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OAS Promotes Judicial Facilitators Program as a "Bridge to Justice"

  November 30, 2011

The Organization of American States (OAS) today held the Seminar "Judicial Facilitators, a Bridge to Justice" with the participation of about 60 people who shared their experiences about how to enhance access to justice through mediation and make it a tool for strengthening democratic governance in the countries of the region.

In his welcoming remarks to participants, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza highlighted the importance of the Inter-American Judicial Facilitators Program as a tool for solving "one of the great problems of our America, which is the permanent difficulty of many citizens to get access to justice." He added that "this is what creates the tendency to take the law into their own hands," and stressed that "without justice there is no democratic governance: a broad and open judicial system is the best guarantee of the existence of a democratic system."

At the event, the head of the organization highlighted the importance of the impact and scope of the Program promoted by the OAS Secretariat of Legal Affairs and reiterated his commitment to continue supporting the development of judicial mediation mechanisms, as well as maintaining and expanding them to other countries.

The Judicial Facilitators Program originated in Nicaragua in the late 90's, as a mechanism of law enforcement to help the less benefited sectors of society to solve their differences and bring solutions before cases reach the court system. Today it has spread to four other countries in the region-Paraguay, Panama, Guatemala and Argentina-operating as a cooperative mechanism that promotes access to justice for vulnerable populations. In this regard, the OAS Secretary for Legal Affairs, Jean Michel Arrighi, said that the project has allowed isolated populations to have access to justice, and find peaceful solutions to their differences. "This is not an alternative to the judicial system; it is a complementary mechanism which seeks to extend the scope of application of existing national standards beyond what was physically possible."

Today's seminar included presentations by program directors from several countries, including the Coordinator of the Inter-American Judicial Facilitators Program, Pedro Vuskovic; the Director of National Office of the Community Judicial Facilitators of the Judiciary Organ of Panama, Lenis Bustamante; and the Academic Coordinator of the Diploma in National Judicial Facilitators Service at the Catholic University "Nuestra Señora de la Asunción" in Paraguay, Elizabeth Silvia Insfran Montiel.

In their presentations, the experts explained that through the Facilitators Program it has been possible to make the work of judicial offices more dynamic, and that it has served as a means for reducing conflict, educating the population on standards of living and the law, improving public safety, reducing gender violence and expanding citizen participation.

To date, the program has 4,500 judicial facilitators in five countries and it is estimated to have benefited about 550,000 people. The program won the 2011 International Award "Innovative Justice" conferred by the International Court of Justice last June in The Hague, Netherlands. The recognition was presented today to the OAS Secretary General by program coordinators in the countries where it currently operates.

A gallery of photos of the event are available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-986/11