• 16 April 2021

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    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    “Tax evasion is not only a cash issue but also an equity issue”

    The expert Fernando Peláez Longinotti, Head of the Economic-Tax Studies Area with the Uruguayan Tax Administration, tells us how the European Union's EUROsociAL+ programme , through its Democratic Governance area led by FIIAPP, is working together with the Paraguayan Tax Administration to reduce inequality by fighting against tax evasion.

    Why is the fight against tax evasion such a powerful tool in combating inequality?

    We are at a critical moment not only in the Latin American region but also at a global level in which there are latent fiscal needs. And tax systems produce results, but their full potential is never being realised, in any country. Therefore, it is necessary to see what type of actions we can carry out to maximise potential collection. Because evasion produces losses for the state and produces tax inequity, some pay more than others, it is not only a cash issue but an equity issue. It is a virtuous circle that we need to understand so the public administration can take action. Raising tax collection requires a relentless fight against fraud because it allows measures to be identified to prevent and reduce evasion levels and to improve the efficiency of public spending in providing public services, such as education and health. 

    What work have you carried out within the framework of EUROsociAL+ for the Paraguayan Subsecretariat of State for Taxation (SET) and what are its main conclusions? 

    Through a methodology developed by the Inter-American Tax Administrations Centre ( CIAT ), we measure noncompliance with corporate income tax to measure the trajectory and behaviour of the tax evasion rate in the country. Through this analysis, we were able to understand what percentage of potential tax is not being collected – which in the case of Paraguay is within the range of the countries in the region – and to see the trend relating to this phenomenon. In addition, through the analysis of microdata, specific cases could be identified with which the SET was able to take specific actions to increase collection from those companies. 

    Are there any differences in non-compliance between men and women regarding tax payments? 

    No, no differences. However, this work, in keeping with the gender mainstreaming of the EUROsociAL+ programme, adopted a unique approach strategy to include the gender perspective as it relates to tax evasion. The results revealed very useful data for the design of specific public policies to promote gender equality through female entrepreneurship. We saw that the proportion of women entrepreneurs is much smaller than that of male entrepreneurs, in a ratio of 35% women compared to 65% men, and that proportion is higher in some sectors such as agriculture, with a 1 to 9 ratio. On the other hand, there are sectors related to trades more traditionally linked to women where there is a greater representation of businesswomen, such as commerce, textiles and hospitality, where they represent more than 50%.  

    Furthermore, when analysing the average income level, it was determined that women are concentrated in the lower income levels. In conclusion, there are fewer women entrepreneurs, they have access barriers to certain sectors, and they have lower incomes. Of every 10 entrepreneurs in Paraguay, 3 are women compared to 7 men.  

  • 18 March 2021

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    For reconstruction policies that leave no one behind

    Climate change has put three out of every ten households in Central America and the Caribbean at risk. Social vulnerability exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic must be added to this environmental vulnerability. Therefore, the implementation of comprehensive policies to reduce inequalities and alleviate poverty is a matter of urgency.

    Individuals are affected differently by COVID-19. And it does not affect all territories to the same extent. Almost 60% of the population of Central America lives in urban areas, many of which are unplanned, according to UN-Habitat estimates. Neighbourhoods with high degrees of overcrowding and that are scattered, poorly connected and with hardly any services and infrastructures whose inhabitants have seen their vulnerability increased due to the pandemic. Specifically, the impact on informal settlements has been greater due to the inaccessibility of drinking water for proper sanitation, overcrowding in homes and the difficulty of access to health services. The pandemic has also had significant negative effects on the family economy since many people, mainly women, who live in settlements work informally. According to data from the International Labour Organization, 126 million women work informally in Latin America and the Caribbean. This represents almost 50% of the region’s female population. 

    “Since the pandemic began, the situation in the neighbourhood has been chaotic because we live very close to each other and up to 15 people live in very small houses. In my house, which has three rooms, there were three of us and now there are eight because my daughter and my grandchildren have had to come to live with us.  I depend on a pension that the government gives me because of my disability, but it is very small”, Alicia Bremes explains to us from Pueblo Nuevo, a neighbourhood in the Pavas district of San José, Costa Rica. In August 2020, the districts of Pavas and Uruca together made up more than 15% of the entire country’s active COVID cases. 

    “How are we going to wash our hands if we don’t have access to water? Or how are we going to disinfect ourselves with gel if the price is so high?” laments Bremes, who has suffered the consequences of the pandemic at home. “One of my sons fixes cell phones and has been out of work for many months. I have another son with a disability who used to go to a psychiatric workshop every day and has suffered a lot because he no longer had anywhere to go. As he was nearly always out in the street, he caught COVID, suffered a very high temperature and had great difficulty in breathing, but recovered. But I have many neighbours, of all ages, who have passed away”, she says. 

    As Alicia Bremes explains, the situation in the poorer neighbourhoods is one of extreme vulnerability. “Many mothers in the neighbourhood had been working as cleaners in homes and were fired due to the pandemic. COVID has also reduced the street vending on which many families depend to be able to eat on a daily basis”, she says. Therefore, it is essential to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable groups and to try to cushion the effects of the pandemic that has quickly become a socio-economic as well as a health crisis. 

    In this context, the Council for Social Integration (CIS) asked the Secretariat for Central American Social Integration (SISCA), with the support of the Programme EUROsociAL+ of theEuropean Union, managed by FIIAPP, IILA and Expertise France, and in partnership with agencies and programmes of the United Nations, FAO, ILO and UN HABITAT, to prepare a “Recovery, Social Reconstruction and Resilience Plan for Central America and the Dominican Republic”. The Plan is a common regional roadmap and is made up of a series of strategic projects articulated around three axes of intervention: social protection, employment and sustainable urban development. 

    The Plan, which has been endorsed by the Councils of Ministers of Labour, Housing and Human Settlements of Central America and the Dominican Republic, focuses its efforts on reducing poverty and socio-spatial inequality, the most obvious territorial expression of which are the informal settlements, which are estimated to make up 29% of the Central American urban population. Despite national efforts over the last 15 years to reduce the population living in informal settlements, many people continue to live in this situation. In addition, there are risks derived from climate change, which exposes a growing number of inhabitants to the effects of extreme weather events such as hurricanes or landslides. 

    There is an urgent need to broaden our view and think of the neighbourhood as the environment that enables us to implement basic rights within the city, for which we will have to attend not only to the provision of housing, but also to ensure that these houses have the necessary infrastructures, services and facilities. 

    There are still many challenges ahead in order to turn the face of poverty and inequality into one of progress without leaving anyone behind. For this reason, additional financial resources must be urgently found for the implementation of the Recovery, Social Reconstruction and Resilience Plan, an instrument that will mitigate the effects of the pandemic and shape societies that are more resilient, socially more just and egalitarian and environmentally more sustainable. 

    Cristina Fernández, Senior Town Planning Architect of EUROsociAL+ and collaborator with Fundemuca 

  • 19 February 2021

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    Posteado en : Reportage

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    Community justice for greater social justice

    Democratising access to justice through community mediation is crucial to achieving greater social cohesion and social justice in Latin America

    Larissa Estevan is a community mediation agent “driven by my love and commitment to the city where I grew up”, Samambaia, a region of Brasilia. “I became a community mediation agent after seeing a group of agents who enabled horizontal dialogue between recyclable material collectors, a very precarious profession in Brazil, university students and state representatives. At that meeting I fell in love with the Community Justice Programme”, explains Estevan.  

    Every day, Larissa Estevan works to “provide spaces for dialogue, law and justice in my territory.” One such case was that of Doña Ana, who went to her in the middle of a pandemic because her son had been arrested and she did not know what to do. “She was desperate when she came to us. It had been a month since he had been arrested and she had no information about him, and did not know where to go or how to seek help. We listened to Doña Ana and took the case to an assembly of the Community Justice Programme so that together we could think about possible guidelines, referrals and contacts so that she could exercise her right to have information about her son. Finally we put her in contact with the Ombudsman of the Federal District. A few days later, she called to thank us because she had found out where her son was being held and the Ombudsman’s Office had already provided her with a public defender”. 

    “Certainly, as long as there is inequality of powers, social justice will be necessary. The Community Justice Programme works to ensure that our community enjoys at least some of the social justice to which it is entitled, ” said Estevan. 

    European Union programmes such as EUROsociAL+ are working for greater social justice in Latin America so that citizens can have legal services and, ultimately, a better life. Specifically, the Democratic Governance area of the EUROsociAL+ programme, managed by FIIAPP through its Inclusive Justice line, is providing technical assistance to the Community Justice Programme of the Court of Justice of the Federal District and Territories of Brazil with technical support from the Council General of the Spanish Legal Profession. 

    Laura Cárdenas, communication consultant in the Governance area of the EUROsociAL+ programme 

     

  • 17 December 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    The value of numbers in moving towards inclusive justice

    María Luisa Domínguez, Senior Technician in the Democratic Governance Area, head of Inclusive Justice, EUROsociAL+ Programme explains the work developed by the programme in this matter.

    When we were faced with the challenge of telling our story from a perspective which is different from what is traditional (one which is more focused on activities and results), what EUROsociAL does along the lines of Inclusive Justice, we decided to emphasise some numbers. These numbers not only indicate quantities, but also qualities. Here are some of them.

    15. Trajectory

    The number 15 represents the years that the European Union programme EUROsociAL has been supporting social cohesion in Latin America. From its inception in 2005 to 2020, EUROsociAL has been accompanying public institutions in Latin America in the design and implementation of a multiplicity of public policies in all areas: social, economic, justice, gender, regional development, good governance, etc. And at all levels: regional, national and local.

    During these 15 years we have seen 3 phases of the programme, in very different contexts: crisis and economic boom, social conflicts and democratic stability and, more recently, pandemic and humanitarian, economic and social crisis. Also with different focuses: pilot projects in the first phase; orientated to requests from and specific results of public policy in the following two.

    But in these three decades, the DNA and the spirit of the programme has remained the same: to fight against inequalities and improve social cohesion in the region. In Inclusive Justice, the programme has been pioneering in reducing barriers to access to justice for people in vulnerable conditions, which in 2008 materialised in the Brasilia Rules, and that today we are supporting in its conversion to an international agreement.

     16, 10 and 5. Global Agenda

    Promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies is what the 2030 Agenda proposes in its SDG 16, and more specifically in goal 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and guarantee equal access to justice for all.

    At EUROsociAL we understand access to justice to be a key right that allows the exercise and guarantee of other basic rights such as health, education, housing, identity, etc. For this reason, we have placed emphasis on the protection and dissemination of the rights of groups that are in a vulnerable condition: people in the context of mobility, migrants and refugees, children and adolescents; victims and witnesses of crimes; youth in conflict with criminal law; persons deprived of libertypeople belonging to ethnic minorities; and women who find themselves in situations of gender discrimination. And this SDG 16 is an enabler for the achievement of other SDGs: 10, referring to the reduction of inequalities, and 5, which seeks gender equality.

    It is impossible in this brief space to make a detailed list of the numerous actions currently being carried out in the region with the institutions of the justice system: Judiciaries, Ministries of Justice, Prosecutors, Public Defenders and Prison Systems.

    Our fundamental reference here are the aforementioned 100 Rules of Brasilia and the Guides of Santiago for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses, reference documents whose preparation has been promoted by EUROsociAL within the framework of regional justice networks.

     17. Partnerships

    For the proper development of our work we apply SDG 17, and in particular with goal 17.16 aimed at “improving the global partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by alliances between multiple stakeholders that mobilise and exchange knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, in order to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, particularly developing countries”.

    The association with regional networks, and in particular with the justice networks of Latin America, has been one of the hallmarks of EUROsociAL since its inception in 2005. Promoting alliances and networks for the exchange of experiences and good practices between counterpart institutions in the Latin American and European regions has been one of the central pillars of EUROsociAL and in this we have been pioneers. This has enabled us to move forward in building common responses in several countries to shared problems, such as strategic reference frameworks for public policies at the regional level; joint declarations or guidelines, common model standards or protocols, etc.

    We accompanied the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, through the Brasilia Rules Follow-up Commission, in the definition of the first version of the Rules in 2008, in their update in 2018, in the implementation of the Rules in the countries, transferring them to national programmes, policies and plans for access to justice, and currently in the Roadmap to convert the Rules into an International Convention.

    Also since 2007, we have collaborated with the Ibero-American Association of Public Attorney Offices-AIAMP, strengthening it and supporting the formation of its different Networks (Network of Prosecutors against corruption and Specialised Gender Network) and Working Groups. In 2008, the Santiago Guide for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses was prepared and approved with the support of the programme, and in this third phase we collaborated with the Group of Victims and Witnesses in the review and update of these Guidelines, which will be approved in early November at the AIAMP General Assembly.

    In 2012, in Fortaleza Brazil, the kick-off was given to EUROsociAL’s collaboration with the Inter-American Association of Public Defenders-AIDEF. These eight years of collaboration have been intense and very fruitful, which has allowed progress in the design of regional models that have subsequently been implemented at the national level. From the Regional Guide for public advocacy and comprehensive protection of persons deprived of liberty; the manual for monitoring Human Rights in detention centres by the Public Defenders; and the regional manual on the Bangkok Rules in terms of Public Advocacy, in the second phase of the programme.

    In this third phase, the AIDEF is being accompanied in two very strategic actions that attempt to respond to two very present challenges currently in the region: on the one hand, the cases of institutional violence that occur in prisons in Latin America; and on the other, the situation of exclusion and vulnerability of people in a context of mobility and who require special attention to improve the advocacy and enforcement of their rights.

    In the first case, a regional Model for the System of Registration, Communication and Comprehensive Attention to Victims of Institutional Prison Violence – SIRCAIVI has been designed, which is currently being implemented in 3 countries: Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica, and in the second, progress is being made in the design of a regional model and the creation of a regional network of legal assistance to people in the context of mobility from Public Defender Offices.

    Through work with these networks, EUROsociAL has contributed to the strengthening of the rule of law, promoting the protection and defence of human rights, an indivisible and intrinsic relationship, fundamental not only for social cohesion, but also for democracy.

    19. Resilience and reconstruction

    And then COVID19 arrived. Finally, in the current context, we could not forget the COVID19 pandemic that has come to disrupt and condition everyone’s lives, but which is particularly and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable groups, as shown by various international organisations such as the OHCHR, the IACHR or ECLAC to name some of them.

    Human rights and their protection and guarantee are crucial in times of crisis. In this context, EUROsociAL has quickly made itself available to countries to redirect their actions and respond to the effects of this global pandemic and to lay solid foundations for recovery and reconstruction, leaving no one behind and not allowing the violation of any rights.

    This involves putting people at the centre of public policies, especially the most vulnerable, and preparing justice systems to overcome current difficulties, guaranteeing the functioning of an independent and fair justice system. The application of the Brasilia Rules as a mandatory norm can be a powerful weapon to fight against the coronavirus and from EUROsociAL+ we will do everything possible to make it so.

    Related audiovisual content: “Justice for social cohesion”.

     

     

  • 06 August 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “The border is a point of transition, a temporary place that increases the vulnerability and difficulties facing migrants”

    A EUROsociAL+ expert explains the vulnerability migrants face at borders

    Bárbara Gómez, EUROsociAL+ project technician tells us about the dangers that migrants run at borders and how inequalities increase while they remain in this situation, particularly at the crossing between Mexico and the United States. She also speaks about how public policies are the key to guaranteeing a legal framework to protect the basic human rights of migrants.

    Clearly, we have abandoned the usual idea of seeing a border as a mere line that can be easily erased, to look at it, like the philosopher Eugenio Trías, as an authentic territory in which not only conflicts or cultural clashes, but also multiple exchanges and trade-offs are evident. Above all, a different conception of the “experience of the limit”.

    The flexibility of the mobility of people across these borders, added to the complexity of our current society, and the perennial problems of searching for opportunities due to poverty and social inequality in many countries, along with regional conflicts, has led to a migratory phenomenon that has itself increased to such an extent as to become a global situation. This reality has become more evident lately due to the latest events that occurred in the current context of the migration through Mexico where, in October 2018 a caravan began in which just over six thousand people came to Tijuana to seek asylum in the United States[1]. The focus on this event was sharpened by the continued strengthening of the south-west border of the United States, where the current president insists on building a border wall with Mexico, despite the Democrats’ opposition and refusal to approve expenditure for the wall.

    Over the last 12 years, migration in Mexico has started to change profoundly in terms of numbers, patterns and impacts, in other words, a significant transformation in the migration dynamics in this region of the country has occurred. This new dynamic has brought consequences of a social, economic and cultural nature to the different border cities and to the region in general.

    EUROsociAL+, the European Union programme run by FIIAPP, is watching the migratory phenomenon in the Latin American region, and particularly in the Central American region, and with a multidimensional approach, is also observing how migration is being managed in border areas, improving cross-border governance systems. Within this framework, it has overseen the preparation of a diagnostic study that focuses on all phases and stages of this phenomenon in a context of economic, social and political crisis.

    To this end, there were several questions to answer: What will happen to undocumented migrants arriving at the south-western border of the United States? How likely is it that they will decide to reside in the border region of Mexico as they are unable to cross the border or request asylum? Is the Mexican government prepared for this possible contingency?

    It was vitally important to analyse the initial situation in the border territories, which in most cases were not only forced to receive migrants from Central America unable to cross the border, but at the same time to receive all those who had been deported and were affected by the extremely strict migratory policies of the United States. The analysis started from this approach and how all this would affect a new organisation of the region, the public policies put in place for multilevel governance, regional cohesion and, therefore, for social cohesion as a response to the sense of belonging felt by such a heterogeneous group of citizens living on the border.

    The study, therefore, aims to understand the journeys experienced by the migrants, as well as their experiences during their temporary or forced stay in the border cities of this region. The analysis included both Mexicans who have been deported or returned from the United States, as well as men and women from Central America and the Caribbean.

    Mexico’s northern border includes the group of municipalities adjacent to the US border, on the assumption that this is where most of these events occur. Included in this area are 38 adjoining municipalities that belong to six states: Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. It has now become a region with close ties to the United States; there are permanent exchanges of goods and services in both directions, as well as a huge flow of people who cross over in both directions every day. To mention just some interesting details. The Baja California border region has the highest number of immigrants (168,000); 38.4% of the population was born in a non-border region or outside Mexico. This percentage increases to over 50% in municipalities such as Tijuana and Tecate (Baja California). Baja California and Sonora have received most of the migrants deported from the USA. Jointly, 67% of the cases recorded took place in these two states. Men make up the vast majority of Mexicans repatriated from the United States, totalling 91% versus 9% women. However, the qualitative experience of this repatriation will not be the same for men and women, with the latter being the most vulnerable as, in most cases, they take their dependent children with them. But it is also notable that the vast majority of repatriation events involve young migrants; almost half are between 20 and 29 years old. Between January and October 2018, 9,348 minors (MENAS) were handed over to the Mexican authorities by their American peers, which represents 6% of the total.

    The journeys taken by migrants

    Also, it would not be entirely fair to present this work, which is sponsored by EUROsociAL+, only with statistical data. It is also only right to take into account the human dimension of all these experiences of “transition” that are exponentially increased by inequality.

    Devoid of rights, and even devoid of the right to possess rights, undocumented migrants are nowadays the clearest expression of the conscious deprivation of basic human rights for a whole human group. By excluding them from legality, the State places undocumented migrants outside the limits of the law, at the same time that it applies laws that systematically exclude them. In other words, the vulnerability of this group is largely caused by the denial of their right of access to justice, and EUROsociAL+ is working to change this situation. Access to justice is a key right, which acts as a kind of gateway for access to basic services such as health, education, housing, employment, and so on. But it also entails the defence of aliens detained or deprived of liberty, care for victims of gender violence and legal assistance for unaccompanied minors.

    Perhaps this ambiguous situation of being “outside the law” has led to certain situations of violence that migrants themselves suffer in their journey across borders. Without a legal framework that protects them, in no-man’s land, their lack of protection is greater and, therefore, their rights are weakened. One of the clearest examples of this form of violence is suffered by women.  Women are in a very vulnerable situation when crossing borders. And EUROsociAL+ is addressing precisely the differentiated effects of corruption on women, pursuing two phenomena that do not always intersect: corruption and trafficking. Added to this equation is a more variable one, migration, since most women who are trafficked are also migrants.

    At the border, migrants are at a crossroads between here and there, with their belongings in a backpack or in a plastic bag, and their dreams and hopes running high. In this border space, these people prefer information which is informal, which comes from family and friends, over any other source, to compensate for the extreme vulnerability of their border experience. Aware of this situation, EUROsociAL+ is also working so that this vulnerable group can fully exercise their right to access information; improving passive transparency with institutions that have the competence to manage this migratory phenomenon, but also a transparency that is active, promoting the exercise of these peoples’ rights to request basic information that can improve their lives in a country they do not know.

    The border is a point of transition, of transience, a temporary place that increases their vulnerability, the difficulties they face. Sharing such vulnerability allows them to create deep ties during their short stay at the border, while deciding whether to move on or establish their new residence in the transit territories. Either decision will push them towards the most disadvantaged aspect of inequality. Governments must not forget about borders and must use all the instruments at their disposal so that the effects of their public policies also reach the inhospitable territories that are often forgotten.

    Bárbara Gómez, Project Technician for the EUROsociAL+ Democratic Governance area at FIIAPP

    [1] The Colegio de la Frontera, Northern Mexico (COLEF), 2018.

  • 21 July 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Criminal defence in police stations, a lesson learned from the “social outcry” in Chile

    In this post, Chilean National Defender, Andrés Mahnke, talks about the progress made in Chile's criminal defence with the EUROsociAL+ project

    The so-called “social outcry” started in Chile on 18 October 2019 and transformed the country’s agenda, not only because its citizens demanded it, and because it exposed the activities of public institutions which now, more than ever, were struggling to cope with hitherto unseen scenarios stemming from the demonstrations.

    The Chilean social outcry attracted international interest, since it included loss of life and hundreds of people with ocular mutilation, numerous complaints of serious human rights violations, and destruction of public and private infrastructures, among other consequences. As a result, the country received visits from representatives of several international human rights organisations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

    In all these areas, Chilean justice and its actors had to take action, monitored by the justice system and the close scrutiny of an empowered citizenry and the international community. In this context, a series of adjustments and learnings took place, which started to become visible during the first quarter of 2020, and which had their acid test during March of this year.

    However, this story had an unexpected twist, which dominated all scenarios and modified all agendas: the SARS-CoV2 Coronavirus, which causes the disease known as Covid19 . A few weeks after the disease reared its head in Chile, it forced a change to the electoral calendar for the beginning of the constitutional process and caused something which was unthinkable just weeks earlier: the end of mass social protest in public spaces. People went home and the streets were empty, in the same way as happened almost all over the world.

    But reflection on the changes to the justice system and the lessons learned from the ‘outbreak’ must not stop. In fact, they have become even more essential to resume the fluidity of public activity when the health emergency ends. Nor does the outcry seem to have disappeared, rather it has been put on hold with a few resurgences due to the lack of food during the quarantine. Everything suggests the social and economic impact of the pandemic will exacerbate existing inequalities. Therefore, this period has been an opportunity to integrate our learning and anticipate future scenarios.

    In the social protest scenario, one indirect effect was connected to the work of the different actors in the criminal system facing an unprecedented challenge in terms of coverage and operational capacity, because of the notable increase in the number of people detained and processed.

    Between 18 October and 13 November 2019, the Chilean Public Criminal Defender’s Office – a public institution that guarantees the right to defence and which is made up of 722 officials and 524 external providers – attended to 20,645 people under arrest, an increase of 25.4% compared to the same period of the previous year.

    These increases, however, were even greater during the initial days of the crisis. Between 20 and 28 October, a period during which much of Chile was under a “state of constitutional exception”, the institution registered 10,712 defendants undergoing detention reviews, representing an increase of 70% compared to the same period in 2018. Furthermore, whereas on average there are between 600 and 650 daily detention reviews in the country, at that time they increased to 1,100 daily hearings, reaching a peak of 2,508 detention reviews on 21 October.

    Beyond this work, an initial conclusion showed that an indeterminate number of detainees were not assisted by public defenders, either because the Public Ministry had decided not to transfer them to detention review, or because the police did not report that they had been arrested. This meant that there was no jurisdictional control of these activities and there were no records.

    This triggered a contingency plan in Public Defence to attend to people detained in the police units, because by institutional design, defenders are in contact with the detainee just before the detention review hearing before the supervisory judge. Although public defenders set up informal service centres in police stations and other police detention facilities, this gave direct coverage to only 105 of the 900 police stations in the country.

    This gap need to be filled urgently, since numerous people’s rights have been violated, as described in reports from the human rights organisations who visited the country.

    Institutionally, the Chilean Public Criminal Defender’s Office activated different measures, such as strengthening the dissemination of rights , coordinating with the rest of the actors in the system, and opening channels for collaboration with the police, among others.

    However, the main initiative that followed the period of social crisis in Chile stemmed from the support lent by EUROsociAL+, European Union programme managed by the FIIAPP, whose specialists are currently collaborating with Public Defenders to prepare a ‘Criminal defence protocol for the initial hours following arrest‘.

    Its main objective is to find a means to provide coverage that guarantees the right of detained persons to a defence lawyer in the shortest possible time, thus protecting their right to technical defence. Furthermore, as international organisations that promote and protect human rights have revealed, the presence of a defence lawyer is a safeguard to protect the detained person’s other rights, particularly to prevent torture.

    These actions enable comprehensive, effective achievement of the institutional mission to guarantee the right to defence of any accused person at all stages of the criminal process, preventing violation of rights and strengthening judicial detention review, providing public defenders with more tools to appeal against the punitive power of the State on an equal footing before the courts of justice.

    The objective is always the same: to reinforce institutional commitment to the rule of law, a peaceful society and democracy in Chile, a task for which we are grateful to have the steadfast, permanent support of European cooperation.

     

    By Andrés Mahnke M., National Defender (Chilean Public Criminal Defender)

    In relation to the work done together with the Chilean Public Criminal Defender’s Office, the EUROsociAL+ programme has just published a diagnosis of the criminal defence of people in the first few hours of detention in the Latin American country.