Although the Ministry of Justice and Law was created in 1890 as an administrative entity responsible for overseeing and supporting the Judicial Branch, it was shut down in 1894 when it seemed to initiate and process an investigation into the execution of contracts for the construction of railways in Antioquia and Santander.
However when faced with the need to confront the legal reality, on December 21, 1945, the Ministry was brought back to life. Its functions were to oversee and control the operation of the Judicial Branch, the detention and rehabilitation centers and security measures, the Judicial Police and other affairs assigned by law related to administering justice, the suppression and prevention of crime and civil and penal legislation reform. It would also be responsible for the ultimate direction of public prosecution.
It was restructured in 1960, among its main functions being: striving for prompt and effective justice; supervising the Judicial Branch; studying and investigating the causes of crime and its prevention; the protection and correction of minors; the organization and direction of prison establishments; the direction and supervision of the country's criminal investigation; the preparation of legislative reforms; the recognition of legal personalities; and the reassignment of legal processes and extraditions.
In 1964 the Government created penitentiaries, farming colonies and main Judicial District prisons, the responsibility for which fell under the Ministry of Justice. In 1973 the First Statute for the Prevention and Depression of the Production, trafficking and consumption of narcotics came into effect in Colombia, and the National Narcotics Council and the Office of Narcotics of the Ministry of Justice were created.
After further restructuring new functions were assigned to the Ministry of Justice: to formulate public policy for justice; carry out socio-legal and criminological research to determine the efficiency of existing legislation or promote its reform; provide the Judicial Branch and the Directorate General of Criminal Education with the administrative support, technicians, scientists and economists necessary to carry out their functions and comply with orders; to organize, administer and oversee detention facilities and provide treatment and rehabilitation to the prison and penitentiary population; and to properly and efficiently supply notary and registry services.
With the Political Constitution of 1991 the Ministry of Justice abandoned its capacity as a court and prison administrator to transform itself into an entity for legal and judicial policy planning, promoter of legislative reform and constant evaluator of the legislation's efficiency, by promoting preliminary conflict resolution and cooperation and legal support in the international community.
In 2003, through Law 790 of 2002, the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Justice and Law were joined into one single entity. This process allowed the structure of the national executive branch to be renovated and modernized, with the aim of guaranteeing adequate care to citizens.
Subsequently, on August 11, 2011, the President of the Republic Juan Manuel Santos signed Decree 2897 which brought this ministerial post back to life, as by virtue of Article 1 of Law 1444 of 2011 the responsibilities and functions of the Ministry of the Interior that were assigned to the desk of the vice-minister of Justice and Law, as well as the responsible dependencies, were removed.
Article 4 of the aforementioned Law created the Ministry of Justice and Law.