This week we learned of the verdict that sentenced Nicolás Zepeda to 28 years in prison and the payment of a $150 million compensation for the crime of Narumi Kurosake that occurred in 2016 even though the victim’s body has not been found.

Compared to our system, it seems surprising that deliberation was conducted by a jury of three magistrates and six civilians – three men and three women – nine in total, requiring at least seven to convict.

The participation of citizens at random, by tombola as they would say in Chile, who seek to maintain their privileges, is intended to ensure that their decision is based on the facts presented by the prosecution and the defence and less influenced by the technicalities of the law and influence peddling.

At a time when the foundations of our institutionality are being worked out in the country through a Constitutional Convention that will draft the proposal for a new Constitution, the French justice system has given us a lesson in what equality before the law means.

Although the Chilean justice system has undergone improvements since the criminal procedure reform, it is far from guaranteeing equality before the law. It is very eloquent to recall the words of Sister Nelly León during Pope Francis’ visit to the women’s prison in Santiago when she said that “in Chile poverty is imprisoned”, a very graphic way of saying that privilege is often above the law.

This reality is not only at the level of the courts of justice, but is also common practice in the most diverse institutions. The case of Captain Rafael Harvey, who denounced acts of corruption within the army and was dismissed on charges of sedition, is well known.

In the work carried out by Fundación Semilla in schools, we also found corporate defences to protect colleagues accused of violence by students or justification of harassment by male students, blaming the female victims for the way they dress, accusing them of being provocative.

In our study on violence in school contexts, we found that only 7% of those who have been violated resort to formal mechanisms to file complaints. The weakest actors not only feel that they will not find justice, but also think that it can be turned against them. Such is the case of a parent who does not dare to report the bullying of her son because the aggressor is the son of a teacher at the same school and she fears reprisals for reporting it.

Equality before the law or equal treatment in situations of inequality are decisive in achieving a good and healthy coexistence, and for this reason one must always be alert to avoid favouring those who hold some privilege.