The Paloquemao legal complex in Bogotá, Colombia has more than 100 courts and a backlog of more than 8,000 homicide cases. Before March of last year, Colombia's largest judicial complex could not address families’ and victims’ needs. Now, however, with the support of the USAID Justice Reform and Modernization Program, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the office of the Colombian Attorney General (Fiscalía), such persons have a Victim’s Attention Center (CAV) where they can get psychologi-cal support and legal advice about moving their cases forward. Specially trained counselors help them begin to deal with their loss and free legal advisors assist them through every step of the judicial process.
BEFORE - According to statistics provided by the Colombian Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, the yearly homicide rate in Bogota is among the highest in Latin America. In 2008, the Institute recorded 1,466 cases in the Colombian capital. Despite the obvious need, the city’s main legal complex had no place to receive and assist the families and friends of homicide victims. Any available vacant space at Paloquemao was being used to store files, furniture and discarded office equipment.
AFTER - Thanks to the USAID Justice Reform and Modernization Program, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Fiscalia, Paloquemao now has a new, specially designated Victim’s Attention Center. Trained staff assists victims of and witnesses to violent crimes such as homicide, attempted homicide and manslaughter by providing them with information about the legal process, legal assistance and short-term grief counseling, or referrals to cooperating therapists when longer term care is indicated. As of December 2009, the CAV had received over 950 cases, 75% of which were handled directly by the Center.
Last updated: August 12, 2013