A Special Committee of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) begins a visit to Peru today, May 17, at the invitation of the Government of that country, to observe the human rights situation there.
The Special Committee comprises the IACHR chairman Dr. Oscar Lujan Fappiano, First Vice-Chairman Prof. W. Michael Reisman, and Dr. Leo Valladares, a member of the Commission. The Committee will be assisted during the visit by Ambassador Edith Marquez Rodriguez, Executive Secretary, Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Domingo Acevedo, Special Advisor to the Commission, Dr. Sergio Apter, Mrs. Daisy Carmelino, Mrs. Gabriela Hageman, and Mr. Marcelo Montecino, interpreter.
The visit, which ends on Friday, May 21, will include meetings with officials from the Executive Branch, representatives of the Democratic Constituent Congress and the Judiciary, senior Army officers, officials of the Catholic Church, political leaders, social communication media directors, representatives of human rights organizations, and other representative sectors of the Peruvian society. The Committee will also visit prison facilities.
As is customary on such visits, while in Lima the Committee will receive complaints of alleged human rights violations from interested persons, at its offices at El Pardo Hotel, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, and from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
The visit is being conducted in accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights, and in accordance with the provisions of Commission's regulations. Under those regulations, the Government of Peru has undertaken to give all the guarantees to individuals, groups and organizations wishing to meet with the Committee, and provide the Committee with all the facilities needed to perform the tasks required during its visit.
The Committee is aware of the situation the Peruvian society is experiencing as a result of the use of terror and violence, and is also aware that a solution to the current problems needs to be found by strengthening the democratic regime and protecting fundamental human rights.
At the end of the visit, the Committee will hold a press conference at El Pardo Hotel, on Friday, May 21.
Lima, May 17, 1993
The visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Peru, invited by the Government to observe the human rights situation in the country, ended today, May 21, 1993. The visitors were the Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, the First Vice Chairman, Professor W. Michael Reisman, and member Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza. The Commission was assisted by the Executive Secretary, Ambassador Edith Márquez Rodrígues, Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. Domingo Acevedo, Special Adviser to the Commission, and Dr. Sergio Apter, and enjoyed the technical support of Mrs. Daisy Carmelino, Administrative Officer, Mrs. Gabriela Hageman, Secretary, and Mr. Marcelo Montecino, Interpreter.
In the course of their stay the Commission met with the President of the Republic Alberto Fujimori; President of the Democratic Constitutional Congress (CCD) Mr. Jaime Yoshiyama; President of the Supreme Court of Justice Dr. Luis Serpa; Attorney General Dr. Blanco Nélida Cobán; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Council of Ministers Dr. Oscar de la Puente Raygada; Minister of Justice Dr. Fernando Vega Santa Gadea; Minister of Defense General Víctor Malca Villanueva; Minister of the Interior General Juan Briones Dávila; Director of the National Police General Guillermo Bovil Cevallos; Chairman of the Supreme Council of Military Justice Vice Admiral Roberto Duboc; and the Joint Command of the Armed Forces under General Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos as Chairman and consisting also of the Commanding General of the Navy Admiral Alfredo Arnaiz Ambrossiani and General of the Air José Nadal Paiva.
The Commission also met with the members of the Human Rights Commission of the Democratic Constitutional Congress; the Chairman and General Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, Monsignors Augusto Vargas and José Irizar; and the Head of the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mr. George Comninos.
Spokespeople of the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, the Andean Commission of Jurists, the Peruvian Council on International Law, the Democratic Forum and the Council for Peace dialogued with the delegation, as did other persons and institutions representative of Peruvian society, such as the College and National Federation of Journalists, the Peruvian Medical Federation, bar associations, and press executives.
The Commission also received members of the families of detainees and disappeared persons, representatives of petitioners under the provisions of the
American Convention on Human Rights and the regulations of the IACHR, and other dignitaries and entities interested in the human rights situation in Peru.
It also called at the grave of María Elena Moyano in Villa El Salvador, in recognition of her meritorious work for the benefit of children and the poor.
In Lima the Commission visited the Castro Castro, Santa Mónica, Lurigancho and Real Felipe prisons and the Maranga Youth Center, and a delegation traveled to Puno to learn about the situation in the Yanamayo and San Sebastián penitentiary institutions and for an interview with the Vicarship of the diocese of Puno, the Vicarship of Solidarity of the Juli Prelacy and the Puno Commission on Human Rights (CODEPUNO).
The observations and contacts made on those days of intensive work gave the Commission an understanding of the complex human rights situation in the country. The valuable information obtained will be used to write a report on the visit, which will be published in due course.
The IACHR has received information indicated that in the first four months of this year complaints of violations of the right to life - especially forced disappearances of persons - and to personal safety, among others.
The Peruvian Government authorities showed themselves receptive to the suggestions of the Commission, which was informed of measures adopted and about to be adopted to prevent the occurrence of further violations of human rights by the security forces. The IACHR hopes those measures can be effectively enforced, and complemented by others that effectively recognize and protect the rights and guarantees inscribed in the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Commission is of the view that those measures should include adjustments in the antiterrorist legislation (Decree-Laws Nos. 25659 and 25435), in the guarantees and judicial protection established chiefly in articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
It also notes the forthcoming entry into force of a new law on minority conformable to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and hopes it will rectify present anomalies such as those concerning the responsibility and criminal indictability of minors.
The effectiveness of the Convention with the States parties to it depends largely on how the judiciary applies it, which it must do essentially in an independent and impartial manner. Hence the completion soon of the reorganization of a judiciary that ensures to its personnel security in their posts is an aim that cannot be side-stepped.(fix) The Commission cannot but express its concern at the excessive delay in the trial of many defendants under criminal law, which results in their being held overlong in detention centers without being brought to trial to determine their guilt or innocence. Moreover, the Commission is of the view that the rule imposed on lawyers not to defend more than one case be set aside, and that they informed in due time and form of acts carried out in legal proceedings for purposes of proper exercise of the right to defense.
The Commission views as a positive development the penitentiary policy recently launched by the Government, and encourages it to pursue it further so as to solve the problems detected in some penal establishments.
The Commission has been gratified to be informed of recent modalities of cooperation between the Government and nongovernmental human rights organizations. It hopes this cooperation will continue and increase to the benefit of the basic rights, in which dialogue, coordination and exchanges of views are of vital importance. The Commission feels that this new policy will accord recognition to the important and sometimes hazardous work done by organizations for the defense and promotion of human rights.
The Commission has received many accounts and attestations to the impact and suffering inflicted on the public by car-bombs, selective assassination, summary execution, torture, forced disappearance of persons and, in general, the use of terror as a means of social control, reprehensible methods resorted to by certain groups, institutions and persons to impose their convictions.
As noted on earlier occasions, the IACHR is of the view that no person, group or entity is entitled to commit any act for the purpose of suppressing, violating or impairing the rights and guarantees recognized in the American Declaration and in the American Convention on Human Rights.
The States parties to the Convention have bound themselves to guarantee the rights recognized in it. Hence, when those rights are violated, even if by individuals, it is the duty of the States to investigate and to punish those responsible and repair the consequences of those violations in accordance with the Convention and with the interpretations made of its provisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
It is clear that the State must have the power needed to perform this function so as not to be found impotent to do so, but, having it, must not itself violate the fundamental rights of the individual.
As the natural instrument of man for the protection and development of those rights, the State must not discriminate against persons on the basis of their social origin, economic status, or any other social condition.
The Commission wishes to express its appreciation to the Government of Peru for the facilities provided for the conduct of its activities and the extensive collaboration of its authorities during the visit, and to the Peruvian people for its kindnesses, and wishes to highlight the interest shown by the media, which gave it extensive coverage. It expresses the hope that the relations established will grow even stronger and deeper in the near future with view to the full validity and protection of human rights, which constitute the soundest foundation on which to build social comity in a democratic society.
Lima, May 21, 1993
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights declares that the break in the constitutional order of Guatemala announced by its Chief of State, President Jorge Serrano Elías, constitutes a breach of the international obligations undertaken by this State as a Party to the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Commission points out that the subscription by the State to this Convention represents an obligation erga omnes to all the other States of the hemisphere, that this State shall arrange its internal affairs in accordance with the principles recognized in this Convention to respect and guaranty civil and political rights.
The Commission declares its most emphatic rejection of these measures, which include the partial suspension of the Political Constitution, and the dissolution of the Congress, of the Supreme Court of Justice and of the Constitutional Court. The Commission demands the utmost respect for civil and political rights, especially the right to life, to liberty, and to personal integrity of all those within its territory.
The Commission expresses equally its most forceful repudiation of all threats or attempts against governmental or non-governmental defenders of human rights, and calls upon the authorities, particularly the military and security forces, to be respectful of them in these difficult times for the institutions and people of Guatemala.
The Commission recalls that representative democracy constitutes the sole guaranty for the effective enjoyment of human rights and is the foundation of the solidarity among the States of the Hemisphere, as the General Assembly has indicated repeatedly, reaffirming the principle established in the Charter of the Organization of American States.
Washington, D.C., May 25, 1993
On August 3 of this year, the Constitutional Congress of Peru resolved to introduce a provision in the new Constitution that adds the crime of terrorism to those subject to the death penalty under the 1979 Constitution. The new article provides that "the death penalty may only be invoked for the crimes of treason in the case of foreign war and terrorism, in accordance with the domestic laws and treaties to which Peru is party."
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is deeply disturbed by the decision taken by the Constitutional Congress, because it considers it to be directly contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights, Article 4 of which states, inter alia, that:
- The death penalty shall not be reestablished in states that have abolished it.
- In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political offenses or related common crimes.
- Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at the time the crime was committed, were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women.
The final clause of the new article in the Constitution states that the death penalty shall be applied "in accordance with the domestic laws and treaties to which Peru is party." For the Commission, that clause cannot possibly be reconciled with the terms of Article 4 of the American Convention.
Under Article 1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, Peru, as a State Party, is obliged to respect the rights and freedoms recognized therein and "to ensure to all persons subject to [its] jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights and freedoms." Under Article 27 of the Convention, the right to life cannot be suspended under any circumstances.
In Advisory Opinion OC 3/83 of September 3, 1983, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has found that the Convention does forbid extending the death penalty "to crimes for which it was not provided previously under the domestic law..."
For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the situation is even more serious when one considers that many cases of terrorism and treason are heard in summary proceedings and there is, therefore, the possibility that irreparable judicial errors can be committed and innocent people condemned.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes that the value of human life must prevail over all others. The death penalty is an extreme attack on human dignity and its application constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of the condemned person.
Washington, D.C., August 10, 1993
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States decided at its 83rd period of sessions to continue to give priority to the human rights situation in Haiti. With the consent of the Government of Haiti, and pursuant to the Agreement reached on Governors Island on July 3rd, 1993, the Commission will make a visit to Haiti to observe and assess the human rights situation.
The object of the visit is to continue to observe human rights in Haiti, and to evaluate the exercise of these rights in accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a party, and to make recommendations that the Commission considers to be necessary. This visit is also made pursuant to the prior resolutions issued by the ad-hoc Meeting of the Ministers of External Affairs, and the recent resolutions adopted by the Organization of American States at its 23rd General Assembly, held in Managua, in June of this year.
The Commission will be in Haiti from August 23rd to the August 27th, 1993, to assess the human rights situation in that country. The composition of the Commission's delegation follows: Professor Michael Reisman, Vice-President of the Commission, Ambassador Oliver Jackman, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Dr. Patrick Robinson, Secretariat staff - Executive Secretary Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, human rights specialists - Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, Dr. Relinda Eddie, Dr. Meredith Caplan, Maria Julia Meyer, administrative secretary, and M. Serge Bellegarde, interpreter of french and creole.
The acceptance of the Commission's visit by the Government of Haiti, guarantees that the Commission will be able to interview
people, groups, entities or institutions that it considers appropriate, and that no reprisals will be taken against persons who communicates with the Commission.
During the course of this mission, the Commission anticipates to interview and obtain information from officials, groups, and in particular representatives of the different sectors of the haitian society.
The Commission will follow the aforementioned structured calendar of activities. Throughout the visit, the Commission is counting on the cooperation of the representatives of the various entities who comprise the haitian society for a better understanding, of the reality of haitians in the domain of the rights of man.
The Commission's delegation will be staying at the Creole Villa Hotel, and the Commission's representatives will be at the disposal of all those persons who want to provide their information and individual complaints to them on Wednesday, August 25th, 1993, between the hours of 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Washington, D.C., August 16, 1993
Today a delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States concludes its visit to Haiti. The purpose of the visit was to continue observing the human rights situation in this country and to evaluate the fulfillment of those rights contained in the American Convention on Human Rights and to make recommendations the Commission considers necessary.
The IACHR delegation's visit was from 23rd to the 27th of August. The Delegation was composed of the following persons: Professor Michael Reisman, Vice-President of the Commission and head of the delegation, Ambassador Oliver Jackman, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Dr. Patrick Robinson, members of the Commission, Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Dr. Bertha Santoscoy Noro, principal human rights specialist, Dr. Relinda Eddie, and Dr. Meredith Caplan, human rights specialists and Mrs. Maria Julia Meyer, administrative officer, Mr. Serge Bellegarde of the OAS language services, and Mrs. Oliviere Bellande, both of whom served as French and Creole translators and interpreters.
The Commission is the principal organ of the OAS charged with reporting on compliance with human rights standards in the hemisphere. The seven members of the Commission, each serving a four year term, are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS in their individual capacity and not as representatives of governments. The authority of the Commission derives primarily from the American Convention on Human Rights to which Haiti has been a party since 1977. The Commission's jurisdiction extends to two categories of human rights problems. Petitions may be brought by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals whose rights are alleged to have been violated. But when large numbers of grave violations are occurring in a country, single petitions are unlikely to help. For such situations, the Commission may undertake on its own initiative, a country-study of human rights violations.
For both forms of jurisdiction, the Commission concludes by issuing a report to the General Assembly of the OAS and to the international community.
The Commission has a disturbingly large number of individual petitions from Haiti currently before it. Because of the general gravity of the human rights situation in Haiti, precipitated and in part aggravated by the military coup of 1991, the Commission issued a special report in 1992 and again in 1993. During this time, the Commission was repeatedly asked by the Permanent Council and the Extraordinary Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Ministers of the OAS to conduct an on-site visit in Haiti. On other occasions, the Commission has been asked by President Aristide, who has testified before it, to conduct an on-site visit. Unfortunately, each initiative by the Commission to arrange a visit to Haiti was either rebuffed or ignored by the de facto Government. Most recently, by letter of July 6, 1993, President Aristide requested the Commission to conduct an on-site investigation. By letter of July 19, 1993 then de facto Foreign Minister Benoit indicated the willingness of the de facto government to allow the Commission to conduct an on-site visit. The Commission promptly organized the current on-site investigation.
The authorities, on accepting the visit by the Commission, gave assurances that the Commission could interview freely and in private persons, groups, and organizations which the IACHR deemed pertinent, and that no reprisals would be taken against them.
During its stay, the IACHR delegation benefitted from the cooperation of representatives of organizations from various sectors of Haitian society in its efforts to gain a better understanding of the human rights situation in this country. The Commission met with the former de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Francois Benoit, Prime Minister Robert Malval, members of Parliament, Mr. Fermin Jean-Louis, President of the Senate, Mr. Turneb Delpé, Mr. Rony Modestin, and Mr. Ebrane Cadet, with the head of the Armed Forces, General Raoul Cedras, and his high command.
The delegation also met with members of the Presidential Commission, Father Antoine Adrien, and Mr. Chavannes Jean Baptiste. The delegation had talks with the Director of the OAS - UN Civil Mission, Ambassador Collin Granderson, who was accompanied by Mr. Ian Martin, the Director for Human Rights, Mr. William O'Neill, Deputy Director for Human Rights, Mr. Tiebile Dromé, Director of the Human Rights Investigation Section, and Ms. Maria Clara Martin, human rights investigator for the Mission.
The delegation also met with a number of human rights organizations and various representatives of political parties. It likewise met with journalists from the different media to learn about issues related to the freedom of expression. The delegation conducted interviews with union leaders, industrialists, members of the religious community, as well as other sectors of national life. The delegation also received individual complaints, information, and communications regarding human rights from persons from all social classes.
The delegation visited three prisons where it met with the respective penal authorities. These establishments were; the National Penitentiary, the Prison of St. Marc, and the Prison of Hinche.
The delegation obtained a great deal of information regarding arbitrary detentions, over-crowded prison conditions, mistreatment, and torture of prisoners at the time of arrest as well as unreasonable delays in bringing accused persons to court.
The delegation travelled to the interior of the country visiting the cities of St. Marc, Gonaives, and Hinche, where it received a great deal of information regarding abuses committed by agents of the army, by section chiefs and their henchmen. The delegation was informed that "militias" are creating a climate of fear among the rural inhabitants. According to those sources, paramilitary forces assault, rape women, and destroy homes with complete impunity.
The Commission received considerable information and assistance from the Civil Mission. Though it has a different mandate from that of the Inter-American Commission which operates under the American Convention, the Civil Mission's reports on human rights violations have been an extremely important source of information for the Commission. Moreover, reports from persons interviewed make clear, as indicated below, that the presence of the personnel of the Civil Mission in situations and places of high tension has on numerous occasions had a deterrent effect.
During its on-site visit, the Chamber of Deputies approved the President's nomination of M. Robert Malval as Prime Minister. The Commission views this as an important step in the reconstruction of a contitutional and popularly elected government. Nevertheless the overall picture of the human rights situation that emerged from testimony was discouraging. The Commission received information of manifold violations of human rights in Haiti. Much of it confirmed findings published by the Civil Commission and non-governmental organizations.
The Commission received numerous complaints which have the following common characteristics: First, the delegation heard repeated testimony that the rights of life, personal liberty, physical integrity and freedoms of expression, and assembly are being constantly violated. Second, the climate of fear and insecurity in the country, that has resulted, has prompted large scale internal movements of persons from the provinces to the Capital and vice versa, seeking to flee repression by the military. Many of these persons have abandoned their homes and families and frequently change living quarters at night to protect themselves.
In its visit to the countryside, witnesses were so fearful of reprisals by military and paramilitary forces that many insisted that their meetings with the Commission be held clandestinely. The pattern which emerged from testimony there was of intense physical abuse, sometimes of entire families suspected of being supporters of President Aristide. Many of these attacks led to severe injuries.
It was also pointed out that this phenomenon of violence was occurring in the cities carried out by large bands of armed men called "Zenglendos" who operate in a systematic manner committing crimes at night particularly in poor neighborhoods of the Capital, with the apparent acquiescence of the armed forces.
The situation of insecurity which is pervasive in the country has generated an additional human rights problem, namely, internal displacement. Citizens who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of the police or paramilitary forces fear to return to their homes. "Mawons" (in Creole, those in hiding), are said to number as many as 300,000 people.
Another grave problem which antedates the current crisis is the inordinate delay in processing people who have been arrested and detained within the criminal justice system. It is apparently not unusual for individuals to be kept in jail for as long as two years before they are even charged. This problem, which was brought to the attention of the Commission by many witnesses requires urgent attention, for long delays in the provision of due process violate the American Convention.
The Commission is convinced that the key and indispensable prerequisite - indeed, a conditio sine qua non- to repair the grave human rights situation in Haiti is the early reestablishment of the constitutional democratic government that was elected by the people of Haiti in the internationally supervised and certified elections of 1990, but which was ousted by the military coup of September 29, 1991. The coup d'etat was in itself a violation of the Convention. The proper remedy for such a violation is that its results be reversed. It is clear that, until legitimate, constitutional government is restored, fundamental change in Haiti cannot take place. Such change would necessarily involve:
a) a substantial improvement of the judicial system;
b) the separation of the military and the police, as envisaged in the national Constitution; and,
c) the professionalisation of the police force.
This would lay the groundwork for the reconstruction of the national economy and for the reentry of Haiti into the international economy, indispensable steps in the process whereby the citizens of the country may attain a life style consonant with the economic and social standards prescribed in the American Convention and the Covenants of the United Nations.
The implementation of Articles 2 and 3 of the Governors Island Agreement of July 3, 1993 is a welcome step. The suspension of the embargo, in accord with Article 4 of the same, will bring many economic benefits to Haiti. But "Governors Island" requires much more to be done. Moreover, it must be read in conjunction with the New York Agreement of July 16, 1993, which the Secretary General of the United Nations described as complementary to it. In the New York Agreement, the political parties and political forces in Haiti call for an end to arbitrary practices, illegal detentions, physical torture, disappearances, political assassinations, acts of personal vengeance, and the immediate release of all persons detained because of their political opinions. The Commission calls for the fullfillment of all of these commitments at the earliest time.
The New York Agreement calls, in section 4(i), for the enactment of a law for the establishment, organization and operation of a police force. The Commission is convinced that this is an important and urgent measure for the installation of an acceptable human rights regime. In order to facilitate it, the Commission would urge President Aristide and Prime Minister Malval to create immediately a Ministry responsible for the police headed by a civilian minister. The Ministry can begin to oversee the operations of the police, as currently structured, and can serve as a liaison with the United Nations technical training force called for in the Governors Island Agreement. It can also initiate the preparation of the primary and secondary legislation necessary to establish a separate police force. Early enactment and implementation of such legislation is required for the functioning of a police force which meets international standards.
Numerous complaints under the Convention about the system of maintenance of public order in the rural areas have been received by the Commission on this visit as well as in the past. So many complaints have been received that it is plain that over and above the need for individual remedies, this is a structural problem. Whatever the historic justifications for the system of chefs de section, it is apparent that a new system of public order in the countryside is urgently required.
The establishment of a separate, professional police force along with the restructuring of the public order system in the countryside must be accompanied by the disarming and demobilization of the various irregular groups that have formed. The Commission has received reports of the recrudescence of activities of various irregular armed groups in the tradition of the Ton Ton Macoute. Many of the reported violations are associated with these formations. Many witnesses insisted, and some submitted eye witness testimony, that the military was behind and responsible for these irregular forces. In any event, it is clear that the armed forces are obliged to stop the unauthorized use of violence in the state.
The Governors Island Agreement contemplates considerable international assistance for Haiti. The Commission believes such assistance is urgently required. In particular, the Commission believes that the life of the Civil Mission should be extended because it can supply much needed basic data on the political and human rights situation in Haiti, and by its mere presence, it can act as a retardant on unauthorized violence.
Similarly, the Commission feels that the introduction of internationally authorized police trainers and a military training program should be accomplished at the earliest possible moment.
The Commission listened with satisfaction to the assurances given by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces concerning his commitment to creating a peaceful climate throughout the country to allow for the return of Father Aristide.
The Commission is grateful for the cooperation it has received from the authorities and different sectors of the Haitian population which contributed to the success of the mission. The Commission intends to continue monitoring the human rights situation in Haiti.
Port-au-Prince, August 27, 1993
On Monday, September 6, 1993, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States will begin its on-site visit, with the consent of the Government of Guatemala, to monitor the general human rights situation there. The visit will last until Friday, September 10, and the participants will be Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, Chairman of the Commission, Professor Michael Reisman and Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, First and Second Vice-Chairmen of the Commission, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Ambassador Oliver Jackman and Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza.
During their visit, the Commission members will be assisted by Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Executive Secretary of the Commission, and by Dr. David Padilla and Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer. Mrs. Gabriela Hageman and Mrs. Gloria Hansen will provide administrative support.
During its on-site observation the IACHR will hold talks with authorities of the government and official institutions, representatives of agencies for the defense and promotion of human rights, individuals, members of representative institutions and persons who consider their human rights to have been violated and wish to lodge complaints with the Commission. The IACHR will receive such persons from September 6 through 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Hotel Princess auditorium so that they may present their cases.
The Commission will travel to the interior of the country, to the so-called "communities of populations in resistance" (CPR) in the Department of Quiché.
The Commission's visit is pursuant to the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights, an international treaty to which the Guatemalan State is a party, and those of the Commission's Statute and Regulations. Through those instruments, the Guatemalan government undertakes to grant guarantees to persons, groups and entities, and to furnish to the Commission all facilities necessary for monitoring the general human rights situation in the country (Article 58 and 59 of the Commission's Regulations).
At the end of the visit, the Commission will hold a press conference at the Hotel Princess on the evening of Friday, September 10.
Guatemala City, September 5, 1993
Today, September 10, 1993, ends the visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has been in Guatemala at the invitation of the Government to observe the situation of human rights in the country. The Commission consisted of Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, Chairman; Prof. Michael Reisman, and Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, First and Second Vice Chairmen, respectively, and members Dr. Marco Tullio Bruni Celli, Ambassador Oliver Jackman, and Dr. Leo Valladares. The Commission was assisted during its visit by the Executive Secretary, Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, and by Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, and Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer, the Secretariat's legal counsel. In addition, administrative support was provided by Mmes Gabriela Hageman and Gloria Hansen.
The Inter-American Commission met with the President of the Republic, Mr. Ramiro de León Carpio, and with Messrs Arturo Fajardo Maldonado, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Arnoldo Ortiz Moscoso, Minister of the Interior; Epaminondas González, President of the Court of Constitutionality; Juan José Rodil Peralta, President of the Supreme Court of Justice; General Mario Enríquez Morales, Minister of National Defense; Dr. Jorge Mario García Laguardia, the Human Rights Attorney; Edgar Tuna Valladares, the current Attorney General; Jorge Cabrera Hurtarte, Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH); the head officers of the Commission on Refugees and Displaced Persons (CEAR), the National Fund for Peace (FONAPAZ), and the National Institute for Agrarian Development (INTA); Mario René Cifuentes Echeverría, the General Director of the National Police; Dr. Alfonso Fuentes Soria, Rector of San Carlos University; Dr. Héctor Rosada, Chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Peace; and a special committee of the National Consensus Authority (Instancia Nacional de Consenso).
During its stay in Guatemala the Commission met with human rights institutions and organizations, and received persons and members of institutions representative of Guatemalan society, of religious, campesino and Indian groups, of refugees, displaced persons, returnees, trade unions, students, Resistance Communities (CPRs), and other groups.
Testimony and complaints were also received from persons and groups alleging violations of their human rights, which will be processed in due course in accordance with the standard rules and regulations that govern the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Commission traveled to areas in the departments of El Quiché and Huehuetenango, where it was able to meet with the authorities, organizations, members of Civilian Self-Defense Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, or C.V.A.C.), military installations, and natural persons desirous of presenting their cases and views on the human rights situation in their region. In Huehuetenango it visited Colotenango and neighboring communities, including La Cumbre and Granadillos. In El Quiché it visited Santa Cruz de El Quiché and San Pedro Jocopilas, and the areas of Ixcán, Polígono Catorce, and Playa Grande.
On the basis of its observation visit to the country last November the Commission wrote and has published the "Fourth Report on the Human Rights Situation" covering the period from 1991 to March 1993. This report has been widely circulated in the country. In its current visit the Commission has been able to establish the situation in Guatemala since that period, which it will describe in its next report.
The Commission notes that since last June the Government has taken the first steps toward improving some of the problem situations described in its Fourth Report: establishment of the primacy of the civilian jurisdiction and the Ministry of the Interior over problems of refugees and of violations by PACs; separation of the tasks of the police from those of the military; the assumption by civilian officers of command of the National Police, and the return of the supplanted military officers to their regular duties; enforcement of the instructions issued by the Ministry of the Interior that every house search must be authorized by a judicial order obtained by legal process; activation of the FONAPAZ and FONATIERRA programs, though limited to the solution of problems of refugees, displaced persons and returnees; the handling of the cases of settlements of displaced persons in accordance with the law; the promise to make easier the procedures for civilian and trade union association, which in the past were such as to strike at the freedom of association, in spite of which the Commission has received complaints that those procedures have not been effectively applied. In addition, COPREDEH has announced to the Commission that it has drawn up and proposed to the authorities a plan for improving the observance of human rights.
With these measures the Government has only begun to discharge its obligation to the country and the international community. This obligation requires it to take a clear stand on the grave problems that obstruct the full observance of human rights, set well-defined goals, and schedule policies for attaining them, and for compliance by all agencies of government without exception with the directives to be issued for that purpose.
The IACHR views with grave concern the existence of about half a million persons organized in military formations under the PACs (Civilian Self-Defense Committees), with a capability for armed action outside real government control. Wherever they operate they are a source of constant friction and human rights violations. What is more, the Commission considers it necessary that they be disbanded or reorganized under the rules and standards of democratic society. The experience of other countries shows that when the insurgencies that gave rise to them are past, these organizations, which are factors for chaos and illegality, can become a serious obstacle to domestic peace. There have been cases in which PACs have become ungovernable and have openly disobeyed orders of the judiciary and the police, and set up their own systems of justice, while those who are supposed to control them have refrained from abolishing and disarming them, and placing them at the disposal of a competent judge.
The Commission remains concerned at the preponderant role played by military personnel in key sectors of the civilian government. Clear-cut separation is required between the civilian and military authorities, and unequivocal subordination of the latter to the former.
The Commission has heard complaints of people being held prisoner in secret. On the basis of the evidence it has received, the Commission is able to say that there have indeed been cases of detainees who have not been treated in accordance with the country's laws and international commitments. The Commission must point out that all persons detained under criminal charges must be placed at the disposal of the competent courts. A government may protect itself from threats to its security, but must do so in a manner consistent with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Commission also wishes to state that it has received complaints indicating that in the last few months, despite the government's statements and efforts, there have been cases of arbitrary arrest, illegitimate deprivation of liberty, including isolation and torture, and executions without trial. Testimony and evidence obtained by the Commission suggest that those criminal acts were committed by government agents. Under the tensions that undoubtedly exist in Guatemalan society, and which the Commission examines in its chapter on socioeconomic and cultural rights in the Fourth Report, these individual attacks awaken new fears in the community and prevent the peaceful settlement of disputes that are a feature of all societies. It is an obligation of government to seriously investigate such cases and bring them to trial, and to take the necessary steps to prevent their recurrence. The Commission hopes that the cases in process and under investigation will be cleared up and those responsible punished.
Another matter of concern to the Commission is the arbitrary and discriminatory impressment of young men into military service. It has been noted that this problem is becoming acute in rural areas.
The existence of a national police, or of local police forces properly equipped and paid, is an essential condition for public safety and the guarantees that government must provide for its citizens. The announced autonomy and civil control of the National Police and the programs for the creation of municipal police forces must be reinforced by reallocation of the budgetary appropriations for the purpose.
During its visit the Commission contacted representatives of the Resistance Communities and received a wealth of information on them. In its Fourth Report the Commission agrees with local and international authorities and experts that the CPRs are civilian populations, but that they are still harassed by the Armed Forces, Civilian Patrols, and the authorities of neighboring communities. The evidence gathered on this trip corroborates the view of the IACHR. The Commission has been gratified to see that the inhabitants of the CPRs were able to hold a peaceful march to the capital city, the authorities granted a hearing to their petitions, and the marchers were accompanied by representatives of the Office of the Human Rights Attorney. Moreover, the Commission has received assurances from all authorities that the commercial and property rights of those inhabitants will be scrupulously respected and that they are willing to guarantee the same respect for their rights by the rest of the Guatemalan population.
The Commission also recalls that in exercising its legitimate right to confront and combat subversion a government must always respect the civilian population, its property and dignity. A government must observe the rules of humanitarian law if it expects the international community to have respect for its actions. The fact of abiding by humanitarian law in no way changes the present legal status of irregular armed bands, and it obliges such bands to obey its provisions for the protection of the civilian population. The Commission further points out that the American Convention does not permit any person or group to suppress or restrict the enjoyment or exercise of the rights and liberties recognized in it.
The Commission has also established that some CPR groups are being prevented from occupying lands of which they are the legally registered proprietors. The IACHR considers that respect for their right of ownership of those lands and to trade and engage in any legal activity would facilitate their complete, peaceful reinstatement into Guatemalan society and the enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
In light of the events of the last thirty years in Guatemala, the Commission recommends that the government give proper compensation to the victims of violations of human rights.
Since the turn of the year about ten thousand refugees have returned to the country either singly or in groups under the supervision and with the assistance of several local and international institutions. The Commission views this as an encouraging development, and it also wants to recognize the efforts being made by several government agencies to meet the more urgent needs of these people despite the scarcity of resources for the purpose. However, some returnees have told the IACHR that they have been subjected to intimidation in the areas where they have been settled. In the Commission's view, it is very important that the Guatemalan government continue the measures needed to facilitate the return and resettlement of these citizens, especially for the allocation of good land and monetary credit that will enable them to earn their own subsistence and live in dignity.
The IACHR wishes to note that the Office of the Human Rights Attorney of Guatemala has been a bulwark of the rights of Guatemalans since its inception. Its present autonomous organization and competence have proved effective against attacks at times when human rights were in greatest peril, and the Commission expects this Office to keep its functions and competence unchanged.
The Commission wishes to reiterate to the government of Guatemala its willingness to cooperate in consolidating full respect for fundamental rights in the country. The IACHR must also reassert its conviction that respect for economic, social and cultural rights must be a central factor in government policy, for they are essential to the full development of democracy.
Similarly, the Commission is fully convinced that peace is the keystone for the full enjoyment of human rights by the Guatemalan population.
The Commission wishes to express its appreciation to the government for the facilities provided for the performance of its mission, and thanks the authorities, the people who provided valuable testimony, and the various institutions representative of Guatemalan society that were interviewed, for their cooperation, facilities provided, and hospitality.
Guatemala City, September 10, 1993
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights resolutely condemns he acts of violence committed nu irregular armed groups operating with impunity in Haiti. These groups are selectively assassinating people who support the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristde and are using vandalism in an attempt to prevent Prime Minister Robert Malval's cabinet from taking office and operting.
The Commission deplores the repression carried out by agents of the Armed Forces in Haiti, known as "attachés", which has resurged since early September, and condemns the recent assassination of citizens of Haiti. According to information obtained by the IACHR, 12 people were killed in Canape Vert, Dalmás, Musseau, Carrefour and Carrefour Feuille, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
In addition, the Committee was informed of the assassination of Mr. Antoine Izmery, a personal friend of President Aristide and founder of KOMEVEB, or Comité Manos Juntas para el Estallido de la Verdad (the Communal Committee for Revelation of the Truth), which supports a return to democracy. The assassination of Mr. Izmery was perpetrated on September 11, 1993 by armed civilians who forced him to leave the Sacred Heart Church in Turgeau, where a mass was being said to commemorate the victims of the massacre in the church of San Juan Bosco on September 11, 1988.
The Commission expresses its concern at the threats made against Mr. Dante0. Caputo, the special envoy of the OAS/UN and interprets them as yet another attempt to destabilize the process of political negociations in Haiti.
During its on site visit to Haiti, from August 23 to August 27, 1993, the Delegation of the IACHR was told by General Raoul Cédras, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, that he would guarantee a climate of peace for the return of President Aristide. However, the resurgence of human rights violations in Haiti, and the passive role adopted by the Army and the Police in response to them, constitute a clear violation of the agreements reached in July,1993, on Governors Island and in the New York Pact.
The Commission calls upon the Armed Forces of Haiti to disarm and dimantle the armed civilian groups whose actions tend to frustrate the full restoration of democracy and of individual guarantees enshrined in the American Convention of Human Rights.
During its next session (October 5-15-1993), the Commission will once again review the human rights situation in Haiti, and the possibility of sending a Delegation before the end of October.
Washington, D.C., September 24, 1993
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is gravely concerned at the deterioration of the human rights situation in Haiti. Paramilitary groups known as "attachés" have killed dozens of persons in the Canape Vert, Delmas, Musseau, and Carrefour districts, where many supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide live.
Added to such alarming acts as the recent assassination of Mr. Antoine Izméry are the present violence and terrorism of those armed paramilitary groups, acting with complete impunity under armed forces protection. The latest tragic victim of this terrorism has been Minister of Justice Guy Malary, who was assassinated along with two of his bodyguards yesterday.
Since September, after Prime Minister Robert Malval was confirmed and after the embargo imposed by the United Nations and the Organization of American States was lifted, acts of violence have increased presumably aiming at preventing the new government from being installed and going into operation and blocking implementation of the agreements. A number of ministers of the new government have had to abandon their homes after receiving death threats. Some newly appointed officials are in hiding and have been unable to take charge of their offices.
Recently, groups of armed forces civilian auxiliaries took over the mass media, broadcasting threats against the United Nations Mission to Haiti (MINUHA) and demanding expulsion of Special Envoy Dante Caputo and resignation of Prime Minister Malval.
The Commission has been informed of the violent demonstrations organized by the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress (the FRAPH) and other paramilitary groups, designed to prevent the landing of the technical assistance mission for training the armed forces and the police, and to block access to the Port-au-Prince docks by OAS-UN observers and U.S. Embassy staff. During these demonstrations, acts of violence have been committed against journalists and diplomatic vehicles, and demonstrators have fired weapons into the air to frighten the people. These demonstrations have been protected and aided by the police, which even redirected traffic flows with the obvious intent of facilitating the demonstrators' passage.
The Commission strongly condemns the situation of violence prevailing in Haiti, which it perceives as provocation designed to prevent compliance with the Governors Island agreements concluded in July 1993 and the New York Accord that lifted the international embargo on August 27, 1993. The Haitian armed forces' failure to comply with those agreements has led the United Nations Security Council to reimpose the embargo.
The Commission considers that, although implementation of these agreements is being threatened by the violence and repression of the armed forces, it affirms that the agreements continue to be in effect for the international community, which can take whatever measures may be needed against the groups that are hampering full reestablishment of democracy and the individual guarantees protected by the American Convention on Human Rights.
Washington, D.C., October 15, 1993
On October 15, 1993, the 84th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was concluded. Attending were the Commission's President, Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, the First Vice President, Professor Michael Reisman, the Second Vice President, Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, and members Ambassador Oliver Jackman and Drs. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Leo Valladares Lanza and Patrick Robinson.
At this session, the Commission held hearings in which it received representatives of governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private individuals interested in the human rights topic. Testimony was heard on the general situation of basic rights in a number of states, and on individual cases now being processed by the Commission.
Regarding El Salvador, the Commission hearing received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that member country, who was accompanied by the Attorney General, the Principal Commissioner for Human Rights, the Director of Foreign Affairs of the Salvadoran Foreign Ministry, and the Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the Organization, who gave details on the human rights situation in El Salvador in the period following signature of the Peace Accords. The Salvadoran officials said that their Government invited the IACHR to make an on-site visit, which had been postponed in April of this year. The IACHR has followed with the greatest interest developments in human rights in El Salvador, and it accepted with pleasure the new invitation to visit that country. It decided to set the date for the trip and approve the program to be completed during that visit.
The Commission approved a Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador, and pursuant to article 62 of its Regulations, decided to remit it to the Government for comments.
The Commission considered the Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Colombia, drawn up from the on-site observation visits in December 1992 and May 1992, which had been sent to the Colombian Government sufficiently in advance so it would have time to submit its comments. The IACHR, after noting the comments of the Colombian Government, decided to publish the Report.
The Commission also approved a Report on the Situation on Human Rights in Peru, and decided to publish it. The Commission expressed its deep concern at the inclusion, in article 140 of the new constitution approved by the Democratic Constitutional Convention in Peru, of a rule expanding the number of cases in which the death penalty would be applied, in express contradiction to article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
The IACHR considered the situation of the Yanomanis Indians, who have been attacked repeatedly by groups of gold seekers. It also considered the case of the prisoner massacre in the Sao Paulo jail, in which 111 prisoners were killed by prison guards, and decided to request information from the Brazilian Government on the systematic killing of street children, in light of the information it has received that 650 children had been killed in 1992 alone. The Commission decided to request the Brazilian Government's permission to make an on-site visit to that member country.
The Commission hearing received the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua, Ambassador José Antonio Tijerino, who described the overall situation of human rights in that country.
The IACHR hearing also received the Permanent Representative of the Constitutional Government of Haiti, Ambassador Jean Casimir. The Commission deplores the violence occurring in Haiti and considers it to be an obvious act of provocation to prevent compliance with the agreements concluded on July 3 of this year on Governors Island, in New York City. In the Commission's view, these acts of vandalism and violence are intended to confuse the people and prevent the reestablishment of democracy and individual guarantees provided for in the American Convention on Human Rights. In view of the seriousness of the situation prevailing in Haiti, the Commission issued a press release on it.
During this session, the Commission considered with concern the unfavorable situation of human rights in Cuba, primarily because of the many restrictions on persons who disagree in any way with the regime ruling that country. Once again the IACHR calls on the Cuban Government to allow genuine freedom of expression and full reestablishment of a government of laws.
The situation of human rights in Guatemala also received attention by the Commission. Information obtained during its on-site visit in September of this year was reviewed, and it took cognizance of the Declaration on Human Rights issued by the Guatemalan Government on October 4, 1993.
The Commission continued to consider some of the issues that would be included in the draft inter-American instrument on human rights for indigenous peoples. On this subject, it took note of the Brazilian Government's reply on the rights that should be included in that instrument, and on the Chilean Government's recent passage of a law on the rights of aboriginal communities.
In compliance with the recommendations of the General Assembly, the Commission continued its analysis on the observance of economic, social and cultural rights and on the rights of minors in the hemisphere. The Commission has also begun an analysis of what repercussions there might be from the results of the United Nations Conference on Human Rights on the development and strengthening of the inter-American system.
The Commission also ordered preparation of an activities schedule for the promotion and dissemination of human rights in OAS member countries.
The Commission decided to request the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to adopt precautionary measures so the children of the married couple Juan Enrique Reggiardo and María Rosa Ana Tolosa, who disappeared during the military regime that took over in Argentina in 1976, should be placed under provisional guardianship in a foster home and be given adequate psychological treatment until the return of the children to their legitimate family is resolved.
The Commission also decided to ask the Inter-American Court for an advisory opinion on the following questions:
- When a State Party to the American Convention enacts a law manifestly in violation of its obligations under the Convention, what are the effects of such a law in terms of that State Party's international obligations?
- When a State Party to the American Convention enacts a law manifestly authorizing and/or requiring its officials to violate the Convention, what are the legal consequences and/or responsibilities of those officials?
Finally, the Commission decided to hold its next regular session January 31, to February 11, 1994
Washington, D.C., October 15, 1993