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CIM/OAS President Calls for Improving Women’s Access to Justice

  September 27, 2011

The President of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS), Rocío García Gaytán, today called for improving women’s access to justice in countries of the region to thus finally achieve “a real application of the rights of women to a life free of violence.”

During the inauguration of the CIM seminar, “Human Rights, Violence against Women and Access to Justice,” held today at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC with the participation of regional experts on the subject, President García Gaytán was accompanied by the Secretary for Political Affairs of the hemispheric organization, Víctor Rico, who spoke on behalf of Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. They both opened the event convened to address issues such as international and inter-American jurisprudence on violence against women, human rights and perspectives from the justice sector, and the goal of which is to identify actions to guarantee an adequate judicial response to acts of violence against women.

In her remarks, the head of the CIM asserted that violence against women “is today one of the greatest obstacles for sustainable human development,” and recalled that violence in the societies of our region “is supported and even fomented by impunity.” “Though all human rights exist in the private as much as in the public sphere, violence against women, in particular the intra-familiar or domestic kinds, is still considered at the social level a private problem that should be resolved between couples,” she said.

This, in practice, she continued, means “that the issue is not included in public policies on justice and security” or that it is “visible as part of the work of protection carried out by the security sector or the work or prosecution conducted by the justice sector.” “An indispensable part of an adequate response against violence against women, without a doubt as in other crimes, is an effective and transparent system of justice,” she added.

Secretary Rico highlighted that “the foundation of the fight against violence towards women is the human rights system.” “It is not possible to move this action forward without an inter-American and universal framework of protection and defense of human rights. Without a timely and adequate access to justice, this conceptual framework cannot be effective, it cannot have a concrete result in the reality of our countries,” he said.

In this sense, he recalled that the levels of access to justice in Latin America are “very low,” and that, “in the case of women, access to justice is even lower, as happens among all vulnerable groups.” Nevertheless, he noted, in the last decade the region has seen great progress in the defense of women’s rights and the fight against gender violence.

In particular, the Secretary for Political Affairs mentioned that Latin America and the Caribbean is the developing region that has achieved “the greatest progress in formally recognizing the rights of women,” including the formulation of laws and policies specifically directed towards them, and the one that has made the most progress “in breaching the gap between women and men in terms of education, labor market participation, civil rights, rights of property and land in terms of family codes.”

Among the obstacles still present, he explained, “the systematic violence of which women and girls are object in the Americas, and the impunity that is characteristic of this violence are facts that threaten human rights, peace and democratic governance in the region.”

The inauguration of the event was moderated by the Executive Secretary of the CIM, Carmen Moreno. Among the authorities invited to participate in the seminar are the Assistant Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), Elizabeth Abi-Mershed; the OAS Secretary for Legal Affairs, Jean Michel Arrighi; and the Coordinator of the Committee of Experts for the Follow-up Mechanism of the Convention of Belém do Pará (MESECVI), Hilda Morales Trujillo.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-856/11