PRESS RELEASE

 

Nį 41/06 
 

IACHR ADOPTS AMENDMENTS TO ITS RULES OF PROCEDURE AND ESTABLISHES PROCEDURAL RULES FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS
 

At its 126th 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 rapporteurs.  
 

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 the OAS.

 

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 of Procedure.

 

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 at least 50 days prior to the beginning of the respective session 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, they shall also indicate whether the respective State should be called to the hearing.  If the request does not specify in the request, the Commission shall presume that the presence of the respective State  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 Commissionís 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 Commissionís 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 Commissionís 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 vacancy announcement.

 

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 Hemisphereís geographic distribution.

 

5.       The curricula vitae of the finalists shall be published on the Commissionís 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 candidateís 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 procedure.

 

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 individualís credentials and the reasons for which he or she was elected. 

 

Washington, D.C., November 2, 2006