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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor to extend state of emergency to fight gender violence

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Wednesday that before the end of the year, he will be extending for one year the executive order that declares a state of emergency in cases of gender violence, and indicated that the extension will include specific measures to tackle the problem.

“I have the draft of the executive order in my office, so I will be signing the executive order that extends the emergency declaration for an additional year. At some point, whether [Wednesday] or tomorrow, in the next few days, before the end of the year, I am going to issue the executive order,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “And the order is going to include some specific measures that I would like to see carried out. … I am going to say it in the order.”

Regarding the purpose of extending the order, he said he wants to keep the topic in the foreground as a priority and complete ongoing initiatives.

“The solution has different aspects; it is a question of culture. There is a change in culture so that there is not so much machismo,” Pierluisi said. “Meanwhile, [there is also the initiative] that all the personnel who handle these cases be properly trained, that they have the necessary sensitivity to care for the victims of these crimes. They are particularly vulnerable victims and need the support of an advocate. For example, we have recruited more prosecutors. Now we have prosecutors in all judicial regions who are specialized in dealing with this type of violence and are receiving training; it is up to the judicial branch to train judges.”

Regarding the increase in femicides, the governor reiterated that it is a social problem that has been going on for decades and assured that it is being addressed with the commitment to combat it in all its forms.

At the same time, the governor highlighted the statistical decrease in crime rates on the island as significant and said a draft is being prepared to create a comprehensive plan for social reconstruction and the prevention of violence in Puerto Rico.

“What happens is that once again this is a social problem that has been going on for decades, and now it is being addressed like never before, and the important thing is that the firm commitment to combat it in all its modalities continues; but I have to say that the crime statistics in general, the decrease is very significant, it is like 20% less than last year, 30% less than at the beginning of 2021,” Pierluisi said. “As the police commissioner said, one has to go back to 1993 to find a number of murders as low as the one we have today and, as he said, with significantly fewer police resources than back then. I mean, they are doing the job; what happens is that there is a root of crime that must be addressed and that is an [violence prevention] initiative that is about to emerge [...]. All types of violence, child violence, violence against the elderly, violence against women, violence.”

“There are task forces preparing the draft of that plan and originally we wanted it to emerge in December, but they are taking the necessary time to make it a cohesive plan that makes a difference,” the governor added.

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