NAMASIGUE, Honduras -- A group of experts from the Inter-American Program of Judicial Facilitators of the Organization of American States (OAS) this week attended the events where the first two judicial facilitators in Honduras were appointed, less than two weeks after the Hemispheric Organization and the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) of this Central American country signed a cooperation agreement.
The first two designations in Honduras took place on October 23 in the town of Namasigue, in the department of Choluteca. The first appointment took place in the village of Santa Ana, where a community assembly considered three candidates and finally elected 42-year-old Víctor Emmanuel Ovando Guido.
The second appointment took place in the village of San Agustín, which designated 30-year-old Rosibel Bertothy Blandin, for the post. A total of 95 people participated in both events, mostly women, community leaders, youth, and technical personnel from the OAS Inter-American Program of Judicial Facilitators.
These were the first appointments made following the signing on October 16 of a cooperation agreement between the OAS and the Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, by which the Central American country joined the Judicial Facilitators’ Program.
The agreement aims to improve the Honduran justice system by extending access to it through a National Service of Judicial Facilitators, whose participants -- community leaders -- are designated to perform the tasks entrusted to them by judges; to help citizens access the justice system bodies; to prevent conflicts; and to promote legal literacy.
The introduction of the facilitators in Honduras is part of the CSJ 2011-2016 Strategic Plan, which includes programs that favor access to justice. The aim of the program in Honduras is to have full implementation with 1,200 facilitators at the national level and 500 justice operators integrated into the Service.
The Facilitators’ Program began in 2007 and already incorporates six countries in the region, including: Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, and now Honduras. Spain, Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands, permanent observer countries to the OAS, are partners in the program and contribute to its functioning.
The main objective of the program is to reinforce access to justice for citizens who live in rural, isolated areas, establishing a service with national coverage, administered by the corresponding judiciary. The service has resulted in thousands of mediations, negotiations, and advice, which has contributed to a significant reduction in conflict and crime. Added to this, the program contributes to spreading legal literacy among the population which it reaches.
In addition, the program has contributed to democratic governance, improving levels of access to justice, and to poverty reduction through a mechanism that encourages substantive citizen participation regarding access to justice. The creation of a service of judicial facilitators in countries with poverty and limited access to justice helps increase social cohesion in marginalized populations and improve the performance of the national justice bodies.