REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
RESOLUTION Nº 01/90
CASES 9768, 9780, AND 9828
May 17, 1990
1. The Report prepared on Cases Nos. 9768, 9780, and 9828 of Mexico approved provisionally at its session No. 1045 at its 76th Regular Meeting on September 29, 1989;
2. The observations of this Report of the Government of Mexico;
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considered the Report mentioned in point number 1 above, as well as the observations of the Government of Mexico.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. To approve the Report on Cases No. 9768, 9780, and 9828 as attached.
To publish the Report in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States in accordance with Article 41.g of the American
Convention on Human Rights.
FINAL REPORT ON CASES 9768, 9780, AND 9828 OF MEXICO
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has had under consideration three cases regarding the July 7, 1985, electoral process to elect deputies in the State of Chihuahua (case 9768), the July 6, 1986, municipal elections in the capital of the State of Durango (case 9780), and the July 6, 1986, elections for governor of the state of Chihuahua. The petitioners in all three cases belong to the National Action Party (PAN), and they allege that irregularities were committed by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party in power in Mexico.
2. There are allegations of various de facto irregularities in the years in question, both during the vote recount and in the preceding period. It is also alleged that, during the subsequent stage, the complaints of irregularities were dismissed by the electoral bodies because these were controlled by the PRI and therefore lacked the impartiality and independence that should characterize the electoral bodies responsible fore ruling on such matters. They alleged that, even though the remedies under domestic law had been exhausted, the requirement of exhausting such remedies is not applicable in these cases under the provisions of Article 46.2 of the Convention, because due process of law is not afforded for the protection of the rights they deem have been violated. They expressly indicate that the remedy of amparo is not applicable to political rights, as the Supreme Court of Justice has ruled time and again.
3. Petitioners in the three cases allege violation of the free exercise of political rights, set forth in Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and Article 8 of the Convention, which sets out the judicial guarantees that must apply in the determination of their rights. Furthermore, in case 9828 petitioners allege violations of Article 5 (right to humane treatment), Article 11 (right to privacy), Article 13 (freedom of expression), Article 15 (right of assembly), Article 16 (freedom of association), Article 24 (right to equal protection), and Article 25 (right to judicial protection) committed by government agents against PAN supporters during the campaign.
4. The Government of Mexico held that two of the cases were inadmissible because remedies under domestic law had not been exhausted (cases 9768 and 9780). In the third case, it held that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights lacks jurisdiction to render a decision on electoral processes for reasons of national sovereignty and by virtue of the application of the right of self-determination of peoples. It further held that the remedy of amparo to guarantee the rights affected in this case was still pending.
5. In the review of theses cases, the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights has had the opportunity of studying the various aspects in question and deems it would be more appropriate to consider the aspects common to all three cases. The nature of the situations was such that the Commission felt the question would be more appropriately dealt with under the provisions of Article 41.b of the American Convention on Human Rights, according to which the Commission has the powers
to make recommendations to the governments of the member states when it considers such action advisable, for the adoption of progressive measures in favor of human rights within the framework of their domestic law and constitutional provisions as well as appropriate measures to further the observance of those rights.
6. In exercise of such powers, and acting under the provisions of Article 5o of the American Convention, the Commission sent to the Government of Mexico its recommendations, which are contained in the report provisionally approved on September 29, 1989, at its seventy-sixth session. The Government of Mexico presented its comments to the Commission’s report, repeating some of the arguments already presented and adding new ones. Those arguments are discussed in section 3 of this report.
2. Common elements in the three cases
De facto irregularities
7. The three cases relate to alleged irregularities perpetrated by the institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), in government in Mexico, against candidates of the National Action party (PAN). In the three cases, the claimants offer documentary evidence on the events denounced, which they consider a violation of their political rights set forth in Article 23 of the Convention.
8. The de facto irregularities denounced in case 9768 consist of forgery of the certificates of the original electoral tally sheets in certain polls. The forgery, according to the claimant, deals with both the numbers as well as the signatures of political party representatives and officials, with proof of the aforementioned. As a result, thereof, the majority which the PAN had obtained became a majority for the PRI.
9. The de facto irregularities denounced in case 9780 also concern forgeries of the voter rolls of several electoral polling places, the claimant alleging the he has certified copies of the original certificates in which the triumph of the PAN is verified, without the Chairman of the Municipal Committee allowing the examination of the certificate on which the final results were based, which were favorable to the PRI. The PAN representatives were expelled, according to the claimant, when they challenged the procedure being followed.
10. The de facto irregularities denounced in case 9828 are more serious and important because they refer to the legal procedures aimed at amending electoral legislation to give greater control to the government party, different episodes during the electoral campaign–the use of funds and other public resources, pressures to undermine freedom of expression, elimination of people from the list of voters, registration of non existent persons, arbitrary creation and cancellation of polling places–and, during the election, stuffing ballot boxes; early opening of polling places, change of location of polling places; refusal to recognize representatives of opposition political parties; heavy presence of police and the military during election day under the control of the State Governor and by the President of the State Electoral Commission, both from the PRI, in charge of overseeing the electoral process and protecting the ballot boxes. All of this manipulation, according to the claimant, led to a massive fraud after the election while voters were being counted.
b. Internal remedies
11. In the three cases, the de facto irregularities denounced led to filing of writs with the competent electoral bodies, who rejected them. The claimants hold that the rejection was motivated by political reasons since said organizations are controlled by the PRI, and violate the right set forth in Article 8 of the Convention or, ultimately, of Article 25.
12. In case 9768, the claimant filed a complaint alleging forgery with the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuraduría General de la República) on August 26, 1985, without any apparent result. Against the result consigned in the certificate of the district tally, the claimant filed a complaint in the Chamber of Deputies sitting as an Electoral College, which declared it inadmissible on August …, 1985. On August 21, 1985, a writ (recurso de reclamación) was presented to the Supreme Court, the decision of which according to the claimant, was not communicated despite the fact that an address had been given for that purpose; he contends that he heard through other Deputies that his writ had been rejected.
13. The claimant argues that the ruling of the Electoral College concurs with decisions of the PRI because most of its members belong to that political party. As to the Supreme Court, its members are named by the Federal executive Power with the consent of the Senate, which is made up exclusively of members of the PRI.
14. In case 9780, the claimant requested that the decision of the Municipal Electoral Committee, be revoked (recurso de revocación). That complaint should have been heard by this body and that, according to the claimant was not processed, and no reasons given. When faced with this situation, the claimant filed a request for review (recurso de revision), which also was not processed. This lack of procedure prevented an appeal to the Electoral College of the State Congress, which ratified the election without the election without opposition. The writ of habeas corpus was not filed because, according to the claimant, Article 73.7 of the Law of Protection (Ley de Amparo) declares it inadmissible for political rights.
15. The claimant believes this refusal to hear these complaints against de facto irregularities is based on the political orientation of the bodies in charge of dealing with these remedies. Thus, he states, the State Electoral Commission, in the state of Durango, consists of the government Secretary General who is also its President, named by the Governor of the state of Durango, and, therefore, it is logical to assume that the appointment is give to a member of the PRI, and by the representatives of the Legislative Power who, since the PRI is in a majority, belong to the government party; two magistrates of the Supreme Court appointed by the plenary of the Court, whose members are named by the Governor of the State (from the PRI) with the consent of Congress (controlled by the PRI); a representative of the Municipality of the Capital (which on this occasion, as an exception, included a representative of the PAN); a representative of each political party (4 opposition plus the PRI and 4 of its allies according to the claimant); a notary public that will act as Secretary (following an appointment by proxy from the Governor of the State). The claimant alleges that said composition gives the PRI total control of the aforementioned electoral body.
16. For its part, the Municipal Electoral Committee in the State of Durango, consists of four commissioners appointed by the State Electoral Commission (controlled by the PRI as the claimant points out above), a commissioner of the corresponding municipality and one from each political party of which one is the PRI and the other four operate as allies, always according to the claimant, plus four other opposition parties. This had led, likewise, to the control of this electoral body by the government party according to the denunciation.
17. The control mentioned by the claimant leads him to two conclusions: first, that the rehearing and revocation remedies should have been heard by the Municipal Electoral Committee, where the alleged forgery was perpetrated, which is contrary to every sort of logic. The second conclusion is that since every electoral body is controlled by the PRI, there is no impartiality which guarantees due process for electoral complaints, therefore, producing the situation foreseen in article 46.2 of the American Convention, according to which the requisite of exhausting internal remedies, when due process does not exist for the protection of the rights which are allegedly violated, does not apply.
18. In case 9828, it is the Congress of the State of Chihuahua which acting as the Electoral College rules on elections and where the corresponding complaints were filed and later rejected. According to a provision of the Constitution of the state of Chihuahua, the ruling of the Electoral College is final, and unappealable. Moreover, the claimant argues that the writ of protection (amparo) is inapplicable to cases of political rights because of an explicit provision of the Protection Law (Ley de Amparo) (Article 73.VII) and by the reiterated rulings of the Supreme Court.
19. The claimant believes that the complaints were rejected because the Electoral College is controlled by the PRI and that, therefore, there is no legal due process to protect rights which are alleged to have been violated. He holds, therefore, that domestic remedies have been exhausted, despite the fact that due process does not exist with respect to these rights.
3. The Government’s position
20. The position of the Government of Mexico in the electoral cases changed, since it first adopted a procedural position in cases 9768 and 9780 and objected in toto to case 9828 including the jurisdiction of the IACHR and the limits of the obligations as a party to the American Convention. In its observations to the Commission’s report, the Government of Mexico advances its arguments on the admissibility of the Government of Mexico advances its arguments on the inadmissibility of the cases under consideration, interprets the scope of Article 23.1.b of the American Convention with regard to political rights and electoral processes, sets out the possible effects of a decision of the Commission on the principle of nonintervention, and warns of the consequences such a decision could have on the validity of the Convention for Mexico.
21. Therefore, in case 9768, the Government of Mexico holds that the case is inadmissible since more than six months have elapsed since the Supreme Court notified the Chamber of Deputies of its rejection of the writ submitted by the claimant. With respect to case 9780, the government holds that it is also inadmissible because the claimant did not exhaust internal remedies against the resolution of the Electoral College of the Chamber of Deputies of the State of Durango since a writ could have been filed before the Supreme State Tribunal, but was not filed.
22. As to the admissibility of the cases, the arguments advanced repeat the government’s previous positions. Thus, there is a restatement of the argument that the petitioner in case 9768 was given notice, in accordance with the law, in the Chamber of Deputies, to which he had not been elected and of which he was consequently not a member. The petitioner had completed the entire process of seeking remedies under domestic law and had established domicile to be given notice pursuant to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedures, which the government did not apply even though it was an altogether reasonable procedure. The clear-cut shortcoming of the law governing notifications justifies in this case the recommendation that the Commission sees fit to make on the need for Mexico to bring its domestic legislation into line with the requirements for proper protection of the rights set forth in the Convention.
23. In its comments, the Government of Mexico develops at length the argument put forward in case No. 10.180 (which is not one of the cases on which the report was based) on the appropriateness of the remedy of amparo in connection with political rights. In this respect, the government indicates that the petitioners must object to the acts in violation of their political rights on the basis of the principle of legality–guaranteed by Article 14 of the National Constitution–in accordance with opinion 127 of the Supreme Court, which would allow recourse to amparo. Remedies under domestic law would therefore not be exhausted.
3.b. alleged Incompetence of the Commission
24. In case 9828, the Mexican Government adopts a right position, after three petitions for postponement of the deadline to respond to the complaint. Said position is then partially modified by the government. The arguments are presented below.
25. The first argument of the Mexican government is that the assessment of elections is a matter regulated by the Federal Constitution and the State Constitution and that, since the Constitution is the highest law, treaties must submit to it. Both Article 60 of the Federal Constitution as well as Article 64 of the Constitution of the State of Chihuahua establish that the rulings of the electoral bodies in charge of elections are “final and unattackable” or “irrevocable.” Hence, the decisions of these electoral bodies “is not and cannot be subject to international jurisdiction,” therefore, the examination of the complaint is not pertinent and must be declared inadmissible.
26. The other argument of the Mexican government is that if a “State agreed to submit itself to international jurisdiction with respect to the election of its political bodies, a State would cease to be sovereign.” “There is no principle of international law of international obligation on the part of Mexico that establishes that international bodies examine the composition of the political bodies of the United States of Mexico.” As a result of this reasoning, the government holds the complaint to be inappropriate, and therefore, believes that it should be declared inadmissible.
27. The Government of Mexico also invokes the principle (deeming it a right) of the self-determination of peoples, and believes that the Commission would violate said principle if it accepted the denunciation because it would infringe upon the political autonomy of the State of Chihuahua. The aforementioned principle would also be affected if an interpretation of the American Convention violated the right of a sovereign state to elect is political bodies, which furthermore, would be in conflict with the Pact of San José, which must be compatible with the aim of the treaty and which must be carried out in good faith, as set out in the Vienna Convention.
28. Finally, the Mexican government holds that the American Convention does not limit the sovereign powers of the states to elect their political bodies and that Mexico, when it ratified the Pact of San José, “did not conceive that the same could be interpreted so as to give jurisdiction to an international body to review the election of its political bodies.” If this had in fact occurred, the government holds that it would abide by its Constitution and would deny legal force to anything that would oppose it. Consequently, it would deny jurisdiction to the Commission to judge the results of the elections.
29. At a later time, the Government of Mexico claims that the petitioner had not exhausted domestic remedies, thereby partially modifying its position with respect to the irrevocability of the decisions of electoral bodies, without specifying what procedures are available. It reiterates its position on the lack of jurisdiction of the Commission to render a decision on electoral processes.
30. In its comments on the Commission’s Report, the Government of Mexico sets forth a new interpretation of the rule contained in Article 23.1.b of the American Convention. According to that interpretation, the right protected by the Convention is the right “to vote and to be elected,” which is an individual right of immediate enforceability that imposes upon the State an obligation not to act. In contrast, the need for the elections to be legitimate imposes upon the state an obligation to act. Based on this reasoning, the government maintains that
The Commission is competent to consider individual petitions concerning human rights of immediate enforceability which the States are obligated to observe …, but it is not competent to consider petitions concerning collective rights that the State is obligated to develop progressively for its inhabitants. The need for honest elections imposes upon the State an obligation to act: to progressively develop, in accordance with circumstances and conditions in each country, the guarantee that voters may freely express their will.
31. The government’s reply refers also to elections, describing them as “internal processes” that affect the rights of citizens (rights which the Mexican legal system distinguishes from individual rights) and to their characteristics (page 10).
32. After setting forth the interpretation underlying the distinction between the right to vote and to be elected and the right to have legitimate elections, the Government of Mexico, in its comments, states that any conclusion issued by the Commission on the legitimacy of the elections would violate the principle of nonintervention:
… Any conclusion issued by the Commission on the “legitimacy” of an electoral process would be an attempted threat against the personality of the officials elected in that process and would constitute an act of intervention, according to the definition set forth in Article 18 of the Charter, by which the Organization of American States, of which the Commission is an organ, is forbidden to carry out by the second paragraph of Article I of its Charter.
33. The government further maintains in its comments that “… if the Convention allowed the Commission to issue conclusions on the legitimacy of elections in the States Parties to the Convention, then the Convention would be juridically null in the extreme” because the principle of nonintervention is a mandatory rule in inter-American law. Accordingly, if the Commission persists in issuing opinions on “the conditions for electoral processes in Mexico, on the basis of individual petitions, and thus insists on threatening the personality of individuals who represent the Mexican State, the Convention will be vitiated.”
4. Observations on the Government’s position
34. The observations on the Government’s position fall into two categories: those pertaining to the Government’s procedural position with respect to cases 758 and 9780 and those pertaining to the substantive arguments advanced in case 9828 and in the comments on the Commission’s report.
35. As to the statement that the complaint in case 9768 is untimely because it was presented after six months from the date on which the Supreme Court notified the Chamber of Deputies of its decision on the writ filed by the claimant, the latter holds that such a requirement does not apply because he had given his address so that he might be served notice, which was never forthcoming. The claimant holds that it is illogical that the Chamber of Deputies be given notice when a casually adopted decision stripped him of his position as Congressman, while stating that the Supreme Court itself has set precedents on the need to personally give notice to anyone affected by its decisions. The regulation of the law on electoral processes, known as LOPPE–in force at this time–stipulates personal notice in Article 153, while Article 240 of this law provides for submission of the Supreme Court decision to the Chamber of Deputies. The claimant adduces that this lack of personal notice is contrary to Article 8 of the Federal Constitution and this is why a personal notice should have been given, to fill the vacuum, as stipulated in the Mexican Code of Civil Procedure.
36. In case 9780, the government adduces that internal remedies have not been exhausted, while the claimant argues that the repeated refusal by electoral bodies to hear his writs preclude the possibility of continuing the process. Moreover, that the composition of the bodies called upon to decide the complaint is evidence that there is not the requisite of due process to protect his violated rights.
37. The issues to be resolved in the cases under consideration are, in the first place, specification of the scope of political rights defined in Article 23 of the American Convention with respect to the characteristics that elections must have in accordance to the Convention. Second, an analysis of the jurisdiction of the organizations created by the American Convention to protect these rights and, in the specific case of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with regard to political rights, through the different pronouncements on the subject. Third, it must refer to the obligations acquired by Mexico when it ratified the Convention as regards political rights, ending with the specific allegations of the claimants and the government in the cases under consideration.
4.b. The political rights in the American Convention
38. Political rights are recognized by Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights which states that:
1. All citizens must enjoy the rights and opportunities listed below:
a. To participate in public affairs, directly or through freely elected representatives;
b. To vote and be elected in authentic periodic elections, carried out through universal and equal suffrage and by a secret vote that guarantees the free expression of the will of the electorate, and
c. To have access, in general conditions of equality, to the public functions of their country.
2. The law can regulate the exercise of rights and opportunities referred to in the aforementioned article, based solely on age, nationality, residency, language, education, civil or mental capacity, or sentence, by a competent judge, in a criminal process.
39. The transcribed text fundamentally coincide with Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and recognizes as background the text of Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The three aforementioned texts refer to authentic, universal, and periodic elections, by secret vote or another method to express the will of the people. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, for its part, refers to “genuine” elections, the only different wording in Article XX.
40. It is important to point out that Article 27, paragraph 2, of the American Convention, referring to the suspension of guarantees “In case of war, public danger or any other emergency that threatens the independence or security of the State party …,” does not authorize the suspension of political rights.
41. Hemispheric legal discourse has insisted, for its part, on the existence of a direct relationship between the exercise of political rights thus defined and the concept of representative democracy as a dorm of the organization of the State, which at the same time presupposes the observance of other basic human rights. Indeed, the concept of representative democracy is based on the principle that it is the people who are the nominal holders of political sovereignty and that, in the exercise of that sovereignty, elects its representatives–in indirect democracies–so that they may exercise political power. These representatives, moreover, are elected by the citizens to apply certain political measures, which at the same time implies the prior existence of an ample political debate on the nature of policies to be applied–freedom of expression–between organized political groups–freedom of association–that have had the opportunity to express themselves and meet publicly–freedom of assembly.
42. On the other hand, the observance of the abovementioned rights and freedoms requires a juridical and institutional order in which the laws are above the will of the leaders and in which there is control by some institutions over others, to preserve the purity of the expression of the popular will–the rule of law.
43. The Commission has referred in numerous opportunities to the exercise of political rights within the framework of representative democracy and in its relationship with the other basic rights of human beings. Said statements have never been attacked by any of the member states of the Organization, and the General Assembly, acknowledging the recommendations and observations of the Commission, has restated on numerous occasions the need to hold authentic and free elections, establishing a direct link between this electoral mechanism and the system of representative democracy which the basic instruments of the Organization consider as the basis of continental solidarity and as the system which best protects human rights.
44. In short, the exercise of political rights is an essential element of representative democracy, which also presupposes the observance of other human rights. Furthermore, the protection of those civil and political rights, within the framework of representative democracy, also implies the existence of an institutional control of acts of the branches of government, as well as supremacy of the law.
45. Since popular will is the basis for the authority of government, according to the terms of the Universal Declaration, it is consistent with a method for naming public officials through elections. Both the Universal declaration and the American Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights coincide in that elections must have certain specific characteristics: they must be “authentic” (“genuine” in the American Declaration), “periodic,” “universal” and be executed in a manner that preserves the freedom of expression of the will of the voter.
36. Bearing in mind the characteristics of the allegations contained in the cases under review, the presentation that follows will only refer to the characteristics of “authenticity” which elections must have since the other characteristics are not in question in these cases. Therefore an analysis will be made of the authenticity of the elections, according to pronouncements of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with regard to specific situations.
4.c. Authenticity of the elections
47. The act of electing representatives must be “authentic” in the sense stipulated by the American Convention, implying that there must be some consistency between the will of the voters and the result of the election. In the negative sense, the characteristic implies an absence of coercion which distorts the will of the citizens.
48. The different pronouncements which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has made on the subject, and which will be presented below, show that the authenticity of the elections covers two different categories of phenomena: on one hand, those referring to the general conditions in which the electoral process is carried out and, on the other hand, phenomena linked to the legal and institutional system that organizes elections and which implements activities linked to the electoral act, that is everything related in an immediate and direct way to the casting of the vote.
i. General conditions of the electoral process
49. As to the general conditions in which the electoral contest takes place, from the concrete situations considered by the Commission, we can deduce that they must allow the different political groups to participate in the electoral process under equal conditions, that is, that they all have similar basic conditions for conducting their campaign. In negative terms, this characteristic implies an absence of direct coercion of undue advantages for one of the participants in the electoral contest. Some texts prepared by the Inter-American Commission in regard to the matter are presented below.
50. The Commission, in its 1982-1983 Annual Report, indicates that the municipal elections held in Haiti in 1983 “were carried out in a atmosphere of insecurity and fear because of the virtual existence of a state of siege, the absence of individual guarantees and while the principal opposition leaders were imprisoned or in exile …” (page 27). With respect to Nicaragua, in that same Annual Report, the Commission in considering the political parties law of August 17, 1983, noted that it should be implemented with an electoral law “that establishes the conditions and circumstances required to hold free, secret, and informed elections within a short time, and to which all political sectors of Nicaragua can have access” (page 28).
51. Also in the 1982-1983 Annual Report, when referring to elections in Paraguay, the Commission noted that the existing state of siege during the electoral campaign, as well as the repressive laws “determined that the electoral process had been conducted in an environment of restrictions on public liberties, of fear and insecurity and while the opposition leaders… were prosecuted and jailed or expelled from the country” (page 28).
52. Also in the 1983-1984 Annual Report, the Commission considered the general conditions affecting electoral processes, pointed out that as to Nicaragua:
… The Commission has been able to verify that during the current electoral process the Sandinista National Liberation Front has profusely used all of the resources which the power of the state, which it holds, puts at its disposal, placing it in an advantageous position over the contenders. In this matter, the denounced harassment of political and labor leaders constitutes an unacceptable method. In this sense, the IACHR thinks that it would be very positive if the Government of Nicaragua were to use all its available resources to achieve, in the next elections, the participation of all of those who represent different political options, with absolute equality (page 119).
53. Also in its Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile in 1985, the Inter-American Commission, when it criticized the plebiscite to which the 1980 constitution was subjected, stated:
The Commission is not in a position to refer to the specific irregularities in the plebiscite that were reported. However, that does not preclude it from forming a judgment on the circumstances prior to it, and considering that the lack of electoral rolls, the existence of the state of emergency, the inactivity of political parties, the practical disadvantages of opposition sectors in access to the information media, and the absence of viable options to the rejection of the proposal of the Government, are all elements that seriously affect the credibility of that procedure. (page 272).
54. In the conclusions of the chapter referring to the exercise of political rights of the aforementioned Report On Chile, the Inter-American Commission, when referring to the referendum in 1978 as well as the 1980 plebiscite expressed that in both occasions there existed:
… restrictions arising from the existence of states of constitutional emergency, which have had a negative impact on the exercise of other human rights associated with the exercise of political rights such as the right to freedom of expression and opinion, the right of association, the right of assembly, and the right to personal freedom. The Commission has also been able to observe that, when those polls were held, political parties were proscribed or dissolved and that a significant group of Chileans was impeded from returning to the country. The Commission has also been able to observe that when those polls were held, the Government used all the resources at its disposal and put the opposition in a clearly disadvantageous position. In the opinion of the Commission, these serious restrictions violate the principle of pluralism, which is characteristic of a regime of representative democracy; they also affect the freedom and the authenticity that are fundamental characteristics of any poll in which the right to vote is exercised. All these elements cast well-founded doubts on the credibility of the two procedures (pages 282-283).
55. In its 1986-1987 Annual Report, also referring to Chile and the background analyzed in its 1985 Report, it was pointed out that:
Also in light of previous experiences and in accordance with human rights norms, the Commission must point out that the exercise of the right to vote must be included in a context favoring the authenticity of elections in which the free expression of the will of the voters is ensured, as Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights states.
The Commission therefore hopes that this important period that is beginning will help to establish an atmosphere that will encourage citizens to make these important decisions. In this regard, it would be very useful for those taking part in the political process to avoid at all costs the use of violence and proscription, such as has been repeatedly requested by important sectors of Chilean society. In the Commission’s view, it is essential to break the vicious circle generated by the proscription of violence that threatens to distort the Chilean political scene.
In the Commission’s view also, it is of basic importance that in the period before the scheduled election, the various political groups be given every guarantee and means to have their views expressed and accurately transmitted to the voters. Accordingly, the Commission regards as positive the steps taken by the Government to allow important opposition leaders to take part again in the country’s political life after their long exile (p. 220).
56. With respect to Paraguay, the Inter-American Commission pointed out, in its report on the situation of human rights in that country in 1987, the deficient conditions in which electoral processes are carried out, when it stated that:
It must also be remembered that elections have been held under the current state of siege, which is lifted for 24 hours only, on the day of the elections. The many restrictions on the action of political opponents resulting from this situation have also been adduced to justify abstention from voting. Such restrictions include the arrest and harassment of political opponents and the ban on public meetings and party meetings, which are prohibited during the state of siege. Those provisions have not been applied, however, in the case of acts of the official party.
In addition to those restrictions, mass communications media are controlled directly or indirectly by party members or persons close to the President of the Republic, as discussed in Chapter V of this report. Even simple political information about the activities of opposition parties sufficed for numerous repressive measures to be taken against the ABC Color newspaper and Radio Ñandutí.
57. With respect to Chile, in its 1987-1988 Annual Report, the Inter-American Commission noted that the mature and reasoned exercise of the right to vote during the 1988 plebiscite demanded a series of conditions in effect for a sufficiently long period before the aforementioned electoral act. Those conditions were the lifting of the states of exception, a sufficient number of registered voters, equitable access by the different political positions to communications media and the absence of any form of pressure on voters (page 306).
58. After verifying the existence of the first two conditions, the Commission analyzes the situation of the communications media to point out that:
presentation makes it possible to draw the conclusion that access to
communications media, during the period covered by the present Annual Report and
with reference to the plebiscite’s campaign, has been characterized by a
disproportionate presence of the government, which has used all the resources at
its disposal to promote messages and images that favor its position in the next
plebiscite. To that, numerous
restrictions, legal and de facto, must be added, those affecting
independent organs of expression and journalists and political leaders.
Also, it must be pointed out that the authorization t broadcast political
programs constitutes progress that, nevertheless, does not compensate the
unequal access to communications media derived from the aforementioned
circumstances (pages 307-308).
59. As to the absence of pressure on Chilean voters during the 1988 plebiscite, the Commission points out in the abovementioned Annual Report, “the existence of a wide range of resources employed by the government, whose effect is to cast a favorable light on its policies among citizens. Some of these resources, consist in legal norms and others are practices indulged in because of lack of controls to present these government actions.” (page 308)
60. In this regard the Commission points out
three types of situations: the
intimidation campaign as a result of official statements on the effects of a
triumph of the opposition, the activities carried out by mayors and the threats
and actions against opposition leaders originating from unidentified groups
which have been occasionally linked to security forces (page 308).
In its Report on the Human Rights Situation in Panama in 1989, the
Commission stated regarding the electoral process that lead to the elections of
May 7, 1989:
general conditions in which the process was taking place … were slanted in
favor of the ruling party coalition and against the opposition because of the
lack of freedom of expression, the serious restrictions on the opposition’s
right to personal liberty, the grave violations of the right of assembly and the
intimidation of members of the opposition and pressures exerted against voters
to support the ruling party candidates, both by high-ranking government
officials and by officers of the Defense Forces. (Page 52)
Organization of the
62. Another aspect
linked to the authenticity of elections is the organization of electoral
process and the actual casting of voters.
With regard to this subject there have also been numerous statements by
the Inter-American Commission in connection with specific situations analyzed in
its annual or special reports. Some
extracts are included in order to refer to their main features.
63. Therefore, in
the 1978 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador, after analyzing
the exercise of political rights, the Commission reaches the following
There is a generalized skepticism on the part of citizens with regard to the right to vote and participation in government. In particular, opposition political parties go as far as doubting the possibility of having pure and free elections, but also with respect to the structure of the electoral system and the obstacles which parties face to organize in the interior of the country. Because of all this, the Commission is of the opinion that electoral rights are not effective in the present circumstances.
64. In view of the aforementioned, the Commission recommends to the Government of El Salvador in that Report to “Reform the electoral system, especially reorganizing the Central Council on Elections with the aim of achieving an equitable representation of political parties in it so that confidence in the system is restored.” (page 153)
65. In the Seventh Report on the Situation of
Human Rights in Cuba, in 1983, the Commission deems that one of the elements
that determines the limited political participation of the population in
important matters is the result of electoral mechanisms and control exercised
over it by the Government and the Cuban Communist Party.
After analyzing the principal characteristics of the Cuban electoral
system, it points out as a “counterproductive” element the preponderance of
that political party, whose leaders intervene “in a decisive manner in the
operation of mechanisms to selects candidates to occupy free elective offices”
(pages 44, 45, and 48).
66. The Commission also refers to the legal and
institutional system entrusted with the organization of elections in the Special
Report on Paraguay in 1987, when, referring to elections in that country, it
analyzes the effect of proportional representation current when its measures
were applied to the Electoral Statute (Law 886/81).
According to said measures, two thirds of the members of electoral boards
are members of the government party, when these are the bodies entrusted with
the organization of elections. This
led the Commission to conclude that:
The system instituted through the Electoral Statute … seriously demeans the electoral process because it gives a party not only the absolute majority of the legislative bodies, but also of the bodies entrusted with organizing the electoral process. This system lacks, therefore, the necessary institutional controls which guarantee the purity of elections (page 106).
67. In the 1986-1987 Annual Report, the
Commission refers to the electoral process in Chile at that time, discussing the
provisions of the Voter Registration Act designed to organize the registration
procedures and to create an Electoral Service.
The Commission underscores the relevance of criticism formulated at that
time to the practical implementation of the law (page 236).
68. In the same Annual Report, the Commission
extensively examines the crisis in Haiti as a result of the confrontation
between the Provisional Electoral Council and the National Government Council,
which is in great measure attributed to the struggle for control over the
operational aspects of the election process (pages 258 to 263).
This is again reviewed in detail in the Report on the Situation of Human
Rights in Haiti in 1988.
69. In its 1989 Report on the Human Rights
Situation in Panama, the Commission points out that “the legal and
institutional system for the organization of elections offered no guarantees of
impartial conduct on the part of the organs responsible for implementing the
actions related to it.” (page 52)
According to the presentation on the opinions of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights regarding specific situations related to the
authenticity of the elections, the purpose is to achieve general conditions so
that the electoral process offers every group that participates an equal
The absence of coercions implied in this has led the Commission to
specifically bear in mind the existence of states of exception that restrict the
exercise of political rights. This
measure gives the authorities very powerful instruments of control over the
opposition such as freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly, the right to
residency and travel, and the right to personal liberty and judicial guarantees.
With respect to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the
Commission has considered the manner in which the government uses its power both
for disseminating messages in its favor as well as restricting the possibility
of the opposition to broadcast its message.
On that matter the Commission has analyzed the legal measures which
regulate the exercise of this right and practices related to it, studying both
direct and indirect restrictions which can be used by the authorities against
With respect to the freedom of assembly, the experience of the Commission
has led it to examine the restrictions of this right resulting from states of
exception or other legal restrictions (police permits, for example) or the use
of indirect controls such as the obligatory participation of public employees in
An element of special importance with respect to the general conditions
in which electoral processes are conducted, are the activities of groups
informally linked to one of the participating parties–usually the government
party–who, through acts of violence, tend to intimidate those who oppose them. The Commission has referred, on numerous occasions, to
situations the effect of which is to modify the basic conditions of equality
under which elections must be held.
As to specific features of the organization of elections, the Commission
has referred to the laws that regulate them with the aim of determining whether
those laws guarantee both the adequate casting of the vote, as well as their
correct tally, underscoring the powers vested in those bodies entrusted with
implementing the activities of the electoral process and of monitoring both the
implementation as well as the results. The
institutional system, therefore, has been thoroughly examined by the Commission.
The aim of this examination has been to detect the possible manipulation
of the process in favor of those who control institutions (usually the
government, a political party or military forces), determine who decides on the
validity of the vote (composition of the electoral bodies) and how their
decisions are verified (appellate bodies).
In this regard, the Commission has examined aspects of practical
operations such as electoral rolls and registration requirements; the
composition of polling stations; the composition of the electoral tribunal and
its powers, and the existence of understandable ballots, devoid of any influence
As can be seen, the authenticity of the elections has been the subject of
numerous and frequent pronouncements by the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights. They have included
references to the general conditions in which the electoral contest has taken
place and equal participation of all the various political groups; the
pronouncements of the IACHR have also referred to the organization of procedures
employed for casting of the votes and the monitoring of the results, as well as
institutional and legal aspects. The
activity of the Inter-American Commission in this regard has been aimed at
obtaining elements that make it possible to assess the relationship between
popular will and the final “authenticity” of elections to which universal as
well as regional legal instruments of human rights refer.
When so doing, the Commission has performed the functions assigned to it
by the American Convention on Human Rights, as analyzed below.
The Competence of the Commission
The Commission considers that it is competent to examine the cases
relating to the complaints and to adopt the decision that, according to the
Convention, its Statute and Regulations, it deems pertinent (Art. 44 of the
Convention), since political rights, as mentioned above, are among those
protected by the Convention (Art. 23), as well as by Article 25 of the United
Nations Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which ahs also been ratified by
Mexico on March 23, 1981. This
gives the Commission competence to act accordingly.
It must be pointed out, that Article 23 has two parts:
paragraph 1, letters a, b and c that enunciate the
nature of the rights protected and paragraph 2 which sets our the reasons that
are the basis for the regulation of political rights, something to be considered
jointly with Article 29 of the Convention according to which States, when
regulating the exercise of rights and opportunities referred to in paragraph 1
of Article 23, cannot “limit them to a greater extent” than stipulated in
The Commission considers that the act of ratifying the American
Convention presupposes acceptance of the obligation of not only respecting the
observance of rights and freedoms recognized in it, but also guaranteeing their
existence and the exercise of all of them.
It is these elements of political rights presented in item 5 of this
document that the State commits itself not only to respect but “guarantee
their full and free exercise,” according to Article 1.1 of the Convention.
It must be pointed out that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in
its Decision of July 29, 1988, in the case of Velásquez Rodríguez, has stated
that Article 1.1 of the Convention:
1 (1) is essential in determining whether a violation of the human rights
recognized by the Convention can be imputed to a State Party.
In effect, that article charges the States Parties with the fundamental
duty to respect and guarantee the rights recognized in the Convention.
Any impairment of those rights which can be attributed under the rules of
international law to the action or omission of any public authority constitutes
an act imputable to the State, which assumes responsibility in the terms
provided by the Convention.
According to the Court, “this obligation implies the duty of the State
party to organize all the state apparatus and, in general, all the structures
through which the exercise of public power is manifested, in such a manner that
they are able to legally insure the free and full exercise of human rights.” That is the basis of the obligation stipulated in Article 2
of the Convention for the adoption of measures of internal law to make those
rights and liberties effective. Therefore,
this carries with it the obligation of the state party to adapt its internal
legislation when it suffers defects that prevent or hinder the full observance
of the rights recognized by the Convention and, in this specific case, the
rights protected by Article 23.
The competent organs to “decide on matters related to the fulfillment
of commitments contracted by the State party in this Convention” are,
according to Article 33, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights with regards to the States that have
expressly accepted its jurisdiction. The
Commission, therefore, has the functions and attributions assigned to it by
Article 41 of the Convention, in its task “of promoting the observance and
defense of human rights.”
Mexico contracted the commitment to respect and guarantee the exercise of
the rights listed in the Convention when it ratified it on April 3, 1982, and as
regards the exercise of political rights, only expressed the reservation
referring to the right to vote and association with political aims applicable to
clergymen, according to provisions of Article 130 of the Constitution of the
State. When it contracted the
obligations derived from the Convention, it also accepted that the
Inter-American Commission exercise the functions and attributions conferred by
the Convention; no reservations or limitations were recorded in the instruments
deposited when the Convention was ratified.
With regard to the Mexican Government’s new interpretation, contained
in its comments of the Commission’s report, which is based on a distinction
between the right to vote and to be elected, as a right of immediate
enforceability, and the right to legitimate elections, as a progressively
achievable right, it should be pointed out that according to Article 23.1.b of
the Convention the right of citizens to vote and to be elected of necessity
entails the question of the method or requirements for making the right a
reality, an election, the characteristics of which give explicit validity to
that rule. An electoral act is
required in order to give practical effect to the abstract right to vote and to
be elected, which is the reason why the Convention spells out the
characteristics that elections should have.
From a juridical standpoint, several observations are in order.
First of all, it should be pointed out that in order for this
interpretive distinction between individual rights of immediate enforceability
(the right to vote and to be elected) and collective rights to be developed
progressively (the right to elections with particular characteristics) to have
validity in the cases under consideration, it would have been necessary for
Mexico, at one time or another, to have advanced this interpretation of this
article and to have stated this distinction unequivocally.
No reference to such a distinction can be found in the Preliminary Draft
Comments of the Government of Mexico on the Draft Convention (see Proceedings of
the Specialized Inter-American Conference on Human Rights, 1969, page 257 of the
Spanish text). Neither does any
such interpretation appear in the minutes (Actas), where it is found that, in
fact, the present formulation of Article 23.1.b was approved with the
affirmative vote of the highly qualified delegation sent by Mexico to that
Conference (see page 257, op. cit.)
No interpretative statement to that effect appears to have been made at
the time of Mexico’s signature of the Convention or during its ratification.
From the normative point of view, the structure of Article 23.1.b makes
reference to certain features that should be present in order for the right to
be recognized to be valid in practice. Indeed,
any mention of the right to vote and to elected would be mere rhetoric if
unaccompanied by a precisely described set of characteristics that the elections
are require to meet. If the
provision were not considered in its entirety, the interpretation now being
advanced by the Government of Mexico would result in outright suppression of the
enjoyment and exercise of political rights.
Mexico would thereby be violating Article 29.a (Restrictions regarding
Interpretation) of the Convention.
The comments also contain the argument that “… the need for the
elections to be legitimate imposes upon the State an obligation to act: To
progressively develop, in accordance with circumstance and conditions in each
country, the guarantee that the voters may freely express their will.”
This argument would condition the existence of human rights on “the
circumstances and situation of each country” leaving the whole legal system in
a precarious state.
With respect to the argument contained in the Mexican Government’s
comments which holds that any opinion issued by the Commission on an electoral
process on the basis of individual complaints constitutes a violation of the
principle of nonintervention, it should be state here once again that the
Mexican State, by virtue of having signed and ratified the Convention, has
consented to allow certain aspects of its internal jurisdiction to be a subject
of judgments on the part of the organs instituted to protect the rights and
guarantees recognized by the instrument, it is even truer when the instrument is
a treaty that recognizes the inalienable rights of man, which, antedate and are
paramount over those of the State.
Moreover, as stated in Article 18 of the OAS Charter, the principle of
nonintervention is a rule of conduct that governs the acts of States or groups
of States. All of the normative
precedents developed within the inter-American system (Seventh International
Conference of American States, Montevideo, 1933, and Inter-American Conference
for the Strengthening of Peace, Buenos Aires, 1936, Additional Protocol on
Nonintervention), have taken that approach.
The Inter-American Juridical Committee, in its “Draft Instrument” on
cases of violations of the principle of nonintervention (1972), indicated that
one of the basic criteria followed preparing it was that “only States can be
subjects of intervention.”
It should be noted further that in 1972, at its second session, the
General Assembly of the Organization of American States adopted a resolution
entitled “Strengthening of the Principles of Nonintervention and the
Self-determination of Peoples and Measures to guarantee their Observance.”
This resolution reaffirms the concept that only States can be subjects of
intervention. It is relevant to
quote the text of the following paragraph of that resolution:
states shall respect the right of self-determination and independence of peoples
and nations, to be freely exercised without any foreign pressure and with
absolute respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The principle of nonintervention is therefore linked to the right of
peoples to self-determination and independence and is described as a principle
to be practiced in suitable harmony with human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This important interrelation of principles of international law is
formalized as a rule of law in Article 16 of the OAS Charter, which reads as
State has the right to develop its cultural, political, and economic life freely
and naturally. In this free development, the State shall respect the rights
of individuals and the principles of universal morality.
According to this rule, the right of the State to develop its internal
life freely has a counterpart in its obligation to respect the rights of
individuals. And in inter-American
law these rights are formally recognized in the American Convention on Human
Rights. The correct interpretation
of the principle of nonintervention is therefore one based on protecting the
right of States to self-determination provided the right is exercised in a
manner consistent with respect for the rights of individuals.
The above leads to the conclusion that the Commission, based on its
regulatory instruments, is empowered to examine and evaluate the degree to which
the internal legislation of the State party guarantees or protects the rights
stipulated in the Convention and their adequate exercise and, obviously, among
these, political rights. The IACHR
is also empowered to verify, with respect to these rights, if the holding of
periodic, authentic elections, with universal, equal, and secret suffrage takes
place, within the framework of the necessary guarantees so that the voters
could, if necessary, effectively appeal against an electoral process that they
consider fraudulent, defective, and irregular or that ignores the “right to
access, under general conditions of equality, to the public functions of their
It is understood beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in the light of general
international law and the terms of the Convention, that it is a multilateral
treaty, and that the Inter-American Commission has jurisdiction to hear and
examine complaints or claims on matters affecting rights protected by the
Convention (Art. 44). Nevertheless,
and since the Government of Mexico has questioned said jurisdiction, in its
observations to the denunciation that arose from case 9828, it is important to
state the following:
The Vienna Convention (1969) on the Law of Treaties establishes, in
connection with the application of the international law norm pacta sunt
servanda, that “every treaty in effect binds the parties and must be
observed by them in good faith.”
In the Commission’s opinion we can distinguish in this precept, that
proposition that the fact that the treaty is binding does not mean that the same
establishes a norm that can point out obligations and rights to the contracting
parties. Therefore, the treaty has the quality of applying and at the
same time creating law. It applies
the law, because when a treaty is signed the general rule of international law pacta
sunt servanda is applied, and it creates law because it establishes rights
and duties which did not exist before the treaty, that begin to grow as a result
of the treaty and its application by each one of the parties.
From the aforementioned it can easily be deduced that each State party to
the American Convention on Human Rights contracted, when it ratified or acceded
to the Convention, the obligations of recognizing the competence and
jurisdiction of the means of protection that the Convention itself establishes
to “promote the observance and defense of human rights,” and one of those
means of protection is the IACHR.
The duty to refrain from doing or acting negatively with respect to the
application of the treaty can also be deduced from the context of this
obligation. That is, what the
International Law Commission defined when it stated “that every party must
abstain from executing acts aimed at frustrating the aim and objective of the
treaty” (Report of the International Law Commission:
OEA/SER.Q/II.11 (A), CJI-18 (A), pages 44-45) that, as the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights states, when referring to the aim and objective of the
American Convention, “it is not the reciprocal exchange of rights between a
limited number of States, but the protection of the rights of all human beings
in America, notwithstanding their nationality” (Advisory Opinion on the
Effects of Reservations – OC-2/82, p. 43).
Moreover, it is deduced that according to the Vienna Convention (Art.
29), that the American Convention is applicable in all the territory of the
United States of Mexico because “a treaty is obligatory for each one of the
parties with respect to the totality of its territory, except if a different
intention is inferred from it or is obvious in another way.”
(Vienna Convention, doc,
CJI-18, cit. p. 14). So, the
provisions of the Convention are applicable in all the States of the Mexican
Union as “supreme law of the Union,” in the spirit of Article 133 of the
Mexican Constitution, because Mexico ratified the American Convention without
amendments or interpretations applicable in this matter.
Therefore, what is stated by Article 28 of the federal clause is
The pertinent matter for the protection of human rights in the
inter-American system is regulated, for the States parties, by the division of
the governments themselves of the member states of the OAS, which approved and
put in effect the American Convention on Human Rights, among them the Government
of Mexico, through a formal source of international law such as the
Therefore, as a matter of law every right related to this subject is not
presently reserved, in an exclusive fashion, to the jurisdiction of the member
states of the OAS, at most those who have ratified the Convention, because this
is the situation that creates the present state of hemispheric international
From what has been discussed thus far, Mexico, when it ratified the
American Convention on Human Rights, committed itself to respect and guarantee
the exercise of the political rights described or defined in Article 23 of the
aforementioned treaty which includes the right to vote in authentic elections,
and adopt legislation that will lead to that objective, as stated in Article 2. It also committed itself to provide an effective remedy for
those who believe that that right has been affected, under Article 25 of the
Convention and to guarantee the right of every person to be heard by a
competent, independent, and impartial judge or tribunal for the determination of
rights and obligations. In order to
determine the adequacy of the behavior of the Mexican government with respect to
obligations contracted under the American Convention, said government has also
accepted that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights systematically give
opinions on such matters, exercising the powers granted to it by said
international instrument, without said powers having ever been questioned.
Issues in this case
The three denunciations hold that the elections held were not authentic
because they did not adequately represent the popular.
As for the specific allegations, the Commission has decided to refrain
from making any reference to the de facto situations alleged in these
cases because the validity of some of the allegations would have to rest on a
presence of the Commission during the electoral campaign and at the time of the
voting. To this should be added the
fact that the Commission did not engage in any exhaustive monitoring of the
situation in Mexico, as had been done in certain cases in which it has issued
judgments on electoral processes and even made inspection visits to some of the
countries concerned. Accordingly,
it neither accepts nor denies the veracity of the facts as alleged.
This precludes the possibility that the Commission comment on the origin
of the mandate of the officials chosen in these elections.
At present, this is also the intention of the claimants.
In relation with the internal remedies and guarantees in Mexico, the
matter to be examined is whether Mexican law offers adequate means or a simple
and quick remedy or of “any other effective remedy before competent judges or
independent and impartial courts” that protect those who petition against
“acts that violate their fundamental rights,” as is the case with political
rights. The Commission has been
able to perceive that no such remedy does exist in Mexico.
In view of the aforementioned and pursuant to provisions in Article 41,
letter c of the Convention, which grants the power to make
“recommendations, when appropriate, to the governments of member states in
order that they adopt progressive measures in favor of human rights within the
framework of their internal laws and their constitutional precepts” and,
bearing in mind, moreover, the provisions of Article 2 of the Convention, the
Commission deems it advisable to remind the Government of Mexico of its duty to
adopt measures of internal law, in accordance with its constitutional procedures
and the provisions of the Convention, whether legislative or of another
character, necessary to make effective the rights and liberties which the
The Commission must remind the Government of Mexico at this time that its
duty is to assure the free and full exercise of political rights and judicial
protection in accordance with Article 1.1 of the American Convention.
In this regard, the Commission must mention that it has been informed
that there is underway an active process of reform of the electoral laws.
The Commission hopes that these reforms will lead to the adoption of
standards that will adequately protect the exercise of political rights and
create a rapid and effective procedure assuring the protection of the same.
The Commission places itself at the disposal of the Government of Mexico
to cooperate with it in all matters that might lead to the achievement of these
ends in the same way that it has so offered itself to other Governments.
The Commission also requests that the Government of Mexico send it
information relating to the electoral reform process currently under way, in
accordance with Article 43 of the American Convention on Human Rights.