Canadian and Mexican experts on women’s human rights joined judges and justices from Mexican state and federal courts and Mexican policy makers for a roundtable discussion to address justice reform and womens’ equality before the courts.
Collaboration between civil society organizations and government authorities to improve women’s access to justice is an excellent example to follow — one that Canada values and actively promotes. Our team at the Embassy of Canada in Mexico has long subscribed to this practice, and happily facilitated a fascinating exchange between judges and federal policy makers on the topic of justice system reform, women, and violence.
Supported through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, the NGO Equis Justicia para Mujeres coordinated the roundtable discussion to provide 19 judges and justices from 10 Mexican states the opportunity to engage with federal policy makers who are involved with various aspects of reform of Mexico’s justice system as well as those working on issues of women and violence. The goal was to ensure that the research by academics, NGOs and policy makers on women, gender, and the law can serve as a resource for justice officials in the future.
”We hope this roundtable provides an opportunity for us to reflect on current practices and share experiences and opportunities that will help both of our countries to improve access to justice for women, and thus strengthen our societies for all citizens,” said Canadian Ambassador to Mexico Sara Hradecky.
Ambassador Hradecky was honoured to welcome a distinguished group that included Supreme Court Justice Jose Ramon Cossio Diaz, Justice Sheilah Martin of the Superior Court of Alberta , Adriana Ortiz Ortega, Director of Equity and Gender at the Federal Supreme Court of Mexico, and Judge Sandra Luz Palacios Verdugo of the Superior Court of the State of Sonora.
Canadian Justice Sheilah Martin shared legal milestones that have furthered women’s rights in Canada over the past twenty years; cases that have both changed our laws and helped to build a culture of equality. Mexican participants noted that the Canadian experience, knowledge, and legal rulings served as excellent examples to learn from as Mexico works to advance equality for women before the law.
Supreme Court Judge of the State of Sonora, Sandra Verdugo Luz Palacios, shared poignant remarks with the participants. She noted that the judges are the last step in the application of justice, and that in addition to changes in legal decision-making, it is also necessary to train and oversee police and prosecutorial operations if Mexico is going to improve access to justice for women.
The Embassy was thrilled that the lively roundtable discussions led to the formation of a network of state-level judges and justices who will continue to communicate and support each other as they apply the principle of gender equity in their day-to-day work. These legal professionals support equality for women and men before law and have committed themselves to raising awareness about equal access for women within the Mexican justice system.
The judges and justices expressed their gratitude to Equis for bring the stakeholders together, and to the Embassy of Canada for supporting this project. They noted that this project provided them with moral support and that they feel encouraged to know that they are not alone in addressing these issues.
Canada has invested over $5 million for Justice System Reform in Mexico since 2010 to strengthen the fight against crime through respect for human rights and due process.