Javier Palummo Lantes
Fellow Since 2008
Observatorio del Sistema Judicial
This profile was prepared when Javier Palummo Lantes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Javier is building the field of public interest law in Uruguay. He systematically creates the mechanisms needed for the legal system to address public interest issues: Generating transparent public information about the judicial system; training law students and members of the legal community to address human rights issues; pushing citizen organizations (COs) to act as watchdog groups in bringing cases of abuse to court; and directly defending children and their families in key cases to establish precedence in the practice of the law. Javier has also coordinated with the Supreme Court, universities, and the media. Javier focused on child and teen rights (particularly cases of abuse) to begin reforming the Uruguayan justice system, and has succeeded in garnering broad public attention to the issue. Yet for Javier, this represents a starting point, for he sees the possibility of legal defense of human rights in all spheres as critical to democracy and civic participation. Once citizens learn they can turn to the legal system to prosecute abuses, they can hold their government accountable for protecting vulnerable populations in a completely new way.