Camila Zapata Besso of Garden Court selected by the Bar Council to speak on human rights in Mexico and Colombia

Saturday 7 September 2019

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From 2 - 6 September 2019, Camila participated in English Law Week in Mexico City and Bogota, having been awarded the International Legal Professional Scholarship by the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association. The event brought together British, Mexican and Colombian lawyers to discuss recent legal developments across a range of domestic and international practice areas. The UK delegation was led by Richard Atkins QC (Chairman of the Bar) and David Greene (Vice President of the Law Society) and attended by barristers and solicitors who were experts in their respective fields.

In Mexico, Camila delivered the panel on ‘human rights’ alongside Saimo Chahal QC (hon) (Bindmans LLP), Ricardo Sepulveda (Director of Compilation and Systematization of Jurisprudence at the Mexican Supreme Court) and Toby Cadman (Guernica 37 Chambers), chaired by David Greene. Camila spoke about the international and domestic legal framework for combatting human trafficking in the UK; the attendant systemic, procedural and operational duties to identify, support and protect victims and the implementation of these in practice, and the important effect of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 on transparency in the supply chains of big businesses.

In Colombia, Camila took part in a special meeting with the Colombian Branch of the International Commission of Jurists, who monitor the implementation of mechanisms and institutions created to deliver the Colombian Peace Process. They discussed governmental failures to implement the peace agreement; cuts to funding and powers given to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace; the recent proliferation in armed groups and the attendant surge in violence against human rights defenders, Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders; the limitations of reactive protection measures for individuals at risk, and issues of judicial independence and impunity. 

Owing to Camila’s fluency Spanish, the International Department of the Law Society also invited her to take part in roundtables in Mexico and Colombia on ‘women in law’, where she exchanged experiences and shared solidarity with commercial lawyers and academics who were advocating for greater gender equality in their respective jurisdictions. 

During the trip, Camila attended receptions hosted by British Ambassador to Mexico and the Deputy British Ambassador to Colombia, who separately endorsed English Law week as an important opportunity for Mexican, Colombian and British lawyers to forge international connections. Camila is grateful to the Bar Council, the Law Society, the Barra Mexicana Colegio de Abogados, the Association Nacional de Abogados de Empress (ANADE), the Ilustre y Nacional Colegio de Abogados de Mexico (INCAM) and the Mexican and Colombian governments for organising such a fruitful conference. 

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