On October 25, 2022, Dexis and panelists shared challenges concerning rule of law in El Salvador and Honduras and how a people-centered approach to justice could help to improve governance and the root causes of migration. This latest installment in the Dialogues with Dexis event series drew expert panelists from the fields of human rights, governance, and rule of law to discuss how a data-driven and people-centric approach could help to overcome challenges in the region.
Senior Technical Director for the Governance Division at Dexis Sebastián Albuja set the stage by identifying human rights violations, corruption, and lack of justice as major drivers when people make the difficult decision to migrate. Panelists were asked to consider which tools governments and civil society can leverage to manage these root causes of migration.
Xenia Hernández, Executive Director of Foundation for Democracy, Transparency, and Justice (DTJ) detailed the challenges El Salvador has faced in upholding access to justice and rule of law. She emphasized the importance of analyzing and deepening the evidence base of how justice issues relate to migration, noting other drivers including food security and lack of economic opportunity are well researched.
Association for a More Just Society (ASJ) Executive Director Carlos Hernández shared results from a new USAID-supported survey, which demonstrated that corruption and lack of justice were important drivers of migration. However, he noted that Hondurans who are connected to the community and a social group, such as a church, professional organization, or academic institution, are more likely to stay in their communities. Carlos also acknowledged continual data collection challenges impede the ability to create tools to address specific migration factors.
Contextualizing the global trend of declining rule of law, Greg Gisvold, Senior Rule of Law expert, who worked on the draft of USAID’s upcoming people-centered justice approach, highlighted the key priorities of the new strategy. Building on Xenia and Carlos’ remarks, Greg emphasized the need for this data-driven approach in accurately assessing a population’s justice demands, diagnosing problems, and inserting people-centric programs. A critical component of the strategy is stakeholder, civil society, and justice sector involvement in the co-creation of solutions. A data-driven approach can help fill information gaps and accurately deliver justice services to vulnerable populations in Central America.
USAID Rule of Law Policy, A Renewed Commitment to Justice, Rights, and Security for All, Draft for External Notice and Comment. Available at USAID Rule of Law Policy Draft – A Renewed Commitment to Justice, Rights, and Security for All
USAID Rule of Law Achievements Review, 2005-2020: Final Report. Available at Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC) – Documents Detail (usaid.gov)
Fundación DTJ Infojusticia (information for justice users). Available at infojusticia | Acercando la ciudadania a la información sobre servicios judiciales (fundaciondtj.org)
Justice for All, Report of the Task Force on Justice. Available at Task Force on Justice ¦ Justice for All Report (sdg16.plus)
Latin America Public Opinion Project, The Pulse of Democracy 2021 survey, including intentions to emigrate. Available at 2021_LAPOP_AmericasBarometer_2021_Pulse_of_Democracy.pdf (vanderbilt.edu)
Dialogues with Dexis brings together diverse practitioners in conflict prevention, stabilization, and global security to discuss emerging trends and new innovations.
Xenia Hernandez, Executive Director, Fundación Democracia Transparencia Justicia (DTJ)/Foundation for Democracy, Transparency, and Justice
Xenia Hernández is the Executive Director of the DTJ Foundation. She is a lawyer specializing in topics including access to public information, transparency, public ethics, and anti-corruption. She contributed to the creation of the Anti-Corruption Legal Advice Centers (ALAC) in the El Salvador and Chile chapters of Transparency International. Xenia consulted on the creation of a protocol for individuals who report corruption through ALAC, as well as for USAID/El Salvador’s Pro-Integrity Project for the Alliance for Open Government (OGP). Xenia is a consultant in the development and design of training processes for youth, training on public integrity for public servants, democratic values, and open government. She previously served as Technical Advisor for the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) for USAID/El Salvador’s Rights and Dignity Project. Xenia has taught courses focused on access to public information to members of the National Civil Police through the continuous training program at Central American University (UCA) with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Carlos Hernández, Executive Director, Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa/Association for a More Just Society (ASJ)
Carlos Hernández is the Co-founder and current Executive Director of the Association for a More Justice Society (ASJ), Transparency International’s chapter in Honduras, where he is known for his contributions in designing public policy, bringing over 35 years of experience in social projects. Carlos is the leader and founder of the Alliance for Peace and Justice (APJ) and Let’s Transform Honduras (TH), civil society organizations that bring together more than 100 NGOs, universities, churches, and social activists. In May 2019, Carlos was named a member of the Commission of International Experts against Corruption in Ecuador (CEICCE). Since 2009, he has advised and actively participated as a civil society leader in advocating for the approval of bills and public policies such as the Fundamental Law of Education, General Health Law, Reform of the Superior Court of Accounts, Regularization of Political Finance Law, General Law of the National Police, and Police Career Law, among others. Carlos has served as an international lecturer on topics including transparency, anti-corruption, security, and public policy. In Honduras and in the region, Carlos Hernández is a thought leader on issues related to democracy, citizen participation, civic spaces, and development.
Greg Gisvold, Senior Rule of Law Expert
Greg Gisvold is a senior rule of law expert with two decades of experience providing technical assistance to and managing programs funded by USAID and Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. An attorney by training, he has served as technical director, chief of party, country director, and team leader on projects assisting public sector justice institutions to improve policy and operating frameworks, accountability mechanisms, transparency, and service delivery. Mr. Gisvold has authored or co-authored articles and books on post-conflict human rights, legal reform, and reconstructing justice institutions.
Sebastián Albuja, Senior Technical Director, Governance Division, Dexis Consulting Group
Sebastián Albuja is an Ecuadorian American democracy, rule of law, and migration expert. As a practitioner, Sebastián has designed and implemented USAID, Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor-funded programs in the Americas and Africa. As a researcher, Sebastián has published extensively on forced migration caused by organized crime in Central America and Mexico. Prior to joining Dexis Consulting Group, he worked with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative and with the Norwegian Refugee Council. He holds a JD and a Ph.D., was a Fulbright scholar, and is currently a non-resident fellow with Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration. He is fluent in Spanish, English, and French.