ANNEX TO PRESS RELEASE 109/10
ON THE 140TH REGULAR PERIOD OF SESSIONS OF THE IACHR
Washington, D.C., November 5, 2010 − The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held its 140th regular period of sessions from October 20 to November 5, 2010. The IACHR is composed of Felipe González, Chair; Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, First Vice-Chair; Dinah Shelton, Second Vice-Chair; and Commissioners Luz Patricia Mejía, María Silvia Guillén, José de Jesús Orozco, and Rodrigo Escobar. The Executive Secretary is Santiago A. Canton.
During its 140th period of sessions, the Commission held 52 hearings and 28 working meetings. It also approved 66 reports on individual cases and petitions; 29 on admissibility; 3 on inadmissibility; 5 on friendly settlement; 14 on the merits; 1 decision to publish a report on the merits; and 14 archive reports. The hearings and the reports reflect some of the structural human rights problems that still persist in the region. These have to do with respect for the right to life and humane treatment; guarantees of due process and judicial protection; the exercise of economic, social, and cultural rights; and the situation involving the rights of children, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, women, persons deprived of liberty, and the LGBTI community, among other matters.
The IACHR held a private hearing entitled Human Rights Situation and Rule of Law in Nicaragua. The Inter-American Commission has repeatedly asked the government of Nicaragua for its consent to carry out an official visit to that country, but it has not yet received a response with a concrete proposal as to dates. The IACHR reiterates its interest in conducting an official visit to Nicaragua.
The Commission is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Mexico— particularly the serious acts of violence reported in recent months, including murders and kidnappings, which especially affect migrants, and the persistent violence against women, including torture, rape, and other forms of sexual and domestic violence, as well as the general situation of impunity surrounding these cases. The IACHR will closely follow the situation in Mexico.
On another matter, during a hearing on the human rights situation in the camps for internally displaced persons in Haiti, the IACHR received disturbing information regarding the existence of a growing practice of illegal forced evictions from those camps. Given the gravity of the situation, the Commission recommends that the State of Haiti adopt a moratorium on evictions until a new government takes office.
With regard to Cuba, the IACHR received information about the subhuman conditions being suffered by persons deprived of liberty in that country. The IACHR heard testimony from six trade union members: Nelson Molinet Espino, Héctor Valle Fernández, Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Víctor Rolando Arroyo, Horacio Piña Borrego, and Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, all of whom are victims in Case 12.476, for which the IACHR approved a Report on the Merits on October 21, 2006. The men were arrested during the so-called "Black Spring" of 2003 and were freed this year by the government of Cuba and exiled to Spain. The IACHR encourages the State of Cuba to continue the process of liberating all political prisoners.
On another matter, the Commission is concerned about information it received regarding persistent standards in practices in the Dominican Republic depriving persons of Haitian descent who were born in that country of their right to nationality. Moreover, the Commission believes that the State's argument that there are no stateless persons in that country, since children born to Haitians in the Dominican Republic can be registered at the Haitian consulate, is incompatible with the Inter-American Convention and case law of the Inter-American Commission and Court.
The IACHR expresses its concern regarding information it received during a thematic hearing on the serious problem of domestic violence in Uruguay and the significant obstacles that women face in attempting to gain access to judicial recourse to obtain due protection and the investigation and punishment of such acts. Of particular concern to the Commission is information it received about the lack of effective implementation of precautionary measures to ensure the protection of women who have denounced acts of domestic violence, as well as the negative influence of discriminatory prejudice in the punishment of these crimes, among other obstacles that were identified. The IACHR urges the State of Uruguay to continue adopting measures to guarantee the right of women to live free of discrimination and violence, a right guaranteed in the American Convention and the Convention of Belém do Pará, among other international human rights instruments.
In the hearing on citizen security and human rights in Paraguay, the IACHR received information about the situation of impunity that characterizes human rights violations recorded in that country, and about the practice of torture in prisons and police stations.
In addition, three hearings were held on different forms of discrimination and violence against children and adolescents in the Americas. In particular, the Commission took cognizance of the existence of abusive practices in institutions under State control, such as psychiatric institutions, boarding schools, and camps for displaced persons. In several hearings, information was provided about cases of corporal punishment that include systematic patterns of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as the lack of supervision and the lack of legal provisions to protect children and adolescents who lodge complaints. The Commission calls to mind that pursuant to international standards established in the area of children's rights and based on the best interests of the child, the States have the obligation to take any positive measures that would ensure the protection of children and adolescents to live a life free of violence and guarantee them the exercise and full enjoyment of their rights.
In another hearing, the Commission received up-to-date information on the prison situation in Venezuela, in particular with respect to the high levels of prison violence. Along these lines, it was reported that this year there has been a 25% increase in the number of deaths in Venezuelan prisons compared to 2009, with 352 deaths so far in 2010, and a 31% increase in injuries over last year, with a total of 736 injuries recorded through the third quarter of 2010. The civil society organizations participating in the hearing informed the Commission about the lack of effective State control over prison facilities, the corruption that prevails, and the control exercised by criminal gangs. The IACHR reiterates that State human rights obligations include the obligation to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the life and humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty. The Commission urgently calls on the Venezuelan authorities to take appropriate measures to prevent outbreaks of violence in its prison facilities.
Situation of Human Rights Defenders
The Commission received information during several thematic hearings about the serious situation faced by human rights defenders in different countries of the region, such as Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Paraguay, among others. The Commission particularly took cognizance of a troubling number of murders and attacks on the lives and integrity of human rights defenders. These have had a special impact on trade union leaders and on human rights defenders who work on environmental issues, claims related to lands and ancestral property rights of indigenous peoples, the right of the LGBTI community to equality and non-discrimination, and the promotion of the rights of women.
During its public hearings and working meetings, the Commission received information with respect to the use of the punitive power of the State in some countries to criminalize human rights defenders, prosecute peaceful social protest, and bring criminal charges against persons the authorities consider to be political opponents. The IACHR also took note of the illegal interception of defenders' private communications, as well as of the impunity that exists with respect to cases already reported to the justice system involving the monitoring of defenders.
Moreover, information the Commission has received indicates that State authorities continue to make statements delegitimizing the work of human rights organizations or their members, and even go so far as to stigmatize them as collaborators with illegal armed factions or terrorist groups, or as organizations that seek to destabilize the State. Of particular concern are the potential effects of such statements on the protection of human rights defenders' physical and mental integrity. The Commission also received information regarding certain restrictions on obtaining funding and legal recognition that are being imposed on civil society organizations. Such restrictions are apparently having a direct impact on their ability to carry out their work of promoting and defending human rights.
At the same time, the IACHR recognizes the Mexican State's openness to creating a national mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists, and invites the State to continue working in tandem with civil society to put such a mechanism in place. The Inter-American Commission, through its Unit for Human Rights Defenders, as well as its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, will monitor and closely follow efforts to develop such a mechanism.
Situation of the Rights of Afro-Descendants and regarding Racial Discrimination
The Commission received information during several thematic hearings on the situation of people of African descent and on racial discrimination in various countries of the region.
In a hearing on the excessive use of police force against Afro-descendants in Brazil, the IACHR—following up on hearings that had been held on this issue in 2004 and 2006—received troubling information about the high rates of crime and police violence in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Espírito Santo, Bahia, and Pernambuco, and heard petitioners' allegations regarding the close link between these violent deaths and racial discrimination. The IACHR also heard information about the "institutional racism" that contributes to the high levels of harassment, deprivation of liberty, and executions among the population of African descent in Brazil, as well as the underreporting of violent deaths perpetrated by the police in Brazil, due to their being characterized as deaths as a result of resistance. In this respect, the IACHR observes that this problem was also the subject of an admissibility report approved during this period of sessions, concerning four petitions lodged against Brazil.
The IACHR also received information about the human rights situation of Afro-Caribbean people of the canton of Talamanca, in Costa Rica. During that hearing, the IACHR was informed that the canton of Talamanca has the lowest index of social development nationally, along with the highest levels of extreme poverty and illiteracy in the country. The petitioners also drew attention to shortcomings in the procedures for prior consultation of the Afro-descendant communities of the canton of Talamanca before the implementation of tourism projects in the region and the granting of concessions to transnational companies, as well as the establishment of areas for environmental conservation and biodiversity protection. In that regard, the IACHR emphasizes that under inter-American and universal instruments on human rights and international environmental law, Afro-descendant communities and their members have the right to full ownership of their ancestral lands and the effective enjoyment of this right, which must be ensured through effective consultations based on information shared in advance with the affected communities. During the hearing, the IACHR also observed that no "conflict" as such exists between human rights and environmental law, and that the decisions that could affect communities of African descent regarding their ancestral lands should be governed by the principle of proportionality.
Finally, the IACHR received sobering information during various hearings and working meetings on the particular situation of risk, threats, and the troubling number of murders of human rights leaders and defenders among the Afro-descendant population in various countries of the region. With respect to this subject, the IACHR reiterates that leaders of African descent play a crucial role in their communities, that attacks on their lives and physical integrity have a devastating effect on Afro-descendant communities, and that such attacks aggravate even further the precarious situation of judicial protection involving these communities.
Situation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
In several hearings, the IACHR received troubling information about structural obstacles that make it difficult or impossible for the effective enjoyment by indigenous peoples of their ownership rights over their lands, territories, and natural resources.
In a hearing on legal obstacles for the recognition and titling of indigenous lands in Guatemala, the Commission received information regarding the lack of legal recognition of indigenous territories, the appropriation of indigenous lands, the eviction of native populations by non-indigenous proprietors, and the declaration of protected areas in traditional territories, among other issues. Moreover, in hearings on energy and extractive industry policies in Peru, and on the human rights of indigenous communities affected by the mining industry's activities in the Andean region, information was presented on the existence of a broad development policy for extractive industries in the region, with no existing legal or institutional framework to protect the territorial rights and the participation of indigenous peoples. In another hearing on the right to consultation in Mexico, the IACHR was informed about serious problems in the implementation of prior consultation processes with indigenous communities regarding infrastructure projects, problems that include the forgery of signatures and the use of identities of deceased individuals. Finally, in a hearing on peasants and persons of Afro-Caribbean and indigenous descent in the canton of Talamanca, Costa Rica, the Commission was informed about the clash between the ancestral territorial rights of ethnic groups in this region and the establishment of protected natural areas, which restrict their traditional and environmentally sustainable subsistence practices and threaten them with territorial dispossession.
The IACHR calls to mind that under inter-American human rights instruments, indigenous or tribal peoples and their members have the right to full ownership of their ancestral territories and to the full enjoyment of that right. One of the central elements in the protection of the right to indigenous ownership consists of the States developing effective consultations with indigenous communities regarding any acts or decisions that could affect their traditional territories. This implies that any decision that could affect such a right, including the granting of concessions for the exploitation of natural resources in indigenous territories, must be based on a process of consensus and information shared in advance with the indigenous community as a whole. This process requires that all members of a community be fully and specifically informed about the nature and consequences of the process, and have an effective opportunity to participate individually or collectively; that the consultation be conducted in accordance with the community's customs and traditions; that constant communication be maintained among the parties; and that the consultations be done in good faith, during the first stages of the development or investment plan, and that they have the goal of reaching an agreement.
In a hearing on Chile, the IACHR heard claims regarding the judicial application of the anti-terrorist law to those who have participated in social protests and mobilizations of the Mapuche indigenous people. In another hearing, information was received about the situation of risk faced by more than 60 indigenous peoples of Colombia, in the context of the armed conflict. The IACHR also heard the views of members of Panamanian indigenous peoples regarding the lack of prior consultation in cases involving programs and projects in indigenous regions. It also heard about the policy of mandatory schooling for indigenous children in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, and about the current effects of that policy.
The IACHR emphasizes that the States must ensure that the members of indigenous and tribal peoples effectively enjoy all human rights, on an equal basis with the rest of the population. The States must also adopt special and specific measures designed to protect, favor, and improve access to the exercise of their human rights, based on the greater vulnerability of these populations, given the conditions of marginalization and discrimination they have endured historically and the particular degree of harm they suffer due to violations of their human rights. These special obligations include the adoption of measures to guarantee the rights to socio-cultural integrity, to equality and non-discrimination, to protection from acts of violence, and to the reparation of victims.
Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Persons
The Commission held several hearings in which it received information about the serious situation of discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons (LGBTI) in the hemisphere. Information was received about the English-speaking Caribbean region and Central America, as well as Brazil and Venezuela.
Specifically, the Commission received information indicating that 12 countries of the English-speaking Caribbean still have laws criminalizing sexual and intimate conduct between persons of the same sex: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. These measures call for sentences ranging from 10 years in prison or forced labor to life imprisonment for consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex. The Commission received information indicating that the very existence of such laws perpetuates unwarranted stereotypes, is a cause for fear in the sexually diverse community, and fosters impunity for serious crimes committed against this community.
Moreover, the Commission learned about serious situations of systematic discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTI community in Central America, Brazil, and Venezuela. The common argument that the Commission heard is that serious acts of violence and hate crimes perpetrated against this community do not receive adequate attention because the appropriate tools do not exist in the States' legislation, public policies, and case law. In the particular case of Brazil, the petitioners recognized that important steps had been taken toward respecting the rights of the LGBTI population, but they insisted that high levels of intolerance continue to exist in society. The Commission recalls that one of the fundamental principles of the inter-American system for the protection of human rights is the right to equality under the law, along with the State's obligation to implement legislation, public policies, and interpretations in case law that flesh out this right.
In particular, the Commission received disturbing information about the large number of murders motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity. It was informed that the violence is characterized by the cruelty of the means employed and is particularly brutal against members of the trans community. The Commission has been requested by the OAS General Assembly to consider preparing a hemispheric report on the situation of the rights of the LBGTI population. It announced that it will begin working on that report and will continue using its various functions to monitor this serious situation.
Problems in the Implementation of Precautionary Measures
During the sessions, hearings and working meetings were held on precautionary measures. In particular, three hearings were held on problems that exist in the implementation of precautionary measures in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The Commission expresses its deep concern over the information it received in the hearing on Honduras indicating that the serious problems identified by the IACHR during its 2009 and 2010 visits to the country, in terms of the implementation of precautionary measures, continue to exist. The petitioners reported that the steps taken by the State to comply with the precautionary measures have been isolated, inadequate reactions to address the beneficiaries' risk situation, to the point where some of them have been killed while these measures were in effect. The IACHR was also informed about continuing acts of harassment against persons protected by precautionary measures. Most of the situations of risk denounced by the beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted in 2009 and 2010 include multiple threats, delivered in person and through telephone calls and text messages, as well as gunshots fired outside the homes of those being intimidated.
With respect to Colombia, the IACHR continued to receive information pointing to an increase in threats and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders, members of organizations that promote women's rights, magistrates, and leaders and members of indigenous peoples, as well as the existence of structural problems that obstruct the effective implementation of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR. Such problems include the failure to come to an agreement with the beneficiaries on the precautionary measures to be adopted, delays in complying with the measures, the failure to recognize the beneficiaries' representatives, and the lack of a serious and effective investigation into death threats from groups such as those who call themselves the Águilas Negras, Rastrojos, and Bloque Metropolitano. In addition, the IACHR expresses its deep concern over actions that place beneficiaries in situations of greater risk, such as the stigmatizing of organizations that work on issues related to lands, internal displacement, and investigations related to "parapolitics," as well as the prosecution of members of human rights organizations and indigenous and social leaders being investigated for alleged collaboration with and/or participation in activities of guerrilla groups operating outside the law. Another issue of concern is the lack of access to intelligence data that the Administrative Security Department (DAS) and other State security agencies have collected illegally or legally with respect to a number of beneficiaries and which have been used to launch investigations against them.
Finally, in a hearing on Precautionary Measure PM-260/07—Communities of the Sipakapense and Mam Maya People of Guatemala—the representatives of the beneficiary communities indicated that such measures have not been carried out completely. The State reported that while the mining operation has not been suspended, administrative procedures have been initiated toward that end; that actions related to oversight and epidemiological support have been implemented in the beneficiary communities; and that individual protection measures have been adopted for persons facing a situation of threat or risk as a consequence of their opposition to the Marlin mine. The representatives of the State also reported that actions to decontaminate the waters have not been carried out, due to the lack of conclusive studies that prove the pollution caused by the mining activity.
The IACHR calls on the States, based on their international obligations, to seek to develop policies and practices designed to comply with the precautionary measures in order to grant effective protection to the beneficiaries. The IACHR also urges the States to refrain from any action that could aggravate the situation of risk faced by the individuals protected by these measures.
Obstacles to Participation in the Hearings
The participation in hearings and working meetings of representatives of the OAS Member States, as well as of those who participated as victims or petitioners, contributes significantly to strengthening the work of protecting the human rights of the people of the Americas. The Inter-American Commission values and appreciates this attendance and participation, and reiterates that individuals who come to offer testimony or information during the hearings should enjoy all necessary guarantees.
In this regard, the Inter-American Commission deplores the situations that arose in 2010 in which individuals who attended IACHR hearings have been victims of actions—at times on the part of government authorities—to discredit them in their countries. These types of statements place at risk the safety of individuals who come to the Inter-American Commission, and at the same time create a harmful environment for the work of human rights defenders in the country. Article 63 of the Commission's Rules of Procedure establishes that States "shall grant the necessary guarantees to all the persons who attend a hearing or who in the course of a hearing provide information, testimony or evidence of any type to the Commission." It adds that the States "may not prosecute the witnesses or experts, or carry out reprisals against them or their family members because of their statements or expert opinions given before the Commission." The OAS General Assembly, through numerous resolutions, has also expressed the importance of providing protection to human rights defenders, and the bodies of the inter-American human rights system have repeatedly made statements about the importance of the defenders' work. In this vein, the IACHR has stated that human rights defenders play a leading role in the promotion of human rights, the observance of the rule of law, and the strengthening of democracy.
Furthermore, in order for individuals to be able to participate in the hearings that the IACHR organizes at its headquarters in Washington, it is essential that the government of the United States grant the respective visas. In this period of sessions, the hearing on the human rights situation of women in camps for internally displaced persons in Haiti, which had been scheduled for October 26, had to be canceled due to problems the petitioners said they had encountered in obtaining their visas. This situation has a negative impact on the fulfillment of the Commission's mandate to monitor the human rights situation in the Americas.
Friendly Settlement Processes: Progress and Setbacks
The IACHR expresses its concern regarding information provided by the Peruvian State during a working meeting on compliance with the friendly settlement agreement in Case 12.191, María Mamérita Chávez, indicating that a statute of limitations had been imposed for criminal prosecutions in investigations into the forced sterilization of more than 2,000 women, among them María Memérita Chávez, under the government of Alberto Fujimori. The IACHR condemns the situation of impunity that exists despite the fact that in the friendly settlement agreement signed on October 10, 2003, the State had pledged to "conduct a judicial review of all criminal cases on violations of human rights committed in the execution of the National Program of Reproductive Health and Family Planning, to break out and duly punish the perpetrators." The IACHR expressed concern about this situation recently in its report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective. Along these lines, the IACHR reiterates that under the American Convention and other inter-American instruments, such as the Convention of Belém do Pará, the States are obliged to investigate, prosecute, and punish any violation of women's rights, as a guarantee that they will not be repeated.
On another matter, the Commission expresses its satisfaction over the significant progress achieved in friendly settlement processes involving petitions related to Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico. It appreciates the willingness and collaboration demonstrated by the parties in these meetings to advance in the agreements and resolve the situations.
For example, significant progress was achieved during working meetings on the petitions of Carlos Ernesto Cuevas Molina et al., Guatemala, and of Martín Godínez Jara et al., Mexico. The Guatemala petition concerns the alleged forced disappearances of Carlos Ernesto Cuevas Molina, Héctor Alirio Interiano, and Gustavo Adolfo Castañon Fuentes, members of the Executive Committee of the Association of University Students. The Mexico petition, meanwhile, has to do with the alleged illegal detention and torture of Martín Godínez Jara, Candelario Flores Avila, Pablo Ernesto Gómez, and René Robles Trejo at the hands of officials of the Nayarit State Judicial Police. Also, on October 27, 2010, a working meeting was held between the petitioners and the State in Case 11.833, Ricardo Domingo Monterisi, Argentina, in which the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement.
In addition, during this period of sessions the IACHR approved five friendly settlement reports involving Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, as detailed in the relevant section below.
Other Activities during the 140th Period of Sessions
On October 27, the Commission's Unit for Human Rights Defenders held a working luncheon with civil society to talk about issues related to the situation of human rights defenders in the region and the coordination of activities in this area. Participants in the dialogue included Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, and members of the Unit's team, as well as some 50 representatives of various civil society organizations from around the hemisphere.
On October 27, the IACHR received a visit from the Governor of the Mexican state of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero, who informed the IACHR about human rights measures adopted during his administration. He emphasized in particular the recent reform of the state Constitution, which incorporated the rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 4) and provided for the creation of the State Council on Human Rights (Article 48).
On November 1, representatives of the Center for Justice Studies in the Americas (CEJA) and Open Society's Justice Initiative program presented the members of the Inter-American Commission with an overview of pre-trial detention in the Americas. In their presentation, Cristián Riego Ramírez and Robert Varenik talked about new regional patterns in prison reforms and trends that have been observed in the interpretation and implementation of these standards. According to the presentation, this would mean a step backward from the rights-based models that the majority of countries that decided to abandon the inquisitorial criminal system have adopted in recent years. Other important issues were also addressed in this context, such as judicial independence, the right to the presumption of innocence, and the effect of the news media on the administration of justice.
Periods of Sessions in 2011
The 141st period of sessions will take place from March 21 to April 1, 2011, and the deadline for submitting requests for hearings and working meetings is January 29, 2011. The 142nd period of sessions will be held July 18-22 and will not include any hearings or working meetings. The 143rd period of sessions will be from October 19 to November 4, and the deadlines for submitting requests for hearings and working meetings is August 29, 2011.
I. REPORTS ON INDIVIDUAL PETITIONS AND CASES
The IACHR studied numerous individual petitions and cases that allege violations of human rights protected by the American Convention of Human Rights, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and other inter-American instruments. Following is the list of petitions and cases for which reports were approved during the 140th period of sessions. Once the parties have been notified, the Inter-American Commission will publish on its website the reports in which the decisions are of a public nature.
A. Admissibility Reports
During its 140th period of sessions, the Commission approved 29 admissibility reports:
In addition, between its 139th and 140th periods of sessions, the IACHR approved four admissibility reports electronically:
B. Inadmissibility Reports
During this period of sessions, the Commission approved three reports on inadmissibility:
C. Friendly Settlement Reports
During the 140th period of sessions, the Commission approved five friendly settlement agreements in cases involving Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, believing that the agreements reached by the parties are in line with the object and purpose of the American Convention on Human Rights:
On November 1, 2010, the IACHR adopted Report No. 160/10, approving the friendly settlement agreement the parties had signed on September 11, 2009, in Petition 242-03, Inocencia Luca de Pegoraro et al. In that agreement, the State acknowledged the facts laid out in the petition, which refers to the consequences of the judgment handed down by Argentina's Supreme Court of Justice on September 30, 2003. That judgment set aside a ruling that ordered a mandatory evidentiary blood test to be performed on the victims' alleged granddaughter and closed the possibility of investigating crimes for the disappearance of Susana Pegoraro and Raúl Santiago Bauer. The Commission underscores that in the course of the friendly settlement procedure, the State enacted a series of laws that establish procedures for obtaining DNA samples, modernize the legal framework that regulates the operation of the National Genetic Data Bank, and guarantee the judicial participation of victims in investigations and prosecutions over the appropriation of children during the military dictatorship. The State also created a Unit for Regularization of documents for victims of human rights violations and set up a judicial assistance group.
The IACHR also approved Report 161/10, approving the friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties on October 2, 2008, with respect to Petition 4554-02, Valerio Oscar Castillo Baéz, Argentina. In the agreement, which was ratified through Decree No. 399/09, the State recognized its responsibility over the reported facts, which established that the Argentine authorities had denied Valerio Oscar Castillo Baéz the compensation established in Law 24.043, even though he had been detained during the military dictatorship. The State also made a commitment to provide economic reparations to Valerio Oscar Castillo Baéz pursuant to Law 24.043, and to draft legislation modifying that law in order to include cases involving deprivation of liberty.
In addition, through Reports 162 and 163, approved on November 1, 2003, the Inter-American Commission approved the friendly settlement agreement between the State of Chile and the petitioners in Case 12.281, Gilda Rosario Pizarro, et. al, and Case 12.195, Mario Alberto Jara Oñate. In the agreement, the Chilean State recognized that from the standpoint of international standards, there had been a violation of the rights of Mario Alberto Jara Oñate, Julio César Cid Deik, Marcelino Esteban López Andrade, José Tobar Exequel Muñoz, Fernando Villa Molina, Ciro Elías Rodríguez Uribe, Mario Eduardo Araya Marchant, and Sergio Iván González Bustamante. They were dismissed from the Chilean Police Corps (Carabineros de Chile) as a result of a public, peaceful demonstration conducted by their wives, Gilda Rosario Pizarro, Elena del Carmen Ponce Jorquera, Gloria Lewelyn Ponce Jorquera, Myrna Janette Ponce Jorquera, Isabel del Luján Fuentes Ruiz, and Angélica Soledad Pérez Fernández, who believed that the economic benefits their spouses were receiving as policemen were insufficient. The State made a commitment to review the legal provisions on the evaluation of police personnel, as a non-repetition measure. It also made a commitment to compensate the victims, remove their administrative records, and allow them access to the health benefits provided by the Carabineros Hospital.
Likewise, on November 1, 2010, the IACHR approved Friendly Settlement Report No. 164/10 in Case 12.623, Luis Rey García Villagrán, Mexico. Through the agreement signed by the parties, the State of Mexico recognized that García Villagrán had been tortured and illegally deprived of his liberty by members of the Judicial Police and subsequently submitted to an improper legal proceeding. The IACHR approved this report after verifying that the State ordered his release, apologized to him publicly, and compensated him. The IACHR took positive note of the State's compliance with the commitments it had made and decided to continue following up on the steps taken by the State to investigate and punish the State agents responsible for the illegal detention and torture of Mr. Luis Rey García Villagrán.
D. Reports on the Merits
The IACHR approved a total of 15 reports on the merits, of which one was a decision to publish:
Report 121/10 – Carlos Alberto Mojoli Vargas, Paraguay
E. Archive Reports
During the 140th period of sessions, the Commission approved 14 archive reports:
On October 25, 26, 28, and 29, the Commission held hearings on individual cases and petitions, precautionary measures, and on general and specific human rights situations.
The public hearings that took place in the Padilha Vidal Room were transmitted live on the Internet, thanks to the collaboration of Primestream Corporation. The IACHR thanks Primestream and its president, Claudio Lisman, for providing the bandwidth needed to transmit high-quality videos of the hearings to a wide audience, thus responding to the growing interest from all countries of the region in watching the hearings.
The videos of the hearings transmitted by webcast are available on the IACHR’s public hearings page, along with links to high-resolution photographs taken during the hearings. This page also includes audio recordings of all public hearings held during this period of sessions. External websites are authorized to link to this audio and video material and to reproduce the photographs, as long as appropriate credit is given to the OAS.
A. General and Thematic Hearings
During this period of sessions, the following hearings were held on the general human rights situation in OAS Member States and on other national and regional matters:
· Situation of the Right to Freedom of Expression, Assembly, Association, and Movement in Canada
· Situation of Environmentalists in Mesoamerica
· Discrimination against the Transsexual, Transgender, and Transvestite Population in Brazil
· Allegations on Excessive Use of Police Force against Afro-descendants in Brazil
· Mechanism for the Implementation of Precautionary Measures in Honduras
· Situation of the Right to Freedom of Expression in Honduras
· Human Rights Situation in Chile
· Judicial Processes involving Crimes against Humanity during the Military Dictatorship in Argentina
· Legal Obstacles for the Recognition and Titling of Indigenous Lands in Guatemala
· Human Rights Situation and Access to Justice for Women in Bolivia
· Situation of the Right to Freedom of Expression in Bolivia
· Military Justice and Impunity in Peru
· Forced Disappearance of Persons in Peru
· International Standards and Prosecution of Persons Accused of Terrorism in Peru
· Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Energy and Extractive Industry Policy in Peru
· Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Mesoamerica
· Human Rights Situation in the Camps for Internally Displaced Persons in Haiti
· Human Rights Situation during the Reconstruction in Haiti
· Human Rights Situation of Children and Women in the Area of Ouanaminthe, Haiti
· Discrimination against Women in the Exercise of their Economic and Social Rights in the Americas
· Right to Reproductive Health of Women who Live with HIV/AIDS in the Americas
· Punitive Measures and Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Identity in Caribbean Countries
· Hate Crimes against Members of the LGBTI Community and Impunity in Central America
· Human Rights Situation in Colombia
· Application of the Military Jurisdiction in Cases of Human Rights Violations in Colombia
· General Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia
· Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia and Implementation of Precautionary Measures
· Femicide and Domestic Violence in Uruguay
· Human Rights Situation in Panama
· Maltreatment of Children with Disabilities in the Americas
· Right to Consultation and Participation in Issues of Public Interest in Mexico
· National Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders in Mexico
· Human Rights Situation of Peasants and Persons of Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous Descent in the Canton of Talamanca, Costa Rica
· The Constitution and the Right to Nationality in the Dominican Republic
· Human Rights Situation of Independent Union Leaders in Cuba
· Situation of Indigenous Children in Schools in the United States
· Human Rights Situation in Venezuela
· Citizen Security, Prisons, and Sexual Diversity and Equality in Venezuela
· Human Rights Situation of the Indigenous Communities Affected by Activities of the Mining Industry in the Andean Region
· Situation of the Right to Freedom of Expression in Ecuador
· Presentation of the Report of the Truth Commission of Ecuador
· Presentation of “40 Principles to Guarantee Diversity and Pluralism in Broadcasting”
· Indirect Censorship and Official Advertising in the Americas
The Commission also held four hearings that were private, at the request of the petitioning organizations and individuals. These were on: Situation of Citizen Security and Human Rights in Paraguay; Human Rights Situation and Rule of Law in Nicaragua; Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Defenders in Venezuela' and Situation of the Right to Freedom of Expression and Information in Venezuela.
Due to problems in the processing of the participants' visas, two scheduled hearings had to be canceled: one on the Situation of the Guaraní Indigenous People in the Bolivian Chaco and the other on the Human Rights Situation of Women in the Camps for Internally Displaced Persons in Haiti.
B. Hearings on Precautionary Measures and Individual Petitions and Cases
During this period of sessions, the following hearings were held on petitions and cases:
· Precautionary Measure PM 260/07 − Communities of the Sipakapense and Mam Maya People, Guatemala
· Petition 366/09 − Wong Ho Wing, Peru
· Petition 900/08 − Djamel Ameziane, United States
· Case 12.719 − Orlando Cordia Hall, United States
· Case 12.698 − Adriana Plaza Orbe et al., Ecuador
III. WORKING MEETINGS
The following working meetings were held during the 140th period of sessions:
· Precautionary Measure 180/01 − Embera Katío People of the Alto Sinú, Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 187/01 − Members of the Corporación Sembrar, Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 12/09 − 87 Families of the Alto Guayabal Community, Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 125/06 − Iván Cepeda Castro et al., Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 128/00 − CAJAR, Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 449/03 − Carlos Rosero and Members of the PCN (Proceso de Comunidades Negras), Colombia
· Precautionary Measures 93/08, 119/09, and 269/07 − Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 242/09 − CODHES, Colombia
· Precautionary Measure 131/09 − Blanca Mesina Nevarez, Silvia Vázquez Camacho, and their Families, Mexico
· Case 12.254 − Víctor Saldaño, United States
· Precautionary Measure 294/08 − Persons Held in the Administrative Maximum United States Penitentiary (ADX)
· Case 12.690 − VRP and VPC, Nicaragua
· Precautionary Measure 277/08 − Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Members of CENIDH, Nicaragua
· Petition 33/03 and others − Unratified Judges, Peru
· Case 12.191 − María Mamérita Mestanza Chávez, Peru
· Regulation of Community Radio Stations in Chile
· Case 12.487 − Rafael Cuesta Caputi, Ecuador (Follow-up on recommendations)
· Case 9.326 − Carlos Ernesto Cuevas Molina et al., Guatemala
· Petition 1139/04 − Massacre of the Village of Los Josefinos, Guatemala
· Obstacles and Challenges for Compliance with Decisions of the Bodies of the Inter-American System, Argentina
· Petition 610/01 − Natalio Kejner et al., Argentina
· Case 12.306 − Juan Carlos de la Torre, Argentina
· Case 11.833 − Ricardo Monterisi, Argentina
· Precautionary Measure 160/08 − Inmates of the Almafuerte Penitentiary, Argentina
· Case 12.532 − Inmates of the Mendoza Penitentiary, Argentina
· Petition 93/05 − Florencio and Analía Tapia, Argentina
· Case 12.080, P4115/02, P255/04, P812/04, and P272/05 − COFAVI, Argentina
· Regulation of Community Radio Stations in Paraguay
IV. RAPPORTEURSHIPS AND THEMATIC AREAS
This section contains a summary of some of the main activities carried out by the IACHR, through its special rapporteurships and thematic areas, since its 138th period of sessions, which took place in March 2010. The rapporteurships do promotion-related work, prepare and publish thematic reports, and provide support related to the individual petition and case system, the processing of precautionary measures, and hearings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, among other activities.
A. Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination, led by Commissioner María Silvia Guillén, continued to provide technical assistance to the OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs' Working Group to Prepare a Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. The Working Group's current period of sessions began on September 27, 2010.
The Office of the Rapporteur participated in a forum entitled Participation and Advocacy of Afro-Descendants at the Organization of American States, convened by the organization Global Rights−Partners for Justice and held June 4 in Lima, Peru. The event included discussions on such topics as the situation of people of African descent in the Americas, with special emphasis on the situation in Peru, as well as the participation of civil society at the OAS and the recognition of the United Nations Year for People of African Descent.
The Office of the Rapporteur participated in and gave a presentation on the inter-American human rights system at a training workshop called Increasing the Participation and Advocacy of Afro-Descendants at the Organization of American States and the Summit of the Americas Process. The event, organized by Global Rights−Partners for Justice, took place on September 15, 2010, in Washington, D.C. It brought together 19 Afro-descendant human rights activists from 11 countries in the Americas.
The Office of the Rapporteur also participated in and gave a presentation on the inter-American system and on the report Preliminary Observations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights after the Visit of the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination to the Republic of Colombia, during the Second Meeting of Colombian Pacific Coast Organizations with International Cooperation Bodies. The event, organized by the USAID Human Rights Program and the Trust for the Americas, was held in Tumaco, Colombia, on October 12, 2010. Participants in the course included more than 100 Afro-Colombian human rights activists from the cities of Tumaco (department of Nariño), Buenaventura (department of Valle del Cauca), and Quibdó (department of Chocó).
The activities of the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination were funded with contributions from Brazil, Colombia, and the United States.
B. Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women
The Office of the Rapporteur on Women, under the direction of Commissioner Luz Patricia Mejía, continued implementing various initiatives to compile qualitative and quantitative information in order to identify the main advances women have made and the challenges they face in exercising their rights free of discrimination, particularly in the spheres of their economic, social, and cultural rights, access to justice for women victims of sexual violence, and their reproductive rights. These projects, which have the financial support of the governments of Finland and Spain, aim to publish thematic reports with recommendations to the States on how to better fulfill their human rights obligations in these areas.
As a result of these initiatives, on August 2, 2010, the IACHR published the report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective. The report analyzes the States' obligations to guarantee the human rights of women without discrimination in access to maternal health services, and makes general recommendations to the States on this subject. The report's recommendations mainly address the obligations of the American States, with respect to their laws and public policies, services, and the judiciary, to guarantee the right to integrity of all women in their access without discrimination to maternal health services.
In addition, the Office of the Rapporteur organized two meetings of experts on October 18-19 in Washington, D.C., in the context of its projects on women's economic, social, and cultural rights. Twenty experts from the Americas attended, representing the academic sector, civil society, international organizations, State entities, and other sectors. On October 18, participants worked to identify progress and challenges in the protection of women's economic, social, and cultural rights without discrimination in the areas of employment, education, and access to and control of resources in the Americas. The information that was gathered will be analyzed in a special report with specific recommendations, with a view to improving and strengthening laws, policies, and practices designed to address the problem of discrimination and ensure that women's economic, social, and cultural rights are duly respected and protected. Meanwhile, he October 19 meeting addressed the issue of sexual violence against women as an obstacle to the exercise of their rights to education and health, as well as major barriers that women face in their access to effective judicial recourse to remedy this problem. The information that was gathered will be analyzed in a special report with specific recommendations, with a view to improving and strengthening laws, policies, and practices designed to ensure that acts of sexual violence against women, particularly those perpetrated in the education and health spheres, are duly punished.
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women also organized two thematic hearings this year to receive information on the main forms of discrimination that women face throughout the Americas in exercising their economic and social rights, particularly with regard to their access to and control of economic resources, educational opportunities, and job conditions. One hearing was held on March 23 and the other on October 26.
On April 15, 2010, the IACHR published a report following up on the recommendations that were made in the report Violence and Discrimination against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia, which had been published on October 18, 2006. In the follow-up report, the Commission highlights the Colombian State's efforts to adopt measures in the legislative and public policy arena to protect the rights of women in light of the impact of violence and discrimination stemming from the dynamic of the armed conflict. However, the Commission considers that the violence exercised by all actors in the internal conflict continues to have a differentiated impact and to aggravate the discrimination that Colombian women have experienced historically. In this regard, the Commission notes with concern that the principal manifestations of violence against women identified in the 2006 report—physical, sexual, and psychological violence; forced recruitment; the social patterns of conduct imposed upon them; and forced displacement—continue to plague women of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds in Colombia. The Commission concludes by observing that significant challenges remain if the recommendations it made in the 2006 report are to be fully carried out.
Finally, in the context of its support of the Commission's work in processing individual petitions and precautionary measures on matters related to the rights of women and in litigating cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Office of the Rapporteur participated in two public hearings convened by the Inter-American Court. The public hearing in the Case of Inés Fernández Ortega et al., Mexico, was held on April 15 in Lima, Peru. The public hearing in the Case of Valentina Rosendo Cantú et al., Mexico, was held on May 27, 2010, in San José, Costa Rica. The judgments in both cases were published by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The activities of the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women were funded by contributions from Canada, Spain, the United States, Finland, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
C. Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, under the direction of Commissioner Dinah Shelton, carried out a working visit to Paraguay on September 3-7, accompanied by the Office of the Rapporteur's attorney specialist, Federico Guzmán. The delegation visited indigenous communities that have had or still have cases pending in the inter-American system, and held meetings with authorities and civil society organizations to obtain information on the general situation of the Paraguayan indigenous population. The IACHR delegation met with high-level government officials and held a meeting with representatives of approximately 30 indigenous organizations and human rights organizations, who provided key documentation to be able to understand the current ethnic scene in Paraguay. The Office of the Rapporteur then visited the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa, and Kelyenmagategma communities of the Enxet-Sanapaná people in the Chaco region and the Y'aká Marangatú community of the Mbya Guaraní people in the eastern region. During the visits to these communities, the Office of the Rapporteur's delegation met with their respective leaders and traditional authorities, verified living conditions, and gathered critical information for the various proceedings pending before the Commission and the Court. One particular achievement was the signing of an agreement—between the Yakye Axa community, the national government, and representatives of the victims before the IACHR and the Court—geared toward facilitating compliance with matters still pending from the Inter-American Court's judgment protecting this community. The Commission also brought together leaders of the Sawhoyamaxa community and the government for the first time to discuss the issue of restitution of ancestral territory. Information was also gathered that will be critical in preparing a report on the merits with respect to the case of the Kelyenmagategma community, and in following up on the friendly settlement agreement signed at the IACHR in the case of the Y'aka Marangatú community.
The Rapporteur also participated in the 41st period of sessions of the Inter-American Court, held April 10-14 in Lima, in the hearings on the Case of the Xákmok-Kasek Community v. Paraguay and the Case of Inés Fernández Ortega v. Mexico. Both cases currently have judgments from the Court favoring the indigenous victims.
On June 3-4, the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People offered a training seminar in Washington, D.C., on the inter-American and international systems for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. The panelists were the OAS Rapporteur, Dinah Shelton, and the UN Rapporteur, James Anaya. Human rights specialists from the IACHR Executive Secretariat and the University of Arizona’s Support Project for the United Nations Special Rapporteur also gave presentations. The purpose of the seminar was to train indigenous leaders and attorneys from the United States and Canada in the systems of individual petitions and in the protection mechanisms offered by the IACHR and the United Nations with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples. Special emphasis was placed on the development of case law in the area of the rights of indigenous peoples. Participants also had the opportunity to exchange ideas about the progress made and challenges remaining in terms of the respect for and guarantee of the human rights of indigenous peoples in their countries. This seminar was made possible thanks to the financial support provided by the government of Denmark.
On April 14 in Lima, the Office of the Rapporteur participated in an international forum on Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Inter-American Human Rights System, organized by the Pro-Human Rights Association (APRODEH), the Peruvian Center for Social Studies (CEPES), Cooperacción, the "Manuela Ramos" Movement, the National Association of Centers (ANC), and the Peace and Hope Association. The Office of the Rapporteur's attorney specialist gave a presentation at the forum on the protection mechanisms and case law of the IACHR and the Inter-American Court.
The Office of the Rapporteur also participated in a training seminar on Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Inter-American System, organized by the OAS Department of International Law, which was held September 13-17 in San José, Costa Rica. Some 15 indigenous leaders and attorneys from Central America received training on the various IACHR mechanisms for the protection of their individual and collective human rights.
The Office of the Rapporteur has established cooperation ties with international financial institutions that support projects that could affect indigenous and tribal peoples of the Americas. Rapporteur Dinah Shelton, along with the UN Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, James Anaya, and other international experts, participated in a July 29 panel discussion organized by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, on the issue of informed consent with regard to development, investment, or extraction projects. Subsequently, on September 30, the IACHR Assistant Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, and attorney Federico Guzmán of the Office of the Rapporteur gave a presentation to technical and political staff of the Inter-American Development Bank, explaining the inter-American human rights system, the protection mechanisms of the IACHR, and the scope of case law on the territorial rights of indigenous peoples.
The Office of the Rapporteur continues to monitor the human rights situation of indigenous peoples of the region and to make use of mechanisms such as press releases and requests for information made to States under Article 41 of the American Convention. Along these lines, the Office of the Rapporteur issued a press release condemning the murder of indigenous leaders in Colombia, and requested information regarding a situation of confinement involving a Guaraní-Kaiowá community in Brazil and an oil spill in the Marañón River of the Peruvian Amazon.
The activities of the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were funded by contributions from Colombia, Denmark, Spain, and the United States.
D. Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, led by Commissioner Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, held various events around the Americas to publicize the Report on Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents. In addition, the Office of the Rapporteur prepared letters requesting information under Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which the IACHR sent to the State of Chile to request information with respect to the situation of Mapuche indigenous persons deprived of liberty who were prosecuted under the anti-terrorism law for acts committed when they were children. The Office of the Rapporteur also prepared a letter that was sent to the State of Honduras to request information on the situation of violence faced by children and adolescents in that country, and another letter in which it requested information from the State of Peru.
On another front, with financial contributions from the government of Luxemburg and from UNICEF, the Office of the Rapporteur continues to make the final adjustments to the draft report on Juvenile Criminal Justice and Human Rights, which will be published in the near future. The report on juvenile criminal justice complements the Report on Citizen Security and Human Rights, which was published in 2010 and was prepared under a memorandum of understanding between the IACHR, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The preparation and publication of that report was possible thanks to the financial support of UNICEF, OHCHR, the government of Italy, and the Open Society Institute.
Besides the funds from Luxemburg and UNICEF, the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child funds its activities with contributions from the organization Save the Children.
E. Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families
The Office of the Rapporteur on Migrant Workers and Their Families, under the direction of Commissioner Felipe González, continued its efforts to defend and promote the rights of that group in the hemisphere.
On August 27, 2010, the IACHR issued a press release in which it expressed its deepest concern over the mass killing of 72 migrants that had been committed two days earlier in Tamaulipas, Mexico. It urged the State to adopt urgent measures to investigate and bring about justice, as well as to protect migrants in transit through the country and ensure respect for their human rights. The Office of the Rapporteur is in communication with the Mexican State to carry out a visit to that country in the near future in order to analyze the situation of migrants in transit, which the IACHR has characterized as an issue of great concern. In a public hearing held in March 2010, the Inter-American had received sobering information regarding the large number of kidnappings of migrants, as well as reports of acts of torture against them.
On another matter, the Office of the Rapporteur is in the process of preparing the final version of a report on the enforcement of immigration laws, detentions of immigrants, and the impact of the detentions on due process in the United States. During its 139th regular period of sessions, the IACHR approved the Report on Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process. The preliminary version of the report was sent to the State so that it could have the opportunity to submit any observations it deemed pertinent, in accordance with Article 60 of the Inter-American Commission's Rules of Procedure. The State's observations were received on October 18, 2010, and will be taken into account by the Inter-American Commission in the final version of the report, which will be published in the near future.
The Office of the Rapporteur participated in the VII Regional Course on International Refugee Law in Latin America, sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The event, which took place in Panama City on September 9, 2010, included a presentation on the protection mechanisms that the inter-American system offers for migrants and refugees in the region. The course had the assistance of State officials who work in the granting of asylum and refugee status in the hemisphere.
In addition, the Rapporteur was invited to the Meeting on Transnational Organized Crime and Migrant Security, which took place in Mexico City on October 8, 2010. Although he could not participate for scheduling reasons, the Rapporteur presented a message to the participants underscoring the importance of respecting the human rights of migrants and other vulnerable groups, particularly in the context of the fight against crime.
The activities of the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families were funded with contributions from Spain and the United States.
F. Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, under the direction of Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil, carried out a working visit to the Republic of El Salvador on October 5-9. The members of the delegation held several meetings with authorities and civil society representatives, and visited the "Sendero de Libertad" ["Path to Freedom"] Center for Social Integration (Ilobasco), the Quezaltepeque Prison, and the Zacatecoluca Maximum Security Prison. During these visits, the delegation met with the respective authorities in charge of these facilities and interviewed a significant number of individuals in custody. On the last day of the visit, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty gave a press conference, and on October 20 he issued a press release with an annex containing preliminary observations on the visit.
In addition, in compliance with his mandate regarding promotion, the Rapporteur has participated in a number of forums. On July 28-30, Rapporteur Escobar Gil and the Office of the Rapporteur's attorney specialist, Andrés Pizarro Sotomayor, spoke at the International Symposium on Prison Law and Human Rights, organized by Colombia's National Prison Institute (INPEC) and held at the Belén Library in the city of Medellín. Also, on August 11-13, the Rapporteur gave a speech on non-imprisonment measures at the II Human Rights Congress of the University of Chile, held at that academic institution. Finally, Rapporteur Escobar Gil spoke about "The Perspective of the Bodies of the Inter-American Human Rights System regarding Constitutional Jurisprudence on Human Rights," at the VI Meeting of Constitutional Jurisdiction: Talks with the Nation, held at the Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada Convention Center in Bogotá, from September 31 to October 3.
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty financed its activities with contributions provided by Spain.
G. Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, under the direction of Catalina Botero, continued to work on promotion efforts, which included giving seminars, conferences, and training workshops. The Office of the Special Rapporteur also offered advisory support to the OAS Member States on the issue of freedom of expression. Along these lines, it carried out academic visits to El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala, among other activities.
Likewise, in May 2010, the Special Rapporteur and attorney Ramiro Álvarez Ugarte were part of the delegation that represented the IACHR during the onsite visit to Honduras. The purpose of the visit was to follow up on complaints received during the August 2009 visit, as well as to verify the current human rights situation in that country.
Moreover, in August 2010, Rapporteur Catalina Botero and attorneys Alejandra Negrete Morayta and Michael Camilleri carried out an official visit to Mexico, to observe the situation of freedom of expression in that country. As part of the visit, the Office of the Rapporteur visited the Federal District and the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Mexico.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur also participated in discussions and in the presentation to the OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the final draft of the Model Inter-American Law on Access to Information and its Implementation Guide, which the OAS is promoting through its Department of International Law and Secretariat for Legal Affairs.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression receives funding for its activities from the United States, the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights, France, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, and the European Commission.
H. Unit for Human Rights Defenders
The Unit for Human Rights Defenders, led by Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, has continued to receive information regarding threats, attacks, and acts of harassment against human rights defenders in the region, with the situations in Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, and Venezuela being particularly serious. This situation is reflected in the large number of precautionary measures granted or expanded so far this year. Of a total of 58 measures granted or expanded, 18 correspond to human rights defenders. Also, of nine precautionary measures for which information has been requested so far this year, two have to do with situations related to human rights defenders.
Meanwhile, on September 1 Mexican attorney Jorge Humberto Meza joined the team as a fellowship recipient, for a period of 11 months. The Unit for Human Rights Defenders Fellowship seeks to continue the professional development program for young lawyers, specifically in following the situation of human rights defenders, and to provide technical support to the Unit's efforts.
The Unit's activities during the period covered included updating and overhauling its webpage in English and Spanish; drafting a follow-up report on the situation of human rights defenders in the region and compiling information for that report; and planning a meeting of the Unit with representatives of civil society organizations who were in Washington during the Commission's 140th period of sessions.
The Unit for Human Rights Defenders funds its activities through contributions from the United States.
I. Other Activities
On October 8-9, 2010, the IACHR, along with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIDH) and the Norman Manley Law School of the University of the West Indies, held a seminar in Kingston, Jamaica, on The Inter-American Human Rights System and the Caribbean. More than 80 people, most of them law students, participated in the event, which aimed to promote the system and talk about the challenges that exist and the mechanisms that would allow the inter-American system to expand its presence in the English-speaking Caribbean. Commissioner Dinah Shelton participated in this event, along with two specialists from the Executive Secretariat. The seminar, as well as other activities that the Inter-American Commission is carrying out in the Caribbean, was funded by contributions from Italy and Luxemburg.
V. Work Related to the Inter-American Court
The Inter-American Commission has submitted 147 contentious cases to be heard by the Court. Of those, 2 are pending notification of the respective State; 11 are awaiting a public hearing being convened; 3 are awaiting judgment; 115 are in the stage of compliance with judgment; and 16 are closed. There are also 45 active provisional measures and 3 requests for provisional measures pending a decision by the Court.
Since March 2010, the IACHR has submitted the following eight cases to the Court's contentious jurisdiction:
· Case 12.587, Barbani et al. against Uruguay
· Case 12.533, Iván Eladio Torres against Argentina
· Case 12.465, Kichwa Indigenous Peoples of Sarayaku against Ecuador
· Case 11.324, Narciso González Medina against the Dominican Republic
· Case 11.498, Jorge Fernando Grande against Argentina
· Case 12.517, Gregoria Herminia Contreras et al. against the Republic of El Salvador
· Case 12.488, Barrios Family against Venezuela
· Case 12.502, Karen Atala and Daughters against Chile
On April 12-16, 2010, the Commission participated in the hearings of the Court's XLI special period of sessions, held in Lima, Peru. During those sessions, public hearings were held in the following cases: Ibsen Cárdenas and Ibsen Peña (Bolivia), Xákmok Kásek (Paraguay), and Inés Fernández Ortega (Mexico).
On May 17-28, 2010, the Commission participated in the hearings of the Court's LXXXVII regular period of sessions, held in San José, Costa Rica. During those sessions, public hearings were held in the following cases: Gomes Lund et al. (Brazil) and Valentina Rosendo Cantú (Mexico). Hearings were also held on the implementation of provisional measures in the matters of the Jiguamiandó and Curbaradó Communities (Colombia) and the San José de Apartadó Community of Peace (Colombia). Closed hearings were also held on compliance with judgment in relation to the following cases: Yatama (Nicaragua); Heliodoro Portugal (Panama); and 19 Tradesmen, Mapiripán Massacre, Gutiérrez Soler, Pueblo Bello Massacre, La Rochela Massacre, and Massacres of Ituango, Escué Zapata, and Valle Jaramillo (Colombia). This last hearing was held jointly for the eight cases and was limited to the issue of reparations for medical and psychological treatment.
From August 25 to September 2, 2010, the Commission participated in the hearings of the Court's LXXXVIII regular period of sessions, held in San José, Costa Rica. During those sessions, public hearings were held in the cases of Vélez Loor (Panama) and Cabrera and Montiel (Mexico). In addition, the IACHR participated in a public hearing on the implementation of provisional measures in the matter of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation (Guatemala) and in closed hearings to follow up on compliance with judgment in the cases of Twelve Saramaka Clans (Suriname) and Vargas Areco (Paraguay).
In addition, since its last period of sessions the Commission has requested provisional measures in the matter of Gladys Lanza (Honduras) and Tocorón Prison (Venezuela), the latter of which is pending a decision by the Court.
The activities related to the Commission's work before the Inter-American Court are funded with contributions from Denmark and Luxemburg.
VI. Financial Contributions
The IACHR would like to express its special appreciation for the significant financial contributions made by countries within and outside the region, as well as by international organizations and agencies, foundations, and other entities. These donations make it possible for the IACHR to carry out a great many of its activities related to the mandates handed down by the OAS political bodies.
The IACHR particularly appreciates the contributions made so far in 2010 by the governments of the following OAS member countries: Canada, Chile, Colombia, and the United States. The government of Mexico has announced that it will make a contribution in the coming days. The Commission would also like to thank the observer countries that support the Commission’s activities: Spain, Finland, France, Great Britain, Luxemburg, Sweden, and Switzerland. The Commission also values and appreciates the contributions received from the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Canadian International Development Agency, Save the Children/Sweden, the United Nations Population Fund, and the University of Notre Dame. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that it will make a contribution in the near future. These donations contribute concretely to the strengthening of the inter-American human rights system in the Americas.
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