ACTIVITIES OF THE IACHR
This report covers the activities carried out by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during 1996.
Also mentioned are activities carried out during the beginning
of 1997, which, due to their importance, the IACHR considers it useful
to bring to the attention of the member states of the Organization at
The IACHR held its 91st Regular Session from February 21-March
8, 1996; its 92nd Special
Session from April 29 to May 3, 1996;
its 93rd Regular Session from September 30 to October 18, 1996
and its 94th Special Session on December 6, 1996.
91st Regular Session
During this session the following newly elected members were
incorporated into the Commission; their mandates extend from
1996-1999: Professor Carlos Ayala Corao, Venezuelan; Professor Robert
Kogod Goldman, from the United States, and Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé,
Haitian; as well as Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Colombian, who
was reelected as member of the Commission for a second term.
All the members of the Commission attended this session and
elected a new Executive Board. Professor
Claudio Grossman, Dean of the Law Faculty of the Washington College of
Law at American University in Washington D.C., a Chilean national, was
elected Chairman of the Commission.
Ambassador John S. Donaldson, a former Foreign Minister of
Trinidad & Tobago was elected first Vice Chairman, and Professor
Carlos Ayala Corao, Venezuelan, Professor of International Law, who
holds a joint appointment at the Central University and the Catholic
Andres Bello University, was elected second Vice Chairman.
The OAS Secretary General, following consultation with the
members of the Commission, named Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, a
distinguished Argentine diplomat, the new Executive Secretary,
replacing Ambassador Edith Márquez Rodríguez.
During this session the Permanent Representative of Honduras, Ambassador Marlene Villela de Talbott, informed the Commission that on February 7, 1996, the President of the Republic, Dr. Carlos Roberto Reina, in fulfillment of the Inter-American Court's judgment in the cases of Velásquez Rodríguez and Godinez Cruz, made final payment of the pending indemnities. It is worth noting that Dr. Reina, the President of Honduras, was one of the first judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and his Government's compliance with the first judgments issued by the Court holding a State in violation of human rights is an historic step in the strengthening of the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.
The Commission paid homage to the brilliant Venezuelan jurist,
Dr. Andrés Aguilar, who recently died while serving on the
International Court of Justice. Dr.
Aguilar had been President of the Commission and member thereof during
the period 1972 until 1985. The
Commission decided to publish a book in honor of his contribution to the
field of human rights.
During this session, the Commission held 40 hearings with
representatives of governments, individuals and human rights
organizations, who expressed their views on the situation of human
rights in the hemisphere and on the progress of individual cases before
The Commission approved its Annual Report which would be
submitted to the OAS General Assembly to be held in Panama in June.
It decided to include a progress report on the conditions in
detention centers and penitentiaries in several countries. For that purpose the Commission accepted the invitation of
the Government of Venezuela to carry out an on site visit to examine
detention centers in that country; it also accepted a similar invitation to visit penitentiaries in the United States.
The Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons
entered into force, with the deposit of the instruments of ratification
of Argentina and Panama, on February 28, 1996.
The Commission decided to convoke a Meeting of Experts for the
purpose of comparing the experiences of other human rights systems with
that of the inter-American, in order to identify those areas which could
be improved upon, in particular, as regards the processing of individual
cases, on site visits, its system of rapporteurs on specific themes and
its promotional activities. It
was decided to hold this meeting at the end of the year in Washington,
The Commission met with Mr. Francis Deng, Special Permanent
Representative of the UN Secretary General on the situation of
internally displaced persons. Recognizing
the serious situation of displaced persons in various countries of the
hemisphere, the Commission named Professor Goldman as Rapporteur for
this subject. The Commission also named Ambassador John S. Donaldson and
Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé as Rapporteurs for a study on "Conditions of
detention in the Americas," and Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía as
Rapporteur on the subject of migrant workers.
With regard to Indigenous Populations, the Commission named
Professor Carlos Ayala and Ambassador John Donaldson Rapporteurs for
this subject and Professor Claudio Grossman to continue as Rapporteur
for the subject of women's rights.
92nd Special Session
All the members of the Commission attended the 92nd special
session and welcomed the new Executive Secretary, Ambassador Jorge E.
Taiana, a distinguished Argentine former diplomat.
During this session, the Commission sent a note to the President
of Paraguay in which it expressed its satisfaction that the recent
crisis in Paraguay, which had almost resulted in the destabilization of
the government, had been peacefully resolved and constituted a
transcendental step in the consolidation of democracy in that country.
The Commission also sent a note to the Secretary General of the
Organization, expressing its solidarity with him over the kidnapping of
his brother, and condemned the repugnant act.
It offered whatever assistance might be appropriate.
The Commission met with the Secretary General to discuss the
Meeting of Experts on the Future of the Regional System of the
Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and set December 2-4, 1996 as
the dates for this seminar.
The Commission also met with the Permanent Representative of
Mexico to the OAS, Ambassador Carmen Moreno de Del Cueto, in order to
exchange views regarding the preparations for the Commission's on site
visit to Mexico, scheduled for July.
During this session the Commission decided to intensify the
process of consultation on the Draft Inter-American Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples and also decided to send a
"Questionnaire on the Status of Women in the Americas" to all
the member states. The
Commission also decided to begin consideration of the issue of migrant
workers in this hemisphere, with a view to preparing a report.
93rd Regular Session
All the members of the Commission attended the 93rd session.
The Commission held 63 hearings and analyzed 38 reports on
individual cases, and various requests for provisional measures,
responding thereby to the increasing needs of the system for the
protection of human rights.
The Commission was pleased to observe, during the course of these
hearings, the positive results of the new tendency to attempt to reach
friendly settlements of cases. The
Commission commended the positive attitude of governments in the
attempts to reach a friendly settlement in cases involving Argentina,
Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay.
During this session, the Commission analyzed the advances
obtained in the consultation on the draft Inter-American Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Meetings
had been held in Canada, the United States and Mexico and new meetings
were agreed upon to continue the consultation.
The Commission also analyzed the progress made in its report on
instances of discrimination against women to be based on information
submitted in response to its questionnaire.
With regard to the study which the Commission is preparing on the
"Conditions of Detention in the Americas," the Commission
considered the information obtained during its visit to Venezuela and
accepted an invitation of the US Government to visit the "Marielitos"
in the prisons of Louisiana in December 1996.
During this session the Commission paid homage to Fernando Volio
Jiménez, a distinguished Costa Rican jurist who died on May 21, 1996,
and who had been a member of the IACHR for three years.
The Commission also decided to begin compiling information for
its study on the "Situation of Migrant Workers and their Families
in the Hemisphere."
During this session the Commission met with Drs. Kisanga,
Umozurike and Dankwa, members of the African Commission of Human and
Peoples' Rights, with whom it had the opportunity to exchange views
regarding the experiences of the two bodies.
The Commission began its analysis of the information obtained
during its on-site visits to Mexico and Brazil.
Regarding the process of constitutional reform in El Salvador,
which is intended to extend the application of the death penalty to
certain crimes to which it did not previously apply, the Commission
decided to send a note to the Government expressing its concern in this
regard, indicating that if this extension is approved, El Salvador would
be in violation of its international obligations under the American
Convention. Finally, the
Commission approved a report on Ecuador to be sent to that Government.
94th Special Session
During this session the Commission approved reports on several
pending cases, decided on the possible submission of certain cases to
the Court and decided that other cases should be filed.
TWENTY-SIXTH REGULAR SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE OAS
The Commission attended the twenty-sixth regular session of the
General Assembly in Panama City, Panama.
It was represented by IACHR Chairman, Dean Claudio Grossman; the
First Vice Chairman, Ambassador John S. Donaldson, and the Second Vice
Chairman, Professor Carlos Ayala Corao, assisted by the Executive
Secretary, Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, and the two Assistant Executive
Secretaries, Dr. Domingo Acevedo and Dr. David Padilla.
Various resolutions were adopted at this Assembly, including one,
AG/RES. 1390 (XXVI-0/96), proposed by the Government of Nicaragua,
entitled "Renewed Request for Comments and Observations on the
Proposed Amendment to Article 34 of the American Convention on Human
Rights" by which the membership of the Commission would be
increased from 7 to 11 members. The following resolution was adopted at this Assembly on the
Annual Report of the IACHR:
AG/RES. 1404 (XXVI-0/96)
REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
(Resolution adopted at the eighth plenary session,
held on June 7, 1996)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
HAVING SEEN the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights to the General Assembly (CP/doc.2731/96) and the
presentation thereof by the Chair of the Commission, together with the
observations and recommendations presented by the Permanent Council in
regard to the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (AG/doc. 3336/96 rev.1); and
That the member states of the Organization of American States
(OAS) have proclaimed in the OAS Charter, as one of their principles,
respect for the fundamental rights of the individual, without
distinction as to race, nationality, creed, or sex;
That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, established
at the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
held in Santiago, Chile, in 1959, has as its principal function,
pursuant to the OAS Charter, to promote the observance and protection of
human rights and to serve as a consultative body of the Organization in
That the ideal of a free human being, untrammeled by fear and
poverty, can be attained only if conditions which allow all individuals
to enjoy their economic, social, and cultural rights as well as their
civil and political rights are created;
That women should be guaranteed the exercise, under equal terms,
of their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, as
well as lives free of discrimination and violence;
That the international protection of human rights enhances or
complements the protection offered by the internal law of the member
states and is based on the attributes of the human being;
That effective exercise of representative democracy is the best
guarantee of the full-fledged recognition of human rights; and
That there is a growing and healthy tendency on the part of the
member states to incorporate the precepts of international treaties on
human rights --in particular those in the American Convention on Human
Rights-- into their internal legal systems,
To take note of the Annual Report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights to the General Assembly (CP/doc.2731/96).
To urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue
promoting the observance and protection of human rights as recognized in
the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the
American Convention on Human Rights.
To recognize the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights to protect and promote the observance and defense of human rights
in the Hemisphere, and to urge the member states to continue cooperating
with and supporting the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and to
provide it with the resources it needs to fulfill its functions.
To urge the member states that have not done so to incorporate
instruction on human rights into their education programs at the various
levels and as widely as possible, in accordance with their internal
To receive the observations and recommendations presented by the
Permanent Council for consideration by the General Assembly and transmit
them to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights together with this
To take note of the comments and observations made by the member
state governments on the annual report and the measures now being
adopted by those states to strengthen the promotion, observance, and
protection of human rights.
To note the progress achieved in the effective observance of
human rights in the region, especially the measures currently being
adopted by the member states to heighten the promotion, observance, and
protection of human rights in their respective countries; and, at the
same time, to express their concern over the persistence of situations
that impinge on the full and effective exercise of human rights.
To urge the member states that have not yet done so to sign,
ratify, or accede to, as appropriate, the American Convention on Human
Rights or "Pact of San José, Costa Rica"; the Additional
Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights or "Protocol of San
Salvador"; and the other inter-American instruments for the
promotion and protection of human rights.
To recommend to the member states that they consider the
possibility of accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in keeping with Article 62 of the
American Convention on Human Rights.
urge the member states to devote special efforts, pursuant to their
laws, to eliminating all forms of discrimination against women, as a
means of protecting their human rights.
urge the member states to guarantee and exercise special vigilance with
regard to the human rights of indigenous people, minors at risk,
refugees, persons with disabilities, migrant workers and their families,
detainees and prisoners, marginalized or minority groups, and victims of
racial discrimination; to urge them to create conditions that will
foster harmony and tolerance among those groups and all sectors of
society; and to call upon the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
to continue paying special attention to these matters.
reiterate recommendation made to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights in resolution AG/RES. 1112 (XX-O/91) that it continue to cover in
its annual report its activities to promote observance and awareness of
human rights in the member states.
instruct the Permanent Council to evaluate the working of the
inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights
so as to initiate a process leading to its improvement, possibly by
modifying the respective legal instruments as well as the methods and
working procedures of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for
which it shall request the cooperation of the Commission and the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and to instruct it to report to
the General Assembly at its next regular session.
urge the member states to continue cooperating with the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in conducting on-site visits, pursuant to
applicable provisions, given the importance of such visits to the
protection and promotion of human rights; and to express their
appreciation to those states that have issued invitations to the
promote dialogue between member states, between those states and the
Inter-American Commission on and Court of Human Rights, and with experts
in the field, so as to contribute to a process of reflection leading to
improvement of the inter-American human rights system.
recommend to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that it
continue to give priority to adoption of the necessary measures to
remedy the situation of persons held in custody awaiting trial and the
overcrowding of prisons, and to request that the Commission present a
report on those topics to the General Assembly at its next regular
request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue to
report on measures taken in response to the observations and
recommendations of the Permanent Council that were transmitted by the
urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue attaching
special importance to dialogue with the member states in regard to
progress achieved in and difficulties that have impeded the observance
of human rights.
condemn vehemently all forms of racism, racial or religious
discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance and to urge the member
states to take effective measures to promote tolerance and eliminate all
forms of racist and discriminatory conduct.
recommend to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that it
include in its next annual report an evaluation of the situation of
migrant workers and their families in the Hemisphere.
urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to establish a
dialogue with the member state governments, indigenous organizations and
communities, the Inter-American Indian Institute, legal experts, and
government authorities with regard to the draft Inter-American
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so that the text of the
draft declaration will reflect their concerns as well as the work of the
United Nations in this area.
VISITS CONDUCTED BY THE COMMISSION
Visit to Mexico
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, by invitation of
the Government of Mexico, carried out an on-site visit during July
15-24, 1996, in order to observe the human rights situation in that
country. This was the first visit that the Commission has ever carried
out to Mexico.
All seven members of the Commission participated in this mission:
Dean Claudio Grossman (Chairman), Ambassador John S. Donaldson
(First Vice Chairman), Dr. Carlos Ayala Corao (Second Vice Chairman),
Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Dr. Jean
Joseph Exumé and Professor Robert Goldman.
Also participating on the mission were Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana,
the Executive Secretary, the two Assistant Executive Secretaries, Drs.
Domingo Acevedo and David Padilla, Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer, and Dr. Ibrahim
Garcia, the staff lawyer in charge of Mexico.
Administrative assistance was provided by Ms. Rosario McIntyre,
Ms. Martha Keller and Ms. Tania Hernández.
The Commission met with the President of Mexico, Dr. Ernesto
Zedillo Ponce de León and with other high officials of the Mexican
government as well as with Representatives of the Congress of the Union
and Members of the Judiciary. It
travelled to Chiapas, Guerrero and Baja California.
It also attended a seminar on "Migration and Human
Rights" at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana.
Due to the information collected and the Commission's overall
review of the human rights situation in Mexico, it was possible to
obtain an overall assessment of the human rights situation in that
Prison Project Visit in the United States
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, by invitation of
the United States Government, visited Allenwood, Pennsylvania on April
26, 1996 to evaluate the conditions of detention of the "Marielitos"
(Cuban prisoners) in that federal penitentiary.
The IACHR's special delegation was comprised of Ambassador John
S. Donaldson, First Vice President and members Ambassador Alvaro Tirado
Mejía and Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé.
Also participating on the mission were Dr. David Padilla,
Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Relinda Eddie, the staff attorney in
charge of the United States, Mr. Henry Mac-Donald and Mrs. Tania Hernández
of the Secretariat, as well as Mr. Michel Valeur and Mrs. Miriam
The Commission received information from the inmates regarding
general conditions of detention, the availability of medical facilities
and services, housing accommodations, educational opportunities offered
at the institution, recreational and vocational programs, arrangements
for annual review of detention for post-sentence detainees, the
availability of legal aid, difficulties for relatives living at remote
distances to travel and visit and methods of discipline.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also visited, by
invitation of the United States Government, other "Marielitos"
(Cuban prisoners) in various penal institutions in Louisiana.
The Working Group on Prisons and Prison Conditions in the
Americas visited the prisons of Avoyelles Parish in the city of
Marksville and Orleans Parish in New Orleans, both in Louisiana, from
December 9-12, 1996.
The Working Group was comprised of Ambassador John S. Donaldson,
first Vice-Chairman of the Commission, as well as Commission members,
Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía and Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé.
The members were assisted by Dr. David Padilla, Assistant
Executive Secretary, Dr. Relinda Eddie, the staff lawyer in charge of
the United States and Dr. Bertha Santoscoy.
Ms. Tania Hernández provided administrative assistance.
The issues raised were the same as those raised with the "Marielitos"
visited at the Allenwood, Pennsylvania facilities earlier in the year.
A comprehensive report of the Commission's visits to these
penitentiaries will be prepared.
Prison Project Visit in Venezuela
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, by invitation of
the Government of Venezuela, carried out an on-site visit to Venezuela
during May 13-17, 1996 in order to observe the prison situation in that
The Working Group on Prisons and Prison Conditions is comprised
of the First Vice Chairman, Ambassador John S. Donaldson and Dr. Jean
Joseph Exumé. Also
participating on the mission were Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive
Secretary, Dr. Milton Castillo, the staff lawyer in charge of Venezuela,
Dr. Bertha Santoscoy and Dr. Relinda Eddie.
Administrative assistance was provided by Ms. Tania Hernández
and Ms. Blanca Cáceres.
This was the first visit that the Commission had ever carried out
in Venezuela. The Working
Group met with governmental authorities, representatives of Congress and
the Judiciary, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and
experts in the prison system, as well as with prisoners and their family
The Working Group divided into two groups.
The first visited el Retén e Internado Judicial de Catia
(Caracas), Internado Judicial Capital "El Rodeo" (Estado
Miranda), the Center for Immediate Attention to Minors "Carolina
Uslar" (Caracas) and the Penitentiary of Carabobo (Estado Carabobo).
The second group visited the Reeducation Center El Paraíso
"La Planta" (Caracas) and the National Prison of Maracaibo
"Sabaneta" (Estado Zulia).
The Working Group met with the President of Venezuela, Dr. Rafael
Caldera, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Miguel Angel Burelli,
with the Minister of the Secretariat of the Presidency, Dr. Asdrúbal
Aguiar, with the Minister of Justice, Dr. Henrique Meier and with the
President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Cecilia Sosa, among others.
The intense work of observation carried out by the Working Group
during this visit and the many contacts made during the same, have
allowed it to attain a global vision of this complex and delicate
situation. The Working
Group will use the valuable information which it was able to collect
during this visit for the report which it will draft on the prisons and
prison conditions in the hemisphere.
Special Mission to the Dominican Republic
From March 14-17, 1996 a special delegation of the Commission,
comprised of Dean Claudio Grossman, President of the IACHR and Dr.
Bertha Santoscoy, the staff lawyer in charge of the Dominican Republic,
traveled to that country in order to investigate Case 10.832 concerning
Mr. Luis Lizardo Cabrera.
During the course of the visit the Commission's delegation met
with the Minister and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, with
representatives of the Judiciary as well as with members of the Police
and the Prison System of the Dominican Republic.
In addition, the Commission's delegation visited the "Najayo"
prison and met in private with Mr. Luis Lizardo Cabrera.
Thereafter it met with Mr. Cabrera's wife and with his
Special Mission to Argentina
From July 2-8, 1996, a special delegation of the Commission,
comprised of Professor Robert K. Goldman and Dr. Mario López Garelli,
the lawyer in charge of Argentina, travelled to that country in order to
promote and consolidate the friendly settlement procedure in Case 11.219
concerning Mr. Paulo C. Guardatti, and also the case of Garrido and
Baigorria, which is pending before the Inter-American Court of Human
The activities carried out during this mission included meetings
with authorities of the federal Government, the government of the
Province of Mendoza, and representatives of the victims in these cases,
which included a trip to the above-mentioned province.
The mission also held working meetings with representatives of
the victims of other cases pending before the Commission, with
nongovernmental human rights organizations and other national
authorities with connections to the IACHR.
Special Mission to Guatemala
Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, made a special
trip to Guatemala during December 28, 1996 - January 1, 1997, to
represent the Commission at the celebration of the achievement of the
Guatemalan Peace Accords in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
PRECAUTIONARY AND PROVISIONAL MEASURES ISSUED AND IN FORCE IN
The Commission has decided to include in this chapter a report on
the Precautionary Measures requested by the Commission from the member
states of the Organization, on its own initiative, or at the request of
an interested party, under the provisions of Article 29 of its Rules of
Procedure, in cases of extreme gravity and urgency in which it is
necessary to avoid irreparable damage to persons.
Also included are the provisional measures issued by the Court at
the request of the Commission in situations of extreme gravity and
urgency, under the provisions of Article 63.2 of the American Convention
on Human Rights.
The precautionary measures are presented in the same order as
admitted for review by the Commission; name of the person or persons on
whose behalf they are being requested; summary of the facts on which the
claim is based; rights of the persons exposed to grave and imminent
danger; number of the case, if it has a number; date on which the
Commission requested the measures indicated; name of the state to which
the requests were submitted. The
provisional measures were also recorded in the same order as presented
and include the name of the person or persons on whose behalf they are
being requested; summary of the facts and of the rights exposed to grave
and imminent danger; date on which the Commission decided to submit the
situation to the consideration of the Court; name of the state where the
actions at issue occurred; the date on which the Court adopted the
decision related thereto.
Precautionary Measures issued or extended by the Commission in
On January 24, 1995, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights requested the State of Mexico to adopt precautionary measures in
order to protect the life and personal integrity of Mrs. Virginia
Galeana García, witness in Case No. 11.520, Aguas Blancas, whose life
was gravely and imminently threatened.
The request for such measures extended to the other two witnesses
in the case indicated and their family members.
On February 7, 1996, the State of Mexico responded to this
On January 29, 1995, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights contacted the State of Mexico and requested exceptional measures
for the protection of Mr. David Fernández Dávalos, Director of the
Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center, the attorney José
Lavadero Yanez and Rocío Culebro Bahena, Technical Secretary of the
National System of Human Rights Civil Organizations “Every Right For
All”, whose lives and personal integrity were gravely and imminently
the Commission requested the Mexican Government to extend and broaden
these measures to other persons. This
situation is being reviewed under Case No. 11.682. The State of Mexico, on February 9, September 10 and October
15, 1996, has sent responses with regard to this case.
On February 17, 1995, the Commission requested the Federal
Republic of Brazil to take urgent precautionary measures to protect the
life and personal integrity of Father Ricardo Rezende, Vicario de Rio
Maria in the State of Parana. On
March 20, 1996, the Commission requested that these measures also extend
to Father Henri des Roziers. Subsequently,
on April 23, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Brazil to
extend the protective measures to Mrs. María da Conceicâo Carneiro and
her family. In August 1996, the Commission reiterated the request for
precautionary measures on behalf of these persons.
On June 1, 1995, the Commission requested the State of Ecuador to
implement precautionary measures on behalf of Mr. Jorge Vásquez Durand
whose case was under review by the Commission under Nº 11.458 and who
had been receiving grave and imminent threats against his person.
The Commission reiterated its concern for the situation of Mr. Vásquez
Durand on October 31, 1995, November 30, 1995 and April 2, 1996.
The State of Ecuador has not responded at any time to the request
for precautionary measures repeatedly submitted by the Commission.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on November 30,
1995, transmitted to the State of Guatemala a request for precautionary
measures on behalf of César Ovidio Sánchez Aguilar, official of the
Myrna Mack Foundation and of an indigenous peoples’ organization in
Santa Barbara, Huehuetenango. As
a result of his work, Mr. Sánchez was threatened and attacked by local
militia patrols and commissioned military officers in late 1995.
As a result of these events, Mr. Sánchez was obliged to leave
the community. The state
declined to implement the measures requested, alleging that the matter
was a private problem between individuals.
The Commission reiterated its request for precautionary measures
on March 26, 1996.
On December 18, 1995, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights requested the State of Mexico to adopt precautionary measures to
protect the life and physical integrity of the members of the Union of
Communities of the northern zone of Isthmus AC (UCIZONI) who had been
victims of threats and harassment related to land ownership conflicts
between villages in Arroyo Tejon and Mazatlan on the one hand and
landholders named Fuentes and Raymundo on the other hand.
Mr. Juan Carlos Beas, President of the Commission on Justice and
Human Rights of UCIZONI has reported that on repeated occasions he has
received telephone calls threatening his life.
The State of Mexico sent their response on January 2, 1996.
On February 20, 1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights submitted to the State of Colombia a request for precautionary
measures on behalf of the Group of the Committee on Solidarity with
Political Prisoners, Cúcuta Sector.
The persons whose lives and personal integrity were gravely and
imminently threatened were Rafael Lozano Garaba, Gerson Edecio Leal
Granados, Blanca Inés Rodríguez, José Merchan Basto, Alvaro Fernando
Sanjuan Quintero and Jairo Ordoñez. The measure indicated was also extended to the attorneys Juan
José Landinez and Israel Vargas, who, in performing their activities as
defenders of political prisoners, had been receiving threatening and
The request for precautionary measures also was extended to Rosa
Elpidia Alzate Corredor, official responsible for receiving and
processing claims and providing humanitarian assistance to persons
detained for political reasons in the city of Popayán, department of
Cauca, who had been the victim of continuous acts of harassment and
threats against her life and personal integrity.
On November 6, 1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights reiterated the request to the State of Colombia.
On December 17, 1996, the Commission granted the State of
Colombia an extension of 30 days to respond to these requests.
On February 28, 1996, the Commission transmitted to the State of
Colombia a request for precautionary measures on behalf of Mr. Pablo
Lugo Herrera and his family, whose case was being processed by the IACHR
under Nº 11.237. Mr.
Herrera had participated in a military operation as a result of which
several persons were arbitrarily and extra-judicially executed; his
testimony could indicate those who had taken part in these actions.
On May 10, 1996, the State of Colombia indicated that an official
of the Presidential Advisory Board for Human Rights held a meeting with
Mr. Lugo Herrera and a representative of the Colombian Commission of
Jurists, for the purpose of analyzing and studying possible measures to
be taken. Subsequently, Mr. Lugo Herrera expressed his desire not to
avail himself of any special protection plan and to rejoin the National
Police or to join the National Bureau of Investigation.
On July 17, 1996, the claimant’s observations were transmitted
to the State. On September
17, 1996, the State of Colombia reported on the concrete measures taken
by the State on behalf of Mr. Pablo Lugo Herrera.
This case is in the process of friendly settlement.
On April 12, 1996, the Commission requested the State of the
Dominican Republic to take urgent precautionary measures to protect the
life, safety and personal integrity of Mr. Guarionex Villeta, as well as
his family. On February 22,
1996, during the 91st Regular Session of the IACHR, the
testimony of the person indicated was received.
On February 29, 1996, the Commission requested additional
information on the situation of Mr. Villeta, who on April 9 had been
detained by police agents. The State reported on April 19 that the reason for detention
was related to an investigation on drug trafficking. Subsequently, Mr. Villeta was released from custody.
On March 2, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Guatemala
to take urgent precautionary measures on behalf of Deborah Guzmán, Félix
González, María del Carmen Cruz Fuentes, Valentina Castillo, María
Isabel Sipaque Saragon and their families, who had received various
death threats. The State of Guatemala sent its response on April 11, 1996,
indicating that it was in the process of implementing such measures.
On March 14, 1996, the Commission requested the State of
Guatemala to take urgent precautionary measures on behalf of Vilma
Cristina González and Reynaldo Federico González, who were working for
the Union of Bank Workers and in connection with their union work had
received grave and imminent death threats.
A number of days afterwards Mrs. Vilma Cristina González was
kidnapped and tortured. For
this reason, the request was reiterated on March 19, 1996.
The State sent its response on May 3, 1996, indicating that it
had taken protective measures after the kidnapping.
On June 14, 1996, the IACHR requested confirmation that the
measures were still in effect. No
response has been received to date from the State of Guatemala.
On March 20, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Mexico
to take urgent measures to protect the life, physical integrity and
personal safety of Mrs. Graciela Zavaleta, a member of a group of human
right defenders in Mexico, who found herself in imminent danger and had
been receiving grave threats against her life.
Mrs. Zavaleta had appeared on August 11, 1995 at the municipal
jail to verify the charges brought by family members of prisoners held
in that establishment and had already been attacked and struck by a
group of persons who accused her of defending delinquents and
obstructing police work. The
State of Mexico sent its response on April 3, 1996.
On March 19, 1996, the Commission requested the State of
Guatemala to take urgent precautionary measures on behalf of Rosalina
Tuyuc, Nineth Montenegro, Amilcar Méndez and Manuela Alvarado, members
of the Guatemalan National Democratic Front elected to the Congress of
Guatemala, who had been receiving grave death threats.
On April 15, 1996, the Commission reiterated this request to the
State of Guatemala and requested that these measures be extended to the
families of the persons indicated.
On May 24, 1996, the response of the State of Guatemala was
received indicating that measures were being taken to protect the
On April 2, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Honduras
to take precautionary measures on behalf of Mr. Abencio Fernández,
legal advisor to the Committee on Human Rights of Honduras, CODEH, who,
along with members of his family, had been receiving constant death
threats because of his work as an attorney in the human rights
organization indicated. The State of Honduras has not responded as yet.
On May 13, 1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
requested the State of Guatemala to take precautionary measures to
protect the life and personal integrity of Mr. Tobias Sarceño Pérez.
The State of Guatemala responded on July 30, 1996, indicating
that it was investigating the situation.
On May 20, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Brazil to
take urgent precautionary measures to protect the life and personal
integrity of the attorney Osmar Barcelos do Nascimento, who had been
receiving grave death threats as a consequence of his work as an
attorney in defending human rights in the state of Espiritu Santo.
On July 21, 1996, the State of Brazil reported that the
precautionary measures requested had been taken.
On May 20, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Brazil to
take urgent precautionary measures on behalf of a number of minors
committed to the "Instituto Padre Severino”, “Escola João Luis
Alves” and “Escola Santos Dumont” of Rio de Janeiro, who according
to the petitioners were in grave and imminent danger of suffering
irreparable harm. The State
of Brazil reported on July 26, 1996, on the measures taken to protect
the minors indicated and improve the conditions of these detention
centers. On August 6, 1996,
the Commission requested additional information in this regard.
On June 13, 1996, the Commission asked the Dominican Republic to
take precautionary measures on behalf of Josefina Juana, widow of
Pichardo, who alleged that the Directorate of Migration was preventing
her from returning to that country.
The Dominican Republic reported to the Commission, on July 9 of
that same year, that it had lifted the measures preventing her return
and that Mrs. Juana Pichardo could return without difficulty to the
On June 18, 1996, the Commission transmitted to the State of
Colombia a request for urgent precautionary measures on behalf of the
Zenú community, of the Department of Córdoba, one of whose leaders had
been murdered on May 16, 1996 by paramilitary groups in the San Andrés
de Sotavento shelter; on May 25, the Secretary of the Town Council of
San Andrés de Sotavento had been murdered and on June 4 pamphlets had
been distributed threatening the indigenous leaders.
On July 31,1996, the State of Colombia sent a report on the
measures taken. At the
request of the claimants, on December 17, 1996, the Commission requested
additional information from the Colombian State. On January 15, 1997, the State of Colombia sent its response
to the observations of the petitioner.
On July 17, 1996, during the on site visit conducted by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the Republic of Mexico,
precautionary measures were requested on behalf of Mr. José Nava
Andrade and 15 members of the Organization of Pueblos and Settlements (OPC),
who had been victims of kidnappings and torture because of their
presumed links with the Peoples’ Revolutionary Army (EPR).
On August 1, 1996, the Commission requested that the State of
Mexico take the measures indicated.
On August 16, 1996, the State of Mexico sent its response to that
On July 22, 1996, the Commission requested the State of El
Salvador to take precautionary measures on behalf of Mr. Adrián Esquino
Lisco and members of his family who, following a dispute over ownership
rights to cooperative land, had been gravely threatened by local groups
linked with the police forces. On
August 23, 1996, the State of El Salvador responded to the Commission on
the measures taken.
On July 30, 1996, the Commission requested the State of Guatemala
to take urgent precautionary measures to protect the life and personal
integrity of Brenda Mayol, her sons, Oscar René, Igor Alfonso and
Rembrant Carlos Trujillo Mayol and his fellow workers Vidal Días, Rene
Días, Rosa Zinico and Thelma López.
These persons were working in the legal office IXCHEL, which
defends human rights, the environment, women and children in Peten and
as a result of their work had been the object of constant harassment and
threats. The State of
Guatemala responded on September 12, 1996, indicating the measures it
was taking to protect the lives and physical integrity of the persons
On August 23, 1996, the Commission requested the State of
Guatemala to take urgent precautionary measures to protect the lives and
personal integrity of Rosario Hernández Grave, Manuel Hernández Ajbac,
Manuel Mendoza Jolomocox, Jesus Chaperón Marroquín, Gustavo Vásquez
Peralta and Rogelio Cansi, witnesses to the murder of Martín Pelico
Coxic and six other persons, members of the Militia Patrol of San Pedro
Jocopilas, which occurred on June 27, 1995, following which the
witnesses and the families of the victims had been the object of
constant death threats. Under
case 11.658 the Commission is reviewing charges with regard to the
summary and extra-judicial execution of these persons.
On September 27, 1997, the State of Guatemala responded that it
was taking measures to protect the persons indicated.
On September 10, 1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights requested precautionary measures on behalf of Mr. Roberto Girón
and Pedro Castillo Mendoza, who had been sentenced to be executed. On September 12, 1996, Guatemala responded, sending an
explanation as to why it would not implement the measures requested.
On October 21, 1996, the Commission transmitted a request for
urgent precautionary measures to the State of Honduras to protect the
lives and personal integrity of a group of minors who were being held in
the San Pedro de Sula prison. Among
other considerations, it was indicated that these minors had been
confined with adults convicted for a variety of serious crimes.
The State of Honduras, on October 28, 1996, presented information
on the facilities prepared for the minors.
The case is still under review under Nº 11.491.
On December 26, 1996, the request for precautionary measures was
reiterated and information was requested as to the concrete actions
taken to implement the measures requested.
On November 8, 1996, the Commission requested the State of the
Dominican Republic to take urgent precautionary measures to protect the
lives and personal integrity of Virgilio Almanzar, Tomás Castro and Luz
Altagracias Ramírez de González, and other witnesses in a case
submitted to the consideration of the CIDH:
Nº 11.324. The
State of the Dominican Republic responded on November 27, 1996,
indicating that it had requested the National Police to conduct an
investigation of the threats as well as to arrange for custody of each
of these persons. On
December 9, 1996, the petitioners sent additional information on the
case, which was transmitted to the State on December 17, 1996.
On December 6, 1996, the Commission requested the State of the
United States of America to suspend the execution of Mr. Richard Steven
Zeitvogel, who had been tried and sentenced under the laws of the State
of Missouri for the murder of his cell-mate Gary W. Dew.
No response has been received from the State to date.
On December 6, 1996, the Commission requested the State of
Colombia to take urgent precautionary measures to protect the life and
personal integrity of Mr. Antonio Suárez Niño, Penall Circuit Judge
No. 22 of Bogota and President of the National Association of Judicial
Employees and Officials. Mr.
Suárez Niño had been the object of grave threats and harassment since
1993. On January 20, 1997,
the State of Colombia responded to the Commission's request.
On December 19,
1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asked the State of
Brazil to take precautionary measures to protect the life and personal
integrity of a number of individuals who had been threatened by a death
squad composed of members of the civil police, known as "the golden
boys" in the northern part of the State of Rio de Janeiro.
The persons thus threatened are involved in the protection of
human rights who had denounced the situation of the group in question.
The response from the State of Brazil is being awaited.
Provisional Measures issued or extended by the Court in 1996
On February 2, 1996, the Commission was asked to request
provisional measures from the Inter-American Court on behalf of Mr.
Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, who at that time was the Alianza Liberal
candidate for President of the Republic of Nicaragua.
This person had been the victim of an attempt on his life on
January 25, 1996, which he fortunately escaped unharmed, but in which
one of his bodyguards died and others were seriously injured.
On that same date of February 2, the Commission requested the
Court to take the measures indicated and these measures were taken on
February 2 by the Court in response to the Commission’s request.
These measures were lifted on January 10, 1997, when Arnoldo Alemán
Lacayo was inaugurated as President of the Republic of Nicaragua.
During 1996, the Commission requested that the Court issue or
extend provisional measures to protect the lives or physical integrity
of individuals in relation to four matters concerning Guatemala.
(See, section 5, below.) On
April 12, 1996, such measures were requested to protect various
witnesses and other persons involved in the legal proceedings concerning
the killing of Pastors Serech and Saquic (Case 11.570), who had received
serious threats. By
resolution of June 28, 1996, the Court ratified the measures which had
been issued by its President on April 24, 1996, in favor of Blanca
Margarita Valiente de Similox, Vitalino Similox Salazar, Sotero Similox,
María Francisca Ventura Sican, Lucio Martínez, Maximiliano Solís,
Bartolo Solís, Julio Solís Hernández, María Magdalena Sunún González,
Héctor Solís, José Solís, Gregoria Gómez, Juan García, Eliseo
Calel y Víctor Tuctuc.
On November 22, 1995, the Commission requested the State of
Colombia, in accordance with the provisions of Article 29 of its Rules
of Procedure, to take precautionary measures on behalf of Alirio Félix,
Josué Giraldo, Teresa Mosquera, Islena Rey Rodríguez, Hna. Nohemy
Palencia, Monseñor Alfonso Cabezas and Gonzalo Zárate, members of the
Civic Council of the Department of Meta, an organization that had been
the object of constant threats and attacks against its members,
particularly against the persons indicated above.
This request was reiterated on October 13, 1996.
Following the murder on October 29, 1996 of Mr. Josué Giraldo,
and considering that the measures adopted had been inadequate, the
Commission requested the Court, in accordance with the provisions of
Article 63.2 of the Convention, to take provisional measures on behalf
of the persons indicated. The
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, by Resolution dated October 28,
1996, decided to request the State of Colombia to take these measures.
On April 16, 1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
requested the State of Peru, under the provisions of Article 29 of its
Rules of Procedure, to take precautionary measures in order to reverse
the unjustified measures that were worsening the conditions under which
María Elena Loayza Tamayo was imprisoned, insofar as these measures
were in violation of the minimum standards for the treatment of
prisoners approved by the United Nations.
In the event that the State of Peru did not reverse the measures
it had taken, the Commission requested that the Inter-American Court
take provisional measures. The Court, by Resolution dated September 13, 1996, requested
the State of Peru, inter alia, to modify the situation with
respect to the imprisonment of Mrs. María Elena Loayza Tamayo, so as to
bring it into conformity with Article 5 of the Inter-American
IACHR ACTIVITIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE INTER-AMERICAN
COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
On May 29, 1995, the Commission presented Case 11.009, regarding
the disappearance of Mr. Adolfo Garrido and Mr. Raúl Baigorria to the
Court. These two
individuals had been detained by the Police in the province of Mendoza
in 1990. The Argentine
Government accepted the facts presented and the legal consequences
On February 1, 1996, the Court held a public hearing on this
case. Ambassador John S.
Donaldson was the Commission's delegate in this case, assisted by Dr.
Domingo Acevedo, the Assistant Executive Secretary.
In its Judgment of February 2, 1996, the Court, taking note of
Argentina's acceptance of the facts articulated in the application and
its acceptance of the international responsibilities deriving therefrom,
unanimously granted the parties a period of six months from the date of
Judgment to reach an agreement regarding reparations.
The Court reserved the power to review and approve the agreement,
and, should no agreement be reached, to continue the Court proceedings
The Commission placed itself at the disposal of the parties
concerned with a view to reaching a friendly settlement of Case 11.009. The parties agreed to the establishment of an ad hoc
investigative committee which consisted of five lawyers: two selected by
the Province of Mendoza, two selected by the petitioners and one
selected by the Argentine Government.
The investigative committee came to the conclusion that the
victims had been kidnapped and tortured by the police as alleged in the
complaint. The parties also agreed to the establishment of a Tribunal
comprised of judges selected by the Council of Magistrates of Mendoza
which came down with a decision on compensation in this case.
The Commission has expressed its agreement with the terms of the
settlement in a letter to the Court.
However, since there has not yet been compliance with the
recommendations of the ad hoc investigative committee, the
Commission subsequently expressed to the Court that it would not
consider the settlement complete until action was taken in that regard,
and called upon the Argentine Government to publish and disseminate that
The Court will consider at its next session (Jan-Feb. 1997)
whether the agreement of the parties is sufficient or whether it will
continue the case in the reparations phase.
At its XX Special Session, on September 7, 1996, the Court heard
the oral arguments of the Commission and the Government of Colombia on
the reparations in the Caballero Delgado and Santana Case.
Professor Robert Goldman was the Commission's delegate in this
case, assisted by Dr. Manuel Velasco Clark, the staff lawyer in charge
of Colombia. On December 8,
1995, the Court's judgment stated that the Government of Colombia must
pay fair compensation to the victim's families and that the form and
amount of such compensation would be established by the Court.
The Court has scheduled a reading of the judgment on the
reparations for January 31, 1997.
The Commission submitted the case of Suárez Rosero to the
Court on December 22, 1995. The
application refers to events that occurred as of June 23, 1992, when
agents of the State of Ecuador arrested Mr. Rafael Iván Suárez Rosero,
in an allegedly illegal and arbitrary manner,
holding him incommunicado for 36 days.
The application also states that Mr. Suárez Rosero remained in
preventive detention for an unreasonable period of time, that the State
had not provided an effective judicial remedy and had violated the
judicial guarantees to which the applicant is entitled.
The Government did not file preliminary objections in this case,
and the Court has scheduled a hearing on the merits for April 19, 1997.
The Commission submitted the case of Consuelo Benavides to
the Court on March 20, 1996. The
application refers to events that occurred as of December 4, 1985, when
agents of the State of Ecuador arrested Ms. Benavides in an allegedly
illegal and arbitrary manner, held
her incommunicado for approximately one week, tortured and killed her.
The application also states that the State of Ecuador denied Ms.
Benavides access to judicial protection, and denied her family an
effective judicial remedy. In
this case as well, the Government of Ecuador did not file preliminary
objections. The Court has
yet to schedule a date for a hearing on the merits.
The Commission's delegate in the Suárez Rosero case is
Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, assisted by Dr. Elizabeth Abi-Mershed. The Commission's delegates in the Benavides case are
Professor Robert Goldman and Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, assisted by Dr.
In the Paniagua Morales and Others Case, the Court, in its
Judgment of January 25, 1996, rejected the preliminary objections
interposed by the Government of Guatemala (extemporaneous and legally
invalid application by the Commission). The Commission's delegates in
this case are Dean Claudio Grossman and Ambassador Jean Joseph Exumé,
assisted by Dr. Elizabeth Abi-Mershed.
In the Blake case, the Court held a public hearing on
preliminary objections on January 28, 1996.
The Commission was represented by its President, Dean Claudio
Grossman, who was assisted by Dr. Domingo Acevedo, the Assistant
Executive Secretary. The
application refers to events that occurred as of March 28, 1985, when
agents of the Guatemalan State allegedly kidnapped, in an arbitrary and
illegal manner, Mr. Nicholas Chapman Blake and Mr. Griffith Davis,
proceeding later to their forced disappearance.
The application alleges that Guatemala failed to provide an
effective judicial remedy and continuously obstructed the enforcement of
justice with the purpose of concealing Mr. Blake's disappearance.
In its Judgment of July 2, 1996, the Court considered that the
preliminary objection of lack of jurisdiction of the Court, interposed
by the State of Guatemala, is partly well-founded and declared itself
without jurisdiction to adjudicate the alleged responsibility of
Guatemala with respect to the detention and death of Mr. Blake since
these events occurred prior to Guatemala's acceptance of the compulsory
jurisdiction of the Court. However,
it also decided to continue the merits of the case with respect to the
events that occurred after that date (1987).
During its XXXIII Regular Session, the Court reviewed the reports
presented by the Commission and the Government of Guatemala regarding
the provisional measures granted in the Colotenango and Carpio
Nicolle cases, both pending before the Commission.
The provisional measures were extended by the Court for another
six months by resolution of September 10, 1996 in both cases.
The Commission's delegate in these two cases is Dean Claudio
Grossman, assisted by Dr. Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, the lawyer in charge of
By Resolution dated June 27, 1996, the Court ratified the
provisional measures granted by the President of the Court in the Vogt
case. Father Daniel Joseph
Vogt is a catholic priest who had received multiple death threats and
attempts against his life. The
Commission was represented at the hearing on provisional measures by Dr.
David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, assisted by Dr. Denise
By Resolution dated June 28, 1996, the Court ratified the
provisional measures granted by the President of the Court in the Serech
and Saquic case. The
applicants are family members of the individuals who have taken an
active part in the investigation of the killings of the Kakchiquel
pastors, Pascual Serech and Manuel Saquic Vásquez, who were the
subjects of threats and attacks by civil patrols and former military
commissioners in the area. The
Commission was represented at the hearing on provisional measures by Dr.
David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, assisted by Dr. Denise
Cases in the initial phase
The Commission submitted the Bámaca Velásquez case to
the Court on August 30, 1996. The
Commission's delegate are Dean Claudio Grossman and Dr. Carlos Ayala,
assisted by Dr. Denise Gilman. The
application refers to events that occurred as of March 12, 1992, when
agents of the Guatemalan Armed Forces allegedly captured Mr. Efraín Bámaca
Velásquez after an armed confrontation, proceeding to keep him alive in
military installations of the Armed Forces, where he was tortured and
later executed. The
Commission requests that the Court declare that Guatemala has violated
the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, that it
must investigate these events and sanction those responsible for them,
inform the next-of-kin of the whereabouts of Mr. Bámaca and return his
remains, reform the training of the Armed Forces of Guatemala and pay
fair compensation to the victim's family and the costs of the procedure.
Pursuant to its Judgment of January 27, 1995, the Court declared
that it had jurisdiction to hear the Genie Lacayo Case, except
regarding the abstract compatibility of Decrees 591 and 600 of Nicaragua
with the Convention. The
Court also rejected all preliminary objections, except that of the
non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, to be resolved with the merits of
the case. It considered
that the Government's objections concerning the mandatory nature of the
recommendations of the Commission are not preliminary objections, but
rather questions on the merits. The
Court resolved to continue to hear the case.
During its 20th regular session, the Commission presented the
testimony of witnesses in this case.
The public hearing was held on September 5, 1996.
Since not all the witnesses were present the Court must decide
whether it requires their testimony or to proceed directly to
sentencing. The Commission's delegates are Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía
and Dr. Carlos Ayala Corao, assisted by the Assistant Executive
Secretary, Dr. Domingo Acevedo and Dr. Milton Castillo, the lawyer in
charge of Nicaragua.
In the Neira Alegría case, on January 27, 1996, the Court
heard oral arguments in the reparations phase.
The Commission's delegate in this case is Dr. Oscar Luján
Fappiano, assisted by the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Domingo
By Judgment of September 19, 1996, the Court established the
approximate total compensation to be paid by the State of Peru to the
next-of-kin to be US$ 154,000. It
ordered the State to create trust funds and continue the investigation
of the facts and to sanction those responsible for them.
It also decided to supervise compliance of the ordered
reparations and made no decision on the costs requested by the
In the Castillo Páez Case, the Court, in its Judgment of
January 30, 1996, decided unanimously to reject the preliminary
objections interposed by the Government of Peru (non-exhaustion of
domestic remedies and inadmissibility of the application) and to
continue hearing the merits of the case.
No hearing on the merits was scheduled during 1996. The Commission's delegates are Dr. Carlos Ayala Corao and
Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, assisted by the Assistant Executive
Secretary, Dr. Domingo Acevedo.
In the Loayza Tamayo Case, the Court in its Judgment of
January 31, 1996, decided to reject the preliminary objection interposed
by Peru (non-exhaustion of domestic remedies) and to continue hearing
the merits of the case. The
case was submitted to the Court on January 12, 1995 and alleges
arbitrary deprivation of liberty, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment, denial of judicial protection and due process.
The Commission's delegate in this case is Dr. Oscar Luján
Fappiano, assisted by the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Domingo
Cases in the initial phase
The Cantoral Benavides Case was submitted to the Court on
August 8, 1996. According
to the application, Mr. Luis Alberto Cantoral Benavides was illegally
deprived of his freedom and subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment. The Commission's
delegate in this case is Dr. Carlos Ayala Corao, assisted by the
Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Domingo Acevedo.
The Durand and Ugarte Case was submitted to the Court on
August 8, 1996. The case
concerns acts that occurred as of February 14 and 15, 1986, when,
according to the application Nolberto Durand Ugarte and Gabriel Ugarte
Rivera were detained under suspicion of having participated in terrorist
activities and were imprisoned in the San Juan Bautista (The Frontón)
Jail. In June 1986, an
uprising occurred in this penitentiary, and from that date Mr. Durand
Ugarte and Mr. Ugarte Rivera are missing.
However, on July 17, 1987, the Sixth Tribunal of Corrections of
Lima resolved that they were innocent and ordered their immediate
freedom. The Commission's delegate in this case is Ambassador John S.
Donaldson, assisted by the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Domingo
On January 27, 1996, the Court held a public hearing and heard
the points of view of the Commission and the Government of Venezuela
with regard to the reparations phase of the El Amparo case. The Commission's delegates in this case are Dr. Oscar Luján
Fappiano and Dean Claudio Grossman, assisted by Dr. Milton Castillo, the
lawyer in charge of Venezuela.
By Judgment of September 14, 1996, the Court established US$ 722,000 as the approximate total amount of compensation
due by the State of Venezuela to the next-of-kin of the victims and the
survivors to which the case refers.
Furthermore, it ordered the State to create trust funds and
continue its investigation of the facts and to sanction those
responsible. It also
decided to supervise compliance with the ordered reparations and made no
decision regarding costs.
SEMINAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS
From December 2-4, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
held a seminar on human rights at which judges of the Court,
representatives of member states and other users of the system, such as
experts in the field, working in non-governmental human rights
organizations and academic institutions, as well as judges, legislators
and representatives of other international organizations such as the
United Nations and the European Union, participated.
The seminar, organized and sponsored by the Commission, aimed to
further the discussion of issues relevant for the future of the regional
system, thereby enriching the dialogue between the different actors
interested in strengthening the system.
Approximately 170 persons attended the three day seminar which
included panels on the following issues:
Panel 1: Structure of the Inter-American System for the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights. Evaluation and Challenges;
Panel 2: Individual Cases- Admissibility;
Panel 3: Individual Cases- Processing;
Panel 4: Other Areas within the Competence of the Commission;
Panel 5: Domestic Law and the Regional System;
Panel 6: Inter-American Court- Contentious and Advisory
Jurisdiction; Panel 7: New
Challenges. The Secretary
General also submitted an important document to this seminar entitled
"Toward a New Vision of the Inter-American Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission of Women, the Pan American Health
Organization, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights co-sponsored a conference
entitled "Women, Human Rights and the Inter-American System:
an Agenda for Action" which took place on March 29, 1996.
Among the themes which were considered were violence against
women, discrimination, the right to political participation and the
steps which must be taken in order to realize the priorities established
at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing
Also, since the Commission approved the Draft Inter-American
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 1995, it
has begun a process of broad direct consultations with governments and
indigenous organizations. The
Draft was presented by the Commission in Arequipa, Peru; in Panama; at
the General Kuna Congress in Canada; in special meetings on the subject
held in Montreal and Ottawa; in Guatemala (March 1996); at the
Sovereignty Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma and elsewhere.
Representatives of more than one hundred indigenous organizations
from Canada and the United States prepared a proposal for revision of
the document in Denver, Colorado in May, 1996.
Thereafter, with the cooperation of the Indigenous Fund, the
Inter-American Indian Institute and the Unit for the Promotion of
Democracy, national consultations were held in 11 countries in South and
Central America, with a broad representation on the part of indigenous
organizations, the results of which were analyzed in two regional
consultation meetings held in November 1996 in Guatemala (for Central
America, Mexico and the Caribbean) and in Quito (for South America).
When this stage was completed, the Draft was analyzed at the 1st
Indigenous Forum of the Americas (held in Mexico in December 1996)
organized by the Inter-American Indian Institute.
Also a considerable number of replies were received from member
states. As a result of
these replies, the Commission plans to revise its draft at its next
period of sessions (February 1997).
The Commission, in a press release issued on November 13, 1996,
deplored the situation of 60 soldiers of the Colombian army who had been
kidnapped and whose whereabouts were unknown.
For humanitarian reasons, the Commission called for their
release. Again, on December
18, 1996, the Commission in another press release, deplored the taking
of hundreds of hostages by an armed group of the Tupac Amaru
Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in the Embassy of Japan in Lima, Peru and
called for their release.
From December 10-14, 1996, Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano with two
members of the Executive Secretariat traveled to Lima, pursuant to the a
decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in order to depose
seven (7) witnesses in a case pending before the Court.
In mid-January 1997, the President of the Commission with the
lawyer in charge of Paraguay traveled to Asunción in order to further a
friendly settlement regarding three pending cases.
January 30-31, 1997 a seminar was held in Brasilia on the
promotion of human rights. This
event, organized by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice of
Brazil, with the collaboration of the IACHR, was attended by 160
participants including judges, prosecutors, members of the Security
Forces, professors of law and students from Brazil and other countries
of the Southern Cone.
From February 9-15, 1997 a special delegation of the Commission
traveled to Colombia in order to analyze the status of pending friendly
settlements. The delegation
was comprised of Professor Robert Kogod Goldman, the Executive
Secretary, Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, and Dr. Denise Gilman.
The members of the delegation met with government officials, with
petitioners and with representatives of the victims, in order to advance
the friendly settlements in these cases.
The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to the Government
of Colombia for the assistance that it received during this working
The IACHR held a Technical Meeting to revise the draft American
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on January 31, February
1-2, 1997. During that
meeting the IACHR completed its program of direct consultations at the
national and regional level with governments, indigenous organizations
and experts, as regards the draft Declaration.
As will be further elaborated in Chapter IV of this Annual
Report, the IACHR, in cooperation with OAS organs, carried out 16
national consultations (in all the countries of Central and North
America and in 8 countries in South America); 5 meetings of consultation
with indigenous groups at the multinational and regional level and
lastly, the technical meeting mentioned above.
During this Technical Meeting the responses and conclusions of the earlier meetings were revised, and on this basis a revised draft was prepared. The Rapporteurs, Professor Carlos Ayala Corao and Ambassador John Donaldson, participated in this meeting, as well as the specialist in charge of this subject in the Executive Secretariat of the Commission, and other experts on indigenous and international law were contracted. For this program of consultations, the IACHR received financial assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank.
Article 29: Precautionary measures.
1. The Commission may, at its own initiative, or at the
request of a party, take any action it considers necessary for the
discharge of its functions. 2.
In urgent cases, when it becomes necessary to avoid irreparable
damage to persons, the Commission may request that provisional
measures be taken to avoid irreparable damage in cases where the
denounced facts are true. 3.
If the Commission is not in session, the Chairman, or in his
absence, one of the Vice-Chairmen, shall consult with the other
members, through the Secretariat, on implementation of the
provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 above.
If it is not possible to consult within a reasonable time,
the Chairman shall take the decision on behalf of the Commission and
shall so inform its members immediately.
4. The request for such measures and their adoption shall not
prejudice the final decision.
Article 63 Provisional Measures: 2.
In cases of extreme gravity and urgency, and when necessary
to avoid irreparable damage to persons, the Court shall adopt such
provisional measures as it deems pertinent in matters it has under
respect to a case not yet submitted to the Court, it may act at the
request of the Commission.