Representatives of the judicial branches of Ecuador, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic are visiting Nicaragua to learn about the Judicial Facilitators Program which the Organization of American States (OAS) has been implementing successfully in the Central American country since 1998, and whose objective is to provide access to justice throughout the national territory, especially in those rural areas far from urban centers.
María Dolores Arauz, director of the Inter-American Judicial Facilitators Program of the Secretariat for Juridical Affairs of the OAS, explained that in Nicaragua there are more than 2,900 facilitators, of which 80 percent are women, and who have carried out tens of thousands of judicial mediations. The OAS official highlighted the success of the program in the social of conflicts in the poorest rural areas in Nicaragua. The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, highlighting the social contributions of the program, said that, thanks to the program, “important sectors that didn’t have access to justice before, are today able to resolve a great number of situations and conflicts without going to court, and in those cases when it is necessary, they have the information they need to be sure that the cases are concluded successfully.”
The judges and representatives of the judiciaries of Ecuador, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic plan to visit the rural communities where the program is carried out, and establish firsthand contact with the facilitators, who will describe their experiences.
In addition to Nicaragua, the Judicial Facilitators Program is being implemented in six other countries in the region: Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Paraguay. Spain, Italy, Holland and Sweden participate as partners in the program. The facilitators are operators of justice who are elected in their communities and are designated by judges accredited before the Supreme Court of Justice. Lawyers are not eligible to be chosen, nor is anyone who has served in the military or the police force in the year prior to their designation. No one with a criminal background is accepted, and the facilitators are not paid for their services.
The Judicial Facilitators Program serves a fundamental purpose: bringing access to justice closer to the citizenry. It has resulted in an improvement in human rights, an increase in security, a reduction in poverty and greater democratic governability. Its application helps in the construction of gender equality and establishes a bridge with indigenous communities.
More information on the program is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.