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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Cartagena, Colombia)
For Immediate Release                                    August 30, 2000


Today, President Clinton will tour a Casa de Justicia (judicial center) in Chinquiquira, a low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Cartagena, Colombia. Created in 1995 through an agreement between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Colombian Ministry of Justice and Law, the Casa de Justicia program brings a variety of services to a single location in lower income neighborhoods and marginal communities - thus giving residents "one-stop" access to legal help, social services and counseling. There are currently eleven Casas de Justicia in Colombia. Ten more are being established. An additional eight will operational by 2001 (provided for through U.S. funding in the Colombia supplemental,) for a total of twenty-nine.

The Casas de Justicia, located in marginal urban and rural areas of Colombia, are information and service centers designed to incorporate a variety of services in one central location and to offer solutions to the most common problems that afflict individual communities. By orienting citizens about their rights, by helping to prevent crime and combat impunity, the program helps create a social culture of conflict-resolution through non-violent mechanisms. Casas include local prosecutors, public defenders, human rights officers and social workers.

Since 1995, eleven Casas de Justicia have been established in the following cities: Two in Bogota, two in Cali, one in Bucaramanga, one in Cartagena, one in Chigorodo-Uraba, one in Ibague, one in Neiva, one in Pereira and one in Valledupar. Ten more are presently being established in the following cities: Puerto Asis, Mocoa, Barranquilla, Pasto, Popayan, Armenia, San Andres Isla, Quibdo, Leiticia and Riohacha. And an additional eight (locations have yet to be determined) will be established by the end of 2001.

More than 300,000 cases have been resolved by the Casas de Justicia since the Program was launched. Projections are that at the time all 29 Casas are in operation, more than 1,000,000 cases will be resolved each year.

USAID's contribution to the Program has included: -- $955,500 for the eleven existing Casas; -- $814, 500 for the ten Casas that are in the process of being established;
-- $1,000,000 for an additional eight Casas to be established with USG resources from the supplemental.

These funds provide computer equipment, technical training in areas such as human rights and dispute-resolution, strengthening of the program structure and remodeling of the buildings.