18 January 2016
Category : Opinion
EUROsociAL, the cooperation programme of the European Union, has contributed to the creation of a defence protocol to allow foreign women in different prisons in Peru to efficiently access justice and receive better assistance.
In Peru’s prison population, there are two groups especially vulnerable to overcrowding and living conditions in prison: on the one hand, young people, 11% of the total; and on the other, foreign women, 90% of whom are serving sentences for drug trafficking. Under the country’s constitution, it is the responsibility of the Public Defender’s Office to guarantee access free of charge to the right of defence to persons with few economic resources or who are in situations of vulnerability. Within the framework of the regional intervention with public defender’s offices being carried out by EUROsociAL, the Peruvian government considered it a priority in 2014 to improve the situation of these two groups by establishing conduct guidelines for public defender’s offices. To this end, in 2014 EUROsociAL collaborated with Peru’s Ministry of Justice, through the Directorate-General of Public Defence and Access to Justice, to expand to the national level the support of the programme to public defender’s offices by preparing a specific, nationally-applicable, defence protocol.
CONTENT OF THE PROTOCOL
The protocol addresses, on the one hand, the main needs identified in the collective of incarcerated foreign women in prisons, such as translation, up-to-date and understandable legal advising on prison benefits, alternatives for returning to their countries of origin, adequate spaces for caring for sons and daughters, guarantees for maintaining links with their families, and access to adequate medication. In addition, it addresses the specific needs of young inmates, such as receiving differentiated treatment because of their age, access to prison benefits, and contact with their families. The protocol determines concrete actions, as well as general and specific recommendations, that public defender’s offices should adopt to ensure adequate attention to these collectives, from the moment of detention to execution of the sentence.
Prison systems normally do not address the different needs and problems of women inmates. The intervention in Peru is situated in a line of work of the programme with the public defender’s offices which incorporates the gender perspective and aims to impact the justice administration so that it contemplates gender factors that influence the commission of crimes and serving of sentences. In this line, another two protocols prepared in Guatemala and Costa Rica have been approved which address, respectively, the situation of incarcerated women with sons and daughters and family members.
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