Colombia high court says religion out in rulings

Sep 19, 2012, 11:23 PM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Colombia’s Constitutional Court has told a lower court judge that religious precepts cannot be used as the basis for a ruling or other decisions, issuing a directive that applies to all judicial officers in the country.

The high court said quotations from religious texts cannot be used in legal arguments or judgments to directly support the reasoning for a decision. It did say religious quotations can be used to explain a point of view.

In a directive issued in June but only made public Wednesday, the justices made a point of saying the directive was issued for a labor court judge in the southwestern city of Cali, but legal experts said Wednesday that the Constitutional Court’s findings apply to all judges and prosecutors in similar cases.

Judicial authorities “are obliged to respect the principle of secularism that characterizes the Colombian state,” said the Constitutional Court, which is the guardian of Colombia’s constitution. Decisions “must be devoid of any expression suggesting a bias based on religious beliefs or personal convictions of the judicial officer,” it added.

The court’s statement was aimed at a labor court ruling in a pension case. The lower court judge’s decision included a quotation from the Bible: “In the case of justice, it shouldn’t even favor the poor.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Colombia high court says religion out in rulings