 45,644,023 (July 2009). There is a 1.03 male/female population. There is a short life expectancy here seeing that only 5.6% of the population falls over the 65 yr old age range. This is due to the fact that there is an overabundance of hazards on the islands and pollution. These come in the form of toxic pesticides and even very high concentration of vehicle emissions.[1] The main religion in Colombia is Roman Catholic. The following for these locals is huge and it is recorded that 90% of the citizens are followers of this religion leaving the other ten percent to be. Catholic, followed by Protestant and Finally the Jewish people. [2] There are many different types of people who coexist in Colombia. The ethnic groups that are the most important are as follows Mestizo with 58% of the total population. This is followed by White, 20% , millato 14% and Black 4%.[3] The mix is similar to most middle American countries. This population mix also explains why the main language is Spanish. Seeing that the residence are all from a Spanish background. The economic situation is not very good for Colombia. The poverty line has fifty percent of the people both above and below it. It is showing signs of improvement. This is due to the fact that it has some very strong exports mainly coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, timber, shrimp [4]. The imports are very different than one would expect including teams such as industrial equipment, chemicals, electricity, paper, and consumer goods. These products come mainly from the United States as well as China which has becoming very competitive with the United states.

Economic Development, Health, and EducationEdit

The health situation of Colombia is still below average seeing that it is still a developing country. Per 1,000 live births there are 18.9 deaths for infants This rate is lowering from the study done showing from the year 2003 there were over 25 deaths per 1,000 live births. The literacy rate it quite high for the condition of the country as a whole. As of the year 2007 the literacy rate topped out at 98.2 percent[5]. That means that almost all the people living in Colombia are literate and have the ability to read and write.


Colombia has a government that is very similar to that of other Latin American countries. They are ruled by a sort of party politics system that consists of two main parties. There are the Conservatives as well as the Liberals. These two parties are just as they sound and closely resemble the Republicans and Democrats, these being the two most prominent parties in the United States. There is also a military who have been known to seize power from the party that is in charge for that period of time. This has happened of three different times, 1830, 1854, 1953. This may seem to be hard to believe. However this is much less common in Colombia as it tends to be in other Latin American countries[6]. Leaders earn their positions the same way that they would do in the United States. They get elected by the people who's votes are tallied and decided by a popular vote. Colombia has a constitution much like that of the United States.

It was originally written in 1886 making it one of the first like it in Latin America. It has been drafted over and over. In 1988 it was drafted again , the goal being to get rid of any administrative corruption. Most recently it was doe in 1991. this was done to make changes to things like institution a four year term for the president. It also created what is known as a constitutional court. This is similar to the Supreme court, meaning that its purpose is to handle any issue that pertain with the constitution. There is a three branch government in Colombia. The first being the executive branch who is the president of Colombia. There is also the Legislative, which consists of a bicameral congress. Finally there is the Judicial which is the Supreme court, and the constitutional court. Colombia shares many qualities with the united States In terms of how this is runs. It practically mimics it.


The voting is done in a familiar way using the popular vote method meaning the candidate with the most votes is the winner. Colombia , being a country of social unrest has had a very hard time obtaining this type of a result because of their current situation. For instance, Last election there were twenty nine candidates who were killed while running for president. There is much corruption and it is even viewed that someones jobs were in fact linked to their vote.

Courts and Criminal LawEdit

Colombia is under scrutiny by the rest of the world due to their judicial system. It is looked upon as a broken system with no hope due to the politics and the corruption in it. The judicial system is comprised of a Constitutional Court,a Supreme Court of Justice,a Council of State,and the Higher Judiciary Council, and superior and municipal courts. There are 24 judges who serve their lifetime on the court who get there by being selected by the judges who are currently serving their term. The Supreme Court looks at The Supreme Court reviews state and municipality laws, frames bills to be submitted to Congress, and proposes reforms.[7] It acts as an advisory board to the government and can veto decrees. There is also a superior court that consists of three or four judges in each of the districts. These being separated the same way that they are in the United States. These courts can hear everything up to things such as labor cases. Other than that it runs like the United States does. Everyone has the right to an attorney, although this may lead to a lengthy trial and waiting in jail for months for a court appointed attorney.


There is no capital punishment, life sentences, or exile in Colombia. The maximum punishment someone can receive is a 60 year sentence behind bars.[8] There are only two big crimes that are on the spotlight down there. One being kidnapping and the other drug trafficking. The kidnapping runs rampant thought the country by the use of road blocks and other methods. Traditionally the offender if found guilty will recieve the maximum of 60 years behind bars. Then the drug trafficking which is under a lot of scrutiny is a big problem. It is also the reason that there are so many women in prison. Due to mandatory drug laws for instance is found with cocaine the max is pressured to be used on you. There are a lot of theories for why this is and the most home hitting is that it is to make the world view them as having a stiff drug policy for aide.

Law EnforcementEdit

Colombia is ruled over by the Colombian National Police which was founded in 1891, it consisted of approx. 450 men,[9] it is viewed that the police is the liberal balance to the very conservative military of Colombia that is well known thought the world. there is a similar hierarchy to that of the United States with ranking officers with the same names such as captain or leaut. The number of members did increase over the years however and they have grown to a force of 55,000 in the present day[10].

In order to be a part of this Colombia National Police you must be scrutinized and be able to meet certain criteria. They have their own police academy much like we do here in the United States. It is called General Santander Police Cadet School and the Jiménez de Quesada Noncommissioned Officers School, both being located at the center of it all in Bogota. This is a five month program for someone who would like to be a patrol officer and a two year program for the person who wants to become an officer. The police are known to be corrupt and have had ties to many of the kidnappings which ammount in the hundreds every year. This is due to greed in financial gain. It ranks towards the bottom if one were to make a world scale.

Crime Rates and Public OpinionEdit

Rates of Key Crimes in

It is no doubt that crime is in fact on the rise in Colombia. Mostly it can be accredited to the fact that the country is evolving and these times of economic recession seem to bring out the best in people. There is also a lot of political unrest that causes much violence with small gorilla groups, that in 2000 were responsible for the assassination of 20 mayor as well as 20 mayoral candidates, as well as the kidnapping of two hundred others in connection with the elections during that yea. Colombia does not in fact have a death penalty which gives cause for the high prison population which is 57,068 inmates. These numbers listed above are considered a bit innaccurate due to the fact that the police officers are involved in the crimes themselves, although this is a large problem it seems to be on the downfall. The public is quite aware of the crime situation. It is cor this reason that there is a serious problem with mistrust with the police. The police are actually involved with the crime. They can even control large problems such as kidnapping and drug manufacture.

Rights and Family LawEdit

Colombia has a long line of couples awaiting a divorce. There are more than one million couples currently awaiting a divorce to date. These cases are herd by civil courts and one of the reasons that the cases take such a long time to get herd is because in order for some of the divorce cases are awaiting to be heard in some of the most remote parts of the country.[11] This means than rather than being herd from one of the main central courts the cases are herd by a series of circuit judges that may only come to the area once a month meaning that it may take years for one of these cases to be heard never mind resolved.

Citizenship is gained through a number of ways. If a child is born in Colombia by at least one Colombian parent he or she is a citizen. If a child born in Colombia of foreign national parents with at least one of his parents being a legal resident of Colombia he or she is a citizen. A child born abroad with at least one of their parents being a citizen of Colombia the child will later have to establish his or her residency in Colombia. Dual citizenship is in fact recognized in Colombia, meaning that they can be born in the United States and become a citizen in In Colombia. It is also possible for a person to be naturalized into Colombia. This is a little harder than being born in however. The requirements for this include residing in Colombia for at least five years, although if they are a person from another Latin American country they are only required to live there for a year or two depending on the country.

Adoption is a long process also in order to adopt a child in colombia the couple must be married. There is also certain rules for adopting different age groups of children. For instance the couples must fall between the ages on 25 and 34 in order to adopt a child four years old and younger. also the parents are only allowed one divorce a piece.

Human Rights and Social InequalityEdit

Due to the internal conflicts in Colombia some basic human rights have been ignored by the groups involved. There is not a large database of numbers and figures do to the fact that a lot of the violations are from the end of those who participate in guerrilla warfare.[12] There are countless cases on citizens lives being ignored and peoples basic human rights violated. one of the problems that they have is with unlawful killings. It is in fact a huge problem that has to be dealt with. There are even reports of massacres by the police as well as the rebels. In fact it is reported that there were a total of 298 killings in the first six months of this year alone. There were 131 killings in only 26 massacres (meaning 4 killings or more in one incident) alone. This number may seem large but it is in fact a fourteen percent decrease over last year at this time. Another huge problem is kidnappings and there were believed to be over 800 of them last year. That is a fifty percent decrease compared to the 2004 year. The big reason for this kind of crime is for extortion. This is the kind of thing that raises money for the different groups.[13]

Works CitedEdit