Jan-Michael SimonInternational Scientific Outreach
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).
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).