THE IACHR AND ITS RAPPORTEURHIP ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN WELCOME JAMAICA’S
RATIFICATION OF THE CONVENTION OF BELÉM DO PARÁ
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Rapporteurship on the Rights
of Women (Rapporteurship) welcome Jamaica’s ratification on December 15, 2005 of the Inter-American
Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, the ―Convention
of Belém do Pará‖. Through this important initiative, Jamaica has reinforced the status of the Convention
of Belém do Pará as the most widely ratified instrument in the inter-American human rights system, with
thirty-two ratifications by Member States of the Organization of American States.
In this regard, the IACHR and its Rapporteurship have consistently urged Member States to
strengthen their efforts to ensure the adequate protection of the rights of women and girls to live free from
violence and discrimination and to effectively access justice. The Commission considers that ratification
and implementation of the Convention of Belém do Pará constitute crucial elements in achieving this goal.
By joining the treaty, Jamaica has contributed significantly to the advancement of the rights of women in
our Hemisphere and to the universalization of the inter-American Human Rights system.
Washington, D.C., January 5, 2006
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES CONCERN
OVER VIOLENCE IN HONDURAN PENITENTIARY
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expresses its concern over the violent events that took
place in the National Penitentiary of Támara, Honduras, on January 5, 2006.
According to reports in the media, there was a violent clash among inmates, in which 13 people
were killed and one seriously wounded. According to the press, the inmates used firearms, machetes,
and other sharp instruments.
When the Special Rapporteur of the IACHR on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty,
Commissioner Florentín Meléndez, visited several detention centers in Honduras in November 2004,
including the Penitenciaría Nacional, he noted with concern the conditions in those centers. At that time,
the Rapporteur observed overcrowding, the lack of adequate sanitary conditions, and a shortage of
human and budgetary resources, as well as the absence of effective controls to prevent weapons being
brought into the detention centers.
Under international law, the State is the guarantor of the rights of persons in its custody.
Therefore, the Commission urges the Honduran State to take the necessary steps to safeguard the life
and personal safety of the persons deprived of liberty in the prison system, as well as in the other
detention centers in Honduras. In particular, the State must exercise control over force and discipline in
the detention centers, as well as over the entrance and carrying of arms. Further, it must prevent such
acts of violence and loss of human life from recurring in future by conducting the corresponding
administrative and judicial inquiries.
Washington, D.C., January 6, 2006
THE IACHR ELECTS ITS OFFICERS AND BEGINS ITS REGULAR SESSION
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights began its 124 regular session.
Pursuant to its Rules of Procedure, this being its first session in 2006, the IACHR elected its officers, as
follows: Evelio Fernández Arévalos, President; Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, First Vice President; and Florentin
Meléndez, Second Vice President. The IACHR also comprises the following commissioners: Clare K.
Roberts, Freddy Gutiérrez Trejo, Víctor Abramovich and Paolo Carozza. The Executive Secretary of the
IACHR is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.
2. The President of the IACHR, Evelio Fernández Arévalos, is Paraguayan. He is an
attorney, with a degree in philosophy, and a professor of Constitutional Law, Philosophy of Language,
and Linguistics. Since he joined the Inter-American Commission in January 2004, Commissioner
Fernández Arévalos has played a very active part in issues proper to his remit and has appeared on
several occasions before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as a delegate pleading individual
cases in which the IACHR found that human rights had been violated. Prior to that, he was a thrice-
reelected Senator in his country and a two-term President of the National Congress. Among the many
positions he has held in his career, he was a member of the Judicial Council, Chair of the Foreign
Relations and International Affairs Committee of the Senate, and Member of the Constitutional
Convention; in this last capacity, he was a member of the Commission Responsible for Drafting the
National Constitution in effect in Paraguay since 1992. It is worth mentioning, also, that he was a student
leader at the National University of Asunción and then a journalist, as well as being the author of
numerous published works on topics related to the Constitution, international law, politics, and the
philosophy of language.
3. The First Vice President, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, is Brazilian. His tasks in the Inter-
American Commission include being Special Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, a job he was
assigned when he joined the Commission in January 2004. Commissioner Pinheiro is also a United
Nations Special Rapporteur for Myanmar. He was appointed an Independent Expert of the UN Secretary-
General to prepare a study on violence against children and, until 2004, he was a member of the UN
Subcommittee to Promote and Protect Human Rights, not to mention numerous other missions and
research work for the United Nations in previous years. Prior to that, he was Secretary of State for
Human Rights of Brazil and his academic record includes teaching in a number of universities in his
country, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.
4. The Second Vice President of the IACHR, Florentín Meléndez, is from El Salvador and, like
the other officers, joined the IACHR in January 2004. His activities in the Commission include being Special
Rapporteur for the Rights of Persons Deprived of Their Liberty in the Americas. In that capacity, he
prepared the Draft Declaration of Principles on the Protection of Persons Deprived of their Freedom, which
is being studied for submission for approval by the IACHR. He has also visited several countries in the
course of his work and research. Commissioner Meléndez has so far been Rapporteur of the IACHR for
Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. He also appeared on several occasions as a
delegate of the IACHR before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. His extensive academic career
includes a doctorate in international human rights law and a Master’s in human rights of the Universidad
Complutense in Spain, as well as a bachelor’s degree in legal sciences from the National University of El
Salvador. He teaches courses and conducts seminars on human rights, international law, and constitutional
law, and he is a guest lecturer at several universities in the Hemisphere. During his professional career,
Commissioner Meléndez has worked at the United Nations and in public and private institutions in his
country on human rights-related topics. He has also published books, studies, and collections of works on
5. The IACHR is the principal organ under the Charter of the OAS, with responsibility for
ensuring respect for human rights in all states of the American continent. It is composed of seven jurists,
who are independent experts elected in a personal capacity by the member states of the Organization.
During its period of sessions, the Commission will consider draft reports on human rights violations in the
procedural stages of admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and complaints filed with the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights. The IACHR will also review human rights situations in various member states of
the OAS and will hold 62 hearings with individual petitioners and representatives of States.
Washington, D.C., February 27, 2006
Today the Inter-American Commission formally inaugurates its 124 regular sessions. As part of
the organization of its work, the IACHR appointed its Rapporteurs for thematic areas and for countries:
- Evelio Fernández Arévalos, President: Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Honduras.
- Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, First Vice President: Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child;
Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, United States and Venezuela.
- Florentín Meléndez, Second Vice President: Rapporteur on the rights of persons
deprived of liberty ; Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
- Clare K. Roberts, Commissioner: Rapporteur on the rights of persons of African descent,
and against racial discrimination; Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Dominica, Grenada,
Haiti, Jamaica, San Kitts y Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
- Freddy Gutiérrez, Commissioner: Rapporteur on the rights of migrant workers and their
families; El Salvador, Panama and Uruguay.
- Paolo Carozza, Commissioner: Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Guyana,
Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
- Víctor Abramovich, Commissioner: Rapporteur on the rights of women; Colombia, Cuba,
Nicaragua and Guatemala.
The IACHR is the principal organ under the Charter of the OAS, with responsibility for ensuring
respect for human rights in all states of the American continent. It is comprised of seven independent
human rights experts, who are elected in their individual capacities by the member states of the
Washington, D.C., March 1 , 2006
NEW SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR OF THE IACHR FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today decided to appoint Dr. Ignacio Álvarez
as Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. Dr. Álvarez, a national of Venezuela, has been
working as an attorney specializing in human rights at the IACHR since 1998.
The new Rapporteur graduated as a lawyer at the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas,
specialized in procedural law at Venezuela’s Universidad Central, and holds a Masters in international law
from the Law Faculty of American University, in Washington, D.C. He is also the author of several articles
on human rights published in the languages he works in, namely Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
The Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression is a full-time, functionally independent
office with its own budget, which was established by the IACHR and operates within its legal framework.
Washington, D.C., March 15, 2006
HAITI: FAILED JUSTICE OR THE RULE OF LAW?
IACHR RELEASES REPORT ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN HAITI
Today, during its 124 Regular Period of Sessions, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights released its report on the situation of the administration of justice in the Republic of Haiti.
The report, entitled ―Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law? Challenges Ahead for Haiti and the
International Community‖, evaluates the current status of the administration of justice in Haiti in light of its
obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and other relevant human rights
instruments. The report concludes that the justice system in Haiti is gravely deficient in almost all respects
and systematically fails to protect the fundamental human rights of the Haitian people. The report also
emphasizes that efforts to address Haiti’s present and serious political, economic and social problems will
not succeed without urgent reforms to strengthen the administration of justice and the rule of law in Haiti,
and will require ongoing, coordinated and sustained support from OAS Member States and other
members of the international community.
The report analyzes three main areas of the administration of justice in Haiti: law enforcement,
the court system, and the system of detention facilities and prisons. Among other conclusions, the report
finds that the national police force suffers from grave shortages of officers and resources, lacks a clear
and enforced hierarchy of command and control, and is tainted by corruption and human rights abuses.
Also according to the report, the court system is plagued by inadequate resources and training as well as
outdated laws, resulting in chronic and unacceptable delays in the judicial process and systemic impunity
for serious human rights violations. Further, the report finds that the conditions in Haiti’s prisons and other
detention facilities fall far short of minimum international standards, including special protections for
minors. In light of these and other fundamental deficiencies, the report calls upon the international
community to expedite the delivery of funds pledged to Haiti in 2004 and to take the measures necessary
to ensure that their justice initiatives in Haiti result in lasting change.
The release of the report is particularly timely in light of the recent election of René Préval as
Haiti’s new President following a particularly violent and unstable period in the country’s history. As
President Préval takes office, the Commission urges his government to make reform of the justice system
a critical priority.
An Executive Summary of the report is attached to this press release and the full text of the report
can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.cidh.org.
Washington, D.C. March 16, 2006
PRESS RELEASE 6/06
HAITI: FAILED JUSTICE OR THE RULE OF LAW?
CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR HAITI AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
doc.6 rev 1
26 October 2005
1. For over forty years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has monitored the
situation of human rights in the Republic of Haiti. For much of this period, the people of Haiti have faced
many hardships, including political instability and violence, serious human rights abuses with no
accountability, and exploitation and degradation of the country’s economy and infrastructure.
Unfortunately, Haiti’s recent history has not revealed much progress in reversing this course. Based upon
its longstanding experience in Haiti and other countries of the Hemisphere, the Commission considers
that efforts to address the country’s current and longstanding problems will not succeed without urgent
reforms to strengthen the administration of justice and the rule of law in Haiti.
2. In this context, the present report provides an evaluation of the current status of the
administration of justice in the Republic of Haiti in light of the fundamental rights and freedoms protected
under the American Convention on Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments to which
Haiti is bound. The report is based upon investigations undertaken by the Commission between 2003 and
2005, including information gathered during four visits to the country as well as reports and other
information provided by a variety of international and local governmental and nongovernmental
3. The report provides a detailed analysis of three key aspects of administration of justice in
the country: law enforcement and the Haitian National Police; the judiciary; and the system of detention
facilities and prisons. As part of this analysis, the Commission addresses the particular problem of
impunity and lack of public confidence in the justice system as well as the involvement of the international
community in Haiti.
4. Based upon its analysis, the Commission reached the following main conclusions:
The Haitian National Police force suffers from inadequate staffing and resources, an
absence of appropriate vetting and training programs, and a clear and enforced hierarchy
of command and control, and instances of corruption and human rights abuses by police
officer have severely tainted the police force and have not been the subject of effective
investigation and, where appropriate, discipline and prosecution.
The working conditions for magistrates at all levels are substandard, with shortages of
space and basic resources, a lack of proper training for judges, and inadequate security
for judges and court facilities. Further, the independence of the judiciary continues to be
imperiled through potential inadequacies in security of tenure, allegation of interference
by the executive branch in the assignment of specific cases before the courts, and the
absence of a proper and functioning oversight mechanism for the judiciary, among other
These and other inadequacies in Haiti’s court system, including the outdated nature of
many of Haiti’s laws, lack of effective access to legal assistance, and the failure of police
to execute judicial orders, have created chronic and unacceptable delays in the
processing of cases in the court system, have resulted in a pervasive problem of
prolonged pre-trial delay, where an estimated 85 to 90% of detainees have not been
tried. These deficiencies have also undermined the ability of the justice system in Haiti to
effectively ensure and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms to which Haitians are
entitled, resulting in a pattern of impunity in Haiti for violations committed by both state
and non-state actors.
Several of the prisons and other detention facilities in Haiti are not functional, including
the prison for women and children in Fort National, and those prisons that are serviceable
suffer from overcrowding and do not have the resources necessary to meet minimum
standards of sanitation and other fundamental requirements, including access to fresh
air, light and potable water, bedding, nutrition, and health care. Further, there are serious
weaknesses in security at prisons and associated training for prison guards, which has
resulted in several major security incidents in Haiti over the past two years, resulting in
the death and wounding of inmates and the escape of hundreds of prisoners, many of
who have not yet been recaptured.
The absence of a functional rehabilitation center for minors, together with the fact that the
court for minors has been unable to function due to security concerns, has resulted in the
detention of minors in a manner inconsistent with Article 5(5) of the American Convention
and corresponding provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Past efforts by the international community to assist deficiencies in Haiti’s justice system
have failed to result in lasting change, due in part to the short term nature of some
projects and associated funding, the absence of ongoing technical and other support, and
a lack of coordination on common issues and activities between and within various
international and regional organizations agencies operating in Haiti. Further, a
considerable portion of the funds pledged to Haiti by donors in July 2004 remains
undelivered despite the urgent need for projects to address basic services such as
electricity, sanitation, and hospital and school facilities as well as longer-term initiatives
for capital investment and capacity-building among public and private actors and
5. In light of its conclusions, the Commission made several recommendations to the
Republic of Haiti, which include:
urgently providing the police and judiciary with the basic facilities and resources
necessary to perform their functions and responsibilities, including appropriate training
and oversight through proper and effective functioning of the Police Academy, the
Inspector General’s Office, the Department of Judicial Police of the HNP, the Magistrate’s
School, and the Conseil Superieur de la Magistrature
immediately addressing the situation of individuals in the justice system who have been
detained for prolonged periods without having been brought before a judge or tried,
through independent and impartial reviews conducted by judges or other officers
authorized by law to exercise judicial power, and through the establishment of an
effective system of legal aid or public defenders
ending impunity for past human rights violations, which may include the establishment of
a specially-constituted panel or chamber of the civilian courts and international
participation in the investigation or trial of these crimes
urgently improving the living and security conditions in the prisons and other detention
facilities throughout the country, including rendering operational the detention facility for
women and children at Fort National and the official rehabilitation center for minors, the
Institut de Bien Etre Social.
6. The Commission also made several recommendations concerning the role of the
international community in Haiti, including other OAS Member States, which include
expediting measures to ensure the delivery and distribution of funds pledged to Haiti on
an urgent basis through projects that address the most immediate needs of the Haitian
people in the areas of health care, education and job training and creation.
International organizations and agencies should attempt to develop coordinated and
multidisciplinary approaches to providing assistance and support to Haiti in order to avoid
duplication and maximize impact. In addition, the mandates given to institutions and
agencies should acknowledge and reflect the interconnections between security, the right
to political participation, the administration of justice, and the realization of economic,
social and cultural rights, all of which must be addressed in order to achieve long term
stability in Haiti.
7. The Commission wishes to express its appreciation to the Government and people of
Haiti for the cooperation, facilities and hospitality provided in the course of the Commission’s visits, to the
nongovernmental organizations, civil society institutions, and international organizations concerned,
notably the OAS Special Mission, for their valuable assistance and participation, and to the Government
of France for its financial assistance.
EVALUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE AMERICAS DURING IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported on the activities carried out during its
124 regular session. The Members of the IACHR are Evelio Fernández Arévalos, President; Paulo
Sérgio Pinheiro, First Vice President; and Florentin Meléndez, Second Vice President; and
Commissioners: Clare K. Roberts, Freddy Gutiérrez Trejo, Paolo Carozza and Víctor Abramovich. The
Executive Secretary of the IACHR is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.
The IACHR has learned of important progress recently on human rights matters: the decision by
the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina nullifying the due obedience and ―full stop‖ laws, as
recommended by the Commission; extensive constitutional reforms in Chile to remove obstacles to equal
political participation, also recommended by the Commission; the conclusion of agreements and
important progress in friendly settlement processes involving Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia,
Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. There has also been progress in the human rights of women, with
such developments as the adoption of the Family Violence Act in Chile and the ratification by Jamaica of
the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against
Women, "Convention of Belém do Pará." A far-reaching national human rights program introduced in
Mexico in 2004 is currently being implemented. Likewise, constitutional reforms were approved in Brazil
to modernize the judicial system and enhance the judicial mechanisms available to ensure that human
rights violations do not go unpunished. The Brazilian Government is also achieving important
advancements toward racial equality. For its part, the Uruguayan Government has achieved concrete
results in finding and identifying the remains of persons who were disappeared during the military
dictatorship. Other States have recognized their responsibility, both before the Commission and before
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
At the outset of 2006, it is evident that the challenges in the observance and promotion of human
rights in our Hemisphere constitute a priority. The population of OAS Member States and their
governments are still facing threats to their security derived from Terrorism, drugs, trafficking of persons,
violence by gangs and common crime. Frequently, some of the responses to these threats do not
sufficiently take into account the commitment to human rights and consequently those who are more
vulnerable and disadvantaged in our societies end up frequently affected by measures adopted by States.
These problems become more complicated due to the reality faced by most of the population of the
region, who suffer inadequate standards of living, malnourishment, lack of health and education, and
because democratic institutions are still weak in most of our Hemisphere.
Most of the problems that were addressed during the Commission’s hearings, its discussion of
cases and precautionary measures, and its the analysis of general situations, are also the focus of
discussion in each of the Member States. The period of sessions of the IACHR was once again an open
forum to define, evaluate and focus upon strategies to confront the human rights challenges in the
A fruitful interaction took place during the hearings with Member States, essential actors in the
inter-American system on human rights. In assuming freely their human rights obligations, the Member
States of the Organization are called upon to comply with the duties of respect and guarantee of such
rights. This positive relationship with the authorities of several countries of the region allows the IACHR
to identify ways of making human rights effective for the inhabitants of the Hemisphere, and to cooperate
within the framework of its functions in the analysis of plans and programs in its field of responsibility.
The sessions also provided an appropriate occasion to strengthen the exchange with the political
organs of the OAS. A dialogue took place with Member States in a special session of the Committee of
Juridical and Political Affairs (CJPA) of the Permanent Council of the Organization, and with the Judges
of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The CJPA also hosted several sessions with the
Commission’s thematic Rapporteurs in order to report on their specific activities in their respective areas
of responsibility. The President of the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters invited the
President of the IACHR to report on the Commission’s budgetary situation. The Inter-American
Commission considers it to be highly encouraging that its President received a unanimous response in
support of the request for an addition to its 2006 budget, as well as adjustments to the 2007 budget that
may allow it to carry out more efficiently its fundamental functions of promoting and protecting human
rights in the Americas.
The Inter-American Commission highlights once again the commitment to the inter-American
system of human rights demonstrated by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. Indeed, his support has
come not only in respect of matters pertaining to human and financial resources, but also through the
recognition of the autonomy and independence of the IACHR in the new structure approved by the
As usual, civil society in the region was well represented during these sessions. The exchange of
information took place not only in the context of formal hearings and meetings, but also in several other
engagements with Commissioners and the Executive Secretariat. Once again there was special mention
of the essential role played by human rights defenders as the engine of the system, who allow the
effective protection of human rights to reach people in the most removed places in the Americas.
In the course of the session, the Inter-American Commission continued its practice of holding
meetings with the different regional groups. During this session, a working breakfast was held with
Permanent Representatives of Member States of Central America, during which an exchange of
information took place with respect to human rights in that subregion.
The Inter-American Commission discussed and approved a ―Report on the Situation of Human
Rights Defenders in the Americas‖. The IACHR highlights in its report that the initiative of human rights
defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights constitutes a legitimate activity that helps with
an essential obligation of the States, and therefore, it creates special obligations of protection from the
States with respect to those who are dedicated to promote and to protect such rights.
The Inter-American Commission is particularly interested in citizen security and its relation with
human rights in the Americas. This complex subject has given rise to numerous hearings in different
periods of sessions, and at the same time it has come to the Commission’s attention through the
individual petitions and cases system, precautionary measures, as well as in the agenda of working visits
and in loco investigations. The IACHR decided to entrust to Commissioner Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro the
elaboration of a hemispheric study on citizen security and human rights.
With respect to Colombia, during the 124th sessions the IACHR received information regarding
the process of demobilization of illegal armed groups, the regulatory framework in this area, the violations
of the cease-fire and the functioning of the recently created National Commission on Reparation and
Reconciliation. The IACHR received Dr. Eduardo Pizarro, President of that National Commission, who
presented information on the activities to be carried out. As pointed out by the IACHR, the process
initiated to deactivate the armed conflict in Colombia requires measures to guarantee non repetition of
crimes perpetrated against the civilian population, in violation of international human rights and
international humanitarian law, including the investigation and reparation of the consequences of violence
by means of l the proper mechanisms to establish the truth, to impart justice and to repair integrally the
victims, in compliance with its international obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights
and the OAS Charter.
With respect to Cuba, the IACHR analyzed the human rights situation during the sessions
concluding today. The Inter-American Commission considers that there has been no change in the
conditions of detention suffered by persons who voice their dissent with the government. Also, no
improvement has been observed noticed in terms of the systematic violation of the rights to freedom of
expression and labor and union rights, or regarding the restrictions on the freedom of movement and
residence of the inhabitants of the country. Permanent and systematic violation of fundamental rights of
Cuban citizens have also persisted by virtue of restrictions on their political rights, freedom of expression
and of dissemination of ideas. This situation is especially aggravated by the complete lack of
independence of the Judiciary. The Inter-American Commission must again reiterate that the economic
and commercial sanctions imposed on the government tend to aggravate the lack of effective enjoyment
of economic, social and cultural rights by the Cuban people.
With respect to Ecuador, the inauguration of a new government in April 2005, as well as the
initiatives adopted since, constitutes a positive sign towards the reestablishment of institutions. However,
mention must be made of the delicate situation that continues to affect the country in areas that are
fundamental for the protection of human rights, such as an independent judiciary that functions properly.
In this regard, the process of appointment of the magistrates of the Supreme Court, which was carried out
so as to ensure a transparent selection and international verification, is an important step, particularly
because it resulted from an internal democratic dialogue. The IACHR also welcomed the appointment of
the members of the Constitutional Court. In addition, the Commission also highlights the interest of the
new government in promoting popular participation and consolidating democracy, which are all relevant
factors considering that in October 2006 the country will undergo an electoral process for President and
Vice President of the Republic, as well as for Members of Congress. However, the IACHR must express
its preoccupation for the instability that negatively affects the enjoyment of human rights in the country.
With respect to Haiti, the Commission received information concerning the general political and
human rights situation in the country as well as specific information on the status of economic and social
rights. In these respects, the Commission was encouraged by the February 7, 2006 election of René
Préval as Haiti’s new President and is hopeful that the second round of Parliamentary elections will take
place expeditiously and in accordance with applicable international standards. Notwithstanding these
positive political developments, the Commission continues to receive information indicating that the
security situation in the country remains unstable, that a majority of the Haitian population continues to be
denied economic and social rights in such areas as food, water, health, and education, and that the
justice system remains gravely under-resourced and dysfunctional in many respects. In this regard,
during its session the Commission released its report concerning the administration of justice in Haiti, in
which the Commission concluded that the justice system in Haiti is gravely deficient in almost all respects
and that reform of the justice system must be a priority for Haiti’s new government with the support of the
With respect to Venezuela, the IACHR expresses its concern for criminal actions initiated against
members of human rights organizations for charges of conspiracy against the republican form of
government which are based upon the fact that they have received international cooperation funding to
develop their work. Further, and in light of statements made by state representatives during hearings
before the Commission disqualifying the work of human rights defenders, the IACHR calls for the
Venezuelan authorities to assure that no human rights defender is subjected to harassment and
intimidation based on his or her work. The Commission expresses once again its recognition for the work
of promotion and protection carried out by the human rights defenders of the hemisphere, and reiterates
that they cannot be harassed because of their work and for using the instruments and instances provided
by the inter-American system. In addition, the IACHR expresses its concern for the laws and judicial
actions that limit freedom of expression and access to information in Venezuela, particularly given
information received in the first months of 2006 with regard to criminal actions pursued against Ibeyse
Pacheco, Marianella Salazar and José Ovidio Rodríguez (―Napoleón Bravo‖) by State officials for the
crimes of slander, defamation and contempt.
The IACHR selected Dr. Ignacio Álvarez as its Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.
Dr. Álvarez, a citizen of Venezuela, has been working as a human rights specialist in the IACHR since
1998 and holds a law degree from the ―Andrés Bello‖ Catholic University of Caracas, specialized studies
See IACHR Press Release Nº 05/06, ―Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law? IACHR Releases Report on the
Administration of Justice in Haiti‖, March 16, 2006.
in procedural law from the Central University of Venezuela, and a master’s degree in international law
from American University’s Washington College of Law.
During the sessions, the Commission carried out an intense program of activities. As is customary,
the greater part of the Commission’s work was dedicated to the study and review of reports on individual
petitions and cases pertaining to different countries in the hemisphere. The matters considered include 27
reports on admissibility, 15 reports on the merits, 8 reports on friendly settlement and 16 decisions to archive.
The IACHR held 61 hearings on individual cases and petitions and on the human rights situation in the
hemisphere, which covered general issues and specific subjects pertaining to the mandate of the
Commission. Further, the IACHR planned the activities to be carried out throughout 2006.
Finally, the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held a joint working session in
which they analyzed important subjects for the harmonic operation of the inter-American organs of
Washington, D.C., March 17, 2006
ANNEX TO PRESS RELEASE 07/06
REPORT OF THE 124 REGULAR SESSIONS OF THE IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights presents its report on the activities carried out
during its 124 regular sessions. The members of the IACHR are Evelio Fernández Arévalos, President;
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, First Vice President; Florentín Meléndez, Second Vice President; and
Commissioners Clare K. Roberts, Freddy Gutiérrez, Paolo Carozza, and Víctor Abramovich. The
Executive Secretary of the IACHR is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.
During this session, the IACHR approved 53 reports on individual cases and petitions. From
March 3 - 13, 2006, it held 61 hearings on individual cases and petitions, precautionary measures, and
general and specific situations relating to human rights. The presence of representatives of OAS member
States, and others who attended in their personal capacity or as petitioners, contributes significantly to
strengthening the work of protecting the human rights of the inhabitants of the hemisphere. The Inter-
American Commission appreciates and expresses its thanks for this attendance and participation. In this
sense, it particularly notes the participation of high-level government authorities, including government
ministers and undersecretaries, as well as the attorneys general and prosecutors of several countries, as
a demonstration of their respective States’ willingness to dialogue with the IACHR and civil society.
I. GENERAL REPORTS
A. Report on the administration of justice in Haiti
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published its report on the situation of the
administration of justice in the Republic of Haiti. Its report, entitled: ―Failed Justice or the Rule of Law?
Challenges Ahead for Haiti and the International Community,‖ evaluates the current status of the
administration of justice in Haiti in light of its obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights
and other relevant human rights instruments. The Inter-American Commission report concludes that the
justice system in Haiti is gravely deficient in almost all respects and systematically fails to protect the
fundamental human rights of the Haitian people. It also emphasizes that efforts to address Haiti’s present
and serious political, economic, and social problems will not succeed without urgent reforms to strengthen
the administration of justice and the rule of law in Haiti, and will require ongoing, coordinated, and
sustained support from OAS member states and other members of the international community.
The report analyzes three main areas of the administration of justice in Haiti: law enforcement,
the court system, and the system of detention centers and prisons. Among other conclusions, the report
finds that Haiti’s national police force suffers from grave shortages of officers and resources, lacks a clear
and enforced hierarchy of command and control, and is tainted by corruption and human rights abuses.
The court system is plagued by inadequate resources and training as well as outdated laws, resulting in
chronic and unacceptable delays in the judicial process and systemic impunity for serious human rights
violations. The conditions in the country’s prisons and other detention facilities fall far short of minimum
international standards, including special protections for minors. In light of these and other fundamental
deficiencies, the Inter-American Commission calls upon the international community to expedite the
delivery of funds pledged to Haiti in 2004 and to take the measures necessary to ensure that their justice
initiatives lead to lasting changes.
The release of the report is particularly timely in light of the recent election of René Préval as
Haiti’s new president following a particularly violent and unstable period in the country’s history. As
President Préval takes office, the Commission urges his government to make reform of the justice system
a critical priority.
B. Report on Human Rights Defenders
Pursuant to the mandate established by the OAS General Assembly in Resolution AG/RES.1818
(XXXI-O/01) of June 5, 2001, the Commission discussed and approved a ―Report on the Situation of
Human Rights Defenders in the Americas.― In its report, the IACHR emphasizes that the initiative of
human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights is a legitimate activity that helps
with an essential obligation of States and, therefore, creates special obligations of protection by the states
with respect to those who are dedicated to promoting and protecting such rights. The report finds that,
despite the importance of the work of human rights defenders and significant efforts of OAS member
states and international entities to protect them, in many parts of the Hemisphere the defense of human
rights is undertaken with difficulty or in adverse and in some cases, dangerous, contexts.
In its report, the Inter-American Commission identifies the main patterns of acts or omissions that
impede or hamper the work of human rights defenders, in particular: extrajudicial executions and forced
disappearances; attacks, threats, and harassment; the characterization of human rights defenders as
―enemies‖ and ―legitimate targets‖ by parastate groups; defamation campaigns and criminal lawsuits to
discredit their work; intrusions into the home and other arbitrary or abusive interference in the offices,
correspondence, and telephonic and electronic communications of human rights organizations;
intelligence activities targeting human rights defenders; restrictions on access to information held by the
State and habeas data actions; arbitrary administrative and financial controls imposed on human rights
organizations; and generalized impunity in the investigation of attacks on human rights defenders. In light
of these patterns, the Commission offers a series of observations to the states party to advance in the
promotion and protection of work to defend human rights and of those engaged in such work.
II. REPORTS ON INDIVIDUAL PETITIONS AND CASES
The IACHR undertook the study of numerous individual petitions and cases claiming violations of
human rights protected by the American Convention, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
of Man, and other Inter-American instruments.
The reports approved by the IACHR reflect some of the structural human rights problems that
persist in the region. Among other matters, they refer to respect for the right to life and personal integrity,
due process guarantees and judicial protection, the rights of children, indigenous peoples, and women,
and economic, social and cultural rights.
The reports approved included 27 cases that were declared admissible, 3 declared inadmissible,
15 reports on the merits, 8 reports on friendly settlement, and 16 cases that were ordered closed. Once
the parties have been notified, the Inter-American Commission shall publish the list of cases in which the
decision is of a public nature, and they will be available on its website.
From March 3 – 13, 2006, the IACHR held 61 hearings on individual cases and petitions,
precautionary measures, and general and specific situations relating to human rights in different states
and regions. The agenda for these sessions was extended to include one extra day as the Inter-
American Commission received a higher number of requests of interest to it. The audiences on individual
cases and petitions dealt with issues of admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and monitoring.
A. General situation in OAS member States
The IACHR held hearings on the general human rights situation in several countries in the region.
At those hearings, it received general information on the situation in Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti,
Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.
With respect to Bolivia, the state presented copies of the National Plan for Human Rights 2006-
2010 and expressed the commitment of President Juan Evo Morales Aima’s new administration to human
rights and its intention to address the issues contained therein. The IACHR received an assessment from
the requesting organizations as well as from the State on the human rights problems facing Bolivia.
These problems included poverty and discrimination; the lack of a coordinated State policy on human
rights; the need to adapt domestic law in keeping with international human rights standards; procedural
delays in cases involving human rights violations; failure to comply with judgments and precautionary
measures issued by the bodies of the system; obstacles to access to justice faced by indigenous peoples,
women, and indigent people; persistent gender-related violence and the failure to investigate the
attendant complaints; the growing problem of trafficking in boys, girls, adolescents and women;
irregularities in the land reform process; the impact on health and personal integrity of environmental
pollution caused by mining and oil companies in the departments of Oruro, Potosí, Chuquisaca, Tarija,
and Cuyabá. In addition, and mindful of the concerns raised at previous hearings about the ―captive
communities‖ of the Guaraní people in the Bolivian Chaco, the requesters indicated that despite public
condemnation of this critical situation, these populations continue to live in slave-like conditions and, to
date, no penalty has been imposed on those responsible for the situation or the officials who, despite
being aware of the situation, have failed to take any action whatsoever. Finally, the State reported the
government’s willingness and interest in having the Commission visit the country with a view toward the
contribution such a visit could make in the development of the Constituent Assembly.
With respect to Colombia, during its 124 regular sessions the Commission received information
on the demobilization of illegal armed groups, the regulation of its normative framework, violations of the
ceasefire, and the functioning of the recently established National Reparations and Reconciliation
Commission [Comisión Nacional de Reparación y Reconciliación]. During the hearing, the president of
that National Commission, Dr. Eduardo Pizarro, presented to the IACHR a report on the activities to be
carried out. As the IACHR has pointed out, the process undertaken to deactivate the actors in
Columbia’s armed conflict requires measures that ensure the non-repetition of the crimes perpetrated
against the civilian population in violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian
law, including the clarification of, and reparations for, the consequences of the violence, through
appropriate mechanisms to establish the truth of what transpired, administer justice, and make integral
reparation to the victims pursuant to its international obligations under the American Convention on
Human Rights and the OAS Charter.
With respect to Guatemala, the IACHR received information on government human rights policy;
compliance with precautionary measures; the justice situation; difficulties in the investigation of human
rights cases; and the situation of the penitentiary system. The IACHR appreciates the actions taken by
the State of Guatemala to comply with its recommendations, friendly settlement agreements, and with the
judgments issued by the Inter-American Court; it also appreciates its efforts to reform the penitentiary
system in accordance with the challenges set forth in the 2001 IACHR country report concerning internal and
external security, the classification and separation of prisoners and detainees, prison conditions, health, and
rehabilitation opportunities. The Commission also appreciates the Government of Guatemala’s efforts, in
conjunction with civil society, to establish the Commission for the Investigation of Illegal Groups and
Clandestine Security Organizations in Guatemala [Comisión de Investigación de Cuerpos Ilegales y
Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad en Guatemala (CICIACS)] and urges the legislature to approve that
initiative as soon as possible. The Commission received information on the national police archives
discovered in 2005 and urges their protection, as they will be of vital importance for the clarification of grave
human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. In this regard, and concerning the public nature
of administrative actions, the Commission observes with concern the continued practice of citing state
secrecy under Article 30 of the Political Constitution to restrict access to public records. The Commission
reiterates the position of the Court that, in cases of human rights violations, the State authorities cannot
resort to mechanisms such as official secret or confidentiality of the information, or reasons of public
interest or national security to refuse to supply the information required by the judicial or administrative
authorities in charge of the ongoing investigation or proceeding. Based on the information provided at the
hearings by the State and by the requesters, the Commission observes with concern the military justice
reform bill currently under discussion in the Congress and points out that its approval would constitute a
serious reversal for human rights and go against the spirit of the Peace Accords. The Commission also
observes with concern the persistent structural impunity that leads to a lack of effective justice in dealing with
the crimes committed in Guatemala during the armed conflict and at the present time. In this sense, it notes
the continued misuse of the amparo remedy to delay the administration of justice in cases involving human
I/A Court H.R., Myrna Mack Chang Case. Judgment of November 25, 2003. Series C No. 101, para. 180.
rights abuses committed in Guatemala. As a result, the Inter-American Commission urges the State of
Guatemala to regulate that practice to ensure that it is not tolerating or contributing to unjustified delays in
the resolution of cases pending before the Guatemala judiciary.
With respect to Haiti, the Commission received information on human rights policy and in
particular on respect for economic and social rights. On this subject, the Inter-American Commission
welcomed with satisfaction the conclusion of the February 7, 2006 elections electing René Préval as the
new President of Haiti. The IACHR is optimistic that the second round of parliamentary elections will
proceed rapidly and within the applicable international parameters. Notwithstanding these positive
political developments, the Commission received information that security conditions in the country
remain unstable, that the majority of the Haitian population is still deprived of basic economic and social
rights such as access to food, water, health, and education, and that the justice system continues to be
deficient and dysfunctional in many respects. In this regard, during its recently concluded sessions, the
Inter-American Commission issued its report on the administration of justice in Haiti. In its report, the
Commission finds that the justice system in Haiti is gravely deficient in almost all areas and that the new
government of Haiti should make justice reform a critical priority, with the support of the international
With respect to Mexico, a general hearing was held at which civil society representatives had the
opportunity to express their main human rights concerns in that country. In attendance were
organizations of the ―All Rights for All‖ [Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos] Human Rights Network,
who pointed out that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the IACHR’s in loco visit to Mexico. They
also took the opportunity to review the recommendations that are still pending and the work of protection
in individual cases. They highlighted the achievements of the Fox administration in its international
human rights policy, as well as the freedom of information law at the domestic level. Among the matters
that remain pending, however, were justice system reform, the prosecution in civil courts of military
personnel accused of human rights violations, and the effective exercise of labor human rights. The
Commission also held a hearing attended by a delegation of the Mexican State, representatives of human
rights organizations from the state of Oaxaca, and the Due Process of Law Foundation, which led to a
fruitful exchange of information about the human rights situation of women in that state. Specifically,
information was received on the human rights situation of indigenous women in Oaxaca and efforts by the
state at the legislative, public policy, and institutional levels to correct the shortfalls in the areas of
violence and discrimination. The human rights organizations reported on human rights violations against
indigenous women associated with land conflicts, political participation, the right to health, and the lack of
justice in a context of systematic discrimination and violence against indigenous women. The
government, for its part, informed the IACHR about a series of legislative, public policy, and institutional
achievements to address the particular situation of women in that area, including a legislative reform
package on the specific needs of groups based on their gender, age, geographic location, and level of
disadvantage, as well as the Interfamily Violence Law. The Rapporteur for Mexico stressed the IACHR’s
interest in continuing to work intensively with that country on individual cases as well as from a general
and thematic standpoint, to which end, the possibility was raised of organizing a working visit in 2006.
With respect to Peru, the hearings dealt with the presentation of the National Human Rights Plan,
follow-up on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [Comisión de la Verdad y
Reconciliación (CVR)], Peruvian military criminal justice, and complaints of discrimination based on
sexual orientation in that country. At the first hearing the Vice Minister of Justice of Peru, Jaime Reyes
Miranda, presented the contents of the National Human Rights Plan, which entered into force last
December 11, 2005, to strengthen national mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights
and to ensure that domestic law and practice conform to the obligations derived from international human
rights and humanitarian law norms that are binding on the Peruvian State. The Inter-American
Commission appreciated the broad consultation process undertaken in the context of preparing the Plan
which, according to the figures provided, included a total of 2,802 institutions, of which 610 were
representatives of public institutions (22%) and 2192 were civil society representatives (78%). In addition
See IACHR, Press Release Nº 06/06, ―Haití: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law? IACHR Releases Report on the
Administration of Justice in Haiti,‖ March 16, 2006.
to the delegation of the Peruvian State, civil society was also represented at the hearing. At its
conclusion, the Government of Peru and the IACHR signed a technical assistance agreement on the
implementation of the National Human Rights Plan of Peru 2006 – 2010.
At the hearing on follow-up of the recommendations of the CVR, the requesting organizations
discussed the degree to which those recommendations had been fulfilled, especially with regard to
justice, reparations, and institutional reform. The Commission received information on the security of
human rights defenders, victims, witnesses, and others involved in the investigations and prosecutions
undertaken pursuant to the facts established in the CVR report. The IACHR was particularly struck by
information stating that, as prosecutions have moved forward, the threats and other forms of harassment
have intensified against justice system personnel, witnesses, victims, and legal representatives.
Regarding the situation of military criminal justice, the National Human Rights Coordinator and
civil society organizations informed the IACHR on the alleged incompatibility of the law on the
organization, functions, and competence of the specialized jurisdiction in military and police penal matters
(Law 28.65) and the Military Penal Code [Código de Justicia Militar Policial] (Decree 961) with the
standards adopted by the consistent jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the
IACHR on the restrictive and exceptional character that military jurisdiction should have in a democratic
society. In this regard, the Peruvian State informed the IACHR of various rulings handed down by the
high courts against the aforementioned legal codes, as well as the unconstitutionality suits brought by the
Bar Association [Colegio de Abogados] of Lima and the Attorney General of the Nation before the
Constitutional Court. The IACHR will remain attentive to the decision of the Peruvian Constitutional Court,
which had urged the Legislative Branch to adapt the Peruvian military penal justice framework in keeping
with the Constitution and with the international human rights treaties ratified by that country.
In addition, the Commission received information on the situation of discrimination based on
sexual orientation in Peru, especially with regard to various discriminatory and violent practices against
gays and lesbians in the workplace, in public, and in businesses. In this regard, the Commission took
note of the petitioners’ request that it recommend that the Peruvian take positive measures to eradicate
socio-cultural practices and discourse contrary to the free expression of gender-related identities,
attitudes, and practices that are not heterosexual, in keeping with the provisions of the National Human
With respect to Venezuela, the IACHR expresses its concern over criminal suits brought against
certain members of human rights organizations charging them with conspiracy against the republican
form of government for having received international cooperation funds for their work. Moreover, in
response to the concerns raised at the hearings before the Commission about remarks by government
officials to discredit the activities of human rights defenders, the IACHR calls on the authorities of the
State of Venezuela to ensure that no human rights defender is targeted for harassment or intimidation as
a result of his or her work. The Commission expresses once again its recognition of the work of human
rights promotion and protection carried out by human rights defenders in the hemisphere and reiterates
that these people cannot be harassed because of their work, much less for making use of the tools and
institutions available through the inter-American system.
The IACHR also received information about laws and legal actions restricting freedom of
expression and access to information in Venezuela and the situation of asylum-seekers in that country. It
is particularly concerned by information received in the early months of 2006 that government officials
have filed criminal charges against Ibeyse Pacheco, Marianella Salazar, and José Ovidio Rodríguez
(―Napoleón Bravo‖) for the offenses of slander, libel and contempt [vilipendio (desacato)]. The
Commission reiterates its position that the criminalization of speech directed at public officials, or at
private individuals involved of their own volition in matters relevant to the public interest, constitutes a
disproportionate penalty inasmuch as the fundamental principle governing a democratic system renders
public officials more exposed to public scrutiny and criticism.
The Inter-American Commission also had a hearing attended by representatives of the
Venezuelan State and was informed about the actions planned to address the critical situation of
individuals deprived of their liberty in Venezuelan prisons and the progress made in human rights,
particularly economic, social, and cultural rights. The advances described by the State included
achievements in literacy, medical attention, and food distribution in different regions of the country. In this
sense, the State reported that it is close to achieving the goal of universal basic education and primary
care for historically excluded sectors. La IACHR recognizes the importance of these programs for the
progressive achievement of economic and social rights protections and emphasizes favorably the
participation of the Venezuelan State at the hearings, where it expressed its interest in engaging in
dialogue and working more closely with this body and with the representatives of nongovernmental
organizations present at the hearings.
B. Other general hearings
There was also a hearing on the state obligation to investigate and prosecute human rights
violations that constitute crimes against international law. According to the civil society organizations,
pursuant to inter-American treaties and the authorized interpretation of those treaties by the Inter-
American Court, and considering the nature erga omnes of the obligation to investigate, prosecute, and
punish human rights violations, it is clear that all OAS member states have the obligation to adopt the
measures necessary to ensure that grave human rights violations that constitute crimes against
international law do not go unpunished, and that the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of such
crimes are conducted in accordance with inter-American standards. In their presentation, they
underscored the importance of ensuring adherence to regional standards on clarification of the facts,
punishment of the perpetrators, the imposition of penalties proportionate to the gravity of the offense, and
especially, adequate and integral reparation to the victims and their families. It should be recalled that the
IACHR adopted Resolution 01/03 on the prosecution of crimes against international law, which calls on
states to take measures to consider crimes against international law as offenses that give rise to
extradition and to grant the extradition of any person accused of having committed a crime against
international law or to proceed with his prosecution.
The Inter-American Commission received information on the situation of people affected by
mandatory minimum sentences in the United States. At the hearing, government experts on the judiciary
and the legislative branch and experts from civil society organizations presented reports on the
discriminatory impact of mandatory minimum sentences and on current legal and legislative measures
against this practice; they offered several recommendations on the ways in which the Commission could
address this issue.
With regard to the justice situation in Nicaragua, information was received on the progressive
deterioration of the administration of justice system, which has been exacerbated by recent reports of
corruption, politicization, and political party interference in the courts. In particular, the organizations
mentioned that Nicaraguan administration of justice has been affected by sweeping legal and institutional
changes pursuant to an agreement between the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) and
the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC). Therefore, the organizations proposed that the Commission
carry out an on-site visit to evaluate the human rights situation and to prepare a report on the
administration of justice in Nicaragua, prior to November 5, 2006, the date of the next national elections.
At the hearings, the Inter-American Commission also received information on economic, social,
and cultural rights in Brazil, presented by several rapporteurs from the National Rapporteurs Project. The
rapporteurs informed the Inter-American Commission about the specific issue that each is addressing at
the domestic level pursuant to his or her respective mandate.
C. Thematic hearings
The Inter-American Commission’s program included hearings to address specific issues relating
to its mandate or to analyze the situation of the rights of individuals belonging to particular groups.
The IACHR received information from several human rights and women’s rights organizations on
the issue of ―feminicide or femicide,‖ in different parts of the Americas. This problem involves the murder
of women, often accompanied by sexual abuse and other signs of physical mistreatment, based on their
gender. In particular, the information refers to deficiencies in the response of the States of Mexico, Peru,
Colombia, and Guatemala to effectively prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish these incidents. The
participants underscored the need to establish and improve statistical and qualitative information systems
and records on incidents of violence against women, and the urgent need to create mechanisms for
standardizing such systems and to implement measures so that they adequately reflect the national and
local situation, including information broken down by gender, age, race and ethnic group, among other
The IACHR also received information on the critical and precarious situation of displaced women
in Colombia and the need for public policy to address the specific needs of this group of women. It heard
a presentation on the disproportionate impact on women of the phenomenon of displacement in terms of
numbers and consequences, and the high number of women heads of household, which surpasses that
of the population in general. The recommendations received included incorporating a gender focus and
the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in the monitoring and evaluation of existing public policy
on displacement, and adopting the necessary measures to ensure the exercise of women’s sexual and
reproductive rights and assistance for victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The IACHR conducted a hearing at the request of the Republic of Argentina to address the
situation of persons deprived of their liberty in Buenos Aires Province. Participants included
representatives of the Center for Legal and Social Studies [Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales] and
the Provincial Memory Committee [Comisión Provincial por la Memoria]. They provided information on the
conditions of confinement in the province’s jails and police stations [comisarías] and the process currently
underway to follow-up on the ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ordering a
series of measures to correct serious deficiencies. The IACHR appreciates this ruling, which creates a
jurisdictional framework to ensure that the State implements the reforms required under the Constitution
and the American Convention, and it believes that the process of periodic reporting and monitoring, which
includes the participation of civil society representatives, is a critical tool in the quest for solutions.
The Commission also received information on the general status of the rights of the indigenous
peoples of Mesoamerica. The participants described the economic and political context in the region and
its impact on members of indigenous peoples, as well as the problems they face in the conservation of
their territories, health, education, and access to justice. They mentioned, in particular, the situation of
indigenous women. They underscored the lack of respect for the freedom of determination of indigenous
peoples due to the lack of consultation when public works, such as hydroelectric dams, mines, or tourism
projects, are to be carried out on their own lands. They emphasized too that the States fail to consult
with them in the negotiations of regional treaties and projects that affect their lifestyle. Lastly, they
mentioned international initiatives to defend the rights of indigenous peoples, but lamented that, despite
such initiatives, they continue to fall victim to discrimination and exclusion, which become tangible in their
day-to-day lives through government public policy, social relations, production models, and development
cooperation. As an example, they emphasized that in some countries such as El Salvador, the existence
of indigenous peoples is not recognized. The petitioners requested the IACHR to prepare a regional
report on the situation of indigenous peoples.
The Commission also held a thematic hearing on the situation of individuals deprived of their
liberty in El Salvador. At the hearing, the Inter-American Commission received information on the impact
of the ―hard hand plan‖ [plan de mano dura] to fight crime, particularly in terms of the impact of higher
penalties on the prison situation. According to reports, this policy exacerbates the problem of treating the
penalty as a mechanism for ongoing repression rather than resocialization. They also stated that the
most recent reforms implemented not only included abusive measures against detainees, but also
established preventive detention as the general rule for any type of offense, regardless of its legal
character. The State pointed out at the hearing that most of the criminal law reforms were established in
the framework of a penitentiary board with participation by different sectors. The State also pointed out
that overcrowding also is a problem in other Latin American countries and specifically stated that the main
causes of the problem in El Salvador were the massive deportations of a high number of people with
criminal records, insufficient funding for prison infrastructure, social violence, the high incidence of gangs
and organized crime.
The Chilean State presented information during a hearing on the situation of individuals deprived
of their liberty in that country. The Chilean authorities described various initiatives to reduce and
eliminate, over the coming years, the endemic crowding problem afflicting detainees.
Three hearings dealt with the situation of migrant workers and their families. The Commission
heard testimonies concerning human rights in the natural disasters in the hemisphere, including the
effects of government actions following the natural disasters of hurricanes Katrina and Mitch on the
population of latino migrant workers, a group comprising some 20-30,000 people. It was reported at the
hearing that, in situations of natural disasters, migrant workers and other minorities frequently are at a
disadvantage and are victims of human rights violations, including the lack of basic needs and services,
threats of deportation, and denial of labor protection. According to the presenters, for example, following
hurricanes Katrina and Mitch, the migrant population was deprived for six months of assistance from the
United States government including food, water, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. The presenters
also noted that migrant workers were forced to work 7 days a week for 10 to 14 hours per day, and
experienced, in some cases, the failure to pay overtime and deplorable conditions in which they were
exposed to asbestos, toxic and human waste, and dangerous chemicals without the necessary protective
During the hearings, the Commission learned of the situation created by migration law 285-04 in
the Dominican Republic, approved by the National Congress in August 2004, as well as its proposed
implementing regulations and their effect on the Haitian-Dominican population. At the hearing, the
requesters asserted that several articles of the law promote discriminatory policies against Haitian and
Haitian-Dominicans in violation of the relevant international standards, and should its regulations take
effect, would institutionalize the violations to which these populations have been subjected. In addition,
the petitioners reported on the problem of massive expulsions of the Haitian and Haitian-Dominican
population, which are conducted without due process and in contravention of the right to non-
discrimination. They pointed out that such policies especially affect the right to family, protection of
children, and the rights to nationality, a name, and freedom of movement and residence. They also
denounced that the repatriation policy affected boys and girls particularly and had the direct effect of their
births not being registered in the Dominican civil register, since the repatriations have targeted pregnant
or recently delivered women. They also reported that besides being deported, Haitian-Dominicans who
are detained are subject to mistreatment, discrimination, and the lack of due process guarantees. Finally,
the Commission heard about the precarious working conditions particularly affecting migrant agricultural
laborers in border areas and women in domestic service, who earn salaries below the established
minimum wage and who, due to their status, may be fired without being compensated for the services
The IACHR was also informed about the human rights situation of migrant workers and their
families in Costa Rica. The requesters reported that the migrant population faced myriad obstacles
including problems of access to education, health, and social services, and described their precarious
circumstances. During the hearing they also described the particular effects on the children of migrant
workers in the context of the school system, where in many cases enrollment is contingent upon their
parents proving that they are in the country legally. The Commission takes note of the concerns
presented by the State of Costa Rica regarding the co-responsibility for this problem shared by the
country of origin as well as the transit and receiving countries. At the hearing, the State invited the Special
Rapporteurship on the rights of migrant workers and members of their families to visit the country.
Another hearing dealt with the situation of children and child labor in Latin America. According to
the information received, at least 17% of Central American boys, girls, and adolescents between the ages
of 5 and 17 years form part of the working population, the equivalent of 2 million minors. The
organizations present expressed their concern over myriad human rights violations associated with child
labor and requested the Rapporteurship on the Rights of the Child to conduct a study on national and
international law, institutional reform, and government investment for the prevention of child labor. Lastly,
they requested the Rapporteurship to formulate recommendations to protect all minors from any form of
D. Hearings on cases and petitions
Case 12.328 – Adolescents in the custody of the FEBEM, Brazil;
Case 12.052 – Karen Attala Riffo and daughters, Chile;
Case 12.470 – Ricardo Israel, Chile
Case 12.509 - Ever Montero M. and 12.510 – Juan E. Daza Carrillo, Colombia;
P712/03 – Elena Telles Blanco (―Tías de PANI‖), Costa Rica;
Case 12.465 –Sarayaku Indigenous Community, Ecuador;
Case 12.487 – Rafael Ignacio Cuesta Caputi, Ecuador;
P1425/04 – Hugo Quintana Coello et al., Ecuador;
P161/05 – Miguel Camba Campos et al., Ecuador;
P1119/03 – Garifuna Community of Punta Piedra, Honduras;
P558/05 – Jeremy Smith, Jamaica;
P4614/02 – Wilmer González Rojas (Tipitapa), Nicaragua;
P092/04 – Jesús Vélez Loor, Panama;
Follow-up on report 29/92 (Law of Expiry [Ley de Caducidad]), Uruguay.
E. Hearings on precautionary measures
MC 134/00 – CREDHOS and members of Corporación Nación, Colombia
MC 46/02 – Members of the CUT, Subdirectiva Atlántico, Colombia
MC 629/03 – Members of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission
[Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz], Colombia
MC 08/06 – Omar Ahmed Khdar, United States
MC 184/05 – Andrea Mortlock (Case 12.354), United States
IV. WORKING MEETINGS
During the week of hearings, over 40 working meetings were held concerning different countries.
The meetings dealt with several cases and petitions, particularly those in the friendly settlement or follow-
up phase, as well as with precautionary measures. The matters addressed in this framework concerned
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.
Of particular note was the working meeting on petition P161/02 of Paulina Ramírez Jacinto,
Mexico. In that matter, the parties reached a friendly settlement agreement that included public
recognition of the responsibility of the Government of Baja California and a significant series of reparation
measures for the alleged victim and her son. The IACHR notes with satisfaction the good will and
collaboration of the parties that made it possible to reach an agreement that concluded the matter through
a non-contentious proceeding.
A working meeting was also held on Case 12.433 – Sonia Arce Esparza, of Chile. In that matter,
the discussions continued regarding the bases for a friendly settlement agreement, following up on the
meeting between the parties at the previous session. The IACHR recognizes the progress made in the
dialogue on the matter through the active participation of the State and the petitioners.
The Inter-American Commission also welcomes the important progress made in the friendly
settlement process relating to Case 10.205 - Germán Enrique Guerra Achuri, Colombia. At the working
meeting, the petitioners of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission and the Colombian state
formalized a friendly settlement agreement. The IACHR notes with satisfaction the agreement of the
parties and expresses its willingness to monitor the process.
The IACHR also held a series of working meetings on petitions and cases concerning Argentina,
including the case of the attack on the Asociación de Mutuales Israelitas en la Argentina (AMIA), which
were attended by the petitioners Memoria Activa, CELS, CEJIL, and by the Argentine Government. It
received information on progress in the friendly settlement process, such as the enactment and regulation
of Decree 229/06 authorizing the Secretariat of Criminal Policy and Penitentiary Matters [Secretaría de
Política Criminal y Asuntos Penitenciarios] to participate as a complainant, as well as on a series of
ongoing challenges, particularly having to do with the clarification of the facts of the attack and cover-up,
and the corresponding responsibilities.
A meeting was held following up on the Commission’s decision in Case 11.381 of Milton García
Fajardo et al of Nicaragua, issued on October 11, 2001. At the meeting, the IACHR and the parties
evaluated the difficulties associated with the integral fulfillment of the Commission’s recommendations
and made progress toward a possible agreement.
A series of working meetings were held concerning Peru. The first of these was on Case 11.084
Salinas Sedó et al, to examine progress in compliance with report 27/94. At that meeting, the petitioner
and his representative described the State’s noncompliance on several points. The State, for its part,
demonstrated its willingness to convene a working meeting prior to the second round of presidential
elections to examine legal technical issues and arrive at an understanding with the petitioner. The IACHR
welcomes the progress made and stresses that the conditions are conducive to continuing the
discussions until the next visit to Lima in the coming months.
The Inter-American Commission received the parties in Case 12.033, Rómulo Torres Ventocilla,
in which they signed a friendly settlement agreement, an event welcomed by the IACHR. In Case 11.062
– Petroleum Workers Union of Peru [Sindicato de Trabajadores de Petróleos del Perú], there was
progress made in negotiating the particulars of a future friendly settlement agreement. A working meeting
was also held on petition P532-98 Dismissed Workers of ENAPU S.A. [Trabajadores Despedidos de
ENAPU S.A.], during which the Inter-American Commission noted with satisfaction the reinstatements
that had been carried out and the framework for dialogue between the parties. It also applauded the
State’s willingness to request that ENAPU reinstate five of the dismissed workers. Another working
meeting dealt with petitions of magistrates and prosecutors who were not reconfirmed. The State
expressed its willingness to reinstate the magistrates as long as there was a friendly settlement, mainly
because there is a Supreme Resolution authorizing the signing of such solutions. They indicated that
they had signed agreements with 52 magistrates and that they would continue evaluating the cases for
the signing of such agreements. It was agreed that the State would communicate with the IACHR and
with the petitioners within 30 days as to whether it would sign additional friendly settlement agreements.
The IACHR recognized the State’s offer and welcomed its good will. With respect to the cases of the Joint
Press Release of February 22, 2001, the Inter-American Commission proposed that meetings be held in
its absence for the purpose of continuing the dialogue and that preparations be made for that institution’s
visit to Lima in the coming months.
In relation to the human rights situation of pensioners, the Inter-American Commission received
information on the situation of pensioners in Peru following the constitutional reform and its impact on the
―Cédula Viva‖ pension regime. The IACHR noted with satisfaction the State’s agreement to enforce the
petitions with a favorable judgment from the Constitutional Court.
Another working meeting dealt with request for precautionary measures No. 271/05 involving the
La Oroya Community. At the meeting, the petitioners and the State presented vast amounts of
information analyzing the grounds for said measures. The petitioners stated that it was not their intention
to cancel the industrial works but urged that effective measures be taken for the inhabitants of the
community, and especially for children and pregnant women. The IACHR indicated to the parties that it
would undertake the study of the situation as soon as possible.
Executive Secretary Santiago A. Canton also participated in a working meeting with human rights
defenders, which was attended by several civil society representatives in the Americas. The topics
addressed included several problems that impede or adversely affect efforts to defend human rights in
the region, ranging from threats and murders to undue restrictions and other forms of harassment.
During the sessions, the Commission received representatives of the International Committee of
the Red Cross to discuss issues of mutual interest to both institutions. It should also be noted that the
ICRC made a substantial donation in the form of its recent publication, in three volumes, on rules and
practices internationally accepted as customary in international humanitarian law. The IACHR expresses
its gratitude for the kind gift to each of its members of the first volume of that publication on the rules
relating to that subject.
V. RAPPORTEURSHIPS AND THEMATIC AREAS
This section contains a brief summary of some of the principal activities carried out by the IACHR
since its October 2005 regular sessions, through its special Rapporteurships and thematic areas.
A. Afro-descendents and against racial discrimination
The Rapporteur on this issue is Commissioner Clare K. Roberts, who represented the IACHR, in
the Conference to Establish a Policy Agenda for Racial Equality in the Americas organized by the Inter-
American Dialogue and the World Bank. At the session, Commissioner Roberts stressed the importance
of ensuring the full and equal access to justice for Afro-descendents who fall victim to racial
discrimination. On behalf of the Commission, the Rapporteur appealed for the development of a working
agenda to adopt the legal, political, and other measures necessary to create a legal framework that would
enable member states to effectively combat racial discrimination and ensure that Afro-descendents who
are victims of discrimination due to their race or skin color obtain the reparations to which they are
entitled. The Inter-American Commission has continued to provide technical assistance to the OAS
Working Group to Prepare a Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of
Discrimination and Intolerance. The IACHR has stressed on many occasions the importance of adopting
this instrument and the need to ensure that this main human rights body be granted supervisory powers
relating to the new obligations assumed by the states. During these sessions, the Commission received
information at different hearings on the general situation or on particular aspects of the lives of Afro-
descendents in the United States, Honduras, Brazil, and Colombia. Issues of critical importance were
pointed out at each one of these hearings. They included duly ensuring the effective enjoyment of
property rights over traditional territories (Honduras), the equal and nondiscriminatory administration of
justice (United States), ensuring the full and equitable enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights
(Brazil), reducing the disproportionately negative impact on Afro-descendents of the effects of internal
armed conflict (Colombia), or of natural disasters. The Rapporteurship, represented by professional staff
of the Secretariat, participated in the meeting of the United Nations Working Group on the Effective
Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action. On that occasion, the IACHR underscored
the importance of adapting international law to the new manifestations and realities of racial
discrimination. Finally, the Commission announced with immense satisfaction the creation of a fellowship
for a young attorney of African descent to carry out a professional, one-year internship with the IACHR.
The IACHR chose as its first fellow in this thematic area, Brazilian national Cleber Lázaro Costa.
The Rapporteur for the rights of women is Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, who was name at
the beginning of the sessions. Highlights in terms of progress in the rights of women include the State of
Jamaica’s ratification of the Convention of Belém do Pará last December 15, 2005, reinforcing that
Convention’s status as the most ratified instrument of the inter-American human rights system, and the
election of Michelle Bachelet as the first woman president of Chile. In the past two years, the
Rapporteurship’s work program has focused on a priority for the rights of women on the continent: how to
ensure women’s effective access to justice, particularly when they have experienced violence and
discrimination. Since the previous sessions, the Rapporteurship has continued to gather information on
the main achievements and on the challenges women face in gaining access to justice in the Americas.
This consultation process has included the government sector, civil society, regional and international
organizations, academics, and others. The Rapporteurship is currently preparing a report that sets forth
and examines the findings and conclusions of this process, which will include specific recommendations
for OAS member states on the measures that could be adopted to improve women’s access to justice
and to achieve effective fulfillment of their regional human rights obligations. In addition to its work on
access to justice, the Rapporteurship has continued to provide technical support to attorneys of the
Executive Secretariat in processing petitions and precautionary measures.
C. Indigenous peoples
The Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is Commissioner Paolo Carozza, who was
named at the start of the current sessions. The Rapporteur met with the Working Group to Prepare a
Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and with the indigenous leaders who
attended various hearings before the IACHR. The bodies of the system for the protection of human rights
have developed progressive jurisprudence recognizing the collective rights of indigenous peoples and
establishing special forms of reparation. Nonetheless, the Inter-American Commission notes with concern
the difficulties in complying with its recommendations, and the judgments and provisional measures
handed down by the Inter-American Court with respect to decisions in cases in which the victim is an
indigenous people. In this regard, the Commission urges the states to make a special effort to comply
with decisions involving indigenous peoples because by doing so, they not only recognize, protect, and
make reparations to a group of people, but also respect a special way of life because, as the Court has
stated, ―the culture of members of indigenous communities corresponds to a particular way of life of
being, viewing, and acting in the world, that grows out of their close ties to their traditional lands and the
resources found there, not only as their main form of subsistence, but also as an integral part of their
cosmovision, religiosity and, ultimately, their cultural identity.‖ The Rapporteurship on the rights of
indigenous peoples has continued to collaborate on the processing of petitions concerning the rights of
indigenous peoples, has participated in visits to Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico, and has continued to
assist the Chair of the Working Group to prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples. In this regard, the Inter-American Commission reiterates its recognition of the efforts
made by OAS member states and representatives of the indigenous peoples of the continent in the draft
negotiation process and applauds the achievements made. The IACHR also urges the adoption of the
declaration because such a powerful instrument will enrich the body of inter-American human rights law
and the regional system of protection, and will help strengthen the democracies of our countries.
I/A Court H.R., Case of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community. Judgment of June 17, 2005. Series C No. 125,
The Rapporteur for Children is Commissioner Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro. Since the last sessions, the
Rapporteurship has advanced in its analysis of the status of the rights of children in Haiti, following its
recent visit to that country together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In particular, the
Rapporteurship has focused on grave human rights violations against Haitian boys, girls, and adolescents
that have occurred in the context of the current violence in the country. In this regard, it is analyzing
reports from various sources on murders, the use of children by armed groups, torture, kidnappings,
abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, abandonment, trafficking, and corporal punishment. Also during
these sessions, the Rapporteurship has advanced in negotiations of a funding proposal with the Inter-
American Development Bank to strengthen activities in this thematic area, which it expects to sign shortly.
The Rapporteurship also announced its interest in visiting Paraguay and received a favorable response
from that State, which it will visit in April 2006. Finally, it should be noted that a suggestion was submitted
to the full session of the IACHR to request an advisory opinion from the Inter-American Court on the issue
of corporal punishment of boys and girls.
E. Migrant workers and members of their families
The Rapporteur on this issue is Commissioner Freddy Gutiérrez. Pursuant to the Inter-American
system’s mandate of promotion with an emphasis on the rights of migrant workers and their families,
during 2005, the Rapporteurship on the rights of migrant workers and members of their family distributed
a compact disc with a collection of thematic reports on the visits made and the jurisprudence developed
by the inter-American system on this subject. Likewise, the Rapporteurship closely followed policy
discussions and changes to legislation and migration controls in the region, particularly on human
trafficking; and the impact of the war on terrorism on migration controls and on the situation of migrant
workers in the region. In addition, the Rapporteurship has continued to collaborate on and examine
petitions and requests for precautionary measures concerning migrant workers taken in by the
Commission. With respect to the work plan for 2006, the Commission is obliged to report that from
August 2005 to date, the Rapporteurship has had no additional funds to carry out its activities.
F. Persons deprived of liberty
Commissioner Florentín Meléndez, Rapporteur on the rights of persons deprived of liberty in the
Americas, made a presentation on the subject on March 2, 2006, before the OAS Committee on Juridical
and Political Affairs. At that time, he presented a preliminary assessment of the penitentiary situation on
the continent, pointing out the good penitentiary practices detected in some countries. He also related
the main activities of the Rapporteurship under his purview in the framework of its three-year work plan,
including the normative development of the inter-American system through the adoption of an Inter-
American Declaration of Principles; the preparation of a regional report on the situation of persons
deprived of their liberty in the Americas; promotion and education on the rights of individuals deprived of
their liberty; and systematization of information in the inter-American system on persons deprived of
liberty and follow-up on fulfillment of IACHR recommendations on this subject. Since the last session, the
Rapporteurship has conducted an observation visit to Colombia from November 13 to 18, 2005, jointly
with the Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH), to
ascertain the prison conditions and respect for the rights of persons deprived of liberty. Subsequently, on
December 6, 2005, the Rapporteurship conducted a Workshop on the Inter-American Human Rights
System for civil society groups, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, sponsored by the ―Konrad
Adenauer‖ Foundation of Germany. In his capacity as the IACHR delegate, Commissioner Meléndez has
participated in public hearings on the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of
Human Rights in the Case of Children and Adolescents Deprived of their Liberty in the ―Tatuapé
Complex‖, Brazil, which were held on November 29, 2005. He also served as the IACHR’s delegate in the
public hearing in the Case of Damião Ximenes Lopes vs. Brazil before the Inter-American Court of
Human Rights, held on November 30 and December 1, 2005, on the death of a mentally disabled person
in state custody in a psychiatric hospital. In response to the prison situation observed in several countries
of the region, and as a contribution by the IACHR to the normative development of protection, the
Rapporteurship has prepared a Draft Declaration of Principles on the Protection of Persons Deprived of
their Liberty in the Americas. The aim of this draft declaration is to promote the use of the principles
recognized in different international instruments on the protection of the rights of persons deprived of
liberty, as well as those emerging in the jurisprudence. The Rapporteurship currently is preparing a
specialized questionnaire that will be submitted to the member states in order to gather information on the
situation of persons deprived of liberty in their jurisdictions, and on their respective penitentiary systems.
The information collected, as well as that obtained from observation visits conducted by the
Rapporteurship and the information sent by civil society organizations in the region, will be used in the
preparation of the first report on the penitentiary situation in the Americas.
G. Freedom of expression
The Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression is a permanent office with operational
independence and its own budget, which was created by the IACHR and operates within its legal
framework. During the current sessions, the Rapporteurship reported to the IACHR on matters inherent to
its mandate, highlighting progress in the derogation of contempt [desacato] laws in some countries,
progress in access to public information, and its concern over persistent acts of violence against
journalists, especially in Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, and Venezuela. The Rapporteurship also reported that
since the previous regular sessions of the IACHR, it has continued to carry out its promotion activities; the
Rapporteur and attorneys of the Rapporteurship have participated in events in the United States, Mexico,
Uruguay, and the United Kingdom. During this session, and after evaluating all of the nominations and
interviewing the finalists, the IACHR decided to designate Dr. Ignacio Álvarez, of Venezuelan nationality,
as the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. Eduardo Bertoni announced his resignation from
the post as the IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the end of 2005.
H. Human rights defenders
During this session, the Inter-American Commission met with representatives of various
organizations that provide information on the situation of human rights defenders in the hemisphere. The
Unit for Defenders of Human Rights also held informal meetings with representatives of organizations in
most of the countries of the hemisphere, during which it received current information on the situation of
human rights defenders. The Commission continued to receive information on acts and omissions that
impede or hamper the work of such individuals. Among such practices, the IACHR received information
on the increase in public discourse discrediting the work of human rights defenders, and the creation and
implementation of new laws restricting or criminalizing the funding of nongovernmental organizations
merely for having received funds from international cooperation to support their work. The Inter-American
Commission is concerned about this trend and appeals to member states to adopt urgent measures to
ensure that law enforcement and justice institutions not be manipulated in such a way as to harass
people engaged in legitimate activities. In this sense, the Commission calls on states to implement
promptly the recommendations in the recently approved ―Report on the situation of human rights
defenders in the Americas.‖
VI. WORK RELATED TO THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT
The IACHR considered during its sessions, the overall status of cases in litigation before the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It also discussed some general issues concerning procedural
aspects and analyzed the progress made in the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court. Currently, 16
cases are in process before the Inter-American Court, while 61 cases are in the supervision of
compliance stage. In addition, 35 provisional measures are being processed before the court concerning
A. Joint meeting IACHR – Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Commission and the Court held their Joint Working Session for 2006. In order to follow-up
on the issues discussed, the decision was made to create a Joint Working Group with the participation of
members of both bodies of the inter-American system and their respective Secretariats.
B. Contentious cases
Since the previous sessions, the Inter-American Commission has referred four new cases to the
contentious jurisdiction of the Court:
- García-Prieto Giralt (El Salvador)
- La Cantuta (Peru)
- Cantoral Huamani and García Santa-Cruz (Peru)
- La Rochela (Colombia)
VII. FINANCIAL SITUATION
The Inter-American Commission continues to be adversely affected by the severe financial crisis
facing the. It is impossible to grasp the difficulties this body is facing without an overall view of the
IACHR’s workload and its sustained increase in recent years. The number of petitions received alone
grew from 26 in 1970 to 1,330 in 2005; from 1997 to 2003, the number of complaints received increased by
170%, and there is a sustained, cumulative increase of 10% annually. This means that in the past five years,
the Commission has received over 7,500 new complaints, of which approximately 1,000 are in process at
different stages of the process. Unfortunately, the budget increase has not been proportionate to the
increase in petitions received. The Commission’s regular budget has remained virtually the same since
1996, the last year in which it was granted a substantial increase.
The IACHR wishes to thank Secretary General José Miguel Insulza for his efforts to resolve the
serious financial crisis. The recent deliberations and decisions of the Thirtieth Extraordinary Session of
the General Assembly on the budget of the Organization and the scale of contributions to the Regular
Fund are crucial to ensuring that the Commission is able to effectively fulfill its increasingly broad
mandate, and therefore, such efforts nourish hopes for a better financial future. In this same vein, it is
encouraged by the expressions of support unanimously expressed by the member states at the recent
session of the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters of the Organization when the
President of the Inter-American Commission presented the critical situation facing this body. The
opportunity provided at the invitation of the Chair of the CAAP, Permanent Representative of Paraguay
Manuel María Cáceres, is a gesture that the IACHR deeply appreciates.
The Inter-American Commission emphasizes once more the significant financial support provided
by OAS member states: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, and Mexico. It
likewise is grateful for the resources contributed by the Permanent Observer States such as Spain, Finland,
France, Ireland, Italy, and Swede, and by institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the
European Commission, Rights and Democracy, the Ford Foundation, and the McCormick Foundation.
These contributions directly strengthen the inter-American human rights system in the American
Washington, D.C., March 17, 2006
IACHR WELCOMES ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY
BY THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its satisfaction that on this
day, April 4, 2006, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had accepted responsibility for the events that
occurred between November 27 and 29, 1992, inside and around the prison Retén e Internado Judicial
de las Flores de Catia, as a result of which dozens of persons perished.
The violations occurred when the prison guards, upon hearing of an attempted coup d’état,
opened the doors of the cells and announced that the inmates were free. They executed at least 37 of
them and injured many others. These acts, and the subsequent denial of justice, caused serious harm to
the victims and their family members.
The Commission submitted the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which held a
public hearing on it today, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that hearing, the Venezuelan State said that it
accepted fully and unconditionally the facts of the case, the conclusions of law, and the claims for
reparations–a declaration that reaffirms and expands on various statements to the Commission in which it
had accepted responsibility.
The Venezuelan State thereby acknowledged, before the Court, its international responsibility for
violations to the right to life, to humane treatment, to a fair trial, and to judicial protection for victims and
their families, rights embodied in the American Convention on Human Rights. It also recognized that it
had failed to fulfill the general obligations to respect and guarantee rights, and to adopt measures to
ensure their observance.
After the State had accepted responsibility, everyone present at the hearing, including the full
Court, the delegation of the Commission, the representatives of the victims, and the State’s delegation
observed a minute of silence as a sign of respect for the victims and as a tribute to their memory.
The Commission points to the willingness expressed by the State and values the importance of
its statement. This action paves the way for redress and for the efforts that should be undertaken to
ensure justice in this case and to prevent further violations of this sort.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 4, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS CONDEMNS ACTS OF VIOLENCE BY
THE FARC AGAINST COLOMBIA’S CIVILIAN POPULATION
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns a series of acts of violence,
attributed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), against the civilian population in
various areas of Colombia. These incidents over the past four weeks have involved, among others,
incendiary and firearms attacks on vehicles used for public transportation or the delivery of provisions,
bomb attacks on rural dwellings, the killing of municipal council members, and the murder of a former
indigenous governor and his wife. They have resulted in the deaths of dozens of men, women, and
The killing of defenseless civilians violates the most basic rules of international humanitarian law
and international criminal law. In view of the information available about the circumstances in which the
aforementioned crimes were allegedly committed, the Commission reiterates its condemnation of the acts of
violence perpetrated by the parties to the armed conflict with a view to terrorizing the civilian population, in
violation of international law, and is confident that the State will take all necessary measures to investigate
the facts and prosecute and punish those responsible.
Washington, D.C., April 6, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT
HOLD HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY WORKSHOP IN ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
On Tuesday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 26, 2006, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (―IACHR‖) and the Commonwealth Secretariat co-sponsored a workshop in St. John’s, Antigua &
Barbuda on the ratification and implementation of international and regional human rights instruments.
The Workshop was officially opened by Antigua & Barbuda’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal
Affairs, the Honourable Justin L. Simon Q.C.
The workshop, convened at the invitation of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda, provided
officials from governments of the Caribbean region with an intensive training on the importance of full
participation in the United Nations and Inter-American human rights systems as well as the procedures
involved in ratifying and implementing international and regional human rights instruments. Over 20
government officials from more than 10 Caribbean states participated, including representatives from
Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the
Grenadines, and Suriname.
Panelists at the workshop included senior human rights specialists from the Commonwealth
Secretariat, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Executive
Secretariat of the IACHR as well as governmental and nongovernmental legal experts from the Caribbean
region. Participants in the Opening Ceremony for the event included Antigua & Barbuda Attorney General
Justin L. Simon Q.C., Mr. Clare K. Roberts, Member and former President of the IACHR, Mr. Jarvis
Matiya, Human Rights Advisor with the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit, and Ms. Cecily
Norris, Director of the National Office of the Organization of American State (―OAS‖) in Antigua &
Barbuda. Closing remarks were delivered by Her Excellency Lisa Shoman, Ambassador of Belize to the
United States and Permanent Representative of Belize to the OAS.
The IACHR is the principal human rights organ of the 34-member OAS and is mandated to
promote, protect, and defend human rights in the Americas and to serve as a consultative organ to the
OAS in these matters. The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency of the 53-
member Commonwealth and is responsible for facilitating consultation and co-operation among member
governments and countries, including the promotion of human rights through its Human Rights Unit.
The IACHR and the Commonwealth Secretariat wish to thank the Government of Antigua &
Barbuda for hosting and facilitating this event.
St. John’s, Antigua, April 26, 2006
RAPPORTEUR OF THE IACHR CULMINATES OBSERVATION VISIT TO THE
URABÁ REGION OF COLOMBIA
From April 24 to 27, 2006, a delegation headed up by the Rapporteur for Colombia of the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights, Víctor Abramovich, visited the city of Apartadó in the Republic
This is the third visit in 2006 to monitor the process of demobilization of illegal armed groups in
Colombia, in the context of the mandate entrusted to the IACHR by the member states of the OAS
pursuant to resolution CP/RES. 859 1397/04 of the Permanent Council of the Organization, in light of
Colombia’s international obligations in the area of human rights.
During its stay, the delegation of the IACHR visited the second phase of the demobilization of the
Bloque Élmer Cárdenas, an illegal armed group that operates in the Urabá region. The delegation met
with authorities involved in identifying and distributing benefits to persons as they demobilize, and met
with staff of the MAPP/OAS mission engaged in the verification process. The delegation also had an
opportunity to meet with residents of the area who have been affected by the armed conflict. The
delegation also met with authorities from the Office of the Mayor of Apartadó.
This visit took place in the context of the preparation of the IACHR’s second report on the process
of demobilization in Colombia. The IACHR will complete its observation of the situation with another visit
to Colombia in the near future.
Washington D.C., April 28, 2006
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR THE
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN CUBA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has presented its annual report for
2005, which includes a chapter on human rights in Cuba. In this chapter, the Commission reports that the
lack of free and fair elections based on universal suffrage and secret balloting as an expression of
sovereignty of the people of Cuba, which violates the right to participate in government as enshrined in
Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Likewise, the IACHR reports on
violations of due process guarantees and lack of independence of the judiciary; conditions of detention of
persons deprived of liberty due to their political dissidence; violations of the right to freedom of
expression; the situation of human rights defenders; violation of labor and union rights of workers and the
restrictions placed on the exercise of right of residence and transit of the island’s inhabitants.
As for the guarantees to due process of law and the independence of the judiciary, the
Commission reports a series of acts of harassment carried out against political dissidents of the Cuban
government during the year 2005. Several persons were detained under the charge of ―pre-criminal
dangerousness‖, that is, not with any crime, but as a security measure. Likewise, the Commission
received information on the continued practice of the Cuban courts to judge the accused based on
ideological and political criteria. The Commission has stated consistently that Cuba lacks the separation
of powers necessary to ensure an administration of justice free of interference from other branches of
The Commission received information on the harsh prison conditions of most prisoners in Cuba,
in particular, of political dissidents. In the case of a group of 75 dissidents sentenced in April 2003, the
IACHR expresses its concern for their poor detention conditions. The majority of these detainees are
incarcerated in prisons far from their places of residence, telephone contact and correspondence are
restricted, they suffer maltreatment by prison guards and many have been transferred to solitary
confinement. The Commission also expresses its concern for the alarming deterioration of the health of
various political dissidents. Some detainees suffer from chronic illnesses affecting their vision, kidneys
and heart, for which they are not receiving appropriate medical care.
In 2005, the Commission continued to receive reports of acts of repression and censorship
against those wishing to express themselves freely in Cuba. Information received by the IACHR reports
the mistreatment of journalists, criminal prosecution and imprisonment of independent journalists, prior
censorship, attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists and the application of contempt laws.
Furthermore, the Commission affirms various obstacles that exist for defenders of human rights in
Cuba. The IACHR received constant reports of repressive actions taken against human rights defenders,
such as disciplinary measures, indictment on criminal charges, temporary detention, dismissals from
work, official warnings and prison sentences. The Commission observes that the authorities have
stigmatized the work of human rights defenders in order to mislead part of the population on the role of
those who defend and promote human rights. Likewise, the IACHR urged the Cuban government to
promote a culture of human rights that publicly and unequivocally acknowledges the essential role
performed by human rights defenders in helping to ensure democracy and the rule of law in society.
The Commission continued to receive information in 2005 on the human rights situation of
workers and labor leaders, particularly on the restriction of freedom of association, the continual acts of
harassment toward collaborators and activists of the independent trade union movement.
Additionally, the Commission received information showing that the State continues to deny
Cuban nationals the right to come and go from the country of their free will, requires them to have
authorization from the Ministry of the Interior to travel abroad, and continues restrictions on travel within
the country that affect Cuban citizens as well as foreign residents and visitors to the country.
Finally, the Commission considers that the trade embargo imposed on Cuba for more than 40
years should end. This economic sanction has had a severe impact on the enjoyment of the economic
and social rights of the population and, in short, the ones who have suffered its consequences have been
the most vulnerable sectors of the Cuban population.
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006
THE IACHR EXPRESSES CONCERN
FOR THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ECUADOR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights presented its annual report, wherein it
included a section on the situation of human rights in Ecuador. In the said section, the Commission
discussed the institutional deficiencies of the country during the time-period covered by the report. In this
regard, the Commission maintained that the substitution of a president elected by a popular vote, and
before the termination of his mandate, is a serious matter, and that it requires a critical observation from
the perspective of defending democracy and fundamental liberties. In turn, the Commission condemned
the disproportional use of force during large-scaled protests, and profoundly lamented the loss of human
life. The Commission also highlighted that the strengthening of democracy and the consolidation of the
State of Rights through a re-construction that respects the separation of powers is an area that deserves
priority. Towards this end, the Commission recommended that the appropriate measures be adopted in
order to reinforce judicial independence, honesty and judicial professionalism, as a means to regain the
confidence of the population.
With respect to the situation of judicial power, the Commission observed that the institutional
crisis have particularly affected the judicial power due to irregularities such as the dismissal of
magistrates, among others. The Commission noted the necessity of establishing a balance between
independence and the rendition of accounts, signaling that in any hierarchical level, the judicial
independence must correspond with ethical limitations stipulated by the law. As such, the Commission
understands that the main problem to overcome is not only with respect to the formal reorganization of
the judicial power, but also the recuperation of public confidence in the judicial institutions of the State.
In addition, the Commission recognized the efforts of the Government of Ecuador in the process
of re-establishment of the judicial power, principally reflected in the assignment of the magistrates of the
Supreme Court of Justice, whose election was a result of an innovative process that included the
participation of some recognized international organizations as observers. In this regard, the Commission
expressed its hope that these trends continue to grow stronger in the future.
The Commission also provided information on the state of the efficacy of judicial guarantees in
Ecuador, and noted its concern with respect to the fact that, at the time of the preparation of the report,
the Constitutional Tribunal had not been reconstituted. The Commission reiterated that the legislation
that provides for the presentation of the recourse of habeas corpus before a mayor, who forms a part of
the executive wing of the local government, is not in accordance with the required standards in the
American Convention. With respect to the recourse of habeas data, the Commission noted with pleasure,
the promulgation of the Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information in the year 2004,
also recognizing that the integration of the said norm in the daily life implies a change in the social
paradigm of the population and their representatives, for which the Commission recommended that it will
follow-up this observation with special care.
With respect to the protection of individual rights, the Commission mentioned that the adequate
administration of justice is an essential element for guaranteeing that the responsible individuals for
violations of rights to life and other rights are identified, declared responsible and punished. At the same
time, the Commission noted that to date, Ecuador has not ratified the Inter-American Convention on the
Forced Disappearance of People. On the right to personal integrity, the Commission mentioned its
concern for the information received that point to the excessive use of force on the part of the public
agents when repressing public protests and rallies. Also, the Commissioned noted its concern with
respect to the petitions in which the cases of torture and maltreatment on the part of the State are
alleged. At the same time, the Commission urged the State of Ecuador to make a preferable use of an
ordinary jurisdiction on military and police forces when the violations of human rights are concerned.
Finally, regarding the right to personal liberty, the Commission reiterated its concern for the situation of
overcrowding and violations in jails, emphasizing that this situation requires the prompt attention of the
Finally, the Commission highlighted that political stability is a fundamental component for allowing
the development of effective policies that protect human rights. The Commission recognized the
consensus achieved for the nominating of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, noting the
importance of respecting the independence of the judicial power. At the same time, the Commission
valued the efforts of the Ecuadorian society for attempting the reestablish the state of rights, and the
reorganization of the judicial branch.
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006
IACHR EXPRESSES ITS CONCERN FOR THE SITUATION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its Annual Report for 2005
in which it included a section on the situation of human rights in Haiti. In this section, the IACHR reiterated
its concern for the continuing escalation in violence that occurred in Haiti during 2005.
The Commission’s report, which was based principally upon information obtained during visits
undertaken by the IACHR to Haiti in April, July and November 2005, takes note of deteriorating conditions
in the country, which have resulted in large part from an increase in violence perpetrated by armed
groups and gangs, together with the fact that the government, with the assistance of the international
community, has not guaranteed the security of the population throughout the country.
In addition, the report notes that despite any efforts to capture dangerous criminals, the fact that
armed groups and gangs in Haiti have not been disarmed is a principal concern for the Commission, not
only for the immediate threat that this violence presents to the lives and physical integrity of Haitians, but
also because the future of the country depends upon ensuring that efforts to guarantee security are
The Commission also highlighted the fact that in the absence of effective state control over
security, human rights defenders, journalists, persons who are threatened for their political opinions, and
others targeted for exercising their democratic rights will continue to be threatened and the possibility of
free and fair elections will be diminished, as will opportunities for long term international cooperation and
development in the country.
In this connection, the Commission expressed its particular concern with respect to the situation
faced by women, children, and human rights defenders, as well as journalists and persons who are the
objects of violence and mistreatment for their political affiliation or opinion.
In meetings in April and July 2005 with groups that defend the rights of women, the information
provided to the Commission revealed a high degree of sexual violence against women and children
perpetrated by armed groups during kidnappings or robberies, and indicated that numerous victims had
systematically been forced to provide sexual services to members of the gangs. The Commission was
also concerned by information indicating that a majority of victims in armed confrontations between gangs
and police were women and children. Further, most of these cases are not the subject of complaints to
authorities, rendering it difficult to accurately determine the extent of sexual violence and permitting those
responsible to continue to act with impunity. The Commission condemns incidents of this nature and
stresses once again the obligation of the State to investigate these events and try and punish those
The Commission noted that during its visit in November 2005, it received complaints concerning
children who had been the victims of child labor, kidnappings, abuse, arbitrary arrest and detention by the
police, and general violence attributable to armed groups. In addition, the Commission expressed its
concern regarding serious complaints received in relation to ongoing trafficking in children and
adolescents for use in domestic work, sexual exploitation and other activities degrading to their condition.
The IACHR expressed its particular concern for violations of the human rights of children and
indicated that the violence in Haiti has had a particularly grave impact upon the 2,000 street children who
are estimated to live in Port-au-Prince and on the 120,000 children subjected to domestic work
throughout the country, many of whom have been the victims of murder, sexual violence, kidnappings
and recruitment into gangs. In this regard, the Commission reiterates that children are among the most
vulnerable groups in our societies and require special protection from the State in order to effectively
safeguard their rights.
In light of these considerations, the Commission once again calls upon the government of Haiti to
take the urgent measures necessary, in accordance with applicable international norms and principles, to
assert its control over security in Haiti and asks the international community to enhance its efforts to
assist the government in this undertaking.
The Commission indicated that it will continue to monitor the situation in Haiti and offered its
continuing assistance to the government and the people of Haiti.
Washington D.C., May 2, 2006
IACHR EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN VENEZUELA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights presented its annual report in which a chapter
was included about human rights in Venezuela. In that chapter, the Commission expressed its concern
about the reports it had received of systematic extrajudicial executions in some parts of the country, and
of the persecution of witnesses of such executions. The impunity that exists in cases of extrajudicial
executions is one of the most serious problems that confronts Venezuela, since it is a problem that
involves the activity of private vigilante groups. The Commission cited as an additional area of serious
concern the impunity that surrounds the phenomena of violence against socially marginalized persons
and the persecution of those living in rural areas who are involved in the process of agrarian reform.
The Commission also expressed its concern because the Venezuelan State continues to
consider that the Commission’s decisions are not binding upon its internal legal system. The Commission
reiterated the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court regarding the duty of States to comply with their
international obligations in good faith, and the duty of States to implement and comply with resolutions
emitted by the supervisory organs of the treaties to which they are parties.
With respect to the administration of justice, the Commission views as a positive development
programs that were instituted to strengthen the reach and efficiency of, and the technology available to
the judicial system, as well as those initiatives undertaken to improve the working conditions of judges. In
addition, the IACHR took special note of programs implemented to promote the assignment of judicial
positions on a lifetime basis.
Despite these advances, the IACHR reiterated its concern at the large percentage of judges who
continue to hold their positions only provisionally. To this is added the irregularly functioning situation of
the First and Second Courts for Contentious-Administrative Matters. The majority of the First Court was
dismissed in October of 2003 and for nine months this tribunal ceased to function because replacement
judges were not appointed. The Commission reiterated that it is problematic that a tribunal that is
charged with analyzing matters of great importance – in particular numerous instances of the use of
executive power – has operated for many years, and in fact still continues to operate, without judges that
have been appointed for life. In addition, the Commission commented on the continuation of problems
related to the need for stability in the judicial system: the arbitrary and apparently politically motivated
nature of the application of judicial disciplinary actions; the possible manipulation of judicial power by the
executive branch of the government; and the high number of provisional appointments of prosecutors to
the Public Ministry. The Commission also observed that Venezuela has continued in its non-compliance
with the Commission’s recommendations regarding the application of the military criminal justice system
to civilians and retired military personnel. Since 2003, approximately one hundred civilians have had their
cases adjudicated by military courts or are currently having their cases adjudicated by military courts.
The Commission was also concerned by the reports it received about violence in prisons,
penitentiaries, and other detention facilities in Venezuela. The figures received by the Commission
indicate that there were 360 deaths and 69 injuries between January and October of 2005. Included
among the various causes of this situation are a lack of qualified prison security officers, the possible
acquiescence of security officers in illicit activities, such as trafficking in drugs and weapons, and a
reduced number of guards with which to maintain order and discipline.
The Commission dedicated a special section to the tolerance of dissent or political criticism and
the investigatory activities of civil society. In this respect, the Commission expressed its concern about
petitions it received from persons who were apparently discriminated against because of their
participation in the referendum, and the continuation of discrimination against those whose names appear
on what is referred to as the Tascón list – those who signed the petition calling for the 2004 referendum –
which discrimination is especially reflected in their dismissal from public employment and in the hindrance
of their access to public services.
The Commission also commented on the situation of those who defend human rights, stating that
it was concerned by its continued receipt of petitions denouncing threats and other open hostility towards
human rights defenders. In addition, the IACHR discussed the seriousness of the maligning of human
rights workers by authorities within the government, including the legislature, the executive, the public
prosecutors, and the judiciary, who have referred to human rights workers as ―coup plotters‖ and agents
of instability. The Commission also expressed its concern at the restrictions placed on the receipt of
international financing by human rights groups through the opening of criminal prosecutions against them
based on a broad interpretation of certain crimes, such as ―soliciting foreign intervention in internal
With respect to the right to freedom of expression, the Commission stated its concern
surrounding the petitions received in 2005 insofar as they refer to: the promulgation of laws that affected
the freedom of expression; the increase in the instances of criminal proceedings against journalists;
discriminatory practices in granting permission for official publications; and the intimidation, attack,
harassment, and detention of journalists by military personnel. Regarding the Law on Social
Responsibility in Radio and Television, the Commission expressed concern over the increased
restrictions on the content of audiovisual communications, and in the creation of the Social Responsibility
Board and Council, both of which have broad power to issue sanctions and lack established limitations on
With respect to economic, social, and cultural rights the Commission expressed satisfaction with
the state programs, called Missions, related to these rights. The Commission was particularly satisfied
with the Missions relating to literacy and drinking water. In addition, the Commission expressed its
satisfaction at the adoption of the Law Approving the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in March of 2005.
In concluding, the Commission stated that during their on site visit to Venezuela in 2002 the State
manifested its willingness to have the Commission make as many follow-up visits as it considered
necessary. Since that time, the Commission and its Rapporteur for Venezuelan Affairs, Commissioner
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, have had a variety of conversations with the State with a view to organizing
another visit. The Commission is currently awaiting confirmation by the State of the specific dates of such
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006
IACHR EXPRESSES ITS CONCERN FOR THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its annual report including
a section on the issue of human rights in Colombia. In that section the Commission highlighted the
progress achieved in the area of human rights. Salient among the advances made are the Government’s
efforts to continue its ―Programa de Protección de defensores de derechos humanos, sindicalistas,
periodistas y líderes sociales” [Program to Protect Human Rights Defenders, Members of Trade Unions,
Journalists and Community Leaders‖] and its “Programa de Protección de Comunidades en Riesgo‖ [At-
Risk Communities Protection Program] administered by the Ministry of the Interior. This program protects
numerous beneficiaries of precautionary and provisional measures adopted by the Commission and the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, respectively, and helps to protect the life and personal safety of
thousands threatened by the actors in Colombia’s armed conflict. The Commission also referred to the
decision issued by the Constitutional Court urging State entities to ameliorate the consequences of
internal displacement, ensure respect for the rights of the displaced populations and attend to their needs.
Additionally the IACHR indicated that Colombia took an important step toward universalization of the
inter-American system for the protection of human rights when, on April 12, 2005, it ratified the Inter-
American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, thus making fundamental progress toward
protecting the rights of the people of Colombia and of the hemisphere.
Regarding the demobilization process, the Commission emphasized the efforts made by the
State to fight armed actors and end violence in Colombia. Apart from being the State’s obligation, this
objective is one of fundamental importance for peace, stability and governability in Colombia and is one
that both the State and civil society share. As the Commission has said before, members of the
paramilitary units involved in the demobilization process have been repeatedly cited as being responsible
for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including massacres of
defenseless civilians; selective assassinations of community leaders, trade unionists, human rights
defenders, officers of the court, journalists, and others; acts of torture, harassment, and intimidation; and
actions aimed at forcing the displacement of entire communities.
As for the Colombian State’s obligation to achieve truth, justice and reparations for the victims of
the armed conflict, on July 22, 2005 President Uribe authorized enactment of Law 975 of 2005, known as
the ―Justice and Peace Law.‖ In its report the Commission noted that the determination of the historical
truth regarding what happened during the last few decades of the conflict did not figure as one of the
law’s objectives, nor did identification of the sponsors of the paramilitarism or determination of the degree
to which the various participants were involved in the commission of crimes against the civilian
population, whether by action, omission, collaboration or acquiescence. The IACHR indicated that its
provisions fail to establish incentives that would encourage the demobilized to make a full confession of
their guilt, in exchange for the generous judicial benefits they would receive. Consequently, the
established mechanism does not guarantee that the crimes perpetrated will be properly solved; this
means that the facts in many cases will never be known and the perpetrators will go unpunished. The
IACHR observed also that the institutional mechanisms that the law creates to administer justice do not
have the means necessary to undertake, with realistic chances of success, judicial investigation and
prosecution of the thousands of crimes committed during the last years by the actors in the armed
The demobilization process is at a critical stage. The negotiations, observance of the cease-fire
commitment and the administration of justice must be informed by the principles and standards
established in international law to ensure justice, truth and reparations to persons within the State’s
Notwithstanding the cease-fire commitment undertaken by the ―negotiating high command‖ of the
AUC, acts of violence and intimidation of the civilian population continue to be committed by all actors in
the conflict: paramilitaries, whether or not engaged in the negotiations at Santafé de Ralito; guerrilla
groups, in particular the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC); and state agents. The
acts of violence committed in the course of the armed conflict continue to result in grave violations of the
civilian population’s human rights and international humanitarian law. The most vulnerable sectors are
particularly affected: indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, and the displaced. The selective
assassinations and forced disappearances continued in 2005, targeting human rights defenders, trade
unionists, community leaders, journalists, and candidates to elective office –including members of the
Unión Patriótica political movement – among others.
The violence targeted at indigenous peoples in Colombia was even more severe in 2005, as they
continued to be the victims of massacres, selective executions, forced disappearances, forced
displacement from their ancestral territories, forced recruitment, loss or contamination of their food
sources, food blockades, accusations, and threats to their autonomy. The situation was verified by the
IACHR during a visit conducted on June, 2005. In its report the Commission indicated that the constant
acts of violence committed against the indigenous communities who ask for respect and protection of
their basic rights, threaten not just the lives and safety of their members but their very existence as a
The IACHR reported that the afro-descendent communities and their communal councils continue
to be affected by food blockades, constant acts of violence, killings, kidnappings and forced
The vulnerability of human rights defenders continued to be a matter of concern in 2005. The
patterns of threats, killings, and harassment continued to obstruct the work of human rights defenders
throughout the country. The Commission observed that the Colombian authorities continued to publicly
discredit their work thereby endangering the safety of human rights defenders. The IACHR also
expressed concern for the repeated attacks and threats upon the lives and personal safety of union and
Through the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, in 2005 the
Commission continued to receive information relating to threats, kidnappings, intimidation and other acts
of violence suffered by journalists and media outlets in Colombia. In 2005, the IACHR also adopted the
report titled Impunity, Self-censorship and Armed Internal Conflict: an Analysis of the State of Freedom of
Expression in Colombia (Available under Country reports at: http://www.cidh.org/relatoria).
Regarding the issue of administration of justice, the Commission reported that no significant
headway was made with the investigations into crimes involving violations of human rights in which the
international responsibility of the State has been established. And so, the problem of impunity persists as
does the practice of large-scale arrests and pressure exerted on prosecutors, judges and justice
operators involved in investigations of human rights violations.
The IACHR concluded its report by stating that negotiation mechanisms must be used to get the
armed actors to disengage and so end the complex, painful and protracted experience that Colombia has
endured. To ensure a lasting peace, non-repetition of conduct criminalized under international law,
human rights violations and gross violations of international humanitarian law must be guaranteed. To
that end, the crimes must be investigated and reparations made for the consequences of the violence,
using mechanisms that can get at the truth of what happened, administer justice and fully compensate the
victims in keeping of the State’s international obligations under the American Convention on Human
Rights and the OAS Charter.
Washington D.C., May 2, 2006
IACHR ANNOUNCES SPECIAL SESSIONS IN GUATEMALA IN JULY 2006
The 125th special sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will be
held in Guatemala from July 17 to 21, 2006. The IACHR thanks the State of Guatemala for the kind
invitation to hold these sessions away from its headquarters.
During the sessions, the IACHR shall analyze petitions, cases, precautionary measures, and
thematic and general reports on human rights. Likewise, it will hold meetings with representatives of the
Guatemalan State and civil society, and it will carry out academic and promotional activities.
The Inter-American Commission will dedicate two days of the special sessions to hold hearings,
with a special emphasis on thematic issues in Central American countries. In accordance with Article 62
of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, hearing requests for these sessions will be received until June 12.
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER THE
SITUATION OF PUBLIC SECURITY IN SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) wishes to convey its deep concern
over the violent incidents that have taken place in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, since last Friday, May
12, 2006, and their impact on the situation of public security.
According to the national and international communications media, since last Friday there have
been approximately 180 firearms attacks against State-owned facilities, besides the burning of 68 public
transportation buses and attacks against 10 banks. Simultaneously, more than 70 riots took place over
the course of the weekend in Penitentiaries, Centres of Provisional Detention (CDPs), Public Jails and
Units of Febem that are located throughout the state of São Paulo. This Monday morning, 46 riots were
still ongoing, and a total of more than 200 people were being kept hostage.
The violent incidents registered since Friday night left a death toll of at least 77 people, among
which were members of the State security forces, civilians and persons deprived of freedom. Dozens of
people were also left injured.
The IACHR wishes to remind States of their obligation to uphold the rule of law and enforce
public security while ensuring to all persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of their
human rights. In particular, the IACHR urges the State authorities, both in the Federal Government and in
the São Paulo Government, to coordinate their efforts in order to solve the grave situation currently
affecting the public security of the citizenry of São Paulo, and to prevent its future repetition.
Washington, D.C., May 17, 2006.
IACHR RELEASES ITS REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
DEFENDERS IN THE AMERICAS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will release the ―Report on the Situation of
Human Rights Defenders in the Americas‖ in a conference hosted by the Washington College of Law of
American University, in Washington D.C. Commissioner Victor Abramovich and Executive Secretary
Santiago A Canton, will deliver the presentation. The panel is composed of Washington College of Law
Dean Claudio Grossman and Viviana Krsticevic of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).
The work of human rights defenders is fundamental for the universal implementation of those
rights, and for the full existence of democracy and the rule of law. The work of human rights defenders
has been essential in the defense of rights under dictatorships, authoritarian governments, and during
internal armed conflicts. Today, in a context marked by democratic governments, the work of human
rights defenders continues to be essential in the process of strengthening democracy.
The report highlights that, among other acts that impede or encumber the protection of human
rights, a number of human rights defenders in the region are victims of extrajudicial executions and forced
disappearance; assaults, threats, and harassment; smear campaigns, judicial actions; restriction of
access to information in the hands of the state; abusive administrative and financial controls; and impunity
in relation to those who perpetrate these violations. In its report, the Commission also reaffirms the legal
framework of protection which should be applied to promote and protect the work of those engaged in the
defense of human rights, and proposes specific measures to legitimate, promote and protect the work of
human rights defenders.
The Commission prepared this report to support the activities carried out by human rights
defenders and, at the same time, to collaborate with OAS member States in exposing the problems that
human rights defenders face in the region, so as to develop the best strategies for overcoming them.
Washington D.C., June 1 ,2006
IACHR PRESENTS ITS ANNUAL REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Dr. Evelio Fernández
Arévalos, presented the Annual Report for 2005 to the OAS General Assembly.
The report underscored the important progress made on human rights matters in the
Hemisphere, for example: the decision by the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina nullifying the due
obedience and ―full stop‖ laws, as recommended by the Commission; extensive constitutional reforms in
Chile to remove obstacles to equal political participation, also recommended by the Commission; and the
conclusion of agreements and important progress in friendly settlement procedures in cases pending
before the Court, involving Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico.
The report also underscored progress in women’s human rights law, such as the adoption of the
Family Violence Act in Chile; the ratification by Jamaica of the Inter-American Convention on the
Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, "Convention of Belém do Pará";
and the ratification by Honduras and Colombia of the Inter-American Convention on Forced
Disappearance of Persons. Likewise, attention was drawn to the importance of the far-reaching national
human rights program introduced in Mexico in late 2004 and to the constitutional reforms adopted in
Brazil to modernize the judicial system and enhance the judicial mechanisms available for ensuring that
human rights violations do not go unpunished. The Commission also noted the changes adopted by the
Brazilian Government to promote racial equality in Brazil.
The President of the Commission referred to serious obstacles that continued to hinder the full
exercise of human rights in the Hemisphere. These had to do primarily with weak rule of law in various
countries of the region, the difficult socioeconomic situation in most OAS member states, structural
problems from prior decades involving impunity in serious human rights violations, a weak Judiciary in
various countries, and serious prison violence that had led to the death of dozens of detainees in the
region. Further, he noted that public insecurity had risen steadily in 2005 in the face of increased crime,
and that governments often implemented hard-line policies without due attention to the causes of the
problem or consideration of constructive prevention and rehabilitation policies.
In addition, the President of the Commission referred to those OAS member states whose human
rights practices had been accorded special attention in the 2005 Annual Report: Colombia, Cuba,
Ecuador, Haiti, and Venezuela.
In the case of Colombia, the Commission acknowledges the efforts made by the State to combat
armed actors and end violence, as well as the important steps taken to protect human rights, such as
ratification of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons. However, the
Commission is still troubled by the toll that the violence caused by the players in the armed internal
conflict has taken on respect for the fundamental rights of the civilian population in Colombia, particularly
among the most vulnerable sectors.
The dialogue between the State and the ―negotiating high command‖ (―estado mayor
negociador‖) of Colombia’s United Self-Defense Forces (AUCs) has led to the start of a demobilization
process that raises hopes in the quest for peace long sought by Colombians, with support from the
international community. A fundamental factor in the success of this process is the cessation of all
actions against the civilian population by paramilitary groups, which has not yet been fully achieved.
Likewise, the IACHR has taken note of the grave violations of international humanitarian law
perpetrated by guerrilla groups against the civilian population.
The IACHR is mindful that negotiation mechanisms must be used to get the armed actors to
disengage and thus end the complex, painful, and protracted experience that Colombia has endured. To
ensure a lasting peace, non-recurrence of conduct criminalized under international law, human rights
violations, and gross violations of international humanitarian law must be guaranteed. To that end, the
crimes must be investigated and reparations made for the consequences of the violence, using suitable
mechanisms to get at the truth of what happened, administer justice, and fully compensate the victims in
keeping of the State’s international obligations.
As concerns the human rights situation in Cuba in 2005, the Commission received, in particular,
information on violations of due process guarantees and lack of independence of the Judiciary; conditions
of detention of persons deprived of liberty because of their political dissidence; violation of the right to
freedom of expression; on the situation of human rights defenders; violation of labor and union rights of
workers; and restrictions placed on the exercise of the right of residence and transit of the island’s
The Commission pointed out that the economic sanctions imposed on the Government of Cuba
have seriously affected the enjoyment of economic and social rights by the most vulnerable sectors of the
population and must be lifted.
In the case of Ecuador, the Commission emphasized that the initiatives adopted by President
Palacio’s administration constitute a positive sign for the reestablishment of democratic institutions. In
this connection, the unprecedented process of appointment of Supreme Court judges, assuring a
transparent selection with international verification, constitutes an important step, above all because it
was the result of an internal democratic dialogue.
Despite these important achievements by the government in power, the security of the
democratic system was affected by political instability which, although not a recent phenomenon in the
country’s history or the responsibility of the present government, has displayed the deficiencies of a weak
governmental structure, incapable of providing satisfactory public policy responses to bring about the
structural reform needed to protect the human rights of the majority of the Ecuadorian population.
In 2005, the Commission witnessed further deterioration of the human rights situation in Haiti,
owing mainly to an increase in violence by armed groups and gangs coupled with the failure of the
Government, even with international assistance, to ensure the security of the population throughout the
country. Although some efforts have been made to apprehend dangerous criminals, the failure to disarm
illegal armed groups and gangs in Haiti is a paramount concern to the Commission not only because of
the immediate threat to the lives and physical integrity of Haitians, but also because much of the country’s
future depends upon the successful implementation of security efforts.
With regard to Venezuela, the Commission noted certain actions aimed at implementing the
decisions of the organs of the system and international human rights instruments. Among them are the
adoption of the Law Approving the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in
the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and recognition of responsibility by the Government of
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in a public hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human
Moreover, the Commission paid special attention to situations concerning the administration of
justice: problems underlying the provisional nature of the judges and prosecutors of the Public Ministry;
the use of military courts for trying civilians; the situation of impunity, particularly in the case of
extrajudicial executions; and the lack of procedure or procedural delays in investigations of allegations
related to human rights violations and extrajudicial executions.
Lastly, the Commission should report that in 2005 it did not receive a confirmation of dates for a
visit to Venezuela. It should be pointed out that since its on-site visit in 2002 the Commission has been
unsuccessfully requesting a follow-up visit.
In concluding his presentation of the report to the OAS General Assembly, the President of the
IACHR underscored the support received from member states and their collaboration in the work of
Commission, and reaffirmed its commitment to work with the member states in fulfilling its mission to
defend human dignity in the exercise of its mandate to protect and promote human rights.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 6, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS UNDERSCORES CONCERN
OVER THREATS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN COLOMBIA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has been carefully monitoring the
situation of human rights defenders in the Republic of Colombia, whose work makes them the target of
threats and acts of violence. The Commission asked the State to adopt special measures to protect
organizations and individuals representing victims of human rights violations and, in particular, measures
aimed at eliminating risk factors.
In recent weeks, the IACHR has learned that a number of regional and national organizations
involved in defending human rights, representing victims of armed conflict and vulnerable groups,
promoting peace, working for development, and active in journalism and university activities have come
under threats declaring them to be military targets. Likewise, several of these organizations have been
victims of the theft of work-related data, as part of a pattern of harassment intended to dissuade them
from pursuing their activities.
Given this situation and heightened risks to the life and physical safety of the members of these
organizations, the Commission underscores its concern over the situation of human rights defenders in
the Republic of Colombia and its interest in monitoring that situation carefully. It also calls upon the State
to redouble its efforts to protect human rights defenders and their organizations, to ensure that they have
the necessary guarantees to continue their work in the defense of human rights, and to remove risk factors,
in particular by means of judicial investigations into these acts.
Washington, D.C., June 16, 2006
IACHR CONDEMNS THE EXECUTION OF ANGEL MATURINO RESENDIZ
BY THE UNITED STATES
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights deplores the failure by the United States to
respect the Commission’s request for precautionary measures in the death penalty case of Angel
Maturino Resendiz, who was executed in the state of Texas on June 27, 2006.
Mr. Maturino Resendiz filed a petition with the Commission in April 2006 in which he argued that
his death sentence was not consistent with international human rights protections binding upon the United
States, based upon his conditions and treatment on death row, the adequacy of his legal representation,
the fairness of clemency proceedings in Texas, and his method of execution by lethal injection.
On May 1, 2006 the Commission granted precautionary measures in favor of Mr. Maturino
Resendiz requesting that the United States preserve his life pending the Commission’s investigation of
the allegations in his petition and reiterated those measures on June 26, 2006. Also on June 26, 2006,
the U.S. Department of State informed the Commission that it had communicated the Commission’s
request to authorities in the state of Texas, and Mr. Maturino Resendiz’s representatives informed the
Commission that they had filed a petition for a stay of execution with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
based in part upon the proceedings pending before this Commission. The Commission has since learned
that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Mr. Maturino Resendiz’s petition, the U.S. Supreme
Court likewise declined to intervene, and on June 27, 2006 Mr. Maturino Resendiz was executed by lethal
The Commission is aware of the pain and suffering caused to victims and their families by the
egregious crime of murder and is cognizant of the duty of states to protect potential victims of this crime
and to punish those responsible. At the same time, the Commission considers that the efforts by states to
combat this and other serious crimes must be carried out with the utmost respect for the human rights of
the persons under their jurisdiction and in compliance with the applicable international human rights
commitments. This Commission has also held that the failure of a member state of the Organization of
American States, including the United States, to preserve a condemned prisoner's life pending review of
his or her petition contravenes its international legal obligations by undermining the effectiveness of the
Commission's procedures, depriving condemned persons of their right to petition in the inter-American
human rights system, and resulting in serious and irreparable harm to a petitioner’s most fundamental
right, the right to life.
The Commission therefore condemns the failure by the United States and the state of Texas to
respect the Commission’s requests to preserve Mr. Maturino Resendiz’s life pending the examination of
his petition. The Commission also calls upon the United States to comply with the Commission's requests
for precautionary measures in future death penalty cases and thereby fully and properly respect its
international human rights obligations.
Washington, D.C., June 28, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES CONCERN
OVER GUATEMALAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights wishes to make the following clarifications in
response to the recent decision by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court allegedly barring the Audiencia
Nacional de España (National Court of Spain) from investigating, in the context of a criminal complaint
before the Constitutional Court, eight former high-ranking Guatemalan army officers for the crimes of
genocide, state terrorism, murder, and torture.
The Commission considers it necessary to recall that crimes against international law, such as
genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, represent very serious offenses to human dignity and a
flagrant denial of the fundamental principles enshrined in the Charters of the Organization of American States
and the United Nations, and thus must not remain unpunished.
In its resolution Nº 1/03, of October 24, 2003, the Commission said that, in view of the gravity of
genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, and the obligation to investigate, prosecute, punish,
and make reparations, states should cooperate to avoid impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes. In
doing so, states should consider that, even when international crimes are so serious that they affect the
entire international community, they primarily have an impact on the state in whose jurisdiction they
occurred, and especially on the people living in that state. Consequently, the principle of territoriality must
prevail in the case of a jurisdictional conflict, provided that there is an effective will to prosecute the
crimes in the state where they occurred, as well as adequate and effective remedies to do so, and
provided that the rules of due process for the alleged perpetrators are guaranteed.
The Commission is hopeful that the Guatemalan Constitutional Court and the other Guatemalan
government forums will adopt the necessary measures, within their respective spheres, to ensure that the
tragic events that occurred during the internal armed conflict, which were characterized by the Historical
Clarification Commission as acts of genocide, will be duly and promptly investigated, prosecuted, and
punished by the Guatemalan system of justice or that, as appropriate, the work of the judicial organs of
third countries operating under the principle of universal jurisdiction will be facilitated.
Washington D.C., July 3, 2006
IACHR WELCOMES ADOPTION OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION
ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the adoption on June 29,
2006, of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations Human
This instrument recognizes the right of the indigenous peoples to self-determination, establishes
that they must give their consent to the exploitation of natural resources on their lands, and limits military
activities in their territories. Further, it recognizes the collective rights of indigenous peoples, such as the
preservation of their cultural values and their ethnic identity, and the protection of any attempt to expel
them from their ancestral lands.
At the inter-American level, in 1989 the OAS General Assembly asked the IACHR to draw up a
legal instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples–an instrument that was adopted by the Inter-
American Commission in 1997 and is now under consideration by the Working Group to Prepare the Draft
American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the IACHR is continuing to
give advice to the Working Group and believes that the Declaration adopted by the United Nations
Human Rights Council will enrich the debate within the OAS and set a minimum standard for its
The Commission trusts that the United Nations instrument will facilitate prompt adoption of the
Declaration by the OAS, so as to help protect the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Washington, D.C., July 3, 2006
HEARINGS AT THE 125 SPECIAL SESSION OF THE
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hereby reports that the following hearings will
be held during its 125 special session, in Guatemala City:
Tuesday, July 18, 2006:
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Petition presented by the State of Nicaragua for alleged violations of the
American Convention on Human Rights by the State of Costa Rica
Wednesday, July 19, 2006:
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Free trade and human rights agreements in Central America
10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Situation of women imprisoned in Honduras
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Obstacles to investigating and punishing human rights violations in El
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Case 12.517, Hermanas Mejía Ramírez, and Case 12.494, Hermanos
Contreras (El Salvador)
4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m. Situation of trade unionists’ rights in El Salvador
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Situation of collective property rights of indigenous peoples
in Central America
10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Situation of community media in Central America
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Intra-family or domestic violence in Central America
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Human rights situation of rural and
indigenous communities in Honduras
4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m. Situation of people affected by strip-mining concessions in Central America
The hearings will be public and will take place in the Hotel Camino Real.
The Commission expresses appreciation to the Government of Guatemala for its cooperation and
the facilities provided for these hearings, and to the civil society institutions and organizations that have
Washington, D.C., July 12, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNED OVER VENEZUELAN DRAFT
LEGISLATION ON INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) voices its concern over some
provisions of the draft legislation on international cooperation now under discussion by the Legislative
Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The provisions, if adopted, could create impediments
to the formation, independence, and operations of nongovernmental organizations.
Under Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which empowers the
Commission to issue recommendations to OAS member states on the adoption of measures to foster
respect for human rights within the framework of their domestic law and constitutional provisions, the
IACHR asked the Venezuelan state for information on the draft law and offered to provide advisory
services regarding inter-American standards of protection that could enrich the deliberations of the
National Assembly. In its reply, the state reported on the objectives of the legislative initiative and
attached a copy of the draft legislation.
The Commission notes that the vague language of certain provisions of the draft legislation and
the broad discretion given to the authorities charged with issuing enacting regulations pose the risk that
this law will be interpreted in a restrictive manner in order to limit, among other things, the exercise of the
rights of association, freedom of expression, political participation, and equality, and could seriously
impair the functioning of nongovernmental organizations.
The Commission recalls its recommendation to the states, issued in its Report on the Situation of
Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, published on March 7, 2006, to ―refrain from promoting laws
and policies regarding the registration of human rights organizations that use vague, imprecise, and
broad definitions of the legitimate motives for restricting their establishment and operation.‖ Under the
provisions of Article 16 of the American Convention on Human Rights, any restrictions on the right of
association must be established strictly by law and must be necessary in a democratic society.
The draft legislation provides, among other things, that the registration of nongovernmental
organizations in the ―Integrated Registry System‖ is ―obligatory and a necessary condition for their
recognition by the Venezuelan state as entities competent to engage in cooperative activities with their
counterparts in other countries.‖ The Commission stresses that a registry system that promotes
transparency does not necessarily conflict with international standards. Such standards are, however,
contravened by laws that give authorities discretionary power to authorize the formation and operations of
organizations by way of registration. The Commission believes that the aforementioned rule could be
interpreted to mean that only those organizations that are accepted into the Integrated Registry System
are allowed to operate.
The Commission is concerned that this registry will prevent or hinder the activities and funding
sources of nongovernmental organizations, whose independent role has been vital in strengthening
The Commission invites the state to implement the recommendations on this subject contained in
the Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas. In particular, it recommends that
the state ensure that any legislative provision governing the public registration of nongovernmental
organizations not be made into a means of prior authorization or required permission for the activities of
The Commission is also concerned over the positions expressed by certain legislators, who,
according to official sources, stated during deliberations on the draft legislation that its intent was to ―deal
with the masked NGOs,‖ who they said were ―the same old subversive organizations, 72 in all, most of
them seeking publicity.‖ It was also remarked that this law would be a ―well-aimed blow to these masked
NGOs, because really they are terrorist organizations ready to strike.‖
The Commission hopes that, if the law is adopted, it will be adapted to the standards established
in international instruments for the protection of human rights, specifically those set forth in the Report on
the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas. The Commission offers, within its area of
purview, its advisory services in helping to develop laws and principles from the viewpoint of respect for
Guatemala City, July 19, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION URGES TO CLOSE
GUANTANAMO WITHOUT DELAY
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, during its 125º Period of Sessions celebrated
in Guatemala, issued the Resolution Nº 1/06, urging to close the Guantanamo Bay facility without delay;
to remove the detainees in full accordance with International Human Rights Law and International
Humanitarian Law; to investigate, prosecute and punish any instances of torture or other cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment that may have occurred; and to take the necessary measures to
ensure detainees a fair and transparent process before a competent, independent and impartial decision-
RESOLUTION Nº 1/06
On Guantanamo Bay Precautionary Measures
On March 12, 2002, approximately 2 months after the United States began transferring
individuals captured in connection with the US-led military operation against the former Taliban regime in
Afghanistan and the terrorist organization Al-Qaida to its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favor of the detainees at
Guantanamo Bay requesting that the United States take the ―urgent measures necessary to have the
legal status of the detainees at Guantanamo determined by a competent tribunal.‖ The Commission
considered that, without this determination, the fundamental and non-derogable rights of the detainees
may not be recognized and guaranteed by the United States.
Since that time, the Commission has held three hearings on the precautionary measures and has
reiterated the measures to the United States on four separate occasions. Moreover, the Commission
amplified the measures in response to information indicating the possible torture or other cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay or the possible removal of
detainees to jurisdictions where they could be subjected to torture. In particular, the Commission
requested the United States take all measures necessary to thoroughly and impartially investigate,
prosecute and punish all instances of torture and or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment that may be perpetrated against the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, as well as to fully respect
the non-refoulement principle under the UN Convention against Torture.
Notwithstanding this extensive procedural history, the Commission has not received information
indicating that the United States has complied with the Commission’s requests. The United States has
stated, among other things, that the IACHR lacks jurisdiction due to the fact that international
humanitarian law and not international human rights law is the applicable regime in this matter. Thus,
over four years after the Commission’s measures were issued, the legal status of the detainees remains
unclear, and it is uncertain whether or to what extent independent investigations into allegations of
mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay have been undertaken or what measures have been taken to ensure
that detainees are not removed to jurisdictions where they may be subjected to torture or other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Commission is also aware of a report issued by five special mandate holders of the United
Nations Human Rights Commission in February 2006 criticizing the situation at Guantanamo Bay and
urging the United States to close the facility without further delay, as well as a report issued by the United
Nations Committee Against Torture in May 2006 making similar recommendations.
Finally, the Commission takes note of the June 29, 2006, decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in
the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in which the Court struck down the military commissions that the United
States proposed to use to try the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, based in part upon concerns that the
commissions did not satisfy the minimum protections under Common Article 3 to the Geneva
Conventions. The Commission is further aware of the follow up Memorandum from the Department of
Defense of July 7, 2006.
In view of the forgoing, the Inter-American Commission, resolves to:
1. INDICATE that the failure of the United States to give effect to the Commission’s precautionary
measures has resulted in irreparable prejudice to the fundamental rights of the detainees at
Guantanamo Bay including their rights to liberty and to humane treatment.
2. URGE the United States to close the Guantanamo Bay facility without delay.
3. URGE the United States to remove the detainees from Guantanamo Bay through a process
undertaken in full accordance with applicable forms of international human rights and
4. URGE the United States to take the measures necessary to ensure that any detainees who may
face a risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment if transferred,
removed or expelled from Guantanamo Bay are provided an adequate, individualized
examination of their circumstances through a fair and transparent process before a competent,
independent and impartial decision-maker. Further, where there are substantial grounds for
believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment, the State should ensure that the detainee is not
transferred or removed and that diplomatic assurances are not used to circumvent the State’s
5. URGE the United States to comply with its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish any
instances of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that may have
occurred at the facility, even in the event that Guantanamo Bay facility is closed.
Washington, D.C., July 28, 2006
IACHR ISSUES STATEMENT ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT’S DECISION REGARDING
APPLICATION OF LAW OF JUSTICE AND PEACE IN THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA
Today the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a statement regarding
the application of Law 975 of 2005, more commonly known as the ―Law of Justice and Peace‖, in light of
the decision adopted by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Colombia, the full text of which was
recently made public.
In its statement, the IACHR analyzes the key aspects of the Constitutional Court’s decision which
declares the Law of Justice and Peace constitutional in general, establishes conditions for its due
interpretation, and declares some of its clauses unconstitutional. Likewise, the IACHR calls on the
State’s institutions to give strict compliance to the Court’s decision and makes recommendations for
strengthening the available mechanisms to establish the truth about what happened, administer justice
and make reparations to victims of the conflict which has affected Colombia for over four decades.
The Law of Justice and Peace establishes procedural benefits for members of illegal armed
groups who were involved in the commission of serious crimes against the civil population and have
agreed to lay down their weapons. The IACHR’s statement highlights that the decision of the
Constitutional Court greatly improves the balance between the legal incentives for demobilization through
the reduction of punishment and the principles of truth, justice and reparation which form part of the
State’s international obligations, as originally established by the Law of Justice and Peace. The
Constitutional Court’s decision specifies the requirements for the demobilized who have laid down arms in
order to receive a reduced sentence, as well as the safeguarding of such reduced sentence from
revocation. The sentence discourages the withholding of information and it promotes truthful and full
confessions. It also improves the conditions for the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the facts effectively,
and amplifies the opportunities of the victims of the conflict to participate in the proceedings and to obtain
The IACHR emphasizes the importance of the decision as an essential tool for the
implementation of the legal framework adopted by the State, in accordance with its international
obligations, to judge the demobilized individuals responsible for the commission of crimes during the
conflict. In this sense, the entities responsible for implementing the law – the Prosecutor’s National Unit
for Justice and Peace, the Justice and Peace Courts, the ministere public, and the National Commission
of Reconciliation and Reparations – have a vital role in its proper interpretation: they must administer
justice ensuring that the procedural benefits granted to the demobilized do not constitute a mere
concession of justice, but rather that they serve their intended purpose as an incentive for peace and a
vehicle for the search for the truth and the due reparation to victims of the conflict.
In its statement, the IACHR recommends that the Colombian authorities rigorously enforce the
requirements for the demobilized to benefit from reduced punishments and to preserve such benefit; that
they contribute to the uniform development of diligent and thorough investigations of the serious crimes
committed so that the imposition of reduced sentences is an outcome of the disclosure of the truth; and
that they adopt all measures necessary to ensure reparations for the victims of the conflict and the
restitution of their lands.
The complete text of the Inter-American Commission’s statement is available on the IACHR’s
Washington D.C., August 1 , 2006
IACHR RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY VISITS THE
The Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, Commission member Florentín Meléndez, will visit the Dominican Republic from
August 8 to 12, 2006.
The purpose of the visit, at the invitation of the Government of the Dominican Republic, will be to
assess the situation of persons deprived of liberty in the country’s various jails, to meet with Dominican
Government officials and civil society organizations working in this field, and to promote the inter-
American human rights system.
The IACHR thanks the Government of the Dominican Republic and the civil society organizations
for their cooperation and assistance in preparing for this visit.
Washington, D.C., August 8, 2006
THE IACHR RAPPORTEURSHIP ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN CELEBRATES THE ADOPTION IN
BRAZIL OF A SPECIFIC LAW TO PREVENT AND ERADICATE DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE
The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (IACHR) celebrates the adoption, in Brazil, on August 7, 2006, of Act 11,340, which consists of a
series of government actions to prevent, investigate, and punish all forms of domestic and family violence
against women. The Rapporteurship recognizes the adoption of this law, known as the Maria da Penha
Law, as a vitally important step toward full compliance with the recommendations issued to the Brazilian
state in the Commission’s decision on the Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes case and with the principles
enshrined in the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence
against Women, "Convention of Belém do Pará."
The Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes case, brought by a victim of domestic violence in Brazil
when physical abuse and murder attempts by her husband mad her paraplegic, emphasizes the
obligation of states to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish, and redress acts of domestic
violence. In the inter-American system, the Convention of Belém do Pará reflects concern throughout the
Hemisphere over the severe problem of violence against women, its relationship to the discrimination
suffered by women throughout history, and the need to adopt comprehensive strategies to prevent,
punish, and eradicate it, including violence within the family or household unit.
The Rapporteurship recognizes the participatory process that led to the development of this law,
including the essential role of civil society organizations working to defend and protect women’s rights.
The Rapporteurship celebrates the adoption of this law and urges the Brazilian state to continue taking
measures to facilitate its effective application, including the design of multisectoral, preventive
government policies, appropriate enacting legislation, allocation of the resources needed to translate their
content into reality, and measures to train and sensitize government employees.
Washington, D.C., August 11, 2006
IACHR REGULAR SESSIONS TO BE HELD IN OCTOBER 2006
The 126 regular sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will take
place in Washington, D.C. from October 16 to 27, 2006. During the sessions, the IACHR will analyze
petitions, cases, precautionary measures, as well as thematic and general reports on human rights.
The Inter-American Commission will be holding hearings and working meetings on October 18,
19, 20, 23 and 24. Pursuant to Article 62 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, hearing requests for these
sessions will be received until September 6, 2006.
Washington, D.C., August 25, 2006
INVITATION TO A MEETING WITH THE PRESS
ABOUT THE 126 REGULAR PERIOD OF SESSIONS OF THE IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American
States will celebrate its 126 regular period of sessions between October 16 and 27 in Washington, D.C.
The media is invited to a press conference with the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Santiago A.
What: Press Conference about the 126 regular period of sessions of the IACHR
Who: Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Santiago A. Canton
When: Wednesday October 11 at 11:00 a.m.
Where: General Secretariat of the OAS
Library of the IACHR ―Rómulo Gallegos‖ (5 Floor)
1889 F St., NW, Washington, DC.
Refreshments will be served after the conference.
Please confirm your attendance and direct your correspondence to María Isabel Rivero,
telephone (202) 458-3796, email email@example.com
Washington D.C., October 6, 2006
IACHR LAUDS BOLIVIA’S RATIFICATION OF THE ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE
AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE AREA OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL
AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) lauds the ratification of the Additional
Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights by the Republic of Bolivia. The ratification of human rights instruments is an essential step toward
the protection of the inhabitants of the hemisphere.
In this regard, the IACHR expresses its recognition and satisfaction over yesterday’s ratification
by Bolivia, which represents a significant step toward universal adherence to the inter-American system
and provides that country with a new instrument for the protection of economic social and cultural rights.
Washington, D.C., October 6, 2006
HEARINGS DURING THE 126 REGULAR SESSION OF THE IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents the calendar for public
hearings during the 126 regular session of the Organization of American States (OAS), which will be
held this coming October 16 - 27, at the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States,
(OAS), 1889 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. While some hearings were requested by the States, the
majority were requested by the petitioners. There will be thematic hearings on the general human rights
situation in the region, and others on issues of admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and case follow-
up, as well as petitions currently in process before the IACHR.
Please direct press inquiries to María Isabel Rivero at (202) 458-3796, or by e-mail at
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
3:30 to 5:30 p.m. – Inter-State Petition No. 1/06 – Nicaragua vs. Costa Rica: The State of Nicaragua files suit
against Costa Rica for alleged discriminatory attitudes against Nicaraguan residents in Costa Rica.
Thursday October, 19, 2006
9:00 to 10:00 a.m. – Petition lodged by the Association of Former Public Employees of the Peruvian
Social Security Institute [Instituto Peruano de Seguridad Social] claiming that the pension system reform
in Peru violates their economic rights.
10:00 to 11:00 a.m. – Case in which Jorge Mufarech Nemy claims that he was prevented from registering
himself as a candidate in the Peruvian elections as a result of an alleged ―political persecution.‖
11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – Follow-up on Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
12:15 to 1.15 p.m. – National Human Rights Plan of Peru, on the technical assistance agreement
between the IACHR and the Peruvian State.
3:00 to 4:00 p.m. – Case of persons living with HIV-AIDS in Guatemala.
4:00 to 4:45 p.m. – Process of establishing a National Commission for the Search for Disappeared
Persons in Guatemala.
5:00 to 5:45 p.m. – Situation of adolescents and violence in Guatemala.
5:45 to 6:45 p.m. – General human rights situation of indigenous women in the Americas (Argentina,
Colombia, Canada, and Mexico).
9:00 to 10:30 a.m. – General human rights situation in Venezuela. (At the request of the State).
10:45 to 11:30 a.m. – Situation of freedom of expression in Venezuela.
11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – General situation of institutionality and guarantees in Venezuela.
12:30 to 1:15 p.m. – Situation of human rights defenders in Venezuela.
3:00 to 4:00 p.m. –―Castelinho‖ Case, in which the petitioners claim that twelve members of the First
Commando of the capital were assassinated in a March 5, 2002 ambush.
4:15 to 5:15 p.m. – Slave labor in Brazil.
5:15 to 6:15 p.m. – Case on an explosion in a fireworks factory in Bahía, Brazil, that killed 64 employees.
Friday October 20, 2006
9:00 to 10:00 a.m. – Case of ―María Salvador Chiriboga et al‖, in which the petitioners claim the violation
of their right to property due to the expropriation of their lands in Quito, Ecuador. (At the request of the
10:15 to 11:15 a.m. – Case of ―Jorge E. Herrera Espinoza et al,‖ on the alleged arbitrary detention and
torture of four foreigners in an antinarcotics police operation in Ecuador.
11:15 to 12:15 a.m. – Case of Hossein Alikhani, who claims to have been illegally arrested in 1992 by
undercover agents of the United States.
12:15 to 1:00 p.m. – Situation of children living in safe houses in Jamaica.
Monday, October 23, 2006
9:00 to 9.45 a.m. – General situation of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. (At the request of the State).
10:00 to 10:45 a.m. – General human rights situation in Oaxaca, México.
11:00 to 11:45 a.m. – Performance of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Past Social and Political
Movements [Fiscalía Especial para Movimientos Sociales y Políticos del Pasado (FEMOSSP), Mexico.
12:00 to 1:00 p.m. – The petitioners claim that agrarian policy in Chiapas, México had a detrimental
impact on indigenous and peasant groups.
3:00 to 4:00 p.m. –―Braulio Paredes Núñez‖ petition, in which the family of a youth murdered in Mexico
claims irregularities in the investigation.
4:15 to 5:15 p.m. – Case of two ecologists, Teodoro Cabrera García and Rodolfo Montiel Flores, who
claim that they were detained, tortured, and imprisoned in Mexico.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Situation of violence against women in the Dominican Republic.
9:00 to 9:45 a.m. – Implementation of IACHR recommendations in Andean countries.
10:00 to 11:00 a.m. – Hearing as part of the IACHR’s monitoring of the demobilization of paramilitary
groups in Colombia.
11:15 to 12:15 a.m. – Extrajudicial executions and democratic security policy in Colombia.
12:30 to 1:15 p.m. – Human rights situation of indigenous peoples in el Cauca, Colombia.
3:00 to 4:00 p.m. – Petition on the murder, in Colombia, of community leader of African descent Orlando
Valencia, a beneficiary of provisional measures issued by the Inter-American Court.
4:15 to 5:15 p.m. – Case in which the petitioners claim the mass murder of members of the Patriotic Union
[―Unión Patriótica‖] political party.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Case alleging the detention, torture, and extrajudicial execution of Omar Zúñiga
Vásquez by the Armed Forces of Colombia.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
9:00 to 9:45 a.m. – General human rights situation in Chile.
9:45 to 11:15 a.m. –―Contreras Siblings‖ case concerning three children disappeared during the war in El
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – ―Peirano Basso Brothers‖ case, in which the petitioners, bank owners in
Uruguay, claim due process violations.
12:30 to 1:15 p.m. – Situation of children’s rights in Uruguay.
3:00 to 3:30 p.m. –―Rodolfo Correa Belisle‖ case, in which the petitioner and the Argentine government
are making progress toward a friendly settlement. (At the request of the State and the petitioners).
3:45 to 4:45 p.m. – Case on a 1994 attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) [Argentine-
Israeli Mutual Association] in Argentina. (At the request of the State and the petitioners).
4:45 to 5:30 p.m. – Situation of women deprived of their liberty in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and
9:00 to 10:00 a.m. – Case in which the petitioner, Grand Chief Michael Mitchell of the Mohawk nation in
Canada, claims a violation of the right to culture by the State of Canada.
10:15 to 11:00 a.m. – Human rights situation of inhabitants of the Ecuadorian and Colombian border area,
in which the petitioners (organizations from both countries) will report on the impact of the armed conflict
and fumigations of illicit crops along the border.
11:00 to 11:45 a.m. – General human rights situation in Cuba.
12:00 to 12:45 p.m. – General human rights situation in Haiti.
3:00 to 3:45 p.m. – Situation of women’s rights in Haiti.
4:00 to 4:45 p.m. – Women’s rights in the Americas and trends in jurisprudence.
5:00 to 5:45 p.m. - Human rights and the legal framework for peaceful protest in the Americas.
Washington, D.C., October11, 2006
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES ITS CONCERN OVER THE
PRISON SITUATION IN BOLIVIA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its profound concern over
the prison situation in Bolivia.
According to reports received by the IACHR, in the past few days, approximately 8,000
imprisoned individuals of both sexes confined in 19 Bolivian prisons have launched a strike demanding,
among other things, enforcement of the new Criminal Procedures Code to expedite the processing of
their legal cases. Reportedly, protest measures have included burials up to the neck, voluntary hunger
strikes by women and their children, crucifixions, bloodletting and sewing of the mouth.
In view of the gravity of this information, the Inter-American Commission calls on the State of
Bolivia to take all measures in its power to ensure the life and personal integrity of people deprived of
their liberty, from the standpoint of respect for human rights and the relevant international standards.
Washington D.C., October 19, 2006
INVITATION TO JOURNALISTS TO ATTEND A PRESS CONFERENCE
ON THE 126 REGULAR SESSION OF THE IACHR
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American
States (OAS) invites the media to a press conference with the President of the IACHR, Evelio Fernández
Arévalos, and the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Santiago A. Canton, who will provide information
regarding the 126 regular session, which began on October 16 and will end on October 27.
What: Press conference on the 126 regular session of the IACHR
Who: President of the IACHR, Evelio Fernández Arévalos
Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Santiago A. Canton
When: Friday, October 27, at 11:00 a.m.
Where: OAS General Secretariat
Rubén Darío Room, 8 Floor
1889 F St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
Kindly confirm attendance and address any queries to María Isabel Rivero, tel. (202) 458-3796,
Washington, D.C., October 26, 2006
IACHR OBSERVES PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES IN RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
IN THE AMERICAS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported on its activities during its
126 regular session, noting progress and persistent challenges in respect for human rights in the
Americas. During the two week session that concluded today, its intensive work schedule focused mainly
on the study and review of petitions and cases concerning different States in the Hemisphere. The reports
approved included 21 on admissibility, 11 on inadmissibility, 16 on the merits, two on friendly settlement,
and four closed cases. The Inter-American Commission held 48 hearings on pending individual cases
and petitions, and on the general human rights situation in various States of the Hemisphere. In addition,
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza presented the ―Report on the Situation of Human Rights
Defenders in the Americas.‖
The members of the IACHR are Evelio Fernández Arévalos, President; Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro,
First Vice President; Florentín Meléndez, Second Vice President; and Commissioners Clare K. Roberts,
Freddy Gutiérrez, Paolo Carozza, and Víctor Abramovich. The Executive Secretary of the IACHR is
Santiago A. Canton.
The IACHR recently has observed important progress in human rights. With regard to political
rights and democratic exercise, it points out that presidential elections have been held in 12 countries of
the region in the past year, which is an important sign of stability. The IACHR hopes that progress will
continue to be made in deepening democracy and strengthening the rule of law.
The Inter-American Commission expresses its satisfaction at the declarations of the President of
Chile to the effect that the State will comply with the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights on the inapplicability of the amnesty law to human rights violations committed under the military
dictatorship. The Commission likewise expresses its satisfaction with the ruling of the Supreme Court of
Argentina for compliance with the provisional measures issued by the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights, which recognizes the critical situation in the penitentiary system in Mendoza province and may
also be a positive step toward the effective implementation of those measures. Bolivia ratified the
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. Brazil demonstrated considerable progress in bringing its domestic law in line with
international human rights norms by enacting the Law on Domestic and Family Violence against Women,
known as the ―Maria da Penha Law,‖ which enhances protection mechanisms for victims. The law was
adopted pursuant to the IACHR’s recommendations in the case of that same name. Another important
example of the application of international human rights standards to domestic law is the October 23,
2006, resolution of the Constitutional Court of Ecuador which declared unconstitutional the practice
known as ―detención en firme‖ (which extends pre-trial detention after the period allowed by the
Constitution has expired) and recommended that the National Congress modify the Criminal Procedures
Code on an urgent basis, in keeping with that ruling; the resolution included in its considerations the
IACHR’s 1997 report on human rights in that country. The IACHR also points out that the opening of new
prisons in the Dominican Republic has improved the situation of a significant number of individuals
deprived of their liberty.
Risks and challenges
Commissioner Clare K. Roberts was unable to participate in this session for reasons beyond her control, according to the
notice delivered to the President in advance of the session.
The Inter-American Commission confirms persistent challenges in terms of observance and
promotion of respect for basic human rights in the Hemisphere. A complex issue that the Commission
has followed with particular interest is the relationship between citizen security and human rights on the
continent. In effect, the region’s inhabitants continue to face threats to their security stemming from
terrorism, drugs, trafficking in persons, gang violence, and common crime. In responding to these threats,
States must implement public policies consistent with their obligation to respect and ensure human rights.
The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to prepare a hemispheric study on the relationship between
citizen security and human rights. The subject has been discussed in numerous hearings at different
sessions and has come to the attention of this organ through the system of individual cases and petitions,
precautionary measures, and in loco working and investigative visits.
The failures and deficiencies in respect for human rights on the continent have a particularly
negative impact on members of the most vulnerable sectors. The lack of effective exercise of economic,
social, and cultural rights exacerbates this worrisome panorama of persistently high malnutrition rates,
limited and insufficient access to health and education, and inadequate standards of living. During this
session, the Commission discussed a first draft of a proposal for progress indicators in the area of
economic, social and cultural rights and entrusted Commissioner Victor Abramovich with the task of
reviewing this document and following up on this process.
The Inter-American Commission is following closely the situation of respect for human rights in all
member States, with particular attention to the situation in Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela.
The Commission received information on the extrajudicial executions of civilians perpetrated by
members of the Public Force and on patterns of illegal detention, fraud, concealment of evidence, and
impunity through the use of the military criminal justice system. It also received the President of the
Superior Council of the Judiciary [Consejo Superior de la Judicatura] who submitted information on the
measures that legal entity has taken to address problems such as the jurisdictional clashes between the
ordinary and military venues, and the implementation of the so-called ―Justice and Peace Law,‖ among
others. In both cases the Commission expressed its concern at the use of the military criminal justice
system to investigate and try offenses perpetrated by members of the Public Force.
The Commission also received information on the demobilization of illegal armed groups,
implementation of the regulatory framework for this process, and the rearming, regrouping, or
reemergence under a new name of members of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia
[Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)] following their demobilization. As the IACHR has pointed out,
the process undertaken to deactivate the actors in the armed conflict in Colombia must include measures
to ensure the non-recurrence of crimes perpetrated against the civilian population in violation of
international human rights law and international humanitarian law. This includes clarifying and making
reparations for the consequences of the violence through appropriate mechanisms to establish the truth
of what occurred, administer justice, and make integral reparations to the victims, in light of the country’s
international obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and the OAS Charter.
During the hearings, the Commission received information on the situation of boys and girls in
Cuba and on the health status of certain dissidents who have been deprived of their liberty since 2003. As
stated on numerous occasions, the Commission considers that the lack of free and fair elections featuring
universal suffrage and a secret ballot as an expression of the sovereign will of the people violates the
right to political participation enshrined in Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
of Man. Also during this session, the Commission approved two reports that will be published shortly:
one on Case 12.476 (Oscar Elías Biscet et al.) which involves the violation of fundamental rights to the
detriment of 75 political dissidents who have been deprived of their liberty since 2003, and the other on
Case 12.477 (Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo et al) concerning the trial of three people and the
application of the death penalty without due process guarantees.
The Commission also reiterates that the trade embargo imposed on Cuba for more than 40 years
must be ended, as this economic sanction has had a serious impact on the enjoyment of economic and
social rights and there is no question that the most vulnerable sectors of the Cuban population have been
the ones to suffer its consequences.
The Commission underscored the urgent need for the State to guarantee the security of the
Haitian people in general and that of human rights defenders and other vulnerable groups such as
women and children in particular. During the session, human rights defenders from Haiti expressed their
concern over the wave of violence that continues to sweep the country due in large part to armed bands
that circulate with impunity in Port-au-Prince. They also described deteriorating socioeconomic
conditions and the lack of access to legal services and effective legal remedies, as well as to adequate
medical services, on the part of victims of violence, all of which has exacerbated an already precarious
situation. The Commission also received information concerning the high percentage of detainees held
for prolonged periods in pretrial detention, the miserable prison conditions in the city of Gonaive,
prevailing impunity for human rights violations, and acts of intimidation against human rights defender
The Commission expresses its satisfaction at the recent establishment of a national commission
mandated to implement a plan to disarm armed groups and hopes that it will undertake this task in
accordance with international human rights principles. Representatives of the State invited the
Commission to visit the country to dialogue about its assistance needs in the area of judicial reform and
At the hearings, the Commission received information that human rights defenders who attend
hearings before the Commission are subject to defamation campaigns instigated by State officials upon
their return to the country. In this regard, the Commission reiterates emphatically that no human rights
defender should be harassed for reasons relating to his or her work, much less for using the tools and
entities available through the Inter-American system. In this sense, the Commission calls on the
authorities of the Venezuelan State to comply with the provisions of Article 61 of the Commission’s Rules
of Procedure to ensure that people who participate in procedures before the organs of the Inter-American
System do not become victims of harassment and intimidation for this reason.
The Commission was informed about the constitutional process of Public Consultation convened
by the Permanent Committee on Foreign Policy of the National Assembly with respect to the International
Cooperation Bill. Generally, the Commission takes a positive view of the opening up of such participatory
processes in a democratic State; nonetheless, it notes with concern that this consultation includes
references that can be interpreted as resistance to the participation of organizations that have expressed
criticism about the contents of the bill. Therefore, the Commission requests that the IACHR’s
recommendations regarding this bill be taken into account and that the effective participation of civil
society be ensured.
Finally, the Commission received information from the State and from various human rights
organizations concerning the prison situation. The State submitted information on government policies to
control crowding and violence in the prisons, while civil society groups reported on increases in the
numbers of dead and wounded in the prisons thus far in 2006. In this regard, the Commission calls on the
State to make every possible effort to guarantee the life and personal integrity of individuals deprived of
their liberty in Venezuela and, at the same time, to implement effective policies to control violence inside
the prisons, in keeping with respect for human rights.
Beginning this year, the Inter-American Commission has modified the format for its sessions.
Rather than two three-week sessions annually, the Commission has decided that from now on it will hold
three annual sessions of two weeks each. The Commission also plans to hold a special session in the
territory of a Member State. The next regular session will be held from February 26 to March 9, 2007, at
the headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., October 27, 2006
IACHR PUBLISHES A BOOK ON THE COMPLAINTS BROUGHT
BEFORE THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT IN 2004
The President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Evelio Fernández
Arévalos, underscored today the importance of actively promoting the benefits of the inter-American
human rights system, ―particularly at those levels where there is the greatest need for protection.‖
At a ceremony held at the Organization of American States (OAS) at the close of the recent
regular session of the IACHR, President Fernández Arévalos announced the publication of two volumes
on the complaints brought by the Commission before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2004.
The books were published with a special grant from the European Union (EU) to strengthen access to
justice in the Americas. The publications were presented to Ms. Despina Manos, a member of the
delegation of the European Commission in Washington.
The activities funded by the grant, which totaled nearly $800,000, included in loco visits to six
countries in the region in 2004 and 2005, the preparation of four reports and the creation of a database of
cases and petitions. The project implemented under the auspices of the European Union has also
supported litigation before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights through the creation of a Court
Group, which has constituted one of the most significant structural changes to the Executive Secretariat
of the Commission in recent years. The Commission’s litigation work includes presenting adversarial
cases and provisional measures, and the attendant follow-up.
Mr. Fernández Arévalos asserted that through this project the IACHR ―was able to reinforce its
mechanisms for visits, reporting, and bringing cases before the Inter-American Court so as to contribute
to the promotion of access to justice, strengthening the rule of law and the consolidation of democratic
institutions in the Americas by means of bringing laws and practices into line with international human
rights protection instruments and by making integral reparations to victims of human rights violations.‖
The project also has contributed to improved use of the inter-American human rights system,
explained Mr. Fernández Arévalos, insofar as it has raised the profile of the work of the IACHR. He said
that the number of petitions receive by the Commission had doubled in five years, from 658 in 2000 to
1,330 in 2005.
As he presented the new volumes to Ms. Manos, Mr. Fernández Arévalos underscored the
importance of the support the IACHR receives from outside sources, which accounts for 44% of its
Washington D.C., October 27, 2006
IACHR URGES ABSOLUTE RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND AN
END TO THE VIOLENCE IN OAXACA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its profound concern over
the violent events that have taken place in recent days in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, and laments that,
as a result, several people have been killed or injured. The Inter-American Commission has received
information concerning individuals who allegedly have been detained by the police forces and whose
whereabouts are unknown.
The Inter-American Commission reminds States of their obligation to ensure the public security of
the population and the rule of law in the context of absolute respect for human rights. The Commission
urges the authorities to adopt all necessary measures to resolve the critical situation affecting citizen
security in Oaxaca with absolute respect for its international human rights obligations.
The IACHR makes a special appeal to investigate and quickly determine the whereabouts of all
detained individuals and to ensure absolute respect for their human rights.
The Commission has carefully followed the conflict in Oaxaca for several months and held a
public hearing at its last session with the participation of civil society organizations and the Mexican State.
Bearing in mind this delicate situation, and the months of conflict preceding it, the Commission appeals to
all sectors to promote a dialogue process leading to the resolution of this conflict in the context of a
democratic society that respects human rights.
Washington, D.C., October 31, 2006
IACHR ANNOUNCES TWO REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CUBA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today notified the Government of
Cuba and the petitioners of two reports on the merits whose publication was approved at its 126 regular
session. They are Reports Nº 67/06 on Case 12.476 (Oscar Elías Biscet et al.) concerning the violation
of basic rights to the detriment of 79 political dissidents deprived of their liberty since 2003 and Report Nº
68/06 on Case 12.477 (Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo et al.) concerning the trial of three people and
the application of the death penalty in 2003, without due process guarantees. Both reports were
approved by a majority vote, with a dissenting vote issued by Commissioner Freddy Gutiérrez.
In response to the IACHR’s request for information to the State of Cuba through the Cuban
Interests Section in Washington, the government asserted that the Inter-American Commission lacked the
legal jurisdiction, and the OAS the moral standing, to judge the enjoyment of human rights in Cuba. The
time frames set forth in the IACHR’s Rules of Procedures were long expired and the State had failed to
dispute the facts alleged in the complaints.
Case 12.477 – Violation of the human rights of three executed individuals
Case 12.477 was opened in October 2003 with a petition lodged against the State of Cuba for
prosecuting, condemning to death without due process guarantees, and ultimately executing, Lorenzo
Enrique Copello Castillo, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla García, and Jorge Luis Martínez Isaac. At the trials,
which were held April 5 to 8, 2003, they were accused of having hijacked a ferry with 40 people on board
on April 2, 2003, with the intention of traveling to the United States. The Commission concluded that the
State of Cuba violated Articles I, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of
Man to the detriment of Copello Castillo, Sevilla García, and Martínez Isaac for trying and convicting them
without due process guarantees, and subsequently executing them.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that the State of Cuba adopt
the necessary measures to bring its laws, procedures and practices in line with international human rights
standards. In particular, it recommended a criminal law reform to ensure the right to justice and the right
to a regular process and the launching of a reform of its Political Constitution to ensure the independence
of the Judiciary. The IACHR also recommended that the State make reparations to the victims’ next of
kin for the material and moral harm suffered and adopt the necessary measures to prevent a recurrence
of such incidents, in accordance with the duty of the State to respect and ensure human rights.
Case 12.476 – Violation of the fundamental rights of political dissidents
In September and October 2003, two petitions were lodged against the State of Cuba for the
violation of the rights of 79 dissidents, opposition figures, human rights activists, and independent
journalists arrested in March 2003.
The IACHR recommended that the State of Cuba order the immediate and unconditional release
of the victims in this case, overturn their convictions for having been based on laws that impose
illegitimate restrictions on their human rights, and bring its laws, procedures, and practices in line with
international human rights standards. In particular, the Commission recommended that the State of Cuba
derogate Law No. 88 and article 91 of the Criminal Code, and that it undertake the reform of its Political
Constitution to ensure the independence of the Judiciary and the right to participate in government. The
IACHR further recommended that the State make reparations to the victims and their relatives for the
material and moral harm suffered as a result of violations of the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man and adopt the necessary measures to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in
accordance with the duty of the State to respect and ensure human rights.
Washington, D.C., November 1 , 2006
IACHR ADOPTS AMENDMENTS TO ITS RULES OF PROCEDURE AND ESTABLISHES
PROCEDURAL RULES FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS
At its 126 regular period of sessions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights adopted
amendments to its Rules of Procedure and adopted procedural rules for the appointment of special
Transcribed below are the amended articles of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, with
amended text underscored, and the procedural rules to govern the appointment of special rapporteurs.
Article 30. Admissibility Procedure
1. The Commission, through its Executive Secretariat, shall process the petitions
that meet the requirements set forth in Article 28 of these Rules of Procedure.
2. For this purpose, it shall forward the relevant parts of the petition to the State in
question. The identity of the petitioner shall not be revealed without his or her express
authorization. The request to the State for information shall not constitute a prejudgment with
regard to any decision the Commission may adopt on the admissibility of the petition.
3. The State shall submit its response within two months counted from the date the
request is transmitted. The Executive Secretariat shall evaluate requests for extensions of this
period that are duly founded. However, it shall not grant extensions that exceed three months
from the date of the first request for information sent to the State.
4. In serious or urgent cases, or when it is believed that the life or personal integrity
of a person is in real and imminent danger, the Commission shall request the promptest reply
from the State, using for this purpose the means it considers most expeditious.
5. Prior to deciding upon the admissibility of the petition, the Commission may invite
the parties to submit additional observations, either in writing or in a hearing, as provided for in
Chapter VI of these Rules of Procedure.
6. Once the observations have been received or the period set has elapsed with no
observations received, the Commission shall verify whether the grounds for the petition exist or
subsist. If it considers that they do not exist or subsist, it shall order the case archived.
7. In the cases envisioned in paragraph 4, the Commission may request that the
State present its response and observations on the admissibility and merits of the matter. The
response and observations of the State shall be submitted within a reasonable period, to be
determined by the Commission in accordance with the circumstances of each case.
Article 37. Decision on Admissibility
1. Once it has considered the positions of the parties, the Commission shall make a
decision on the admissibility of the matter. The reports on admissibility and inadmissibility shall
be public and the Commission shall include them in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of
2. When an admissibility report is adopted, the petition shall be registered as a case
and the proceedings on the merits shall be initiated. The adoption of an admissibility report does
not constitute a prejudgment as to the merits of the matter.
3. In exceptional circumstances, and after having requested information from the
parties in keeping with the provisions of Article 30 of these Rules of Procedure, the Commission
may open a case but defer its treatment of admissibility until the debate and decision on the
merits. The case shall be opened by means of a written communication to both parties.
4. When the Commission proceeds in keeping with Article 30.7 of these Rules of
Procedure, it shall open a case and shall inform the parties, in writing, that it has deferred its
treatment of admissibility until the debate and decision on the merit.
Article 38. Procedure on the Merits
1. Upon opening the case, the Commission shall set a period of two months for the
petitioners to submit additional observations on the merits. The pertinent parts of those
observations shall be transmitted to the State in question so that it may submit its observations
within two months.
2. The Executive Secretariat shall consider requests for extensions of the periods
mentioned in the foregoing paragraph if appropriate grounds are cited. However, it shall not grant
extensions beyond three months from the date on which the first request for observations was
sent to each party.
3. In serious or urgent cases, or when it is believed that the life or personal integrity
of a person is in real and imminent danger, once the case has been opened the Commission
shall request that the State submit its additional observations on the merits within a reasonable
period, to be determined by the Commission in accordance with the circumstances of each case.
4. Prior to making its decision on the merits of the case, the Commission shall set a
time period for the parties to express whether they have an interest in initiating the friendly
settlement procedure provided for in Article 41 of these Rules of Procedure. Under the
circumstances envisioned in Article 30.7 and in the foregoing paragraph, the Commission shall
request that the parties reply as expeditiously as possible. The Commission may also invite the
parties to submit additional observations in writing.
5. If it deems it necessary in order to advance in its consideration of the case, the
Commission may convene the parties for a hearing, as provided for in Chapter VI of these Rules
Article 62. Hearings on Petitions or Cases
1. Hearings on petitions or cases shall have as their purpose the receipt of oral or
written presentations by the parties relative to new facts and information additional to that which
has been produced during the proceeding. The information may refer to any of the following
issues: admissibility; the initiation or development of the friendly settlement procedure; the
verification of the facts; the merits of the matter; follow-up on recommendations; or any other
matter pertinent to the processing of the petition or case.
2. Requests for hearings must be submitted in writing at least 50 days prior to the
beginning of the respective session of the Commission. Requests for hearings shall indicate their
purpose and the identity of the participants.
3. If the Commission accedes to the request or decides to hold a hearing on its own
initiative, it shall convoke both parties. If one party, having been duly notified, does not appear,
the Commission shall proceed with the hearing. The Commission shall adopt the necessary
measures to maintain in confidence the identity of the experts and witnesses if it believes that
they require such protection.
4. The Executive Secretariat shall inform the parties as to the date, place, and time
of the hearing at least one month in advance. However, under exceptional circumstances, that
time period may be reduced.
Article 64. Hearings of a General Nature
1. Persons who are interested in presenting testimony or information to the
Commission on the human rights situation in one or more States, or on matters of general
interest, shall direct a written request for a hearing to the Executive Secretariat no later than 50
days before the beginning of the respective period of sessions of the Commission.
2. Persons making such a request shall indicate the purpose of their appearance, a
summary of the information they will furnish, the approximate time required for that purpose, and
the identity of the participants. Also, in the case of hearings on the situation of human rights in a
State, such persons shall indicate whether they wish the State in question to be convened to
appear at the hearing. If the request does not specify a preference, the Commission shall
assume that the State’s appearance is desired.
3. If the Commission accedes to the request, it shall convene the requesting party
and, if applicable, to the State in question. The Executive Secretariat shall inform the party or
parties as to the date, place, and time of the hearing at least one month in advance. However,
under exceptional circumstances, that time period may be reduced.
Article 66. Minutes of the Hearings
Hearings shall be public. When exceptional circumstances so warrant, the Commission,
on its own initiative or at the request of an interested party, may hold private hearings and shall
decide who may attend them. This decision shall be made exclusively by the Commission, which
shall inform the parties thereof before the beginning of the hearing, either orally or in writing. Even
in these exceptional circumstances, minutes shall be kept in the manner prescribed in Article 68
of these Rules.
Appointment of Special Rapporteurs
The procedural rules to govern the appointment of special rapporteurs shall be as follows:
1. Once the Commission learns that a special rapporteur post will become vacant, the
Commission shall organize a public competition and announce it widely, in order to
secure the highest number of applications to the post. The vacancy announcement,
therefore, shall be published on the Commission’s Web page and on that of the
rapporteurships, and shall be transmitted electronically to all OAS missions and to the
major human rights organizations, in accordance with the Commission’s database, for
distribution to their networks of contacts.
2. The vacancy announcement shall inform applicants that, if they are preselected, their
names and background information will be published on the Commission’s Web page for
the information of the member states and civil society. The vacancy announcement shall
also include details of the procedure and criteria that will govern the selection process.
Finally, the vacancy announcement shall specify the deadline for submission of
applications and the deadline by which the selection will be made. The Commission shall
accept applications for a period no shorter than two months.
3. The Commission shall inform the member states and civil society organizations that,
during the application period, they may submit their observations on selection criteria the
Commission should apply, based on the minimum requirements established in the
4. Once the application period has elapsed, the Commission shall select finalists from
among the candidates. Finalists must meet each and every minimum requirement
established in the vacancy announcement. As it sees fit, the Commission shall take into
account the factors member states and civil society organizations have deemed most
relevant to the performance of the function. The Commission shall also take account of
other criteria so that the group of finalists will equitably represent men and women, racial
diversity, and the Hemisphere’s geographic distribution.
5. The curricula vitae of the finalists shall be published on the Commission’s Web page so
that member states and civil society in general may be properly informed as to the
background and credentials of the preselected candidates. These curricula vitae shall
remain on the Web page for a reasonable period of time so that informed comments on
the candidacies may be submitted to the Commission. All personal information not
pertinent to the candidate’s election, such as address, telephone number, and family
details, shall be removed from each curriculum vitae.
6. Once the period for comments by civil society has elapsed, the Commission shall
convene the finalists to be interviewed.
7. When the interview process has been completed, the Commission shall proceed to the
election, in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States. Election shall require the affirmative
vote of an absolute majority of members of the Commission. Should it be necessary to
hold more than one round of voting, the names receiving the lowest number of votes shall
be eliminated successively. The election shall be by secret ballot. However, with the
unanimous consent of the members present, the Commission may decide on another
8. From the point of publication of the vacancy announcement until a candidate has been
elected, contact between the candidates and the members of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights shall be strictly avoided.
9. Once a candidate has been elected, should he or she accept the appointment, the
Commission shall announce the election result, emphasizing the individual’s credentials
and the reasons for which he or she was elected.
Washington, D.C., November 2, 2006
IACHR CALLS ON PERU TO TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
During its 126 regular session, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received
information regarding threats and other acts of harassment against human rights defenders in Peru. The
Committee calls upon the Peruvian State to adopt such measures as are necessary to prevent a
recurrence of acts of this kind. Accordingly, the Commission wishes to recall OAS General Assembly
resolution 1671, adopted on June 7, 1999, in which it invoked member states to protect ―the individuals,
groups, and organizations of civil society‖ dedicated to ―the promotion, observance, and protection of
fundamental rights and liberties.‖ The Commission also received information regarding Draft Law
25/2006-PE, which would amend Law 27692 on the establishment of the Peruvian International
Cooperation Agency (APCI) and which, if passed, would have a negative impact on the work of human
Separately, the Commission received information regarding the presentation to Congress of draft
laws that could extend application of the death penalty to cases not currently contemplated by law and
which had triggered extensive debate in public opinion, civil society, and government circles. With respect
to these draft laws, the Commission deems it pertinent to recall that Article 4, paragraph 2 of the
American Convention on Human Rights states that: ―In countries that have not abolished the death
penalty, it may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final judgment rendered by
a competent court and in accordance with a law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the
commission of the crime. The application of such punishment shall not be extended to crimes to which it
does not presently apply,‖ while paragraph 3 adds: ―The death penalty shall not be reestablished in states
that have abolished it.‖
During this session, a hearing was held on the National Human Rights Plan at which the
petitioners expressed their concern at the implementation of the plan. The Government expressed
willingness to ―re-launch‖ the National Human Rights Plan and to broaden the scope of the consultation
process. The IACHR has closely monitored the National Plan since it was adopted on December 11,
2005 and has signed a technical cooperation agreement with the Government of Peru. It considers that it
is of the utmost importance that all the initiatives undertaken by the Government be geared to
strengthening national mechanisms to protect and promote the human rights of all the inhabitants of Peru.
An audience was also held on follow-up to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (CVR), in which the organizations presenting the petition commented on the degree of
compliance with those recommendations, particularly with respect to justice, acts of reparation, and
institutional reforms. The IACHR has kept close track of compliance with the recommendations of the
CVR and considers it crucial to achieve their full implementation.
The IACHR attaches great importance to the adoption of implementing regulations for Law No.
28592, which established a comprehensive plan for compensating the victims of the violence that
occurred in Peru between 1980 and 2000, and to the appointment of the officials who will form the
Council for Reparation, charged with drawing up the Consolidated Register of Victims (RUV). Further, the
Commission was pleased to receive the ratification by the Peruvian State of the Optional Protocol to the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The
IACHR considers that this ratification is a major step forward in this area.
Washington, D.C., November 3, 2006
IACHR HAILS PROGRESS IN FRIENDLY SETTLEMENTS
AND IN COMPLIANCE WITH RECOMMENDATIONS
During its 126 regular period of sessions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR) held several working meetings on petitions and cases in the process of friendly settlement, as
well as on follow-up on compliance with recommendations contained in reports on the merits. The IACHR
is heartened by the progress made during these meetings, and acknowledges and is grateful for the
willingness of States and petitioners to engage in dialogue and come to terms with a view to moving
toward solutions in these cases. In particular, the Commission underscores the importance of the
agreement signed by the Government of Argentina and the petitioners in the Correa Belisle case,
ratification of the agreement between the Government of Mexico and representatives of the victims in the
Paulina Ramírez Jacinto petition, and the signing of the agreement between the Government of Peru and
the judges and prosecutors not reconfirmed by the National Council of the Magistracy.
Argentina pledges to reform the Code of Military Justice
The IACHR expresses satisfaction with the signing of a friendly settlement agreement between
the Government of Argentina and Captain Rodolfo Correa Belisle (Ret.), which includes a commitment to
reform the Code of Military Justice so that it will provide the military with the same due process
guarantees as for civilians. This reform would eliminate the special military jurisdiction and create a new
system of sanctions that is respectful of the rights and guarantees of members of the Armed Forces.
The IACHR highlights the importance of the agreement signed on September 18 in Argentina, not
only for that country but for the region as a whole. The Commission has indicated on numerous occasions
that various countries of the region should reform their military justice laws. Military case law requires that
military jurisdiction be used solely and exclusively to prosecute the crimes of active-duty security forces
and not other conduct. The Commission considers that the approval of the new Code of Military Justice
would not only be a significant step forward in bringing Argentine laws into line with its commitments and
duties under the American Convention on Human Rights, but would also serve as a benchmark for other
countries of the region. As stated by the Commission during the hearing, once the Argentine Code of
Military Justice has been reformed in accordance with that agreement, it will become an important
benchmark for other countries, enabling them to bring their military justice systems into line with
international standards and the requirements of justice in a democratic society.
The IACHR underscores the creativity of the petitioners, who, through an individual case, were
able to have a positive influence, prompting Argentine legislation to meet international standards, as well
as the political will of the Argentine State to meet its commitments under the inter-American human rights
system. The Commission will continue to follow up on the process until its completion, including the
adoption by the National Congress of the new Code of Military Justice. It calls upon the Argentine State to
adopt the new Code quickly, expresses its support in that regard, and anticipates its adoption in order to
approve the agreement and conclude the case.
Another case in the process of friendly settlement between the petitioners and the Government of
Argentina is that of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA), in which the parties reported that
some progress had been made, for example, in the prosecution of various persons charged with
concealment of the attack, as well as in dealing with pending challenges, including the adoption of
reforms of the Intelligence Law, determination of the responsibilities of the instigators and accomplices in
the case in which the attack is being investigated, and the implementation of an anti-disaster unit and a
contingency plan. During the hearing, agreement was reached on an agenda for complying with the
In another Argentine case, Menéndez, Caride, et al. (known as ―The Retirees‖), the parties reported
on various measures adopted in the ongoing friendly settlement procedure and, in particular, expressed
satisfaction that the Argentine Congress had passed the bill on reform of Provisional Solidarity Law
24.463, the text of which was approved by consensus as part of that process. According to the
information presented, the reforms will enter into force in January 2007. The Commission also expressed
satisfaction with that major step forward in the process and will continue to follow up on it.
Peru moving toward a solution for non-reconfirmed judges and prosecutors
The Commission expresses satisfaction with the efforts by the State of Peru that led to success in
the friendly settlement procedure in the case of the judges and prosecutors not reconfirmed by the
National Council of the Magistracy. At a working meeting during this period of sessions, the State of Peru
submitted a new friendly settlement agreement signed by 50 judges and prosecutors which, under the
agreed terms, could reinstate them in their functions. The State asked the IACHR to publish the
respective report with a view to its implementation and expressed its readiness to conclude similar
agreements with the other judges and prosecutors whose petitions were being processed by the
Commission. The IACHR hopes that the State will make progress toward a comprehensive solution to all
pending petitions as soon as possible, so that this solution may cover all judges and prosecutors not
reconfirmed by the National Council of the Magistracy.
A working meeting was also held to follow up on the recommendations made in the Joint Press
Release of February 22, 2001. On that occasion, the Peruvian State presented a broad proposal to settle
165 cases being considered by the Commission. At the working meeting during the recent period of
sessions, the petitioners set forth the obstacles to full compliance with the State’s commitments in the
areas of health, education, and housing, as well as on matters of justice. The State said that, on the basis
of the information received, it would do its utmost to eliminate the difficulties identified by the petitioners.
Mexico makes progress in a case on women’s rights
The Commission hails the progress made in achieving a friendly settlement agreement with
regard to the petition of Paulina Ramírez Jacinto, Mexico. The petitioners alleged that Paulina Ramírez,
at the age of 13, was denied the right to obtain an abortion allowed by law since she and her mother were
victims of intimidation and delays at the hands of State officials. The parties ratified a friendly settlement
agreement that consists of public acknowledgement of responsibility by the Government of Baja
California and a large array of compensatory measures for the victim and her son, including court costs
associated with the case, medical expenses for health-related services, financial support for
maintenance, housing, education, and professional development, psychological care, and compensation
for pain and suffering. The IACHR is pleased to see the readiness of the parties to cooperate in settling
this situation and will continue to monitor the process.
Along different lines, the Commission expresses satisfaction with the significant progress made in
the friendly settlement procedure in the case of Reyes Penagos Martínez, Enrique Flores, and Julieta
Flores, in Chiapas, Mexico. The petition alleges that Penagos Martínez died while in the custody of the
State’s Judicial Police, and that Julieta Flores and her father, Enrique Flores, were tortured and illegally
detained. The agreement would include compensation for Penagos Martínez’s widow and children and
for Enrique Flores, a public acknowledgment by the State of its responsibility, and an investigation into
the facts. The IACHR expresses satisfaction with the meeting between the parties on November 3, at
which some of the compensatory measures were agreed upon.
Paraguay makes progress in barring the recruitment of minors
The Commission expresses satisfaction with the headway made in following up on its
recommendations to Paraguay in the report on the merits in the case of Víctor Hugo Maciel, a minor who
died while performing compulsory military service. The victim suffered from Chagas disease and his
death occurred as a result of increased physical effort during a military training exercise. The Commission
considers fundamental, and expresses satisfaction with, the State’s readiness to foster and monitor total
compliance with the recommendations, in particular the bill strictly prohibiting the recruitment of minors,
i.e. persons under 18. Likewise, it is heartened by the States public acknowledgement of responsibility
and by the payment of compensation to members of the victim’s family.
On another point, the Commission expresses satisfaction with the working meeting to monitor the
situation in the Hospital Neuropsiquiátrico in Paraguay. It highlights the advances made in developing
comprehensive protection of the rights of persons with mental disabilities in Paraguay, in collaboration
with the Pan American Health Organization. The Commission welcomed the Ministerial Resolution
presented by the Paraguayan State that established the Multidisciplinary Technical Commission to
Strengthen Reform of the Mental Health System in the framework of the National Health Policy, and it
hopes that this will contribute to a process of promotion and observance of the human rights of all
persons with mental disabilities, with the assistance of civil society organizations.
Friendly settlement terms approved in a case in Venezuela
During this period of sessions, the Commission welcomed the approval of the terms of a friendly
settlement report in the case of Sebastián Echaniz Alcorta and Juan Víctor Galarza Mendiola, of
Venezuela, in which the petitioners alleged that Messrs. Galarza Mendiola and Echaniz Alcorta had been
deported without due guarantees. The Commission is very appreciative of the efforts made by both
parties to achieve this settlement, which is compatible with the objective and the purpose of the American
Convention on Human Rights.
Washington, D.C., November 8, 2006
IACHR VISIT TO BOLIVIA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will visit the Republic of Bolivia, at
the request of its Government, from November 12 to 17, 2006, to observe and gather information on the
human rights situation in the country.
The IACHR is the principal human rights organ of the Organization of American States (OAS). It
is independent and autonomous in carrying out its primary task of promoting and protecting human rights
in the Hemisphere. The seven members of the Commission are elected in a personal capacity by the
OAS General Assembly for a term of four years.
The IACHR delegation will consist of Commission members Evelio Fernández Arévalos,
President; Florentín Meléndez, Second Vice President and Rapporteur for Bolivia; and Victor
Abramovich. They will be joined by Santiago Canton, Executive Secretary; attorneys Débora Benchoam,
Leonardo Hidaka, and Silvia Serrano; and Gloria Hansen, Documents Technician from the Executive
The Commission will meet with officials of the Bolivian Government, members of the Judiciary
and the Legislature, and civil society organizations. On Friday, November 17, 2006, from 5:00 to 7:30
p.m., the IACHR will hold a conference on the inter-American human rights system in the El Solar Room
of the Hotel Europa (62 Tiahuanaco Street, La Paz, Bolivia).
Washington, D.C., November 8, 2006
IACHR VOICES ITS CONCERN AT THE PERSISTENCE OF SERIOUS AND
SYSTEMATIC VIOLATIONS OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers the level of violence and
discrimination suffered by women in the region, and the obstacles they face in gaining access to justice,
to be matters of grave concern. The IACHR has observed the alarming, ongoing prevalence of different
forms of discrimination and physical, psychological, and sexual violence against women of different races,
ethnicities, ages, and socio-economic standing; the proliferation of the public and private scenarios in
which these acts occur; and the social and political contexts in which they abound. This state of affairs is
exacerbated by the obstacles women face in acceding to effective and appropriate remedies, which not
only add to the victims’ sense of insecurity, defenselessness, and distrust of the administration of justice
but also create a climate of impunity which perpetuates violence against women.
Despite formal and legal recognition by states that violence against women constitutes a
challenge of the first order, there is a huge discrepancy between the incidence and gravity of the problem,
on the one hand, and the quality of the response proffered by those states. The IACHR acknowledges the
efforts states have made to adopt a legal and political framework to address violence against women, but
there is nevertheless a considerable gap between the formal availability of these remedies and effective
IACHR to publish reports on women’s rights
Given its deep concern regarding this issue, the Commission has worked on and will continue to
prepare reports on the situation of women’s rights. The IACHR will shortly be publishing two such reports.
One puts forward specific recommendations regarding public policies that states could adopt to improve
women’s access to justice. The other analyzes the impact of armed conflict on Colombian women and
discusses how the parties to the conflict employ various forms of physical, psychological, and sexual
violence to ―harm the enemy,‖ either by dehumanizing the victim, attacking his or her family, and/or
sowing terror in his or her community, in order to gain control over territory and resources. The report
contains recommendations for designing a comprehensive state policy that takes into account the
manifestations of discrimination and violence that affect women and are aggravated by armed conflict, the
idea being to make headway in diagnosis, prevention, and in the response to these problems and to
move toward inclusion of the specific needs of women on the public agenda.
Record attention to this issue at the 126 regular session
The IACHR’s concern with this issue was reflected during its last regular session, which included
a record number of hearings and working meetings on the protection of women’s rights. Thus, hearings
were held on the situation of violence against women in the Dominican Republic, on trends in judicial
interpretation of women’s rights, on the overall plight of women in Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua, Mexico), on
indigenous women, and women deprived of their freedom in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and
Uruguay. The particularly dire situation of these two groups – indigenous women and women deprived of
their freedom – is a cause of great concern to the Commission.
Discrimination, in its various different guises, does not always affect all women to the same
degree. There are women who are particularly exposed to violation of their rights, such as indigenous
women, who face several forms of discrimination from the day they are born, which increases their
vulnerability and risk of being abused on several grounds. In the hearing on this issue, the IACHR
received information regarding the aggravated impact of the dual discrimination suffered by these women.
In Mexico, for example, it was alleged that the shortcomings in health care have a particularly pernicious
effect on indigenous women, and cases of forced sterilization were described. In the case of Argentina,
the emphasis was on lack of access to education, the failure to adapt education to the culture concerned,
and the need for bilingual inter-cultural education in the country. As for Canada, attention was drawn to
examples of de jure and de facto discrimination against indigenous women. In the case of Colombia, the
focus was on the particularly critical situation of indigenous women who, in the context of armed conflict,
are subjected to multiple forms of discrimination and violence because of their race, ethnicity, or the mere
fact of being women.
In the hearing on women prisoners in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the
IACHR received information on discriminatory practices against women in prisons, the deficiencies of the
heath care provided in prisons, the barriers preventing access to training, education, and labor, and the
various forms of violence against women, including the ways in which they are prevented from
denouncing the abuses suffered at the hands of wardens and fellow female inmates.
On the other hand, the IACHR was pleased to note examples of progress cited at the working
meetings. One notable example was the major progress achieved with implementation of the friendly
settlement agreement reached between the Government of Mexico and the representatives of the victims
in the Paulina Ramírez Jacinto petition, in which the petitioners argued that 13-year-old Paulina Ramírez
was prevented from exercising her right to a legal abortion because she and her mother were the victims
of intimidation and delaying tactics on the part of state agents.
The IACHR will continue its close monitoring of trends with respect to women’s rights in the
region and of implementation of the measures adopted by states to ensure that women are able to enjoy
the full exercise of all their rights in the Americas.
Washington, D.C., November 15, 2006
THE IACHR CONCLUDES ITS VISIT TO BOLIVIA
At the invitation of the Government of Bolivia, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR) conducted a visit from November 12 to 17, 2006, to observe the overall human rights situation.
The Commission met with high government officials and numerous civil society organizations. It also
visited the Chonchocorro, San Pedro, and Orientación Femenina Obrajes penitentiaries. At the end of its
visit, the Commission gave a lecture on the inter-American human rights system.
The Commission is an autonomous, principal body of the Organization of American States (OAS),
established in keeping with the OAS Charter and charged with the observance and defense of human
rights in the Americas. It is composed of seven independent experts elected in their personal capacity by
the member states of the Organization. The IACHR delegation consisted of Commission members Evelio
Fernández Arévalos, President; Florentín Meléndez, Second Vice President and Rapporteur for Bolivia;
and Victor Abramovich. They were joined by Santiago Canton, Executive Secretary; attorneys Débora
Benchoam, Leonardo Hidaka, and Silvia Serrano; and Gloria Hansen, Documents Technician from the
The Commission believes the outcome of the recent elections in Bolivia represents the beginning
of an important process of democratization and increasing inclusiveness, which may help the traditionally
excluded majority of the population to participate actively in decision-making on political, economic, and
social questions that affect them directly.
The Commission stresses that, despite the severe crises of recent years, Bolivian society has
found ways to embark on a democratic transition in a manner consistent with its Constitution. However,
efforts toward inclusiveness in Bolivia may be seriously hindered by the country’s political instability. The
Commission has learned of important proposals for social and political transformation by the present
government. It believes it is essential for this process to be based on strengthening democratic dialogue
and the rule of law.
Bolivia is a multiethnic, multilingual, and pluricultural nation, where indigenous peoples, who
make up over 60% of the population, traditionally have been subject to discrimination and social
exclusion. Approximately 70% of indigenous Bolivians live in poverty or extreme poverty, with little
access to education or to minimal services to support human health, like clean drinking water and
sanitation systems. Many Bolivians living in poverty or extreme poverty are doubly vulnerable as women,
children, or the indigenous elderly. The Commission recognizes that the severe problems facing the
majority of Bolivians trace back to prior decades and have been passed on to the present government.
These preliminary observations and the Commission’s report on this visit are intended to assist the
Bolivian state, indicating the major elements required to safeguard the human rights of all Bolivians.
Bolivia has instituted significant reforms to safeguard and strengthen the rights of indigenous
peoples by enacting special laws, creating specific ministries to address these questions, ratifying
Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) concerning Indigenous and Tribal
Peoples in Independent Countries, and constitutionally declaring Bolivia a multicultural state. However, in
practice, these important advances have not yet brought about substantial improvements in the situation
of indigenous peoples and other groups historically subject to discrimination.
Poverty and social exclusion can lead to human rights violations. The lack of equal participation
hinders the development of democratic, pluralistic societies and heightens intolerance and discrimination.
The inclusion of all sectors of society in processes of communication, decision-making, and development
is essential to ensuring that policies and decisions take account of their needs, views, and interests. The
American Convention on Human Rights, in its preamble, states that "the ideal of free human beings
enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone
may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights as well as his civil and political rights."
In connection with recent initiatives, the Inter-American Commission welcomes the creation and
startup of the Vice Ministry of Community Justice as a first step toward coordination and harmonization of
the formal justice system with the community justice system. The Commission also welcomes Bolivia’s
recent ratification of the Protocol of San Salvador on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and hopes
that, continuing in the direction of this important step in recognizing international human rights standards,
Bolivia will promptly ratify the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture and the
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty. Lastly,
the Commission recommends most especially, in the context of the present constitutional process, that
constitutional rank be accorded to the international human rights instruments ratified by the Bolivian state.
The Commission reaffirms as essential to any social inclusiveness process the full independence
of the branches of government, particularly the guarantee of an impartial judiciary, access to justice, the
enforceability of rights recognized under the Constitution and international law, strict compliance with due
process without discrimination, policies for coordination between the community and formal justice
systems, and, most especially, fighting the severe problem of impunity for those responsible for human
rights violations. During this visit, the Commission paid special attention to each of these issues.
The Commission learned of alarming statistics related to access to justice, especially in rural
areas. It noted in particular that only 55% of municipalities in Bolivia have any judicial authority and only
23% have a prosecutor
The Commission also noted with deep concern that only 3% of municipalities have public
defenders. In this connection, although the Commission welcomed the Public Defenders Act as a positive
initiative, it finds that, three years after its entry into force, serious deficiencies in its application persist.
The Commission reaffirms that every law must be accompanied by the political will to implement it with
the necessary budgetary and human resources, especially when it directly affects the full exercise of
human rights, such as due process and access to justice.
As for the Office of the Attorney General, the Commission welcomes recent efforts by the
Attorney General of the Republic such as the creation of decongestion units, notification centers, and
secure evidence archives. It is essential that authorities take all necessary measures, whether budgetary
or involving technical or personnel support, to have these initiatives swiftly implemented.
The Commission also observed that for years there had been no uniform criminal prosecution
policy, and that this had been aggravated by obstacles to the effective development of the prosecutorial
profession. The Commission also took note of difficulties in coordination among district attorneys,
prosecutors, and judicial technical police officers working in investigation. Beginning with the
implementation of the accusatory criminal justice system, such police were to be under the command and
control of the appropriate district attorneys. The Commission has learned that the police officers are still
assuming investigative tasks under orders from their hierarchical superiors, not from officials of the
Attorney General’s Office.
Another matter of concern in the area of investigations is the lack of cooperation among various
agencies of other branches of government, especially the reluctance on the part of security agencies and
the Armed Forces to provide essential information. Despite the implementation of the new accusatory
criminal system, the IACHR learned of instances in which complaints were rejected and investigations
were dismissed by the Attorney General’s Office. This could be adding to the problem of impunity.
On the operations of the judiciary, the Commission observed an alarming backlog of cases on
various issues, especially labor rights, social security, and criminal matters.
The Commission is concerned over the direct impact of this case backlog on the high percentage
of detainees who have not been sentenced: over 70%. Immediate measures must be taken to correct
prison overcrowding, to separate detainees according to specific categories, especially juveniles,
convicts, and those being tried, and to ensure that family cohabitation within prisons conforms to
international human rights standards.
One of the major safeguards the state must institute to lessen the backlog in the administration of
justice is an effective, transparent, independent, and impartial disciplinary system to ensure that
Republic’s judges adhere to the Constitution and the law.
Similarly, it is essential to strengthen the judicial career service by instituting improved,
transparent procedures for the selection of judges at all levels, so as to ensure their suitability,
independence, and impartiality. The Commission noted with concern the large number of vacancies at the
highest levels, both at the Office of the Attorney General, where the highest official has an interim
appointment, and in the posts of four ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice and five principal and/or
alternate magistrates at the Constitutional Court.
As for the application of military criminal justice, the Commission points to the judgment by the
Constitutional Court, in May 2004, which adopts international standards in this area, in addition to recent
statements by military authorities indicating that investigations and trials concerning the grave events of
September and October 2003 could be conducted by the ordinary justice system. The Commission,
however, expresses its concern over overt instances of contempt of court by the Armed Forces who
intended to disregard constitutional precepts and remain under military jurisdiction. In particular, it
remains unclear whether the soldiers accused in the events of February 2003 will be placed under
The Commission appreciates certain instances of progress in recognizing the community justice
system and indigenous law, both in the Constitution and under criminal procedural law, and notes with
concern the lack of state policies to strengthen those institutions, or of clear guidelines for harmonizing
them with, and integrating them into, the formal justice system. The Commission believes that the
recognition of juridical pluralism, including respect for the indigenous justice system should be
accompanied by means of guaranteeing its effective application in the context of constitutional and
international human rights parameters.
Finally, working meetings were held on petitions, cases, and precautionary measures being
considered by the Commission, with participation by representatives of the state, petitioners, and victims.
The Commission is gratified at the willingness and readiness expressed by the parties to some of these
matters to enter into friendly settlement proceedings, and by the state’s manifest commitment to
implement the precautionary measures discussed. The Commission will continue to monitor these
matters and to observe closely the development of the human rights situation in Bolivia.
The visit that concludes today has been a valuable opportunity to enrich the Commission’s
dialogue, in its areas of competence, with the Bolivian authorities and Bolivian society. The Commission
will continue to work with the Government of Bolivia and with civil society to strengthen the defense and
protection of human rights.
The Commission emphasizes that it was entirely at liberty to meet with any person of its
choosing. The authorities of the Bolivian state extended their full assistance and cooperation to the
Commission so that it could carry out its agenda. The Commission thanks the Government of President
Evo Morales for this assistance. It also thanks the various civil society organizations and representatives
for their cooperation and the information they provided.
In the context of ongoing cooperation with the Government, and with the aim of pursuing
increased and improved protection of human rights in Bolivia, the Commission, under the functions and
powers granted it in Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights, will issue its observations
on the impressions it has gathered before and during this visit, as well as its final conclusions and
recommendations, in a report on the situation of human rights in Bolivia, which will be submitted to the
Bolivian state for its consideration and made public in the near future.
La Paz, Bolivia, November 17, 2006
IACHR WELCOMES BOLIVIA’S RATIFICATION OF THE INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION TO
PREVENT AND PUNISH TORTURE
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the ratification of the Inter-
American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture by the Republic of Bolivia. The ratification of human
rights instruments represents an essential step toward protection of the Hemisphere’s inhabitants.
The Commission recognizes and welcomes the ratification by Bolivia, on November 21, 2006, as
an important step toward universal adoption of the inter-American system and one that gives Bolivia a
new instrument for prosecuting and punishing those responsible for human rights violations, particularly in
the case of human torture.
Washington D.C., November 27, 2006
IACHR CHECKS SITUATION OF PERSONS DEPRIVED
OF LIBERTY IN SOME JAILS IN THE REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA
In connection with the visit to Bolivia, from November 12 to 17, 2006, by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Commission member Florentín Meléndez – Rapporteur for
Bolivia and Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas – visited the
Chonchocorro Penitentiary (in El Alto), the San Pedro Jail (in La Paz), and the Centro de Orientación
Femenina Obrajes (also in La Paz), to examine the situation of the human rights of persons deprived of
First, the Commission is deeply concerned over the high percentage of persons deprived of
liberty in Bolivia who have not been convicted—approximately 75% of the 7,682 inmates in Bolivian jails,
according to official figures from October 2006.
The Commission has also found, with great concern, that the precarious state of prison
infrastructure, sanitation, and security has heightened the overcrowding problem observed during the
visits to the San Pedro Jail and the Centro de Orientación Femenina Obrajes. It stresses that the number
of inmates at San Pedro, for example, is about five times its capacity.
Another matter of concern to the Commission is the lack of criteria for separating and classifying
persons deprived of liberty. It found defendants held alongside convicts, and children under 18 together
with adults, in violation of the American Convention and other international instruments on the matter.
The Commission also found relatives, wives, or female companions of inmates—especially
children and adolescents whose parents were inmates—living with their relatives in the San Pedro and
Obrajes Jails. The Commission notes that family cohabitation within jail can be a positive alternative in
terms of the rehabilitation and resocialization of persons deprived of liberty. However, measures must be
implemented to ensure that family cohabitation in prisons conforms to international human rights
standards. In particular, the Commission is concerned over the physical, psychological, and emotional
well-being of children and adolescents who live with their fathers and mothers in the prisons visited, given
the precarious state of infrastructure, sanitation, and security at those prisons.
Lastly, the Commission recognizes that the prison situation observed in Bolivia and the severe
problems identified are complex and have been inherited by the present government. The Commission
believes the situation of Bolivian jails calls for a governmental response determined through dialogue and
coordination among the branches of government, with participation by the community through its various
organizations and institutions. It urges the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government in
the Republic of Bolivia to promote dialogue and inter-agency discussion aimed at correcting the human
rights situation of persons deprived of liberty, with a comprehensive perspective and approach agreed
upon by all involved sectors of the country.
Washington D.C., November 30, 2006
IACHR RELEASES REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF THE COLOMBIAN
ARMED CONFLICT ON WOMEN
The actors in the Colombian armed conflict, in particular the paramilitary groups and the guerrilla,
employ physical, sexual and psychological violence against women as a strategy of war. This is one of
the most alarming conclusions of a report prepared by the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that becomes public today. Violence and
Discrimination Against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia also reveals that discrimination against
women aggravates the impact of the violence on them, their families and communities. The report also
reviews the particularly critical situation of indigenous and Afro-descendent women, who confront not only
the consequences of gender-based discrimination, but also those derived from their ethnic or racial
The report addresses the recruitment of girls and young women by armed groups such as the
AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de
Colombia). Girls are raped and forced to place intrauterine devices and even to practice abortions. The
report states that "paramilitary leaders [….] order the search of girls between the ages of 12 and 14 to live
with them, provide sexual services and perform domestic duties". In the course of the investigations, the
IACHR received information about a young pregnant woman that was murdered as a reprisal for having
escaped. Her baby was removed from her womb and displayed as a symbol to discourage other girls in
the same situation from escaping.
The IACHR also considers alarming that all armed actors in the conflict commit aggressions
against organizations working to defend the rights of women. The report indicates that armed actors find
that "the leadership exercised by women’s rights organizations challenges the extent of their social and
territorial control". This has led ―to the systematic intimidation, persecution, kidnapping, torture and
sexual abuse‖ of representatives from these organizations.
Forms of violence resulting from the armed conflict have fueled the forced displacement of more
than two million persons, with a high percentage of families headed by women (four out of ten). The
report discusses how displaced women suffer discrimination from the armed groups that generate the
displacement and the receiving communities. The investigation confirmed that when women seek justice,
they receive an inadequate treatment and response from the judicial branch. This increases their fear to
report the crimes and their mistrust in the capacity of the judicial instances to remedy the violations of
their rights. This also promotes an environment of impunity which perpetuates the treatment of women as
spoils of war by the armed actors.
Colombia stands out for the adoption of key norms and public policies that recognize and protect
the rights of women, as well as the jurisprudential advances of its Constitutional Court. Despite these
measures, the absence of an integral State policy is evident that addresses the specific impact of the
armed conflict on women with a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach that includes the specific
needs of women throughout the national territory. The report discusses how "the State seems to lack an
integral vision and an effective preparation to address the consequences of violence and discrimination
that the conflict imposes on women. The existing policy framework does not provide an adequate base
for the implementation of integral programs and services for victims that include the justice, education and
health sectors." The report formulates recommendations to the State to redress this situation.
The Executive Summary of this report is attached to this press release. Its complete text is
available at the IACHR website, www.cidh.org
Washington, D.C. December 5, 2006
PRESS RELEASE 49/06
VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
IN THE ARMED CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA
18 October 2006
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the "IACHR" or the "Inter-
American Commission") has repeatedly expressed its concern over the serious impact on the human
rights of men and women of the armed conflict that has affected the Republic of Colombia over four
decades. The conflict has severely affected the civilian, non-combatant population, particularly groups at
greater risk such as women, children, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombian communities, social leaders
and human rights defenders. The IACHR has adopted a report which addresses the impact of the armed
conflict on women and the way in which it deepens and aggravates the discrimination and violence they
suffer, and formulates conclusions and recommendations.
2. This report is based on the results of the on-site visit to Colombia undertaken by the
former Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the IACHR (hereinafter "Rapporteur" or "IACHR
Rapporteur"), Ms. Susana Villarán, between June 20-25, 2005. The primary objective of the visit was to
assess the impact of the armed conflict on Colombian women and to receive information about the
legislative, policy, institutional and judicial measures taken by the State to safeguard the rights of women
within this sociopolitical context. During her stay, the Rapporteur visited the cities of Bogotá, Valledupar
and Quibdó, where she met State authorities, as well as a number of victims, relatives of victims, civil
society organizations–including indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations–and intergovernmental
agencies working to defend and promote the rights of women. The report is also based on information
gathered by other official entities and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
3. Violence and discrimination affect the lives of women during times of peace and
degenerate during internal armed conflicts which impact the civil population. In its report, the IACHR
analyzes the discrimination and violence against women in the context of the Colombian armed conflict
and the way in which the circumstances that have historically exposed women to discrimination and
subjected them to social stereotypes, an inferior treatment and the civil, political, economic and social
consequences of these disadvantages, are exploited and manipulated by the actors of the armed conflict.
4. Violence against women is employed as a strategy of war by the actors of the armed
conflict in their struggle to control territories and communities in different areas of the country. On the
basis of firsthand observations and the testimonies received, the IACHR has identified four main
manifestations of violence that especially affect women within the armed conflict. First, the actors in the
armed conflict employ different forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence to ―wound the
enemy‖ by dehumanizing the victim, injuring her family circle and/or spreading terror in her community,
thus furthering their control of territories and resources. In these cases, women can be direct targets or
collateral victims, as the result of their affective relationships as daughters, mothers, wives, partners or
sisters of any of the members of the groups that participate as actors in the conflict. Second, the violence
destined to cause the forced displacement of women from their territory and the consequent removal from
their homes, daily lives, community and family. Third, sexual violence can be part of the forced
recruitment of women, which is destined to make them render sexual services to members of the guerrilla
or paramilitary forces. Fourth, the violence intended to make them a constant object of social control
measures imposed by the illegal armed groups in the communities that inhabit territories these groups
5. The IACHR stipulates in this report that the physical, psychological and sexual violence
exercised by the actors in the armed conflict against women, has the objective of wounding, terrorizing
and weakening the enemy to advance in the control of territories and economic resources. Acts of
physical, psychological and sexual violence purport to intimidate and punish women for having affective
relationships with members of the opposing faction, for disobeying the norms imposed by the armed
actors or for participating in organizations perceived as enemies. These aggressions additionally serve
as a tactic to humiliate, terrorize and wound the ―enemy‖, whether the victim’s family nucleus or
6. The crimes perpetrated against women and girls during these manifestations of violence
result in: (1) attacks, massacres and homicides committed against communities intended to cause their
displacement; (2) homicides, acts of torture and markings against women who sustain affective
relationships with supporters or combatants or because they or their relatives are involved in political
activities; and (3) home searches and kidnappings to obtain information, terrorize, punish, intimidate or
coerce the women. Both men and women are the victims of crimes perpetrated by all the actors in the
armed conflict, but in the case of women, acts of physical and psychological violence are joined by
aggressions and crimes of a sexual nature.
7. Regarding women as victims of displacement, the figures indicate that they constitute
approximately half of the population affected in Colombia. State figures confirm that four out of ten
displaced families are headed by women. The report of the IACHR analyzes the impact of displacement
on women in terms of the radical, traumatic and sudden change in their family structure and roles,
geography, culture, community and socio-economic standing, and their exposure to threats, violence and
discrimination based on their gender by either the actors of the conflict that caused the displacement, as
well as the receiving populations.
8. The IACHR also addresses the recruitment of women and girls-either forced or voluntary-
by the illegal armed groups, with the intention that they act as combatants, escorts, sexual slaves,
informants, guides and undertakers of domestic duties.
9. The report discusses the problem of the imposition of forms of social control over the
living conditions of women that inhabit territories controlled by the illegal armed groups. One form of
control is displayed in the general imposition of daily behavioral standards and codes of conduct in
communities, where the armed actors intervene in family and community conflicts and even in the lifestyle
of community members, imposing punishments that can include murder, torture and forms of cruel and
degrading treatment. In this context, the actors in the conflict regularly monitor the behavior and dress of
women and adolescent girls and use sexual violence as a punishment and a general warning to the
female population within the community under control. These forms of control promote culturally-rooted
gender stereotypes and crimes against women which tend to remain in impunity for different reasons.
10. Colombia stands out for the organizational experiences of groups of women who want to
participate and influence the public agenda, both in areas traditionally linked to the specific needs of
women, as in issues related to the resolution of the armed conflict. However, in the case of Colombia,
this type of participation has become an extremely dangerous activity in which women’s rights defenders
and their loved ones are exposed to violence and displacement. In fact, armed actors find that the
leadership exercised by women’s rights organizations challenges the extent of their social and territorial
control, which–the IACHR believes–has resulted in the systematic intimidation, persecution, kidnapping,
torture and sexual abuse, among other crimes, of members of organizations such as the Organización
Femenina Popular-OFP, Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas, Negras e Indígenas- ANMUCIC,
the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas and the Casa de la Mujer.
11. The Convention of Belém do Pará stipulates that when a State acts with due diligence, it
should take special account of the vulnerability to violence that may affect women on the basis of their
race and ethnicity, among other risk factors. Through this provision States acknowledge that
discrimination, in its different manifestations, does not always affect all women to the same degree.
There are women who are particularly exposed to the infringement of their rights and to suffer
discrimination on the basis of more than one factor.
12. In this respect, the IACHR’s report indicates that the situation of indigenous and Afro-
Colombian women is particularly critical, as they are victims of multiple forms of discrimination on the
basis of their race, ethnicity and the fact that they are women, a situation aggravated in the context of the
armed conflict. They face two layers of discrimination since they are born: first, for belonging to their
racial and ethnic group and second, because of their sex. Being exposed to two forms of discrimination
historically, they are doubly vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment by the armed groups in their struggle to
control resources and territories. In the case of indigenous and Afro-Colombian women, the armed
groups have more than one factor of social disadvantage to exploit and manipulate as part of their
strategy of war against the civil population.
13. The Rapporteur of the IACHR could verify during the visit that the situation of Afro-
Colombian women living on the Pacific coast is particularly precarious and alarming. Both State
authorities and non-State sources confirm that the Afro-Colombian population has been subjected to a
history of discrimination, exclusion, invisibility and social disadvantage, both economic and geographic.
The armed conflict has worsened this situation, since the armed actors profit from these disadvantages in
their struggle to control territories and resources. In the particular case of Afro-Colombian women, their
condition as women adds another layer of discrimination and vulnerability to their lives and exposes them
to greater abuse by the actors of the conflict.
14. The impact of forced displacement on Afro-Colombian women is significant and
manifests itself in various ways, due to their worldview, culture and traditions, identification with their
territory and their condition as women. According to the information and testimonies gathered,
displacement leads Afro-Colombian women to suffer from discrimination because they are women,
because of their Afro-Colombian origin, and because of their status as displaced persons. The change in
roles and family structure faced by displaced women may be even more intense and radical in the case of
Afro-Colombian women living in rural areas who move to urban zones, because of the community life that
they used to lead, the traditional correlation of their activities with those of their husbands or fathers, and
the uprooting of this social model. Furthermore, Afro-Colombian women who are displaced suffer acts of
racism, ridicule and stigmatization by the receiving communities. Their race, as well as the low levels of
education and poverty of displaced women in general, challenges their adequate access to work and to
different forms of economic subsistence.
15. In regards to the situation of indigenous women, the report stipulates that the same is
especially critical due to the history of discrimination and exclusion they have faced on the basis of their
condition as women and indigenous and the serious effects of the armed conflict. In fact, the pressure
exercised by armed groups over indigenous lands, whether for reasons of military strategy or economic
interests, impacts the lives of indigenous women in a particularly alarming way. The testimonies gathered
by the IACHR indicate that indigenous women perceive their ancestral lands as essential places for their
existence, culture, and family. Therefore, they consider that their security and the very existence of their
peoples will be endangered while the integrity of their lands is threatened by the conflict. Regarding
forms of violence perpetrated against indigenous women, the report states that armed actors use women
as ―spoils of war‖ and as objects of sexual aggression in which armed patrols kidnap indigenous women,
collectively use them sexually and later abandon them, with impunity.
16. Besides describing the manifestations of violence directed towards women in the context
of the armed conflict, the report of the IACHR addresses the measures adopted by the State to resolve
the crimes perpetrated against women and to repair their consequences, as well as to prevent their
recurrence. In this respect, the report confirms that State officials at the national and local level
interviewed during the visit of the Rapporteur of the Rights of Women, recognize both the existing
challenges and that the Colombian State has advanced in the adoption of a legislative and public policy
framework, and in the design of State programs destined to protect the rights of women. The IACHR also
highlights the efforts destined to gather statistics about crimes perpetrated against women, including the
Observatory of Gender Issues, the work of the National Institute of Legal Medicine, the incorporation of
gender into the statistics of the Administrative Department of National Statistics and the Social Solidarity
Network. Moreover, the Constitutional Court has issued a series of notable court decisions over the last
ten years, successfully invoking the recourses of tutela and inconstitucionalidad to protect the civil,
political, social, cultural and economic rights of Colombian women.
17. Nonetheless, despite these measures, both State authorities and civil society
representatives expressed their concern over the lack of an integral State policy addressing the specific
impact of the armed conflict on the human rights of women, applicable to the national and local levels,
and how this void perpetuates the impunity towards violence and discrimination practices. The Report
corroborates noticeable flaws in the diagnosis, prevention and early warning of different forms of
discrimination and violence against women which are aggravated by the armed conflict, and gaps in the
provision of humanitarian assistance and multidisciplinary support services for victims. The Colombian
State is obligated to act with due diligence to eradicate violence and discrimination against women
despite the challenges its response faces. This obligation of the State to act with due diligence has four
fundamental components: prevention, investigation, sanction and reparation of human rights violations
perpetrated against women.
18. On the other hand, the State’s homogenous view of women as a target group, beneficiary
of public policies, has resulted in responses that fail to consider the particular needs of different groups,
particularly Afro-Colombian and indigenous women. In consequence there is, both nationally and locally,
a failure to consider the specific and different needs of indigenous and Afro-Colombian women in public
programs and policies geared towards protecting the rights of women. In this regard, the report of the
IACHR affirms that the State ought to implement measures to eradicate discriminatory socio-cultural
patterns based on sex, race, ethnicity and social class, and take these differences into account in the
development of public policies to mitigate the effect of the armed conflict on all Colombian women and in
particular over those belonging to vulnerable groups.
19. In this context, and even in the presence of certain progress, women still confront
numerous legislative, institutional, cultural and geographic obstacles to effectively access justice. Among
the most notable challenges are deficiencies in the investigation, judgment and sanction of acts of
violence and discrimination, which result in a mistrust of the administration of justice; gaps in systems to
gather statistics; and the dearth of human and financial resources to address the persisting problems.
Furthermore, it is necessary to establish sustainable capacity-building programs for justice officials and to
begin programs to sensitize the population and to promote an increase in the submission of complaints.
Lastly, the report recognizes weaknesses of the administration of justice in the zones occupied by the
armed actors, and the implementation of principles and practices within the penal procedures applicable
to violence against women that can challenge women’s access to effective judicial protections and
20. Based on its observations and on the conclusions reached, the IACHR formulates in its
report a series of recommendations geared towards the design of an integral State policy that will take
into account the forms of discrimination and violence affecting women that are aggravated by the armed
conflict, in order to achieve progress in the diagnosis, prevention and response to these problems and in
the incorporation of the specific needs of women in the public agenda. Additionally, they call on the State
to implement measures to eradicate discriminatory socio-cultural patterns based on sex, race, ethnicity
and social class and to take account of these differences in the development of public policies to mitigate
the pernicious effect of the armed conflict on Colombian women throughout the national territory. The
recommendations formulated herein are of a dual nature: general recommendations and
recommendations by category of attention and response, covering legislation, public policies, State
institutions and programs, diagnosis and prevention, public services for displaced women, administration
of justice, civic and political participation, and truth, justice and reparation.
21. The IACHR in its report reiterates its grave concern over the situation of Colombian
women due to the violence and discrimination aggravated by the armed conflict and the urgent need to
respond to the problem according to their specific needs to facilitate that Colombian women and girls
enjoy and exercise their rights under the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and
Eradication of Violence against Women, the American Convention on Human Rights, and other
international instruments. The IACHR reiterates its commitment to collaborate with the Colombian State in
the search for solutions to the problems identified. Some steps adopted to address this situation display
an understanding of the gravity of the existing problems and the commitment of the State and non-State
sectors to consider the specific needs of women in public policies designed to solve, sanction, prevent
and eradicate acts of violence and discrimination against women.
IACHR ANNOUNCES REGULAR SESSIONS
The 127th regular sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will
take place in Washington, D.C. from February 26 to March 9, 2007. During the sessions, the IACHR will
analyze petitions, cases, precautionary measures, as well as thematic and general reports on human
The Inter-American Commission has decided to extend until January 15, 2007 the deadline
established in Article 62.2 of its Rules of Procedure for presenting requests for hearings and working
Washington D.C., December 21, 2006