The Medellin Treaty, an “electronic highway” for international legal cooperation

On May 9, the agreement promoted by the COMJIB that facilitates the electronic transmission of applications comes into force


The Treaty Relating to the Electronic Transmission of Requests for International Legal Cooperation between Central Authorities, better known as the Medellín Treaty, will enter into force on May 9 as an “electronic highway” to share documents, a “secure route” that initially covers to Latin American countries but is open to everyone.

The agreement represents a new milestone within the Conference of Ministers of Justice of Ibero-American Countries (COMJIB), an organization with half a century of history and whose secretary general, Enrique Gil Botero, wants to claim as a point of union of 22 countries. In recent years, the shared ambition has been to improve legal collaboration.

The Ibero-American Network for International Legal Cooperation (Iberred) and its Iber@ platform resulted in a treaty signed in Medellín in July 2019 that allows the electronic transmission of documents quickly and with full validity for administrative purposes. More than a dozen countries have signed it or are in the process of doing so –Spain ratified it in June 2021–.

Gil Botero has considered this rapid ratification “very gratifying”, evidence of the interest in a tool that enjoys “absolute legitimacy” in bureaucratic terms and, above all, is “safe”. “It has the same degree of security as the Bank of Spain”, he has defended, in an interview with Europa Press.

In this sense, he explained that the Treaty of Medellín “puts in check the difficulties that arise in the traffic of international information”, connecting central authorities to facilitate a fight against crime that, contrary to what had been happening with legal documents, “does not know geography”.

The Treaty opposes “the impunity and ease that international crime enjoys” and serves both in civil and criminal matters, as Gil Botero has recalled, who has emphasized the importance of this collaboration to speed up procedures such as extradition.

One of the particularities of the agreement is that it is not only limited to the 22 member states of COMJIB and its 500 million inhabitants, but also has “a universal projection as vast as the United Nations.” “It is a gift that Ibero-America is giving to the world”, pointed out the secretary general, who has confirmed that there has already been interest from third countries.


Apart from legal cooperation, COMJIB, in the hands of its secretary general, maintains a wide range of lines of action that range from collaboration in the reform of penitentiary systems to the fight for gender equality, passing through a strengthening of public policies related to Justice.

Gil Botero aspires to “a more agile justice” and a “democratization” of a system that, as he has explained, involves eliminating “barriers that go beyond the legal.” He wants “justice to be universal, without distinctions,” and to reach all those who need it.

The person in charge of COMJIB has also warned that democracy and justice are intimately linked. “If there are weak or fractured democracies, judicial independence is in danger,” he warned, immediately afterwards claiming that the Conference works precisely so that Justice “is above political schemes.”

Gil Botero has avoided alluding to the challenges of specific countries, but he has stressed that it is up to each country to seek formulas to overcome each of the “difficulties” that arise. In this sense, he has recalled the case of the peace process in Colombia, in which he collaborated as Minister of Justice and which was “unique in the world.”

From the peace process with the FARC guerrillas, a Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) emerged that was called upon to resolve all the legal gaps and that was founded, according to Gil Botero, on several equally important pillars, not just punishment. “The truth is sometimes more important to victims than anything else,” he said.

The former minister has ruled out that the JEP implies impunity and, instead, has defended that “it is a more pragmatic form of justice.” Although it may not have been understood “initially”, he has insisted that it must be framed in an “atypical” context.

This transitional justice has not been without setbacks, as he himself recognized, but he does detect a “construction dynamic” that allows this system to overcome any type of challenge. Peace, he added, “is a political reality and a social reality”.

In fact, Gil Botero has advocated that the model be extended to other hypothetical peace agreements, for example the one that could be signed with the National Liberation Army (ELN): “Much more progress can be made in building peace to close it as a whole.

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