By The Star Staff
Sen. Keren Riquelme Cabrera has called for a meeting on Wednesday with the chief justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, the women’s advocate and the secretaries of Justice and Public Safety to evaluate possible changes in the system of action and protection of victims of domestic violence in the face of the tragic slayings of four women this month.
The at-large senator also called on the women’s advocate and the Justice Department to launch a mass media campaign on options that exist to help victims of domestic violence, while the Courts Administration office is conducting, as a matter of urgency and speed, a study on the causes behind Puerto Rico’s lowest rate in the United States of final protective orders issued.
“The tragic events last week in Yauco, as well as those that have arisen [elsewhere] this month, have to make us reflect and change course and improve where necessary,” Riquelme Cabrera said. “It is obvious that we need a different approach. It’s not sitting around thinking that the system failed, it is that we have to look for where those failures are and correct them so that no woman has to go through the same thing and provide as much security as possible to the victims. It’s time to act, change and implement initiatives that stop this pattern that has ruined the future of so many people in a short period of time.”
“Doing nothing is not an option,” the senator added. “We are looking for campaigns to be initiated by the media informing victims about their rights, how they can ask for help, and the availability of the same. Meanwhile, we want to know the reason why in Puerto Rico there are fees for issuing final protective orders, after the stage of an ex parte hearing, [for which Puerto Rico has the] lowest [rate] in the nation. For example, in the Caguas region in 2021-2022, 1,401 orders were requested, of which only 470 were issued, less than 50 percent.”
“Everything has to be reviewed,” Riquelme Cabrera insisted. “As it is, the system has failed some victims and if that has led to the loss of [life for some of them], it is unforgivable. We want to hear from these officials their ideas, real and applicable, in order to stop these failures that cause a victim to be left unprotected. We want these changes that will be proposed to be evaluated and implemented as soon as possible. We need to act now, as a matter of urgency.”
She added that today, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez, Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández, Public Safety Secretary Alexis Torres Ríos, and Acting Women’s Advocate Madeline Bermúdez Sanabria will be officially invited to the meeting.