Ombudsman Autonomy, Informal Institutions and the Defense of Women's Rights in the Central Andes
53 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 1 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
Most Latin American countries established human rights ombudsman agencies in the 1980s and 1990s with the general mandate of defending human rights. An area of special interest for human rights ombudsman agencies has been the defense of women’s rights. Their effectiveness in this area, however, has been substantially different across countries. In Peru, for instance, the ombudsman office consistently embarrassed the Fujimori administration by publicly denouncing the abuses committed in the implementation of “family planning” policies that actually involved forced sterilization of peasant women. Such a committed defense of women’s rights—and other human rights—in the context of a semi-authoritarian regime was possible only because the ombudsman agency enjoyed a substantial degree of autonomy from the government. But how can ombudsman head officers affirm their autonomy in a context where the rules of the game are determined by political subordination, clientelism, cuoteo politics and secrecy?
Keywords: ombudsman, political independence, informal institutions
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