Women’s Advocate begins Legal Advocacy Academy
By John McPhaul
The Office of the Women’s Advocate (OPM by its Spanish initials) initiated the Academy of Legal Advocacy, with the purpose of expanding the number of certified professionals throughout Puerto Rico to intervene and support victims and survivors of gender violence or sexual assault who request remedies in court.
This was reported by the interim prosecutor of OPM, Madeline Bermúdez, who explained that the Academy has 25 participants, who will receive training through 12 theoretical sessions on topics ranging from legal intercessory and its role from a human rights perspective; inner formation, gender and women’s rights, socialization, diversity and consent.
Also, judicial system and agency responsibilities, interagency protocol, femicide protocol, specialized units on domestic violence and applicable laws, as well as a component of practice in courts and/or shelters will be taught.
In addition, they will learn about various manifestations of gender violence, the biopsychosocial and psychosocial aspects of violence and sexual assault. Similarly, forensic medical intervention, psychosocial aspects of human trafficking, trauma-focused care and self-care, among others, are essential for effective intervention and support in practice.
“From the OPM we continue to promote initiatives and public policy to eradicate violence against women in all its manifestations, in particular domestic violence. This violence is one of the most terrible, which continues to be perpetuated despite its serious consequences in all sectors of society. With this new Academy, from the OPM we intend to train more professionals so that they can support women who need help and who can vindicate their rights,” said Bermúdez.
Among the agencies and non-profit organizations that will participate in this training process for intercessors are the Office of The Administration of the Courts (OAT), the Center for Assistance to Victims of Rape (CAVV) of the Department of Health, the University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras Campus, Hogar Ruth, Casa de la Bondad and the Dominican Women’s Center.
The interim prosecutor recalled that in order for a person to be certified as an intercessor or legal intercessor, they must have accredited training or studies in the area of counseling, orientation, psychology, social work or Legal Intercession. The OPM is the entity designated, in accordance with Article 1.3 subsection (g) of Law Number 18 of 2017, to certify the intercessors in Puerto Rico.
“It is important that victims of gender-based violence, as well as sexual assault, know that they do not have to go through this traumatic experience alone, there are resources to support and empower them. The OPM Academy of Legal Advocacy is one of these resources, particularly for the process they must follow before the Judicial System of Puerto Rico. Hence the importance of this project and that training and services are made visible,” said the official.
The Academy concludes in January. At present, 223 intercessors have been certified, who are authorized to practice throughout the Island.
As established in Law 32 of 2021, in the context of the State of Emergency decreed in cases of gender violence, the OPM has the duty to provide an intercessor or legal intercessor to appear in all judicial proceedings under Law 54 of August 15, 1989, as amended, better known as the Law for the Prevention and Intervention with Domestic Violence. Currently, the OPM was allocated the amount of $1.5 million in order to faithfully comply with what is required by law.
Anyone interested or interested in knowing about the process for certification or recertification of Intercessarian, can contact the Office of the Assistant Attorney for Education and Services of the OPM at 787-721-7676, extension 2808 and 2836, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.