Date founded: 1840
World Coalition Steering Committee member
The Puerto Rico Bar Association (Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico) represents all the attorneys in Puerto Rico, and has historically taken a very active role in the public debate.
Since 2006 the Bar Association has been part of the World Coalition under the umbrella of the Puertorican Coalition Against the Death Penalty, a group of various Puertorican organisations which oppose the death penalty.
The federal death penalty is highly controversial in Puerto Rico. Local authorities prohibited capital punishment in 1929, and by constitutional mandate in 1952. However, given Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States, it is subject to American federal law, and therefore to capital cases.
Given the Bar Association's constitutional mandate, and to deal with the federal death penalty, the Bar created the Committee Against the Death Penalty. The problem was not only legal, but also social, so the Bar helped establish the Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
The Puerto Rican Coalition now includes civic, religious and labour groups (even the state prosecutors’ association).
In 2008, the Coalition was given the Lighting the Torch award by the American National Coalition Against the Death Penalty.