On April 5, the Department of
International Law presented a report to the
Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs
(CAJP) of the Permanent Council of the
Organization of American States (OAS) on the
activities that it carried out over the previous
10 months, pursuant to resolutions AG/RES. 2887
(XLVI-O/16) and AG/RES. 2908 (XLVII-O/17).
The Director of the Department of International Law, Dr. Dante Negro, reminded the delegations that at its regular meeting in October 2016, the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI) approved the ten “Principles and Guidelines on Public Defense in the Americas,” which address four specific issues: (i) Access to justice; (ii) the work of official public defenders in relation to that access; (iii) necessary characteristics for public defender offices in the region; and (iv) efforts required from states to strengthen such institutions.
Dr. Negro said that the CJI defines access to justice as a basic
human right that serves to restore the enjoyment of other rights that had been ignored or infringed, and that a person’s right to access is not served once they enter the courtroom, but remains throughout at every stage of the proceeding.
The OAS General Assembly took note of the Principles and Guidelines at its session in Cancun, Mexico, in 2017 and requested the Department of International Law to disseminate them as widely as possible.
Thus, the report of the Department of International Law mentioned various meetings that it held with representatives of the Inter-American Association of Public Defender Offices (AIDEF) to explore how best to implement that mandate under the GS/OAS-AIDEF cooperation agreement. This effort was a continuation of the multiple joint activities pursued with AIDEF over the years in such countries as Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, and others to provide training to public defenders in the region on different factors that contribute to improved access to justice.
Next to speak were AIDEF representatives, after which there was a dynamic and substantive exchange of experience on best practices in comprehensively implementing the Brasilia Rules Regarding Access to Justice for Vulnerable Persons.
The Chair of the CAJP and Permanent Representative of Uruguay, Ambassador Hugo Cayrús,
proposed the following, to which the
delegations agreed: (i) To take note of the presentations and comments made by the AIDEF representatives, member state delegations, and the Director of the Department of International Law; (ii) To underscore the importance of the work of official public defenders in different countries in the Hemisphere in defense of the basic rights of individuals, notably free legal counsel to ensure that everyone has access to justice, particularly those in especially vulnerable circumstances; and (iii) To request the Department of International Law that it disseminate as widely as possible the Principles and Guidelines on Public Defense in the Americas, along with the Practical Guide to Reduce Pretrial Detention (adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2017), and that it continue to organize training activities for public defenders in the region’s countries that so request on different factors that contribute to improved access to justice.
See the text of the resolution “Principles and Guidelines on Public Defense in the Americas,” CJI/RES.226 (LXXXIX-O/16), of October 13, 2016.
📷 Photo Gallery - CAJP Meeting
For further information on this matter,
please contact the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS +1 202 370 0743.