(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights announced the opening of its new regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Bogotá, Colombia. The Center has worked in the region for fifteen years, advancing women's access to reproductive health services, through human rights litigation and the documentation of reproductive rights violations.
“We’ve seen tremendous advancements in women’s reproductive rights in Latin America in the last decade, including the groundbreaking 2006 constitutional court decision in Colombia decriminalizing the country’s blanket abortion ban,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Now is a critical time to strengthen our presence in the region to make sure that those legal victories translate into real gains for women and that efforts to undermine that progress are defeated.”
During the first year, the new regional office will focus on the most pressing reproductive health issues in the region, including sexual violence against women in education and health facilities, forced sterilization of women living with HIV, access to emergency contraception, maternal healthcare and abortion bans and legal barriers to access abortion services. Priority countries are Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.
"With our new regional office, we hope to engage more robustly with advocates and policymakers, sharing our international human rights legal strategies and experiences in advocacy around the world – ultimately to build a more powerful and transnational reproductive rights movement," said Mónica Arango, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Center’s International Legal Program and the head of the Bogotá office.
As a global organization, the Center brings unique expertise in international human rights law and knowledge of comparative legal strategies to defend and promote women’s reproductive rights. The Center’s work in Latin America includes the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights case Paulina Ramirez v. Mexico which is widely recognized as a driving force behind a renewed debate on abortion that culminated in the decriminalization of Mexico City’s abortion laws. In 2005, the Center won a landmark decision in K.L. v. Peru before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, establishing that access to abortion when it is legal is a human right. In addition, we submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on comparative and international human rights in the 2006 Colombian Constitutional Court decision legalizing abortion in cases to preserve a woman’s life or physical or mental health, rape or incest, or fetal abnormality.
Arango hails from Colombia and has worked at the Center since 2008. Before joining the Center, she was legal adviser to the Constitutional Court of Colombia, worked with Women's Link Worldwide, and the CIJUS at the University of Los Andes.