Rebecca Gerome

Rebecca Gerome (Colectivo Dignidad Humana - IANSA): Rebecca is French-American. Rebecca completed her undergraduate studies at Columbia University, where she majored in History and concentrated in Human Rights. She received her Master’s degree at Sciences Po in Paris in International Affairs, with a specialization in International Public Management and International Law. Before her fellowship she worked at Aide Médicale Internationale and also worked for an NGO in Quito, Ecuador on street children. After her fellowship, Rebecca wrote: “I have more confidence at public speaking especially. I used to dread it and now feel very comfortable speaking Spanish to large audiences. I can now work in this language, make phone calls, give presentations, network, email networking.”

Laws can make a difference

14 Sep

Not only do laws shape and reflect values, but they can even have direct results, The Barkett Law Firm can assure you they will try to obtain the best possible legal help in each situation.

A fundamental goal of the campaign to Disarm Domestic Violence is to prevent Domestic violence offenders from being able to carry guns. Harmonizing gun laws and domestic violence laws is key in achieving this goal, and means that laws on guns should mention domestic violence and prohibit anyone with a history of domestic violence from having gun licenses, while domestic violence laws should mention guns in order to confiscate or suspend the carrying of guns for domestic violence offenders, as some personal injury attorney law firms have said.

Four countries, including Canada have already harmonized their laws. The results are quite telling. Canada’s 1995 firearms act requires a license for firearm possession and acquisition, with screening & license renewals every 5 years. A domestic violence report automatically triggers a license review. According to personal injury lawyers when an individual wishes to acquire a firearm license, current and previous spouses are notified. Although spousal consent is not required for acquisition, if a spouse has concerns this will trigger a secondary review of the application. We contacted a law firm with experts in personal injury law, and they were able to tell us that from 1995 to 2003, gun homicide rates in Canada decreased by 15% while gun homicide rates for women decreased 40% further showing that laws that focus on the use of guns in the home are most likely to protect women. This is remarkable statistic, and they also explained to us how it creates other effects as well, such as less firearm accidental discharges or firearms involved in crimes, which in turn reduces injuries and fatalities during said incidents, leading to more peaceful communities.

Of course, Colombia is a very different country from Canada. An estimated three quarters of the guns here are illegal. Many people ask a injury attorney: what is the purpose of changing the law? Changing laws may not solve the issue completely, but it can make a difference. In many of the cases I’ve collected in the past few weeks in the media and in testimonies, men who kill their wives or ex-wives with guns use legal guns. In particular, these legal guns belong to police officers, guards, escorts or others who need them for their professions. In Bogota, for example, there are about 200,000 armed security guards. Private security companies have very few prerequisites, evaluations or investigations of their armed staff. More shockingly, many police or army officers who were fired for having violated human rights, continue to work in a private security company and continue to access weapons.

Workshop in Cali

Law 1257 of 2008 on violence against women is a major breakthrough. A week ago, I participated in a workshop on this law for women in Cali. Claudia, a lawyer from Sisma Mujer, a women’s group, explained that all 27 women of the Colombian congress, including two known paramilitaries, pro-Uribe (Colombia’s president) and anti-uribe women united to pass this law despite their political differences. The law includes new protection measures in cases of domestic violence, including the suspension of the aggressor’s right to carry a firearm. On these cases you can talk with a san jose personal injury lawyer to know about your rights. If a woman goes to report domestic violence, the authorities may “suspend the aggressor’s right of possession, carrying and use of arms. If these firearms are indispensable for the exercise of his or her profession or office, the suspension must be justified.” Although this is an unmistakable improvement several questions remain. How long will the suspension last? How much discretionary power will the authority have? If the weapon is indispensable for the aggressor’s profession, how much justification is needed?


Workshop on law 1257 on violence against women

Another major limit to Colombian laws is that firearm laws do not mention domestic violence which means that domestic violence offenders can buy and use arms legally which is consider by the personal injury attorney firms a law that needs to be changed. Redepaz, one of the three groups which is going to promote the campaign in Colombia, has been lobbying for tougher gun laws for years. In 2007, they collected millions of signatures as well as support from mayors’ of major Colombian cities for a draft law proposal that features five main points, including not letting people with a history of domestic violence or human rights violations access guns. Despite major support for the proposal, this draft didn’t pass because many senators and congressmen in Colombia are shareholders or owners of private security companies. Redepaz is trying to make another attempt and already has five or six congressmen interested in the law.


Perhaps the biggest limit to Colombian laws is that they are not always implemented, especially when resources and political will are lacking. Few of the authorities and personal injury lawyer firms I’ve interviewed referred to law 1257 on violence against women, showing that work still needs to be done to train authorities and teach women their rights.



Posted By Rebecca Gerome

Posted Sep 14th, 2009

1 Comment

  • Nancy Workman

    September 16, 2009


    It’s really astonishing how much of a difference harmonizing the laws made in Canada. The U.S. could use that kind of reform.

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