Key document Act No. 102 of 1965
|Headquarters San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Formed June 28, 1965; 51 years ago (1965-06-28)|
Commission executive Ever Padilla Ruiz, Chair
The Civil Rights Commission (Spanish: Comisión de Derechos Civiles) is an official entity within the legislative branch of the government of Puerto Rico charged with investigating violations of citizens' civil rights. The commission is empowered to educate citizens about their civil rights, investigate alleged civil rights violations, and carry out studies and investigations. Amendments to its organic law also empowers it to appear as a "friend of the court" in cases that the commission deems to have an important effect on civil rights in Puerto Rico.
The commission was created in 1965 under governor Roberto Sánchez Vilella as an independent agency under the Department of Justice. But it was not until 1996 that the commission was made part of the legislative branch, due, in part, to the efforts of governor Pedro Rosselló.
Structurally, the entity is composed of five members that are appointed to a six-years term by the governor of Puerto Rico, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. Its current members include its chair, Georgina Candal Segurola, Esther Vicente Rivera, Rosemary Borges Capó, Ruth Miriam Perez Maldonado and Hiram A. Meléndez Juarbe. Other individuals that have served in the commission include former Sen. Luis Muñoz Rivera, newspaper publisher Antonio Luis Ferré, former Resident Commissioner Baltasar Corrada del Río, and the late Efraín González Tejera.
In spite of complaints that the commission is chronically underfunded, the entity has had a significant influence in Puerto Rican government operations.
The commission also annually selects the recipients of the Thurgood Marshall Award, which recognizes the commitment to civil rights of one law student from each of Puerto Rico's three law schools.