Ambassador Brewster’s Speech at the Community Justice House Program 10th Anniversary

Dr. Mariano Germán, President of the Supreme Court of Justice

Dr. Jean Alain Rodríguez, Attorney General

Mrs. Josefina Arvelo, National Coordinator for Citizen Participation

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.  I am delighted to be here today to celebrate 10 years of success of the Community Justice Houses Program. First, congratulations Community Justice House for its Citizen Participation award received just last month during the XII Global Congress of Mediation and Culture of Peace held in Bogotá, Colombia.

I applaud your dedication in making sure that low income families have access to vital services such as alternative dispute resolution and legal aid. Every Community Justice House helps to prevent crime and reduce violence by giving citizens access to services that help them to resolve problems before they escalate into more serious disputes.

These services could not be provided without the hard work and commitment of the Attorney General, civil society, community groups, and local governments, which have provided the office space and well-trained personnel required to operate these Community Justice House.

I commend your leadership and hard work, your commitment to working together, and your resolve to put in practice the democratic principles of access to justice and respect for the rule of law.  As President Obama said, “…the United States was founded on the idea that all people are endowed with certain inalienable rights, regardless of social or economic status. The right to due process and equal treatment under the law, is central to this idea…. And making legal assistance available to those of low income is central to our notion of equal justice under the law.”

With your help, nine Community Justice Houses have now been established nationwide.  They serve more than 20,000 people annually and have reached more than 250,000 people since 2006.

The United States Government, through USAID, has worked closely with the Dominican Government and civil society since 2002 to strengthen the rule of law and help key justice institutions, such as the Supreme Court, the National Prosecutors Office, and Public Defense, to be independent, effective, and transparent.  It is an honor for me to stand before you today to underscore our firm and renewed commitment to strengthening democracy, rule of law, and to improving access to justice for all, especially for the most vulnerable groups.  When we work together to prevent crime and reduce violence we increase citizen security. We look forward to continuing this important work with the Attorney General’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and the National Police.

Thank you.