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Good afternoon and good evening.  It is great to be with you today.  I am impressed by how the Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) program and its participants have thrived despite the challenges of the pandemic.  I am the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL.  I want to thank the Justice Department’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training for organizing this session.  I also want thank the Honorable Justice Sotomayor for her leadership in this very important project. 

Part of our mission in INL is to help partner governments evaluate, build, and sustain capable criminal justice systems, including their law enforcement, justice, and corrections systems.  INL has been honored to support JSI since the very beginning.   

An independent judicial system serves as one of the most important foundation for advancing democracy, upholding human rights, and maintaining the rule of law.  These are important principles to ensure that all citizens have access to a fair and effective judicial system.  An independent judiciary is critical to our region’s shared security and prosperity goals.  An independent and effective judiciary allows citizens to feel their rights will be protected and that they have a fair shot in their own legal system. 

From INL’s perspective, an independent and strong judiciary is crucial to addressing transnational challenges like drug trafficking, organized crime, and money laundering.  Forums like JSI help build regional networks and expertise to effectively combat these truly regional challenges.  They also help root out the corruption that often undermines progress on these issues and hinders diplomatic relations.  For our part, President Biden has committed the United States to redouble our dedication to human rights and security throughout the hemisphere and the globe.  This includes challenging authoritarian governance and standing up for the rights of all people. 

I am encouraged the training you are receiving through JSI is providing you with the tools and best practices to use in your critical positions to address these important challenges as individuals and as a group.  I want to thank you for your commitment to your work and your dedication to improving the legal systems and supporting criminal justice reform in your countries.  This work is extremely important, and it can change the future of your countries and of our hemisphere.  Please stay in touch and share your successes with us  we look forward to seeing the impact each of you will have.  

U.S. Department of State

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