Jan-Michael Simon

International Scientific Outreach
Senior Researcher


Cri­mi­na­li­ty of the po­wer­ful in La­tin Ame­ri­ca, with par­ti­cu­lar em­pha­sis on Grand Cor­rup­ti­on: Re­se­arch in­clu­des the con­cept of –and dis­cour­se on– po­li­ti­cal cor­rup­ti­on, its im­pact on po­li­ti­cal and cri­mi­nal ju­sti­ce sys­tems as well po­li­cies ad­dres­sing po­li­ti­cal cor­rup­ti­on (in­clu­ding pro­ce­du­res for the se­lec­ti­on of law en­for­ce­ment agents and jud­ges). It al­so looks at the im­pact of po­li­ti­cal cor­rup­ti­on on hu­man rights (chal­len­ging the no­ti­on of po­li­ti­cal cor­rup­ti­on as a vic­tim­less cri­me) and on in­ter­na­tio­nal se­cu­ri­ty (chal­len­ging pre­sump­ti­ons that the con­se­quences of po­li­ti­cal cor­rup­ti­on are li­mi­ted to the do­me­stic do­main). Mo­re re­cent­ly, his re­se­arch fo­cu­ses on the ro­le played by in­ter­na­tio­nal bo­dies crea­ted to sup­port na­tio­nal law en­for­ce­ment against po­li­ti­cal cor­rup­ti­on and hu­man rights vio­la­ti­ons.

Pu­nis­h­ment and the exer­ci­se of fun­da­men­tal rights in La­tin Ame­ri­ca: Re­se­arch ad­dres­ses the in­ter re­la­ti­on bet­ween the po­li­ti­cal and the le­gal con­cept of a mo­no­po­li­zed power of pu­nis­h­ment and the in­ter­na­tio­nal pro­tec­ti­on of hu­man rights. Other is­su­es re­se­ar­ched in­clu­de the li­mits of cri­mi­na­li­zing so­ci­al pro­test (in par­ti­cu­lar through an­ti-ter­ro­rism le­gis­la­ti­on) as well as the li­mits of the pro­tec­ti­on of ho­nor through cri­mi­nal law (in par­ti­cu­lar the ho­nor of se­ni­or na­tio­nal of­fi­ci­als) vis-à-vis free­dom of ex­pres­si­on.

Tran­si­tio­nal ju­sti­ce in La­tin Ame­ri­can post-con­flict and post-au­t­ho­ri­ta­ri­an so­cie­ties: Re­se­arch fo­cu­ses on the theo­ry of pu­nis­h­ment, cri­mi­nal lia­bi­li­ty, sta­tu­tes of li­mi­ta­ti­on, ex­tra­ter­ri­to­ri­al cri­mi­nal ju­ris­dic­ti­on and truth fin­ding in and out­si­de the cri­mi­nal pro­cess as well as the ap­p­li­ca­bi­li­ty of in­ter­na­tio­nal hu­ma­ni­ta­ri­an law and of ge­ne­ral pu­blic in­ter­na­tio­nal law in such con­texts. Re­se­arch al­so ad­dres­ses mo­ral (e.g. his­to­ri­cal guilt and ob­li­ga­ti­on of me­mo­ry) and po­li­cy is­su­es such as cri­mi­nal sanc­ti­ons vs. con­flict re­so­lu­ti­on, truth see­king me­cha­nisms vs. cri­mi­nal pro­cess and in­ter­na­tio­nal cri­mi­nal ju­ris­dic­ti­on vs. na­tio­nal ju­ris­dic­ti­on. 

Se­cu­ri­ty and ju­sti­ce sec­tor re­forms in La­tin Ame­ri­ca: Re­se­arch in­clu­des the in­te­gra­ti­on of mul­ti­ple cri­mi­nal ju­sti­ce sys­tems in fe­deral po­li­ti­cal sys­tems (e.g. Me­xi­co) and of dif­fe­rent no­ti­ons of pro­tec­ted rights in cul­tu­ral­ly he­te­ro­ge­neous so­cie­ties. Re­gar­ding the lat­ter, re­se­arch con­cen­tra­ted on en­vi­ron­men­tal cri­mi­nal law re­la­ted to the con­sti­tu­tio­nal right to a he­al­thy, pro­tec­ted and ba­lan­ced en­vi­ron­ment (Bo­li­via) and the con­sti­tu­tio­nal mo­del that con­cei­ves na­ture as Pacha Ma­ma (Mo­ther Earth in Que­chua) and en­dows it with its own fun­da­men­tal rights (Ecua­dor). Re­se­arch al­so in­clu­des re­gio­nal re­form agen­das tack­ling or­ga­ni­zed cri­me and ge­ne­ral de­ve­lop­ments of cri­mi­nal law and the ru­le of law in La­tin Ame­ri­ca .

At an in­ter­na­tio­nal le­vel, re­se­arch fin­dings on La­tin Ame­ri­ca ha­ve be­en sha­red in re­gi­ons such as the Midd­le East (with fo­cus on con­flict and con­flict re­so­lu­ti­on) and Sub-Sa­ha­ran Af­ri­ca (with fo­cus on ad­dres­sing mass vio­lence through cri­mi­nal law).


A law gra­dua­te of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bonn, Jan Si­mon has be­en sin­ce 2001 a re­se­ar­cher and se­ni­or re­se­ar­cher at the Institute. Pri­or to as­s­u­ming his po­si­ti­on as se­ni­or re­se­ar­cher in char­ge of in­ter­na­tio­nal scien­ti­fic ou­tre­ach at the In­sti­tu­te, bet­ween 2003 and 2019, he pro­vi­ded scien­ti­fic sup­port and ad­vi­ce to the di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tu­te's De­part­ment of Cri­mi­nal Law, in­clu­ding on re­se­arch po­li­cies and fun­ding. Bet­ween 2004 and 2019, wi­thin the for­mer struc­ture of coun­try sec­ti­ons of the De­part­ment of Cri­mi­nal Law, Jan Si­mon was the head of the sec­ti­on La­tin Ame­ri­ca. Bet­ween 2005 and 2007 he coor­di­na­ted the esta­blis­h­ment of the In­ter­na­tio­nal Max Planck Re­se­arch Schools on Re­ta­lia­ti­on, Me­dia­ti­on and Punishment (IM­PRS RE­MEP) and on Com­pa­ra­ti­ve Cri­mi­nal Law (IM­PRS-CC). Bet­ween 2007 and 2019, he joi­ned the IMPRS-CC as its aca­de­mic coor­di­na­tor. In 2018, he was a vi­si­ting re­se­arch fel­low at the In­sti­tu­te of Le­gal Re­se­arch of the Na­tio­nal Au­to­no­mous Uni­ver­si­ty of Me­xi­co (UN­AM). He is a honorary professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the Hermilio Valdizán National University (Huánuco/Peru) and a visiting professor at the Catholic University of Santa María (Arequipa/Peru). He is the recipient of a honorary doctorate of the Néstor Cáceres Velásquez Andean University (Juliaca/Peru).

He regularly combines research with fieldwork on issues relating to human rights violations, the rule of law, fighting impunity and anti-corruption. He has joined international missions led by the United Nations (as a Senior Legal Officer and field investigator) and the Organization of American States (as a Special Advisor). He has also led and coordinated the implementation of technical cooperation programs and projects for justice and security sector reforms, and the defense of human rights (e.g. for OHCHR, UNDP, the European Commission and GIZ). He regularly contributes to civil society initiatives (e.g. OSJI, DPLF, CEJIL, WOLA).

Mitgliedschaften und Funktionen

Jan Si­mon is a mem­ber of the edi­to­ri­al board of six law jour­nals in the La­tin Ame­ri­can re­gi­on (Re­vis­ta No­va Crimi­nis/San­tia­go de Chi­le, Edi­to­ri­al Ju­ruá/Cu­ri­ti­ba, Re­vis­ta Jus­ti­tia/São Pau­lo, Re­vis­ta de Cien­ci­as Jurí­di­cas/San José, Revis­ta Stu­dia Iuri­di­ca/San José, Revista Teoria Jurídica Contemporânea/Rio de Janeiro). He is a ho­no­ra­ry mem­ber of the Ame­ri­can Pu­blic Po­li­cy In­sti­tu­te (Rio de Ja­nei­ro/Brazil) and of the Bar of San­ta Cruz de la Si­er­ra (Bo­li­via) and Ica (Peru). He is a member of the Associate Expert Committee of the Anti-Corruption Institute (Bogota/Colombia) and a Foreign Corresponding Member of the Mexican Academy of Penal Sciences (Mexico City).

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