Jan-Michael Simon

International Scientific Outreach
Senior Researcher

Main Focus

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).

Curriculum Vitae

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).

Professional Memberships and Activities

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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