Public Defense

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) has been adopting resolutions on the subject of public defense since 2011.

Since 2013, Special Meetings have been held on the subject of public defense within the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the Permanent Council of the OAS with the support of the Department of International Law. The Meetings are attended by the member states and their respective official public defender institutions that provide legal assistance, members of the Inter-American Association of Public Defenders (AIDEF), experts from the academic community, civil society, as well as international organizations. The most recent Meeting took place on March 31, 2022 and was exceptionally carried out virtually.

In 2016, the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI) adopted, with the support of the Inter-American Association of Public Defenders of the Americas (AIDEF), 10 principles and guidelines on public defense in the Americas which provide adequate protection of the right to judicial defense and conceive access to justice as a basic human right. The Committee’s report refers to the work of public defenders and their role in the prevention, denunciation and accompaniment of victims of torture and other inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment. It also promotes the importance of the independence, functional, financial and budgetary autonomy of the official public defender's office. Finally, States are urged to eliminate obstacles that affect or limit access to public defense, and to provide access to justice to their citizens through a free state legal aid service..