LEGAL BASES AND ACTIVITIES OF THE IACHR DURING 2009
A. Legal bases, functions, and powers
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR” or “Commission”) is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its mandate is prescribed in the OAS Charter, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Commission’s Statute. The IACHR is one of the two bodies in the inter-American system responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights; the other is the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, Costa Rica.
2. The IACHR consists of seven members who carry out their functions independently, without representing any particular country. They are elected by the OAS General Assembly for a period of four years and may be re-elected only once. The IACHR meets in regular and special sessions several times a year. The Executive Secretariat carries out the tasks delegated to it by the IACHR and provides legal and administrative support to the Commission in its pursuit of its functions.
3. In April 1948, in Bogotá, Colombia, the OAS adopted the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (“American Declaration”), the first international human rights instrument of a general nature. The IACHR was created in 1959 and met for the first time in 1960.
4. In 1961, the IACHR began a series of visits to several countries for on-site observations of the human rights situation. Since then, the Commission has made more than 105 visits to the Organization’s member states. Based in part on these on-site investigations, to date the Commission has published 82 country reports and special thematic reports.
5. In 1965, the IACHR was expressly authorized to examine complaints or petitions related to specific cases of human rights violations. By 2009, the Commission had received thousands of complaints, bringing the total number of cases and petitions to over 14,000. The final reports published by the IACHR on these individual cases can be found in its Annual Reports.
6. The American Convention on Human Rights (“American Convention”) was adopted in 1969 and came into force in 1978. As of December 2009, 24 member states were parties to the Convention: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The Convention defines the human rights that the ratifying States have agreed to respect and guarantee. The Convention also created the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and established the functions and procedures of the Court and of the Commission. In addition to examining complaints of violations of the American Convention committed by the instrument’s states parties, the IACHR has competence, in accordance with the OAS Charter and with the Commission’s Statute, to consider alleged violations of the American Declaration by OAS member states that are not yet parties to the American Convention.
7. The principal responsibility of the IACHR is to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the Americas. In fulfillment of that mandate, the Commission:
a) Receives, analyzes and investigates individual petitions alleging human rights violations pursuant to Articles 44 to 51 of the Convention, Articles 19 and 20 of its Statute, and Articles 22 to 50 of its Rules of Procedure.
b) Observes the general human rights situation in the member states and, when it deems appropriate, publishes special reports on the existing situation in any member state.
c) Conducts on-site visits to member states to carry out in-depth analyses of the general situation and/or to investigate a specific situation. In general, these visits lead to the preparation of a report on the human rights situation encountered, which is then published and submitted to the OAS Permanent Council and General Assembly.
d) Fosters public awareness of human rights in the Americas. To that end, the Commission prepares and publishes studies on specific subjects, such as measures that should be adopted to guarantee greater access to justice; the impact of internal armed conflicts on certain groups of citizens; the human rights situation of children, women, migrant workers and their families, people deprived of their liberty, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, and communities of African descent; racial discrimination; and freedom of expression.
e) Organizes and carries out visits, conferences, seminars, and meetings with representatives from governments, academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and other bodies, to disseminate information and promote a broader understanding of the work of the inter-American human rights system.
f) Makes recommendations to OAS member states for the adoption of measures that will contribute to the protection of human rights in the countries of the Hemisphere.
g) Requests that member states adopt “precautionary measures” in accordance with the provisions of Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, to prevent irreparable harm to human rights in grave and urgent cases. It can also request that the Inter-American Court order the adoption of “provisional measures” in cases of extreme gravity and urgency to prevent irreparable harm to persons, even if the case has not yet been referred to the Court.
h) Submits cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and appears in court during litigation.
i) Requests advisory opinions from the Inter-American Court in accordance with the provisions of Article 64 of the American Convention.
8. Any person, group of persons, or nongovernmental entity that is legally recognized in one or more OAS member states may petition the Commission with regard to the violation of any right protected by the American Convention, by the American Declaration, or by any other pertinent instrument, in accordance with the applicable provisions and its Statute and Rules of Procedure. Also, under Article 45 of the American Convention, the IACHR may consider communications from a State alleging rights violations by another State. Petitions may be filed in any of the four official languages of the OAS (English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese) by the alleged victim of the rights violation or by a third party, and, in the case of interstate petitions, by a government.
B. The Commission’s sessions in 2009
9. During the period covered by this report, the Commission met on four occasions: at its 134th regular session, from March 16 to 27, 2009; at its 135th regular session, from August 3 to 8, 2009; at its 136th special session, held in Argentina, on September 7 and 8, 2009; and at its 137th regular session, from October 28 to November 13, 2009. During 2009, the Commission approved a total of 62 admissibility reports, 15 inadmissibility reports, 4 friendly settlement reports, and 12 merits reports. It also held 89 hearings and 44 working meetings and approved the reform of its Rules of Procedure.
1. 134th Regular Session
10. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 134th regular session from March 16 to 27, 2009. During that session, it elected its board of officers, which was composed as follows: Luz Patricia Mejía as President, Víctor Abramovich as First Vice President, and Felipe González as Second Vice President. Its other members are Commissioners Paolo Carozza, Clare K. Roberts, Florentín Meléndez, and Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro; its Executive Secretary is Santiago Canton, and its Assistant Executive Secretary is Elizabeth Abi-Mershed.
11. At that regular session, the IACHR adopted reports on individual cases and petitions and held 37 hearings and 16 working meetings on individual petitions and cases, precautionary measures, and other general topics. It also approved the “Report on the Rights of Women in Chile: Equality in the Family, Labor, and Political Spheres,” and published the “Preliminary observations of the IACHR after the visit of the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination to the Republic of Colombia.”
12. During this session the IACHR also met with the Inter-American Court as part of the ongoing dialogue on the amendments to the rules of procedures of the inter-American system’s two organs. In addition, a dialogue between the Commission and the Court and the OAS member states was held on March 20.
13. During this session, the IACHR noted its concern at the continued use, in some of the region’s countries, of the military justice system to investigate and prosecute common crimes committed by members of the armed forces or police officers. The IACHR again states that military jurisdiction is exceptional by nature and must be used solely for crimes committed in the line of duty: in other words, conduct by members of the military on active service that affects legally protected military interests. States have the obligation to provide effective judicial recourse for victims of human rights violations, consisting, in all cases, of the criminal remedies available through the regular justice system, regardless of whether the violations to be judged were committed by members of the military or not.
14. At the same time, the IACHR noted its satisfaction at the creation of interinstitutional agencies for the implementation, at the domestic level, of the decisions and recommendations of the inter-American system’s organs. In addition, the IACHR expressed its pleasure at the willingness and disposition displayed by the parties at several working meetings held during this session on cases in which friendly settlement proceedings were being explored and, in general, at the progress made in recent months in complying with the decisions of the inter-American human rights system, including the acknowledgement of responsibility extended in specific cases by the States of Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama.
2. 135th Regular Session
15. The Inter-American Commission held its 135th regular session on August 3 to 8, 2009. Because this was a session for internal matters, the IACHR held no public hearings or working meetings. The Commission approved a total of 29 reports on petitions and cases: 19 on admissibility, three on friendly settlement arrangements, three on merits, and five for publication.
3. 136th Special Session
16. This special period of sessions was held in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 7 and 8, 2009. Over its two-day meeting, the Commission discussed and approved several cases and made progress with discussing and approving the amendments to its Rules of Procedure.
4. 137th Regular Session
17. The Inter-American Commission held its 137th regular session from October 28 to November 13, 2009. During this session, it adopted reports on individual cases and petitions and held 52 public hearings and 28 working meetings. The hearings addressed issues affecting all the region’s countries in general, along with topics specific to certain particular countries and subregions. At this session, the Commission held hearings on the impact of megaconstruction projects and indigenous peoples’ right of consultation; the criminalization of social protest and the situation of human rights defenders; freedom of expression, due process, and antiterrorist legislation; discrimination against ethnic groups and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people; maternal mortality and institutional violence against women; the right to education of people with disabilities; as well as other topics.
18. The IACHR expressed its pleasure at the willingness and disposition displayed by the parties at the working meetings held on cases in which friendly settlement proceedings were being explored, which enabled significant progress to be made, specifically, in cases involving Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, and Paraguay. In addition, it applauded the State of El Salvador’s recognition of its international responsibility in the case of the murder of Msgr. Óscar Arnulfo Romero and in four cases involving children who disappeared during the armed conflict, together with its express acceptance of the binding nature of the Inter-American Commission’s decisions.
this period of sessions, the IACHR received a high-level delegation from
the Government of Colombia, led by Vice President Francisco Santos.
Without prejudice to the information it received, the IACHR views as
extremely serious the intelligence activities carried out by Colombia’s
Administrative Security Department (DAS) in connection with judicial
officials, political leaders, human rights defenders, and an IACHR
Commissioner. The Inter-American Commission hopes that concrete actions
will be taken so that this situation is not repeated and so that those
responsible are identified and punished.
20. On September 9 to 11, 2009, the IACHR conducted an official visit to Argentina at the invitation of that country’s government, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Commission’s on-site visit in 1979. The numerous activities carried out included a series of panel sessions on the 1979 visit, with the participation of former Commissioners who were a part of the original delegation; they were joined by various other personalities, including representatives of the Executive Secretariat, who shared their experiences and views on the impact of that visit to Argentina.
21. In addition, a working session on the inter-American system was held with state officials; the IACHR met with civil society; and a visit was made to the Space for Memory (the former ESMA), where an event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the visit was organized, attended by the President of the Republic, at which plaques were unveiled in honor of the IACHR and, most particularly, in honor of the victims of state terrorism.
22. Luz Patricia Mejía, President of the Inter-American Commission, visited Bolivia on June 22 to 26 2009, in her capacity as Rapporteur on the Rights of Women. She was accompanied by two lawyers from the IACHR’s Executive Secretariat. The chief aim of the visit was to gather specific information at the national level on the main advances and challenges faced by women in exercising their economic, social, and cultural rights without discrimination. The visit was also intended to support compliance with one of the agreements contained in the friendly settlement of the case of MZ v. Bolivia, signed on March 11, 2008.
23. During the visit, the Rapporteur and her delegation met with ranking government officials, representatives of civil society organizations, and international experts, from whom they received valuable information on progress and challenges in the protection and promotion of women’s economic, social, and cultural rights in the Americas. In particular, information was received on women’s working conditions, educational possibilities, and access to resources.
24. On September 3 to 4, 2009, the IACHR made an official visit to Chile, at the invitation of that country’s government, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Inter-American Commission’s creation. During the visit, the IACHR met with ranking government officials and participated in a commemorative event organized by the President of Chile. The IACHR used the opportunity to reaffirm the currency of the inter-American human rights system’s ideals on the occasion of its 50th anniversary by signing the Declaration of Santiago de Chile. It also unveiled a commemorative plaque in the room where the creation of the Commission was agreed upon. Finally, in addition to meetings with various authorities, it held an academic seminar at Diego Portales University.
25. On November 25 and 26, 2009, Commissioner Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, in his capacity as Rapporteur on the Rights of Children, made a two-day visit to Chile at the invitation of the Chilean Network of Childhood and Youth NGOs and with the support of UNICEF. The purpose of the visit was to promote the IACHR’s report on “Corporal Punishment and the Human Rights of Children and Adolescents.” The Rapporteur presented the report to a range of bodies, including: La Frontera University, in the city of Temuco, where he also met the rector and representatives of the Citizens’ Observatory, of the Ethical Commission against Torture, and the Network of Childhood and Youth NGOs; and the Law School of Andrés Bello University in Santiago, at a colloquium that was attended by representatives of various international agencies, including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Defense of the Rights of Children and Adolescents.
26. During his visit Rapporteur Pinheiro also met with the representative of UNICEF in Chile, and he attended the municipality of Prado’s launch of its guidebook Violence Hurts Families, published by the Chilean government’s Solidarity and Social Investment Fund (FOSIS) and UNICEF.
27. From June 7 to 12, 2009, Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, in his capacity as Rapporteur for Guatemala and Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, led an IACHR delegation to that country. The visit’s purpose was to gather information on the human rights situation in Guatemala, particularly regarding the status of the investigations into the serious human rights violations committed during the armed conflict and the prosecution of those responsible, the situation of indigenous peoples’ rights, and the situation of human rights defenders.
28. The visit also involved working meetings on the implementation of precautionary measures and recommendations in a number of specific cases. Among the activities carried out was a regional meeting for Central America on “The duty of protecting the property rights of indigenous peoples in the inter-American human rights system,” which was held on June 7 and was attended by noted experts from Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador.
29. Commissioner Abramovich also presented, in Guatemala City, the report Access to Justice as a Guarantee of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: A Review of the Standards Adopted by the Inter-American System of Human Rights.
30. During this visit to Guatemala, the Rapporteur visited the indigenous community of Río Negro and also went to Pcoxom, Pacux, and Rabinal, to meet with relatives and survivors of the massacres inflicted on the inhabitants of Río Negro. He also met with several organizations representing victims of the area’s internal armed conflict.
31. The IACHR made a working visit to Haiti on May 24 to 29, 2009. The delegation was led by Commissioner Sir Clare K. Roberts in his capacity as Rapporteur for Haiti. The main aim of the visit, which was carried out in conjunction with UNICEF, was to gather information on public security and juvenile criminal justice in the country.
32. The delegation met with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), the Minor Protection Division of the National Police, the central directorate of the Judicial Police, the Prisons Administration, prison officers, and the Citizens’ Protection Office. It also met with two members of the Juvenile Court. In addition, the delegation visited the headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and met with local and international NGOs active in public security and juvenile criminal justice issues in Haiti. The delegation also held a conference on the IACHR and the inter-American human rights protection system at the State University in Port-au-Prince.
33. During this working visit, the delegation visited the Haitian National Penitentiary, the Delmas Police Station, the Delmas Detention Center for Minors, the Pétion-Ville Women’s Prison, and the Le Carrefour Shelter for children in Port-au-Prince. On May 27, 2009, the delegation traveled to the city of Gonaïves where it met the Government Commissioner, the Chief of Police, and representatives of civil society. It visited the police station there, which, following a fire at the local prison in 2004, is being used to house detainees and in connection with which the IACHR granted precautionary measures in June 2008.
34. The IACHR made an on-site visit to Honduras on August 17 to 21, 2009, following which it presented its preliminary comments. The delegation comprised the President of the IACHR, Luz Patricia Mejía Guerrero; its First Vice President, Víctor Abramovich; its Second Vice President and Rapporteur for Honduras, Felipe González; Commissioner Paolo Carozza; and Executive Secretary Santiago A. Canton. The IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero, was also a part of the delegation. The aim was to observe the human rights situation following the coup d’état of June 28, 2009.
35. During the visit, the IACHR met with representatives of the de facto government and of different sectors of civil society, and it received more than a hundred people who submitted complaints, statements, and information. The delegation visited the cities and towns of Tegucigalpa, Tocoa, San Pedro Sula, El Paraíso, and Comayagua.
36. As a result of this on-site visit, the IACHR was able to confirm the existence of a pattern of disproportionate use of public force, arbitrary arrests, and control of information intended to restrict political participation by a segment of the public. The Commission noted the repression of demonstrations through the installation of military checkpoints, the arbitrary enforcement of curfews, arrests of thousands of people, cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and poor detention conditions.
37. On July 24 to 29, 2009, Commissioner Felipe González, in his capacity as Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, along with two attorneys from the Executive Secretariat, made a visit to detention centers in the U.S. states of Arizona and Texas. During the visit, the IACHR’s delegation visited two shelters for unaccompanied minors, a family detention center, and three adult detention centers. The delegation also met with representatives of civil society organizations that work with migration issues in the United States. The purpose of the visit was to gather information from detention officials, detainees, and representatives of civil society organizations regarding the enforcement of immigration rules, detention conditions, and due process issues in the United States. This information will be incorporated in the report that the IACHR is currently preparing on the subject.
At the end of
the visit, the Rapporteur concluded that in spite of certain recent
adjustments to the immigrant detention system in the United States, many
of the men, women, and children at the centers he visited were being held
in unacceptable conditions and that in many cases, their right to due
process has been violated. The Rapporteur’s office has issued its
preliminary observations on the visit, identifying areas of concern in the
policies and practices of the United States regarding the enforcement of
rules, detention conditions, and due process.
D. Thematic and Country Reports
39. During 2009, the Inter-American Commission published the following thematic reports:
- Report on the Rights of Women in Chile: Equality in the Family, Labor, and Political Spheres.
- Preliminary observations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights after the visit of the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination to the Republic of Colombia.
- The Right of Women in Haiti to be Free from Violence and Discrimination.
- Follow-up report on the 2007 report titled Access to Justice and Social Inclusion: The Road Toward Strengthening Democracy in Bolivia.
- Follow-up report on the report titled Violence and Discrimination Against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia, of October 18, 2006.
- Report on Citizen Security and Human Rights.
- Captive Communities: Situation of the Guarani Indigenous People and Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Bolivian Chaco.
- The Duty of Protecting Indigenous Community Ownership of Lands, Territory, and Natural Resources: Study of the Standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System. Guidelines on the State Duty of Consulting about Development Projects that could affect the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
40. In addition, over this year the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved the following reports on the situation of human rights in specific countries in the region:
- Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d’État on the Situation.
and Human Rights in Venezuela.
1. Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
41. For the entities of the inter-American system, the respect and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples is a matter of special importance. In 1972, the Commission maintained that for historical reasons, and for moral and humanitarian principles, States had a sacred compromise to provide special protection for indigenous peoples. In 1990, the Commission established the Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the purpose of focusing special attention on indigenous peoples in America who are particularly exposed to human rights violations because of their vulnerability, and to strengthen, give impetus and organize the Commission’s activities in the area.
42. Since the 1980s, the Commission has systematically spoken on the rights of indigenous peoples in special reports; and through the case system, in admissibility reports, in-depth reports, reports on friendly settlements, the mechanism of precautionary measures, as well as through orders and requests for provisional measures filed with the Inter-American Court.
43. In that sense, the Commission has expressed the need to demand special protection of the right of indigenous peoples to their lands, because the full exercise of that right not only implies the protection of an economic unit, but also the protection of the human rights of a community whose economic, social and cultural development is based on its relationship to the land. In the 1993 Report on the Human Rights Situation in Guatemala, the Commission stated:
From the standpoint of human rights, a small corn field deserves the same respect as the private property of a person that a bank account or a modern factory receives.
44. The entities of the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights have developed progressive laws that recognize the collective rights of indigenous peoples. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reiterates its concern with the difficulties in the implementation of its recommendations, as well as with compliance with judgment and provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in cases where the victims are indigenous peoples. To that end, the Commission encourages the States to redouble their efforts to comply with the decisions of inter-American institutions concerning indigenous peoples. In that way, not only are specific groups of people recognized, protected and made whole but also a special way of life and the human diversity inherent in societies in the American continent are respected.
45. During 2009, the office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, under Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, continued with its support activities within the individual petitions system and in studying and processing precautionary measures, cases, and communications involving the rights of indigenous peoples and/or of their members. It also continued to provide advice at public and private hearings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in cases involving the rights of indigenous peoples.
46. During the visit to Guatemala of June 7 to 12, 2009, the Rapporteur attended working meetings on the implementation of precautionary measures and on the cases of Maurilia Coc Max et al. (Massacre of Xaman), Angélica Jerónimo Juárez, Massacre of Los Josefinos Village, Édgar Fernando García, and Óscar David Hernández Quiroa.
47. At the same time, the office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was working on the preparation of a regional study into “The duty of state protection of the property rights of indigenous peoples with emphasis on the right of consultation and prior consent.” With the aim of sharing experiences and receiving contributions for that report, on June 7, 2009, in Guatemala City, the Rapporteur’s office organized a regional meeting for Central America and Mexico that was attended by experts from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, and various international agencies. In pursuit of that same goal, the Rapporteur’s office prepared a questionnaire on best practices, legislation, jurisprudence, public policies, and the obstacles facing the property rights of indigenous peoples; this questionnaire was sent to the States on August 7, 2009, and broadly disseminated by e-mail among indigenous peoples, indigenous organizations, and civil society, as well as being published on the IACHR’s web page.
48. In addition, it informed the State of Bolivia of the IACHR’s adoption of the report Captive Communities: Situation of the Guarani Indigenous People and Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Bolivian Chaco.
49. On July 15, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office participated in the public hearing before the Inter-American Court to oversee compliance with its judgment in the Case of the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community v. Paraguay. At the hearing, the IACHR submitted its comments on the implementation of the merits, reparations, and costs judgment in this case.
50. On October 5 and 6, 2009, the Rapporteur attended the seminar on “Challenges in implementing International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 in Chile,” at which it gave a lecture on “The rights of indigenous peoples in the inter-American human rights system.” The seminar was organized by the Human Rights Center of Diego Portales University, the Council of Atacameño Peoples, Lafkenche Territorial Identity, the Mapuche Working Group for Collective Rights, the Citizens’ Observatory, and the Regional Office for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean / UNESCO Santiago. On that same date, the Rapporteur gave a speech on the topic at the University of Chile.
51. Similarly, attorney Juan Pablo Albán represented the Rapporteur’s office at a conference on the inter-American human rights system and the rights of indigenous peoples, held on September 25 in Lima, Peru, and organized by the Bar Association of Lima. Then, on September 26 to 28, he attended a workshop organized by the Social Action Office of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference (CEAS), at which he gave lectures on the right of consultation of indigenous peoples, jurisprudence of the IACHR on the rights of indigenous peoples, and jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples.
52. The Rapporteur’s office continued to advise the chair of the Working Group to Prepare the Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Attorney Isabel Madariaga, a specialist with the Rapporteur’s office, attended several meetings with the chair of the Working Group, and with representatives of OAS member states’ delegations, to prepare the negotiation meetings that were held during December 2009 and were attended by indigenous representatives from across the Americas.
53. As a part of this process, the Rapporteur’s office assisted with the seminar, held at OAS headquarters on November 9 and 10, that was organized to update and systematize its information on the rights of indigenous peoples in the Hemisphere. It is also hoped that this exercise will allow a better understanding of the concepts reflected in the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
54. On September 18, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office was joined by three attorneys as recipients of the Indigenous Peoples Fellowship – Maurilio Santiago, from the Mixtec people of Mexico, Helga Tzicap, of the Maya people of Guatemala, and Miriam Liz, of the Nasa people of Colombia – all of whom were chosen through a public competition and selection process. In addition, on September 10, 2009, the IACHR published a call for candidates to hire a specialist in human rights and indigenous law to work at the Rapporteur’s office, replacing attorney Leonardo Alvarado.
2. Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women
55. The office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, under Commissioner Luz Patricia Mejía, continued work on three initiatives to gather qualitative and quantitative information intended to identify the main progress made and challenges facing women in the discrimination-free exercise of their rights in the areas of political participation, reproductive rights, and economic and social rights. Those three projects are supported by the governments of Finland and Spain and will conclude with the publication of thematic reports. The Rapporteur’s office also continued with its support activities in the individual petitions system and in studying and processing precautionary measures, cases, and communications involving women’s rights.
56. On April 28 and 29, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office participated at the public hearing in the Case of Claudia Ivette González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico, held in Chile. This is the first case taken before the Inter-American Court to deal comprehensively with matters relating to the rights of women. The petitioners in the case alleged that the Mexican State committed a series of human rights violations through irregularities and inconsistencies in investigating the disappearance and deaths of three women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. During the visit to Chile, the Rapporteur’s office gave a lecture on progress in jurisprudence on women’s rights at the Law School of Diego Portales University; held on April 30, it was attended by representatives of the school and by students from different areas.
57. As a part of the reproductive rights project funded by Spain, on May 6, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office organized a third subregional workshop to address the question of access to information about reproductive matters from a human rights perspective. This event was attended by renowned experts on the topic from around the region and by the IACHR’s office of the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
58. On May 13, 2009, the IACHR presented its Report on the Rights of Women in Chile: Equality in the Family, Labor, and Political Spheres, which concludes that the problem of discrimination is one of the main obstacles women face in obtaining effective protection and observance of their rights. The report was prepared on the basis of the working visit made by the Rapporteur’s office in 2007.
59. On May 18, 2009, the IACHR presented its report on The Right of Women in Haiti to be Free from Violence and Discrimination, produced from information gathered during visits to Haiti in 2004, 2006, and 2007, as well as other sources. The report states that in addition to its connections with acts of violence, discrimination has placed women in positions of disadvantage in the fields of economic endeavor, education, health, justice, employment, and decision-making. The IACHR believes that the problem of discrimination against women must be addressed from a multidisciplinary and intersectoral perspective that seeks to incorporate gender-equality provisions in all areas of government.
60. The Rapporteur’s office also visited Bolivia from June 22 to 26, 2009, to gather specific national-level information about the main progress made and challenges facing women in exercising their economic and social rights without discrimination.
61. As part of the visit to Bolivia, on June 26, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office participated at a workshop to follow up on the friendly settlement agreement reached in the case of MZ v. Bolivia. The case deals with the failures of due diligence by the justice system in punishing the man who sexually attacked her, arising from discriminatory gender-based prejudices. In the friendly settlement report, the State acknowledged its international responsibility for violating MZ’s rights as protected by the American Convention and the Convention of Belém do Pará, in particular as regards the right of all women to a life free from violence and the State’s obligation to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, and punish such acts. In addition, the State agreed to take steps to avoid a recurrence of such incidents and to provide training for officials of the judiciary. The purpose of the workshop held on Friday, June 26, was to train judicial officials of both sexes and at all levels in matters relating to violence and discrimination against women. The workshop was attended by some 250 representatives of the government, the justice system, civil society, and international agencies.
3. Rapporteurship on the Rights of the Child
62. The office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, under Commissioner Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, has continued with its promotional work and with publishing reports addressing the various forms of violence faced by children and adolescents in the Americas. Thus, as provided for in the cooperation agreement signed by the IACHR and the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), working visits and subregional consultations were held to gather information on the topic of youth justice in the Americas, for the report on that subject being prepared by the IACHR.
63. Specifically, two subregional consultations were organized in March 2009: one for the nations of Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, held in San José, Costa Rica, on March 2 and 3, and another for the Andean nations and Brazil, held in Bogotá, Colombia, on March 5 and 6. The two consultations focused on the question of public security as well as on juvenile justice systems and human rights.
64. The Rapporteur’s office led visits to the Caribbean and met with government officials and NGOs from Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Haiti. Detention centers for minors in all those countries were also visited, to gather information for the thematic report on juvenile justice in the Americas. In addition, a subregional consultation on youth justice in the Eastern Caribbean and The Bahamas was organized in May, with the assistance of the UNICEF subregional office. That consultation was attended by Rapporteur Pinheiro and by representatives of the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
65. Between August and October, the Rapporteur’s office continued to organize regional and expert consultations to collect material for the report on juvenile criminal justice and human rights. The final regional consultation was held on August 31 in Washington, D.C., and was attended by 50 participants from the United States and Canada. In addition, on September 29 in Montevideo, Uruguay, and on October 23 in Washington, D.C., two meetings were held with experts on juvenile criminal justice in the Americas and Caribbean. Those meetings were shown the report’s table of contents, introduction, and conclusions from each of the chapters.
66. Further to the activities related to the report on human rights and juvenile criminal justice, the Rapporteur’s office gave a paper in Mexico at the Seminar on Justice for Adolescents, held on April 1 and organized by the Human Rights Commission of the Federal District, the Government of the Federal District, the Superior Court of Justice of the Federal District, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
67. In August 2009, the report Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents was published, in Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
68. On September 14, the Rapporteur’s office gave a paper on “The right to food of children aged under two in the inter-American system,” as part of a technical consultation organized by the United Nations World Food Programme and other agencies of the UN system. This consultation, held in Panama, addressed the impact of the international crisis and the right to food among highly vulnerable groups, specifically children aged under two, in Latin America and the Caribbean.
69. As part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the IACHR and during the September visit to Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rapporteur Pinheiro met with children’s rights organizations to exchange ideas and information on priority child-related issues in the two countries. In Chile, at the invitation of the Children and Youth Chile network of NGOs and with the support of UNICEF, the Rapporteur attended meetings and events organized by UNICEF Chile, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Defense of the Rights of Children and Adolescents, and the Chilean Government’s National Children’s Service (SENAME) and Solidarity and Social Investment Fund (FOSIS). The Rapporteur was also received by the Minister Secretary General of the Presidency and the Coordinating Minister for Indigenous Affairs, to whom he presented the Report on Corporal Punishment. The Minister informed the Rapporteur about various issues related to the coordination of indigenous affairs in Chile, and the Rapporteur provided the Minister with information received by the IACHR and during the visit related to acts of violence involving children and adolescents in the Araucanía area between June 2008 and October 2009. The Rapporteur said it was important that the Government of Chile guarantee the protection of the rights of indigenous Mapuche children and adolescents in that region, regardless of whatever tensions that might exist.
70. Between September 22 and 25, the Rapporteur was the main speaker at the 20th Pan-American Child Congress, held in Lima, Peru, and organized by the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) and the Government of Peru. During that event, he also visited projects and met with the regional office of the Swedish organization Save the Children, Plan International, and UNICEF, as well as networks of organizations working with children. In addition, the Rapporteur attended a conference on corporal punishment and a round-table discussion on children’s rights. The Rapporteur also met with the Prime Minister of Peru, the President of Congress, the Minister responsible for family affairs and the rights of children. He also met with the United Nations Special Representative for Violence against Children and with the Director of UNICEF-TACRO, to exchange information and study possible cooperation mechanisms for developing joint strategies for a six-month plan on violence against children in the region and on following up on the recommendations set out in the reports published by the Rapporteur’s office.
71. As part of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rapporteur gave a paper at the Regional Conference on Protecting Refugees and International Migration in the Americas, organized by the UNHCR, the IOM, and the OAS. The topic of his address was protecting unaccompanied children in the context of migration. In addition, during his time in Costa Rica and in coordination with the PANIAMOR Foundation and that country’s National Children’s Trust (PANI), Commissioner Pinheiro presented the thematic report on corporal punishment and the human rights of children and adolescents, recently published by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Among the participants were representatives of the national rights promotion and protection systems of Guatemala, Paraguay, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, and Costa Rica. Finally, Commissioner Pinheiro participated at the colloquium on the Report on Juvenile Justice Systems and Human Rights organized by UNICEF, the Paniamor Foundation and Costa Rica’s National Commission for Improving the Administration of Justice (CONAMAJ). The preliminary conclusions of the thematic report on juvenile criminal justice were presented at that meeting.
72. The Rapporteur gave presentations on the Report on Corporal Punishment and the Human Rights of Children and Adolescents, as well as preliminary views on the Report on Juvenile Criminal Justice at several meetings and conferences in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Panama.
4. Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty
73. In January 2009, Rapporteur Florentín Meléndez attended a Central American seminar on protection against torture, held in Guatemala City. In February 2009, he spoke at an international congress in Cartagena, Colombia, on the use of the inter-American system by Latin America’s ombudsmen.
74. On April 24, 2009, the Rapporteur and an attorney from the Executive Secretariat visited the Mendoza Provincial Penitentiary and the Gustavo André Penal Farm, in the Argentine province of Mendoza, in order to view current conditions at those facilities and the level of compliance with the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2004. In doing so, they noted that in spite of some progress made following the provisional measure order, the situation that gave rise to those measures was still essentially the same.
75. During their visit, working meetings were held with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mendoza Provincial Government, including the Governor, the Under Secretary for Justice, the Director of the Provincial Prison System, the provincial government’s Director for Human Rights, sentencing judges, civil servants, and professional and security staff from the two centers that were visited. They also held a working meeting with the petitioners who had sought the provisional measures. To carry out this visit, the Rapporteur received support and cooperation from the Argentine Government, the Government of Mendoza, and the petitioners who had sought the provisional measures.
76. During the visit, the Rapporteur also spoke at the Seminar on Human Rights for Argentine Sentencing Judges, held at the National University of Mendoza. On that occasion, the Government of Mendoza published a pocket edition of the IACHR’s Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, copies of which were distributed among the sentencing judges and prison officials from Mendoza. The IACHR notes its gratitude for this valuable contribution to the dissemination of those principles made by the Government of Mendoza.
77. The Rapporteur also visited the Republic of Uruguay on May 6 to 8, where he attended the 4th Congress of Mercosur Public Defenders and gave a lecture on “Principles and good practices regarding the rights of people deprived of their liberty in the Americas.” In Montevideo, the Rapporteur visited the National Rehabilitation Center, the Santiago Vásquez Prison Complex, and the Medio Camino Home for Women. During his stay he held working meetings with the Foreign Minister, the Minister of the Interior, the National Prison System Director, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Prisons, the National Public Defense Director, and with civil servants, prison officers, and technical and professional staff.
78. On November 12, 2009, Commissioner Florentín Meléndez gave the OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs a detailed report on his five years as Rapporteur on the Rights of People Deprived of their Liberty.
79. The Rapporteur’s office worked on updating the information contained on its web page and on the publication, on paper and on the IACHR’s web site, of the Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas in the four official languages of the OAS (English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish). That document was adopted by the IACHR by means of Resolution 1/08 on March 13, 2008.
5. Special Rapporteurship on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination
80. The office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination, under Commissioner Sir Clare K. Roberts, continued its efforts to promote the recognition of and respect for the rights of people of African descent in the region. During this period, the Rapporteur’s office continued to advise the Executive Secretariat in assessing petitions and requests for precautionary measures involving racial discrimination and/or the situation of Afro-descendants in the Americas.
81. The Rapporteur attended the Conference on the Durban Process, held in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 20 to 24, 2009. In addition, Rapporteur Roberts gave a presentation at a side event on “People of African Descent: Assessing the Progress since Durban and the Way Forward.” In his presentation, the Rapporteur described the work of the IACHR since the creation of this thematic rapporteurship in 2005 for encouraging the countries of the Americas to recognize the existence of their population of African descent and the persistence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, pursuant to paragraph 33 of the Declaration and Program of Action of Durban.
82. Throughout the year, the Rapporteur’s office continued to provide technical assistance to the CAJP Working Group charged with drafting a new regional instrument, the Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination.
83. In May 2009, the Inter-American Commission published its comments on the visit made by Rapporteur Sir Clare K. Roberts to the Republic of Colombia. The document states that Colombia’s population of African descent is characterized by a history of invisibility, exclusion, and social and economic disadvantage that undermines the enjoyment of basic rights. The report also applauds the various legislative and administrative initiatives and measures taken by the State of Colombia to ensure respect for the human rights of its Afro-Colombian people; it also underscores the need for those initiatives to have a long-term commitment from the State and additional financial resources to ensure their full implementation, and the need to implement complementary public policies and specialized mechanisms for guaranteeing that Colombians of African descent can fully enjoy their basic rights and freedoms.
84. On September 16, 2009, the specialist attorney from the Rapporteur’s office gave a presentation at the training workshop “Increasing the participation and influence of people of African descent in the Organization of American States and the Summits of the Americas Process,” which was organized by the Global Rights organization and the OAS Department of International Affairs and was attended by 17 activists of African descent from across the Hemisphere.
85. The Rapporteur’s office continued to provide technical assistance to the Working Group of the OAS Permanent Council’s Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs charged with drafting a new regional instrument, the Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.
86. During the 137th period of sessions, and further to the IACHR’s preliminary observations after the visit of the Rapporteurship on the rights of Afro-descendants and against racial discrimination to the Republic of Colombia, a hearing was held on the situation of the Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and campesino communities of northern Cauca.
6. Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families
87. During 2009, the office of the Rapporteur on the rights of migrant workers and their families, under Commissioner Felipe González, continued with its activities in support of the individual petitions system and in studying and processing precautionary measures, cases, and communications involving the rights of migrants and their family members.
88. The Rapporteur’s office also continued its investigations into detention conditions and the right of due process of immigrants in the United States with a view to publish a thematic report . In January, a delegation from the Rapporteur’s office met with immigration attorneys and detained immigrants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to discuss topics related to the treatment of detainees, mental health issues, and transfer policies; other subjects addressed included the treatment of unaccompanied minors and their due process rights.
89. Between July 20 and 24, a delegation from the Rapporteur’s office visited two unaccompanied minor shelters, a family detention facility, and three adult detention facilities, and it met with various representatives from civil society organizations that work with immigration issues in the United States. The delegation, headed by the Rapporteur, visited the Southwest Key Unaccompanied Minor Shelter (Phoenix, Arizona), the Florence Service Processing Center (Florence, Arizona), Pinal County Jail (Florence, Arizona), the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center (Taylor, Texas), the Willacy Detention Center (Raymondville, Texas), and the International Education Services (IES) Unaccompanied Minor Shelter (Los Fresnos, Texas). The delegation from the Rapporteur’s office also met with representatives of civil society organizations working on immigration issues in Arizona and Texas. Following the visit, the Rapporteur’s office published its preliminary observations on July 28, 2009.
90. In addition, on October 2, 2009, a delegation from the Rapporteur’s office met with authorities from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to present its comments on the visits made to immigrant detention centers during July. In response, ICE gave the delegation a presentation on the new administration’s plans to reform the detention regime for adult immigrants and families in the United States. On October 22, 2009, the Rapporteur’s office held another meeting with ICE authorities to hear about changes to the 287(g) Program, which allows state police forces to implement federal immigration laws.
91. Between September 16 and 20, 2009, Mark Fleming, specialist attorney with the Rapporteur’s office, attended the 3rd Hemispheric Conference on Migration Policy in Quito, Ecuador. At that event, he gave a presentation on the concept of inter-American citizenship and the progress made with protecting migrants through the jurisprudence of the inter-American system.
92. In November 2009, the Rapporteur’s office attended the Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in the Americas: Protection Considerations in the Context of Mixed Migration, organized by the UNHCR in San José, Costa Rica. The specialist attorney from the Rapporteur’s office was responsible for providing the thematic introduction to the working group on “Identifying and providing international protection for asylum seekers and refugees.”
7. Human Rights Defenders Unit
93. During 2009, the Human Rights Defenders Unit, under Commissioner Paolo Carozza, noted several situations of concern related to the work of human rights defenders in the region. These included killings of indigenous and trade-union leaders; various bids to criminalize social protest in some of the region’s countries; and the tapping of the telephone communications of various bodies, including human rights organizations, by the Administrative Security Department in Colombia.
94. At the same time, the Unit continued preparing the follow-up report on the Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, which was approved on March 7, 2006. For this, the Unit distributed questionnaires to the member states in late 2008 and among civil society in early 2009, seeking to gather information about the implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2006 report and about new obstacles faced by human rights defenders in their work. The Unit is analyzing the responses received with a view to including that information in the follow-up report.
95. A specialist attorney from the Unit attended the International Forum on the Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders and Social Protest, which took place in the city of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico, on April 19 to 21.
96. The Defenders’ Unit also jointly organized, along with the FIDH and the OMCT, the Second Meeting of Protection Mechanisms for Human Rights Defenders, which took place October 21 to 22, 2009, at OAS headquarters. Those who participated for the IACHR included Commissioner Paolo Carozza, Executive Secretary Santiago Canton, and attorney Angelita Baeyens, the specialist who provides the Unit with staff support. Also present were the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya; the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders for the African system, Reine Alapini-Gansou; and representatives of various organizations that focus on the protection of human rights defenders from different regions of the world.
F. Other events and activities
Inter-American Human Rights Treaties
97. In relation to the seven Inter-American human rights instruments. On September 3, 2009 Haiti deposited the ratification instrument of the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities.
98. On its side, on November 23, 2009, Nicaragua deposited the instrument of adhesion to the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, becoming the 18th State part of such instrument.
Scholarships and Internships
99. During 2009, the Commission’s Rómulo Gallegos Scholarship Program continued. The program offers training on the inter-American human rights promotion and protection system to young lawyers from the Hemisphere’s countries, who are selected annually by means of a competition, at which time they must demonstrate their commitment to human rights as well as a solid academic record. Over 2009, a total of 15 scholarship recipients worked with the Commission: six in the first half of year, covering the 2008-09, scholarship cycle, including – in addition to three Rómulo Gallegos Scholarship recipients – three thematic scholarships, one assigned to the office of Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and one for the Human Rights Defenders’ Unit; in addition, another scholarship was made available to young professionals from the Central American member states. In the second half of the year, nine scholarship recipients began work. The scholarships awarded for the 2009-10 cycle included three from the Rómulo Gallegos Program, four thematic scholarships, three assigned to the office of Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, one assigned to the office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, and one arranged with the University of Notre Dame and another with the University of Quebec.
100. In addition to its scholarships, the Commission continued with and expanded its program of internships. These internships, which are administered in conjunction with the OAS Student Intern Program, are targeted at university students, graduates, and young professionals, to allow them to gain practical experience with the inter-American system as it relates to their fields of study. Specifically, the goal of the internships is to offer students and recent graduates in law or other related disciplines the opportunity to learn about the Commission’s work. It also offers professionals an opportunity to acquire practical training in the human rights area and to work alongside the Executive Secretariat’s attorneys in the different activities carried out by the IACHR. During its visit to Jamaica in December 2008, the Commission signed an agreement with the Norman Manley Law School (NMLS) to expand and strengthen their institutional cooperative ties for raising awareness about the inter-American human rights system in the Caribbean. Under the agreement, NMLS law students will be offered internships at the IACHR to learn how to use the system for the benefit of people in the Caribbean. The first NMLS internship began during the summer of 2009. In 2009, the Commission received a total of 36 interns. Additional information on the scholarship and internship programs is available on the Commission’s web site at www.cidh.org.
Activities related to the Fiftieth Anniversary of the IACHR
101. As part of the activities to commemorate the creation of the IACHR 50 years ago, and as noted above, the Commission made a visit to Chile, and another to Argentina, in September of this year, at the invitation of those countries’ governments.
102. In addition, a pamphlet about the IACHR was produced in the four official OAS languages, and both the OAS’s Américas magazine and Américas Quarterly published special editions on the Inter-American Commission’s 50th anniversary.
103. On November 11, a special meeting of the OAS Permanent Council was held to commemorate the Commission’s first 50 years, the promulgation of the American Convention on Human Rights 40 years ago, and the Inter-American Court’s 30th anniversary. That meeting was attended by the Chair of the Permanent Council, the Secretary General of the OAS, the President and other members of the Inter-American Commission, and the President of the Inter-American Court. OAS member states were also in attendance. In the afternoon, a round-table session on the inter-American system was held, with panelists including Helen Mack Chang, Armstrong Wiggins, Juan Méndez, Douglass Cassel, and Juan Pablo Olmedo.
104. In addition, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, in April 2009 the IACHR and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights organized a poster competition, in two categories: children and adolescents, and young adults. A total of 133 posters were received, from more than 11 of the region’s countries. In the young adults category, the winner selected by the jury was Emily Phillips of the United States, who also won the people’s choice award with her poster titled Defending Human Rights. In the children and adolescents category, the winner was the joint entry by Ingrid Pereira Paine, Marcela Espinoza Nahuelán, and Karol Espinoza Nahuelán of Chile, titled Tenemos derecho a mucho más. The people’s choice award in this category went to María Cantero, also of Chile, for her poster Nosotros también tenemos derecho a ser felices.
Other promotion activities
105. Throughout 2009, the members of the Commission and the Secretariat took part in international conferences, seminars, and training sessions on the international protection of human rights through the inter-American system.
106. As part of its promotional work, the IACHR supported the organization of the OAS Americas film cycle on disappearances, at which documentaries were shown and talks were held, on January 12 to 15, 2009. That same month, the Commission attended the 4th Specialized Course for State Officials, organized by the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica.
107. In April, among other activities, the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR attended the MERCOSUR Meeting of High Authorities on Human Rights in Asunción, Paraguay.
108. In May, the Assistant Executive Secretary attended an event on the African human rights system and other regional systems in Banjul, Gambia, at the invitation of the Human Rights Centre of the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
109. In September, the Executive Secretariat participated at a seminar on implementing the decisions handed down by convention-based bodies in the city of Bristol, United Kingdom, at the invitation of that academic institution. It also attended the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA) held in Ottawa as part of FIPA’s 6th Plenary Meeting, the goal of which was to foster a comprehensive dialogue on the migration phenomenon in the Americas and the role of parliamentarians in creating a legal framework that upholds human rights. In addition, the IACHR participated in a technical consultation on “The international crisis and the right to food among highly vulnerable groups” in Panama City.
110. In October, the IACHR attended the Third Follow-up Meeting on the Brasilia Declaration on the Rights of Older People, held in Santiago, Chile. Additionally, at the invitation of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), it participated at the forum on “Current challenges in international human rights protection from an Ibero-American perspective,” which took place in Madrid. During that same month, at the invitation of the regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner, the Executive Secretariat attended a regional seminar for parliamentarians in Panama City that sought to strengthen their ability to promote and protect human rights.
111. Finally, on December 8 and 9, the IACHR participated in a regional consultation organized by the United Nations on cooperation between the universal and inter-American human rights protection systems. The consultation took place at OAS headquarters in Washington and was attended by the member states, national human rights agencies and civil society organizations, in addition to the inter-American human rights bodies.
112. Over the year the IACHR Executive Secretariat gave presentations on the inter-American human rights system at events and conferences organized by the Department of External Relations of the OAS, which coordinates visits by different agencies to the Organization’s headquarters. One of the Executive Secretariat’s officials participated at the 27th Model OAS General Assembly of the OAS for high-school students, which took place on December 3 to 6 and focused on migration topics. Similarly, on February 9, a presentation was given to 50 secondary-school students from various countries around the world.
G. Financial contributions
113. Throughout 2009, the Commission again asked the various organs of the Organization of American States to continue to search for ways to obtain an effective increase in the funding allocated to the IACHR, with the purpose of ensuring adequate financing for the Commission in the Organization’s program-budget. Likewise, the Commission suggested to donors that, as far as possible, they assign part of their voluntary contributions as funds without a specific purpose, to provide the IACHR with flexibility in allocating resources among its various activities and programs.
114. The IACHR is especially grateful for the significant financial support received from countries inside and outside the region, as well as from foundations and other entities. These donations make it possible for the IACHR to carry out a great many of its activities related to the mandates handed down by the OAS’s political bodies.
115. In particular, the IACHR would like to thank the governments of the following OAS member countries for their contributions this year: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States. It would also like to thank the observer countries that support the Commission’s activities: Denmark, France, Korea, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The Commission also welcomes and appreciates the contributions received from the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Commission, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the University of Notre Dame. These donations contribute in a concrete way to strengthening the inter-American human rights system in the Americas.
H. Activities of the Inter-American Commission in connection with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
116. In 2009 the Commission continued litigation in a series of matters brought before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
117. During 2009, the Commission referred twelve (12) cases to the Inter-American Court: Guerrilla de Araguaia (Brazil), Florencio Chitay Nech (Guatemala), Inés Fernández Ortega (Mexico), Rainer Ibsen Cárdenas and José Luis Ibsen Peña (Bolivia), Teodoro Cabrera García and Rodolfo Montiel Flores (Mexico), Xákmok Kásek (Paraguay), Valentina Rosendo Cantú et al. (Mexico), Lysias Fleury et al. (Haiti), Jesús Tranquilino Vélez Loor (Panama), José Alfredo Mejía Idrovo (Ecuador), Mercedes Chocrón Chocrón (Venezuela), and Leopoldo López Mendoza (Venezuela).
118. Also during 2009, the IACHR attended hearings convened as part of the 82nd, 83rd, and 84th periods of sessions of the Inter-American Court, held at its headquarters, as well as the 38th, 39th, and 40th special sessions, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Santiago, Chile; and La Paz, Bolivia.
119. As those sessions, public hearings were held in connection with the following cases: Discharged and Retired Employees of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic (Peru), Reverón Trujillo (Venezuela), Usón Ramírez (Venezuela), Anzualdo Castro (Peru), González et al. (“Cotton Field”) (Mexico), Sétimo Garibaldi (Brazil), DaCosta Cadogan (Barbados), Barreto Leiva (Venezuela), Radilla Pacheco (Mexico), Dos Erres Massacre (Guatemala), and reparations and costs in the matter of Salvador Chiriboga (Ecuador).
120. The Commission also participated at a public hearing on the request for an Advisory Opinion submitted to the Court by Argentina regarding the admissibility of ad hoc judges in contentious cases that are not between States and the participation of judges in cases brought against their home countries, and at a public hearing on supervision of compliance with the judgment in the case of the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community (Paraguay).
121. The Commission attended public hearings held in connection with the provisional measures ordered in the matter of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian Descent in the Dominican Republic (Dominican Republic) and Urso Branco Prison (Brazil), and at the joint hearing on the implementation of provisional measures in Venezuelan prisons, covering the following matters: Monagas Judicial Prison (“La Pica”), Yare I and Yare II Capital Region Penitentiary Center (“Yare Prison”), the Center-West Region Prison (“Uribana Prison”), and El Rodeo I and El Rodeo II Capital Judicial Prison.
122. The Commission also participated at private hearings on supervision of compliance with the judgments in the following cases: Five Pensioners (Peru), Palamara Iribarne (Chile), Pueblo Bello Massacre (Colombia), Villagrán Morales et al. (“Street Children”) (Guatemala), Ivcher Bronstein (Peru), Blanco Romero et al. (Venezuela), Suárez Rosero (Ecuador), El Caracazo (Venezuela), Zambrano Vélez et al. (Ecuador), Girls Yean and Bosico (Dominican Republic), Dismissed Congressional Workers (Peru), Herrera Ulloa (Costa Rica), Juvenile Reeducation Institute (Paraguay), Retén de Catia (Venezuela), Molina Theissen (Guatemala), Goiburú et al. (Paraguay), and Trujillo Oroza (Bolivia).
123. Finally, the Inter-American Commission also attended private hearings on supervision of compliance with the judgments and the implementation of provisional measures in the following cases: Mapiripán Massacre (Colombia), 19 Merchants (Colombia), Carpio Nicolle (Guatemala), Gutiérrez Soler (Colombia), Bámaca Velásquez (Guatemala), and Mack Chang (Guatemala).
124. In the period covered by this report, the Commission also took note of several judgments handed down by the Court in cases submitted for its consideration. Those were rulings on preliminary exceptions, merits, reparation, and costs in the following cases: Tristán Donoso (Panama), Ríos et al. (Venezuela), Perozo et al. (Venezuela), Reverón Trujillo (Venezuela), Acevedo Buendía et al. (“Discharged and Retired Employees of the Comptroller General’s Office”) (Peru), Escher et al. (Brazil), Anzualdo Castro (Peru), Garibaldi (Brazil), Dacosta Cadogan (Barbados), González et al. (“Cotton Field”) (Mexico), Barreto Leiva (Venezuela), Usón Ramírez (Venezuela), and Radilla Pacheco (Mexico); the judgment on the merits, reparations, and costs in the case of Kawas Fernández (Honduras); and the interpretative rulings in the following cases: Ticona Estrada et al. (Bolivia), Valle Jaramillo et al. (Colombia), Escher et al. (Brazil), and Acevedo Buendía et al. (“Discharged and Retired Employees of the Comptroller General’s Office”) (Peru).
125. The Commission also noted the Court’s decision to decline the IACHR’s request for an Advisory Opinion regarding the use of corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children and adolescents (Articles 1.1, 2, 5.1, 5.2 and 19 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and Article VII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man), and its adoption of Advisory Opinion OC-20/09 on September 29, 2009, in which it ruled on the inadmissibility of ad hoc judges in contentious cases not between States and on the participation of judges in cases brought against their home countries.
I. Thirty-Ninth Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly
At the 39th
regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American
States, held in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on June 2 to 4,
2009, the Commission was represented by its President, Luz Patricia Mejía,
and by its Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton. The President of the
Commission addressed the General Assembly with regard to the human rights
situation in the OAS member states and officially presented the
Commission’s Annual Report for 2008.
127. The General Assembly adopted various resolutions with regard to human rights. Given their importance for the observance and protection of human rights in the Americas and the strengthening of the inter-American system, they are listed below:
Resolutions related to the organs of the inter-American system
1. AG/RES. 2479 (XXXIX-O/09) Fiftieth Anniversary of the Creation and Installation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Fortieth Anniversary of the Adoption of the American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San José, Costa Rica), and Thirtieth Anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
2. AG/RES. 2522 (XXXIX-O/09) Observations and Recommendations on the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
3. AG/RES. 2500 (XXXIX-O/09) Observations and Recommendations on the Annual Report of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
4. AG/RES. 2521 (XXXIX-O/09) Strengthening of Human Rights Systems pursuant to the Mandates Arising from the Summits of the Americas
Resolutions on human rights in which the IACHR is urged to take action
5. AG/RES. 2455 (XXXIX-O/09) Human Rights and Older Persons.
6. AG/RES. 2501 (XXXIX-O/09) Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.
7. AG/RES. 2502 (XXXIX-O/09) The Human Rights of All Migrant Workers and of Their Families.
8. AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09) Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity.
9. AG/RES. 2506 (XXXIX-O/09) Protocol of San Salvador: Composition and Functioning of the Working Group to Examine the Periodic Reports of the States Parties.
10. AG/RES. 2509 (XXXIX-O/09) Right to the Truth.
11. AG/RES. 2510 (XXXIX-O/09) Study of the Rights and the Care of Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.
12. AG/RES. 2512 (XXXIX-O/09) Protecting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism.
13. AG/RES. 2514 (XXXIX-O/09) Access to Public Information: Strengthening Democracy.
14. AG/RES. 2523 (XXXIX-O/09) Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression and the Importance of the Media.
15. AG/RES. 2517 (XXXIX-O/09) Human Rights Defenders: Support for Individuals, Groups, and Organizations of Civil Society Working to Promote and Protect Human Rights in the Americas.
Other resolutions on human rights
16. AG/RES. 2444 (XXXIX-O/09) Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas.
17. AG/RES. 2448 (XXXIX-O/09) Strengthening the Role of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Organization of American States.
18. AG/RES. 2480 (XXXIX-O/09) Promotion and Strengthening of Democracy: Follow-up to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
19. AG/RES. 2451 (XXXIX-O/09) Mechanism to Follow Up on Implementation of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women,” Convention of Belém do Pará”.
20. AG/RES. 2452 (XXXIX-O/09) Appointment of Women to Senior Management Positions at the Organization of American States.
21. AG/RES. 2454 (XXXIX-O/09) Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality.
22. AG/RES. 2456 (XXXIX-O/09) Hemispheric Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons: Conclusions and Recommendations of the Second Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons.
23. AG/RES. 2458 (XXXIX-O/09) XX Pan American Child Congress – Inter-American Specialized Conference.
24. AG/RES. 2463 (XXXIX-O/09) Support for the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities.
25. AG/RES. 2464 (XXXIX-O/09) Program of Action for the Decade of the Americas for the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (2006-2016) and Support for Its Technical Secretariat (SEDISCAP).
26. AG/RES. 2465 (XXXIX-O/09) Migrant Populations and Migration Flows in the Americas.
27. AG/RES. 2466 (XXXIX-O/09) Education on Human Rights in Formal Education in the Americas.
28. AG/RES. 2483 (XXXIX-O/09) Promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Hemisphere.
29. AG/RES. 2486 (XXXIX-O/09) Prevention and Eradication of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Smuggling of and Trafficking in Minors.
30. AG/RES. 2489 (XXXIX-O/09) Support for Enhanced Interregional Cooperation with the African Union.
31. AG/RES. 2498 (XXXIX-O/09) Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
32. AG/RES. 2508 (XXXIX-O/09) Internally Displaced Persons.
33. AG/RES. 2511 (XXXIX-O/09) Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Americas.
34. AG/RES. 2513 (XXXIX-O/09) Persons Who Have Disappeared and Assistance to Members of Their Families.
 The activities of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression are contained in Volume II of this Annual Report.
 See: Justice and Social Inclusion: Challenges to Democracy in Guatemala (2003); Fifth Report on the Human Rights Situation in Guatemala (2001); Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Paraguay (2001); Second Report on the Human Rights Situation in Peru (2000); Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia (1999); Report on the Human Rights Situation in Mexico (1998); Report on the Human Rights Situation in Brazil (1997); Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ecuador (1997); Second Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia (1993); Fourth Report on the Human Rights Situation in Guatemala (1993); Second Report on the Human Rights Situation in Suriname (1985).
 IACHR, Fourth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, 1993.
 The information may be found in Press Release 53/09 on the IACHR web site at the following link: http://www.cidh.oas.org/Comunicados/English/2009/53-09eng.htm.