ACTIVITIES OF THE IACHR
This report covers activities conducted by the Commission
The IACHR held its eighty-fifth regular session from January 31
to February 11, 1994, its eighty-sixth special session on April 6 and
7, 1994, and its eighty-seventh regular session from September 19 to
At this session the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
elected its officers: Professor
W. Michael Reisman, Chairman; Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, First
Vice-Chairman; Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Second Vice-Chairman. Other
members participating in the session were Dr. Patrick Robinson, Dr.
Oscar Luján Fappiano, Professor Claudio Grossman, and Ambassador John
The Commission considered and approved its Annual Report to the
twenty-fourth regular session of the General Assembly.
During the session, the Commission granted hearings to
representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations, as
well as individuals interested in the subject of human rights.
They described the general situation of human rights in
specific countries, and commented on individual cases.
The Commission continued its analysis of the observance of
economic, social, and cultural rights in the region, and the rights of
women. On the last topic, it established a working group to compile a
report on the compatibility of domestic legislation with the American
Convention on Human Rights in the area of protection of women's
rights, with particular attention to any discriminatory provisions
against women that may exist in the legal systems of some of the OAS
In its Annual Report the Commission included a summary of the
situation of refugees, displaced persons, and returnees in the
The Commission also decided to prepare a comparative document
on the situation of prisons in the OAS member states, to be used as
the basis for specific recommendations where deemed necessary.
In addition, the Commission approved a report on the escalation of violence and the human rights situation in Haiti, reaffirming that despite the political situation the American Convention remains in force for the Haitian government, and those who seize power illegally are obliged to respect and guarantee free and full exercise of those rights.
After taking note of the observations of the government of El
Salvador, the Commission decided to publish a special report on that
With regard to the report on the human rights situation in Peru,
approved at the Commission's previous session, the Commission confirmed
its decision to publish the report in Chapter IV of the Commission's
In its Annual Report the Commission also reflected its concern
over the human rights situation in Nicaragua and Cuba.
In a desire to cooperate with the Federal Republic of Brazil, the
Commission agreed to repeat its request for authorization to make an
on-site visit to that country.
The Commission studied the Preliminary Report on Disappearances
in Honduras, prepared by the National Commissioner for Protection of
Human Rights. In view of threats from sectors mentioned in that report
against the National Commissioner, who is IACHR member Dr. Leo
Valladares Lanza, the Commission sent a note to the President of
Honduras expressing its solidarity with Dr. Valladares Lanza and
declaring the threats to be attacks against the whole inter-American
system for protection of human rights.
The Commission scheduled this special session to coincide with
the presentation of its Annual Report and special reports to the
Permanent Council's Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs.
The Commission discussed among other matters the presentation of
its report to the Permanent Council, its program of on-site visits, and
the process of individual cases.
The Commission also approved and confirmed the undertaking of
special studies on matters concerning protection and promotion of human
rights, dealing with the law of disrespect (desacato), the prison
situation in the Americas, and women's rights.
The special session was held in conjunction with activities
planned by the Commission to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of
its establishment by the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of
Foreign Affairs, which was held in Santiago, Chile in 1959.
All Commission members were present: Professor Michael Reisman,
Chairman; Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, First Vice-Chairman; Dr. Leo
Valladares Lanza, Second Vice-Chairman; and members Dr. Patrick
Robinson, Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, Professor Claudio Grossman, and
Ambassador John Donaldson.
During the session, the Commission granted hearings to
representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations, as
well as individuals interested in the subject of human rights.
They described the general situation of human rights in specific
countries, and commented on individual cases before the Commission.
The Commission received a visit from the Minister of Justice of
Chile, Dr. Soledad Alvear, and Chile's Permanent Representative to the
OAS, Ambassador Edmundo Vargas Carreño.
Dr. Alvear described progress by the Chilean government in the
administration and protection of human rights.
The Solicitor General of Jamaica, Dr. Kenneth Rattray, also met
with the Commission and presented matters of mutual interest.
The Commission gave priority attention to the serious
deterioration of the human rights situation in Haiti and the measures
that must be taken to end the de facto authorities' systematic violation
of the human rights of a large part of the population.
In response to the invitation from the Permanent Representative
of Haiti to the OAS, and in view of the alarming situation, the
Commission decided to make two on-site visits to Haiti in the course of
the year covered in this report.
The Commission also accepted the invitation of the government of
Guatemala to make an on-site visit to that country.
The Commission noted with satisfaction the friendly settlement
reached between the Argentine government and petitioners in the case of
journalist Horacio Verbitsky, which is an important precedent for the
progressive development of the inter-American system for the protection
of human rights. Argentina also satisfactorily settled the case of Mr.
Guillermo Maqueda, which the Commission had submitted to the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The government of Argentina
commuted Mr. Maqueda's sentence, which resulted in his conditional
The Commission continued to review the observance of economic,
social, and cultural rights in the region, as well as women's rights,
freedom of expression, prison conditions, and the draft instrument on
the rights of indigenous peoples, which is to be presented to the
governments for their consideration in 1995.
Finally, the Commission decided to hold its next regular session
from February 1 to 17, 1995.
The Commission attended the twenty-fourth regular session of the
General Assembly, which took place from June 6 to 10, 1994, in Belém do
Pará, Brazil. It was represented by its Chairman, Professor Michael
Reisman; its First Vice-Chairman, Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía; and Dr.
Patrick Robinson, who were assisted by Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez,
Executive Secretary; Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary;
and Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, attorney of the Secretariat.
Among the resolutions approved by the General Assembly was one on
the IACHR Annual Report, the text of which is as follows:
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SPECIAL REPORTS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
(Resolution adopted at the ninth plenary
on June 10, 1994)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
HAVING SEEN the annual report of the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights (CP/CAJP-940/94) and its special reports on the situation
of human rights (CP/CAJP-941/94, CP/CAJP-942/94, and CP/CAJP-943/94), as
well as the observations and recommendations made by the Permanent
Council of the Organization regarding those reports (AG/doc.3078/94 and
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the presentation of those reports by the
Chairman of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and
That the member states of the Organization of American States
have proclaimed in their Charter, as one of their fundamental
principles, respect for the rights of the individual without distinction
as to race, nationality, creed or sex;
That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was
established by the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign
Affairs, held in Santiago, Chile, in 1959, and that its principal
function is to promote the observance and protection of human rights and
to serve as a consultative body of the Organization for such matters;
That the ideal of a free human being, unfettered by fear or
poverty, can only be fulfilled if conditions are established which
permit all individuals to enjoy their economic, social, and cultural
rights, as well as their civil and political rights;
That international protection of human rights reinforces or
complements the protection afforded by the domestic laws of member
states, and is based upon the attributes of the human being;
That one of the aims of the Organization is to promote and
consolidate representative democracy while respecting principles of
nonintervention and self-determination;
That the effective exercise of representative democracy is the
best guarantee that human rights will be fully respected;
That the member states recognize the inextricable link between
human rights, democracy, and development;
That special attention should be given to progressive improvement
of the promotion and protection system established under the American
Convention on Human Rights; and
That the United Nations has declared 1994 the International Year
of the Family;
TAKING NOTE of the resolution on "Human Rights and
Terrorism" adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
during its fiftieth session;
RECALLING the outcome of the World Conference on Human Rights,
held in Vienna in 1993; and
BEARING IN MIND that the position of High Commissioner for Human
Rights has been established within the United Nations,
To take note of the Annual Report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights and the aforementioned special reports.
To receive and endorse the recommendations and observations which
the Permanent Council presented for consideration by the General
Assembly (AG/doc.3078/94 and addenda), and to transmit them, along with
those contained in this resolution, to the Inter-American Commission on
To take note of the comments and observations of the member state
governments regarding the annual report, the special reports of the
Commission, and the steps the governments are taking to strengthen the
promotion, observance, and protection of human rights.
To take note of the progress made in the effective observance of
human rights in the region, especially the steps being taken by member
states to enhance the promotion, observance, and protection of human
rights in their own countries; and at the same time to express concern
over the continuing existence of serious human rights violations.
To call upon the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to
continue giving special importance to the dialogue with member states in
connection with the reports on the situation of human rights in the
countries of the Hemisphere.
To reiterate the importance of applying the mechanism for
reaching friendly settlements among the parties concerned within the
framework of respect for human rights, in accordance with
provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and the
Statute and Regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Human
To reaffirm that all human rights are universal, indivisible,
interdependent, and interrelated; that, therefore, their promotion and
protection in an equitable and global manner is the responsibility of
all member states; and that, consequently, no right should be ignored
under the pretext that full enjoyment of other rights has not been
To urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue
to pay special attention to the promotion of economic, social, and
To call upon the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to
provide cooperation and assistance, within the framework of
strengthening democratic systems, and at the request of the State
concerned, in promoting and protecting human rights, in coordination
with other organs, agencies, and entities of the inter-American system,
urge those member states that have not yet done so to sign, ratify, or
accede to, as appropriate, the various inter-American instruments for
the promotion and protection of human rights and, when applicable, to
accept the competence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
to receive and examine communications from states concerning other
states in accordance with Article 45.1 of the American Convention on
Human Rights, and to recognize as binding the jurisdiction of the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
recall the importance for the inter-American human rights promotion and
protection system of the advisory opinions and findings issued by the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, particularly for the
interpretation and application of the American Convention on Human
Rights, and to invite the parties to contentious proceedings before the
Court to continue to abide by its decisions, as provided in Articles 67
and 68 of that Convention.
emphasize that the incorporation of new rights and freedoms into the
system envisioned in the American Convention on Human Rights, and any
other amendment thereto, must conform to its Articles 31, 76, and 77.
reiterate that it is important that the member state governments
continue to extend the necessary guarantees to nongovernmental human
rights organizations and their members, so that they may continue their
activities in accordance with the constitution and laws of each country.
urge the member states to take or continue taking, as applicable, the
measures needed to guarantee the integrity, independence, and autonomy
of their judiciaries.
take note of the efforts made by the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights in response to the serious human rights situation in Haiti, and
to reiterate the need to place the Commission in a position to implement
fully the recommendations issued by the ad hoc Meeting of Ministers of
Foreign Affairs, in accordance with the relevant paragraphs of
resolutions MRE/RES.1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and particularly on-site visits
to that country.
reaffirm that member states should take steps aimed at recognizing
women's rights, especially those designed to eliminate violence directed
against women by virtue of their gender, and to urge member states to
cooperate with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the
Inter-American Commission of Women in this regard.
reaffirm the importance of the issue of disability and human rights, and
the fact that the full and enjoyment and exercise of the basic rights of
persons with disabilities should be ensured accordingly.
reiterate the need to respect the principle of nondiscrimination and to
safeguard the legal and social equality of persons carrying the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and suffering from acquired immune
deficiency syndrome (AIDS); and to urge the member states to provide
such persons with the appropriate treatment and to take the necessary
educational and public health measures to prevent the spread of that
disease and others like it while fully respecting the human rights of
urge member states to guarantee protection of the human rights of
migratory workers and their families, of groups of population that are
disenfranchised or minorities, and of victims of racial discrimination;
and urge them to bring about conditions that will foster greater harmony
and tolerance between those groups and the rest of society.
reiterate its appeal to member states to continue with and expand upon
the appropriate measures to ensure observance of internationally
recognized principles regarding the protection and humane treatment of
refugees and those seeking asylum, and to reaffirm the need for member
states to cooperate in the important work of the.............the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
emphasize the urgent need to strengthen mechanisms and programs for the
defense and protection of children in the Hemisphere, and to call upon
the Inter-American Children's Institute to cooperate with the member
states in this regard.
urge member states that have not yet done so to comply with the request
that they report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the
social, cultural, and economic situation in their respective countries.
reiterate its most vehement condemnation of terrorism in any shape or
form and by any agent, and to repudiate the grave consequences of such
acts, which are designed to destroy human rights and fundamental
freedoms; and to recommend that the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights continue providing information in the areas envisioned in
paragraph (c) of resolution AG/RES.1112 (XXI-O/91) under
"Recommendations to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights," for which it shall take into account, among other
background information, that provided by the member states.
express its deep sorrow regarding all the innocent victims of terrorism
and of other indiscriminate and arbitrary acts of violence, which
cannot, and should not be justified under any circumstance.
express support for and solidarity with those member states that are
engaged in peace processes, while fully observing the provisions that
guarantee the rule of law.
reiterate its interest in a prompt conclusion of the drafting of a legal
instrument dealing with the rights of indigenous peoples and
reiterate the recommendation to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights that in its annual report the Commission should provide an
overall appraisal of how human rights have fared in other member states,
taking into account the information supplied by the member states, among
reiterate the recommendation made to the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights in resolution AG/RES.1112 (XXI-O/91) to continue to include
in its annual report its activities to promote and extend the observance
of human rights in the member states.
ask the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to report, in
accordance with Article 63.b of its Regulations, on action taken with
regard to the Permanent Council's observations and recommendations
transmitted through the General Assembly.
urge those member state governments that have not yet done so to
incorporate the subject of human rights at the different levels of their
educational systems, in accordance with their domestic law; and to
recommend that dissemination of information about the various facets of
human rights be made a priority objective of each state's educational
recommend to the Inter-American Juridical Committee that it continue
including conferences and seminars publicizing various aspects of human
rights issues in its annual courses on international law.
urge member states to continue to cooperate with the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights as it conducts on-site visits, in keeping
with applicable provisions, because of their importance for the
protection and promotion of human rights.
thank the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the information
provided on the outcome of the World Conference on Human Rights and its
potential impact on the development and strengthening of human rights in
the inter-American system.
endorse the objectives proposed by the United Nations in observance of
the International Year of the Family.
welcome the establishment by the United Nations of the post of High
Commissioner for Human Rights, and to urge member states and the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to give the High Commissioner
their fullest possible cooperation in carrying out his important tasks.
recognize, on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, its important, arduous, and
constant efforts to effectively protect and promote human rights in the
urge member states to continue supporting and collaborating with the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and to provide it with
sufficient resources with which to properly carry out its work.
reiterate the recommendation issued in the Program of Action for
Strengthening the OAS in the Area of Human Rights [AG/RES.112 (XXI-O/91)]
to the General Secretariat, the Permanent Council, and the Preparatory
Committee of the General Assembly that, when preparing the
Organization's program-budget, they give priority to the allocation of
sufficient resources to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
to Communities of Peoples in Resistance (CPR) in Guatemala
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization
of American States (IACHR), in response to an invitation from the
government, sent a special delegation to Guatemala to observe the
process of resettlement and normalization of the so-called Communities
of Peoples in Resistance in Quiché Department.
The visit was held from March 4 through 11, 1994, the delegation
was composed of Second Vice-President Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, aided by
Assistant Executive Secretary Dr. David Padilla, Guatemalan affairs
specialist Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer, and Dr. Elizabeth Abi-Mershed.
The delegation made contact with various national authorities and
representatives of the communities, traveling to Ixcan and La Sierra in
Quiché, where they visited several communities and observed the human
rights situation of the persons there. During their visit they were
accompanied by Lic. César Alvarez Guadamuz, Ambassador of Guatemala to
the OAS. The Commission
approved a special report as a result of this visit.
On-site visit to Haiti
In view of the serious deterioration in the human rights
situation in Haiti it was decided to visit that country from May 16 to
20, 1994 in order to continue observing the situation and assess respect
for these rights under the American Convention on Human Rights, to which
Haiti is a party, and to make recommendations.
The special delegation was composed of Commission members Dr.
Patrick Robinson, Professor Claudio Grossman, and Ambassador John
Donaldson. The Commission was aided by Dr. Edith M
Rodriguez, Executive Secretary of the Commission; Dr. Bertha
Santoscoy-Noro, human rights specialist in charge of Haitian affairs;
Relinda Eddie and Isabel Ricupero, lawyers of Commission's Executive
Secretariat; and administrative support personnel.
During its visit the Commission met with the following persons:
Prime Minister Robert Malval and Ministers Victor Benoit, Rosemont
Pradel, Louis Dejoie II, Berthony Berry; Ambassador Colin Granderson,
director of the OAS/UN Civilian Mission and mission member Tiebil
Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri; Chamber of Deputies
President Frantz Robert Mondé and Senate President Fermin Jean-Louis.
The Commission received no reply to its request for interviews
with the Commander of Haiti's Armed Forces, General Raoul Cedras,
members of the general staff, and Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois.
The Commission also met with the coordinator of the former
Presidential Commission, Father Antoine Adrien, and representatives of
nongovernmental organizations: grassroots groups, human rights groups,
and leaders of political parties, in order to gather information about
the country's human rights situation. The Commission also met with
representatives of the media, who gave information about the state of
freedom of expression in Haiti, and representatives of the industrial
sector and various churches.
For lack of authorization by the de facto government, the
Commission was unable to visit the National Penitentiary in
Port-au-Prince to obtain first-hand information on the situation of the
prisoners and the status of the cases against them.
On-site visit to the Bahamas
In order to examine the situation of Haitian refugees in the
Bahamas, the Commission visited that country from May 22 to 27, 1994.
The delegation was composed of Professor Michael Reisman,
Chairman of the Commission; Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Second
Vice-President; and Ambassador John Donaldson.
The Commission was assisted by Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez,
Executive Secretary; Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary;
Dr. Relinda Eddie, human rights lawyer; and administrative support
personnel from the Secretariat.
During its visit the Commission's delegation enjoyed cooperation
from the government of the Bahamas, its officials and agencies, and
representatives of nongovernmental organizations.
The Commission met with the following persons: Prime Minister
Orville A. Turnquest; Social Development Minister Theresa Moxey Ingraham;
Opposition Leader Sir Lynden Pindling; Sir Clement Maynard; Dr. Bernard
Nottage and Independent Senator Fred Mitchell; Mark Wilson, Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of Public Safety and Transportation, and
representatives of other ministries; Marina Glinton, Director of the Red
Cross; Winifred Murray, Welfare Officer; and Charles Drummond, Director
of the Salvation Army. Representatives of several churches also met with
The Commission's delegation visited Haitian settlements on Abaco
(Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay), Grand Bahama (Freeport), Eleuthera, and
New Providence. It also went to the Carmichael Road detention camp.
Second on-site visit to Haiti
The delegation on the second visit held on October 24-27, 1994,
was composed of Professor Michael Reisman, IACHR Chairman; Dr. Patrick
Robinson and Professor Claudio Grossman, Commission members. They were
assisted by Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, Dr. Relinda Eddie, Dr. Meredith
Caplan, and Dr. Isabel Ricupero, lawyers in the Commission Secretariat,
and administrative support staff.
During its visit the Commission met with President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, expressing its great satisfaction because of the restoration
of democratic rule in the country and repeating its interest in
cooperating with his government on all matters within the Commission's
The Commission met with the Commander of the Armed Forces to
learn of the changes to be made in that institution and the police, in
accordance with decisions taken at the national and international
The Commission's delegation also met with Ambassador Colin
Granderson, head of the OAS-UN Civilian Mission; Mr. Ti
diplomatic representatives of the "group of friends:"
Argentina, Canada, the United States, France, and Venezuela; members of
parliament; the coordinator of the former Presidential Commission,
Father Antoine Adrien; and the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, Mr. Evans Paul.
The Commission also met with representatives of human rights
groups, grassroots organizations, and political party leaders to gather
information on the human rights situation in the country. It also met
with representatives of print and broadcast media to hear their views on
freedom of expression in Haiti, and with representatives of the
International Committee of the Red Cross, labor unions, the Chamber of
Commerce, industry, and various religious groups.
The Commission visited the National Penitentiary in
Port-au-Prince and traveled to the cities of Saint-Marc and Gonaives to
interview victims of human rights violations committed during the
military dictatorship. The
Commission visited jails in those cities in order to obtain direct
information on the legal status of the detainees and prison conditions
During its visit the Commission compiled important information
and numerous complaints from victims of alleged violation of their human
rights during the dictatorial regime.
On-site visit to Ecuador
At the invitation of the government of Ecuador, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited that country from
November 7 to 11, 1994. Members
of the delegation were the Commission's Chairman, Professor Michael
Reisman; the Vice-Presidents, Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía and Dr.
Leo Valladares Lanza; and Commission member Ambassador John Donaldson.
The Commission was assisted by Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive
Secretary; Dr. Domingo E. Acevedo, Special Adviser to the Commission;
and Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, as well as Gabriela Hageman and Rosario
During its visit the Commission met with the Vice-President of
Ecuador, Dr. Alberto Garzozi Dahik; the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court, Dr. Francisco Acosta Yepes, and the President of that court's
Constitutional Chamber, Dr. Hugo Ordoñez Espinosa; the President of the
Congress, Dr. Heinz Moeller; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Galo
Leoro Franco; the Minister of Mines and Energy, Dr. Gustavo Galindo; the
Minister of Justice (Attorney General), Dr. Fernando Cazares; the
Minister of Defense, Gen. José Gallardo Román; the Minister of
Government and Police, Dr. Marcelo Santos, and that ministry's Director
of Social Rehabilitation, Dr. Juan José Paez; the Chairman of the
Permanent Commission on Human Rights, Deputy Juan José Castelos, and
with other members of congress; and the Commanding General of the
National Police, Gen. Miguel Rocero Barba.
The Commission also held meetings with representatives of the
Ecumenical Commission on Human Rights (CEDHU), the Latin American
Association for Human Rights (ALDHU), CONAIE, COICA, CONFANEIA,
ECUARUNARI, FICI, FOIN, and OINAE.
Members and representatives of several Ecuadoran nongovernmental
organizations also met with the Commission.
The Commission received relatives of detainees and missing
persons, representatives of individuals who have submitted petitions
alleging violations of human rights as set forth in the American
Convention, and other persons and groups interested in Ecuador's human
The Commission visited several prisons in Quito and Guayaquil. At
each one it met with the authorities and spoke privately with prisoners.
The Commission was informed of legislative and administrative
measures adopted or pending with a view to preventing human rights
violations. The Commission considers that these measures should be
supplemented by others to afford effective protection for the rights and
guarantees contained in the American Convention on Human Rights.
The observations and contacts, and the valuable information
obtained, will be used in preparing the Commission's report on the
On-site visit to Jamaica
At the invitation of the government of Jamaica, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made an on-site visit to that
country from December 7 to 9, 1994 in order to examine conditions in
prisons and detention centers.
The Commission's delegation included Professor Michael Reisman,
IACHR Chairman, and Ambassador John Donaldson, Commission member. They
were assisted by Dr. Edith M
Rodríguez, Executive Secretary of the Commission, and lawyers and human
rights specialists Dr. Relinda Eddie and Isabel Ricupero, with Mrs.
Gloria Hansen providing administrative support.
During its visit the delegation received cooperation from the
government of Jamaica and its officials.
It was also greatly aided by members and representatives of
nongovernmental organizations concerned with the prison population, and
by detainees and prison officials.
The Commission met with the Hon. Benjamin Claire, Minister of
State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Hon. K.
D. Knight, Minister of Security and Justice; and Colonel John Prescod,
The Commission also met with Monsignor Richart Albert, Mr. Denis
Daly, lawyer and president of the Jamaican Human Rights Council, and
Mrs. Florizelle O'Connor, coordinator of the Jamaican Human Rights
The delegation visited the following penal institutions: Tower
Street Adult Correctional Centre (General Penitentiary); South Camp
Adult Correctional Centre (Gun Court); St. Catherine Adult Correctional
Centre; Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre; Rio Cobre Juvenile
Correctional Centre; St. Andrew Juvenile Remand Centre; Half Way Tree;
Remand Centre and Hunts Bay.
During these visits the delegation obtained valuable information
regarding the prison population, conditions of confinement, and general
On-site visit to Guatemala
At the invitation of the government of Guatemala the Commission
made an on-site visit to that country from December 12 to 15, 1994. The purpose of the visit was to observe the situation of
human rights, in order to report to the full Commission, and,
especially, to gather information on cases presently before the
Commission, which are based on individual petitions alleging violations
of the rights established in the American Convention on Human Rights, to
which Guatemala is a party.
The IACHR delegation was composed of Professor Claudio Grossman,
a member of the Commission; Dr. David Padilla, Deputy Executive
Secretary; and Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer, Principal Specialist. Mrs. Cecilia
Adriazola provided administrative support.
In Guatemala the delegation carried out an extensive program,
which included interviews with widely diverse sectors in the government
and private sphere. The Commission met with the President of Guatemala,
Ramiro de León Carpio; the President of the Judicial Branch and Supreme
Court, Oscar Barrios Castillo; the President of the Legislative Branch,
Arabella Castro de Comparini; the Chief Justice of the Constitutional
Court, Gabriel Larios Ochaita; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gladys
Marithza Ruiz de Vielmann; the Minister of Defense, Gen. Mario René Enríquez
Morales; the Minister of Government, Danilo Parrinello; the Minister of
Labor and Social Welfare, Gladys Anabella Morfín; the Minister of
Public Health, Dr. Gustavo Hernández Polanco; the President of the
Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Mario Guerra Roldán; the Attorney General,
the Prosecutor General, Acisclo Valladares; the Deputy Prosecutor for
Human Rights, Ricardo Alvarado Ortigoza; the Chairman of the
Presidential Commission for Coordination of Executive Policy on Human
Rights (COPREDEH), Jorge Cabrera Hurtate; the Chairman of the National
Commission for Assistance to Repatriated Refugees and Displaced Persons
(CEAR), José Mauricio Rodríguez; and the Deputy Executive Director of
the National Fund for Peace, Danilo Cruz Morales.
The Commission also visited various departments in the interior
to assess the situation in Sierra and Ixcán (Quiché) of the
Communities of Peoples in Resistance (CPR) and of the returnees in Los
Cimientos and the area of Cuarto Pueblo. In Coatepeque it examined the
situation concerning conflicts at the San José del Horizonte Plantation
and other estates in the region and La Colomba. It also observed the
situation in Chajul (Quiché) and Chupol, and made contact with military
authorities at several bases, including Playa Grande and Santa Cruz del
The Commission also met with many persons and institutions
concerned with human rights and received testimony and statements from
representatives of religious, labor, peasant, refugee, indigenous,
displaced person, returnee, and student groups.
ACTIVITIES OF THE IACHR RELATED TO THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF
During the thirtieth regular session of the Inter-American Court
it considered case 10,078 "Neira Alegría and others," known
as "El Front
It is anticipated that during the Court's next regular session in
January 1995 it will issue a judgment in the case, which will be read at
a public hearing.
On January 19, 1995, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
ruled on this case as follows:
Declares that, for Victor Neira Alegría, Edgar Zenteno and
William Zenteno Escobar, Peru has violated the right set forth in
article 4.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, in connection
with article 1.1 of the Convention.
Declares that, for the three persons indicated, Peru has violated
the right of habeas corpus set forth in article 7.6 in connection with
the prohibition in article 27.2 of the American Convention on Human
Rules that, in connection with this case, Peru is obligated to
pay the families of the victims fair compensation and to reimburse them
for the costs they incurred in bringing their case against the Peruvian
Rules that the form and amount of the compensation and
reimbursement of costs will be set by Peru and the Commission, by joint
agreement, within six months counting from the date of notification of
Reserves the right to review and approve the agreement, and, if
no agreement is reached, the Court will determine the amount of the
compensation and the costs incurred, for which purpose it leaves the
During the same session the Court took up case 10,319,
"Isidro Caballero Delgado and Mar
Carmen Santana," which is in the evidence-gathering stage. The
Commission, represented by Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza and assisted by Dr.
Manuel Velasco Clark, went to Colombia for submission of oral evidence.
Later, during the Court's thirtieth session, they attended the public
hearings at the headquarters of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
in San Jose, Costa Rica, which were held to receive evidence on the
substance of the case from witnesses proposed by the parties. Before
issuing a judgment in the case, the Court will have to decide whether to
hear additional witnesses requested by the Commission and the
The Court also considered the "Genie" case during this
session. Case 10,792, "Jean-Paul Genie," was submitted by the
Commission to the Court in December, 1993. On November 18 there was a
hearing to consider the government of Nicaragua's preliminary
objections. The Commission was represented by its chairman, Professor
Michael Reisman; Dr. Edith M
Rodríguez, Executive Secretary; Dr. Milton Castillo, a lawyer with the
Secretariat; and Dr. Robert Goldman and Dr. José Miguel Vivanco,
advisers to the Commission. The
preliminary objections concern:
Lack of jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Failure to meet the admissibility requirements set forth in
Article 46 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
Procedural errors by the Inter-American Commission on Human
Improper aggregation of petitions in the complaint filed by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Court is expected to rule upon these objections during its
next regular session in January, 1995.
On January 27, 1995, the Court handed down its judgment on the
preliminary objections and ruled unanimously as follows:
Declares that it has jurisdiction to hear the instant case,
except for ruling on the abstract compatibility of Decrees 591 and 600
of Nicaragua with the American Convention on Human Rights.
Rejects the preliminary objections of the Nicaraguan Government,
except for the objection that domestic legal resources have not been
exhausted, a matter that will be resolved along with the substance of
Considers that the Nicaraguan Government's objections to the
contentions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding
the obligatory character of the Commission's recommendations, are not
preliminary objections but are questions of substance that should be
decided upon at the proper time.
Does not consider it appropriate to order that costs be paid:
Decides to continue to take cognizance of the instant case.
Case 10,602, "El Amparo," was submitted to the Court in
January, 1994. On August 1,
1994 the Court received the government of Venezuela's response to the
On January 18, 1995, the Court handed down its judgment and ruled
To take note of the Republic of Venezuela's acknowledgement of
responsibility and decides that the dispute on the facts that gave rise
to this case has been resolved.
Decides that the Republic of Venezuela is obligated to make
reparation for the damages and to pay fair compensation to the surviving
victims and the families of the deceased.
Decides that the reparations and the form and amount of the
compensation shall be set by the Republic of Venezuela and the
Inter-American Commission on Human rights, in joint agreement, within
six months counting from the date of notification of this ruling.
Reserves the right to review and approve the agreement, and if no
agreement is reached, the Court will determine the amount of the
reparations and the amount of the compensation and costs, for which
purpose, it leaves the case open.
The Court heard testimony from the Inter-American Commission and
the government of Guatemala on provisional measures demanded of the
government by the Court to protect the life and personal integrity of
several witnesses and their family members, as well as lawyers, in
connection with the "Colotenango" case (11,212) that is before
the Commission. The Court was told that these individuals are threatened
by members of armed civilian patrols known now as Voluntary Civil
Defense Committee. These
paramilitary groups, which operate under the authority and control of
the Guatemalan army, are blamed for a violent armed attack on August 3,
1993 against unarmed participants in a human rights demonstration held
in the city of Colotenango, Huehuetenango department.
After hearing the presentations by the parties, the Court
To continue the provisional measures adopted by resolution of
June 22, 1994 in the Colotenango case for an additional six months from
the date, and to extend them to cover Mrs. Francisca Sales Mart
To require the government of Guatemala to use the means at its
disposal to comply with the court order to arrest 13 patrol members
accused as suspects in the trial underway in the Second Primary Court of
Huehuetenango for the crimes committed on August 3, 1993 in Colotenango.
To request the government of Guatemala to inform the Court every
90 days of steps it has taken to comply with this resolution.
In Case Nº 11.086 of Mr. Guillermo Maqueda, the Commission
submitted a petition to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on May
25, 1994. On October 4,
1994, the Commission notified the Court of its decision to discontinue
the case since the Government and the petitioner reached an amicable
settlement that addressed the interests of the parties.
Accordingly, on January 17, 1995, the Court handed down its
judgment and ruled:
To admit the abandonment of the action brought by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the case of Maqueda vs the
To dismiss the Maqueda case.
To reverse the right to reopen and continue hearing the case if
the circumstances that gave rise to the agreement should change in the
To inform the parties of this ruling.
Advisory Opinion 14/94
On December 9, 1994 the Court rendered an advisory opinion OC-14
titled "International Responsibility for Promulgation and
Enforcement of Laws in Violation of the Convention (Articles 1 and 2 of
the American Convention on Human Rights)."
This advisory opinion was requested by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, which asked the Court to determine the legal
effect of a law enacted by a state party to the Convention that patently
violates the obligations it assumed by ratifying the Convention. The
Commission also wanted the Court to define the obligations and
responsibilities of agents or officials who enforce the law.
On this matter, the Court expressed the following opinion:
That promulgation of a law that patently contravenes the
obligations contracted by a state upon ratification of or adherence to
the Convention is a violation of the Convention, and if it affects
rights and freedoms of protected persons, the state is internationally
That enforcement by state agents or officials of a law in patent
violation of the Convention makes the state internationally liable. If
the act of enforcement is in and of itself an international crime, the
agents or officials who carry it out are also internationally liable.
Celebration of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the
At the invitation of the government of Chile, the Commission
celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary with a visit to that country.
The Commission received the valuable assistance of Chile's
Ambassador to the OAS, Dr. Edmundo Vargas Carreño, in making
preparations for the visit and during its stay in Chile.
The visit began with a ceremonial session with the President of
Chile, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, during which Minister of Foreign Affairs
Carlos Figueroa Serrano explained the government's human rights policy,
thanked the Commission for its work concerning Chile, and reiterated
total support for international machinery and institutions entrusted
with safeguarding human rights.
During its stay in Santiago the Commission had the opportunity to
meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carlos Figueroa Serrano;
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr. Marcos Aburto Ochoa; the
Minister of Justice, Mrs. Soledad Alvear V.; the Minister, Secretary
General of Government, Mr. Víctor Manuel Rebolledo; the Chairman of the
Bishops' Conference, Monsignor Fernando Ariztía R.; and former
President of Chile Mr. Patricio Aylwin A.
The Commission traveled to Valparaiso, where it met with Senate
President Gabriel Valdés Subercaseaux and Acting President of the
Chamber of Deputies Juan Carlos Latorre.
Joint sessions with the Foreign Relations and Human Rights
Committees in the two chambers demonstrated to the Commission the
authorities' resolve to consolidate the rule of law in the framework of
democratic institutions, to ensure full enjoyment of basic human rights
The Commission joined the "Andrés Bello" Diplomatic
Academy and other institutions in holding a seminar to evaluate the
inter-American system for the protection of human rights and a
photographic exhibit to reflect the Commission's work in the past 35
years. Finally, the
Commission had an important meeting with leaders of nongovernmental
human rights organizations, during which it learned of their work and
their views on the challenges Chile confronts in giving full effect to
Dr. David Padilla and Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer were in Honduras from
February 28 to March 3, giving lectures at the National Pedagogical
University of Honduras and the Law School of the University of Honduras.
On April 5, 1994, in conjunction with the celebration of the
thirty-fifth anniversary of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, several of its members and staff described the inter-American
system for the protection of human rights at the Center for Human Rights
and Humanitarian Law of the American University Law School in
On April 21, at the Padilha Vidal Hall of the OAS General
Secretariat Building in Washington, there was a panel discussion on
"Human Rights and Democratization: Strengthening of Civilian
Institutions." Panelists representing the IACHR were Commission
member Professor Claudio Grossman and Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez,
Executive Secretary of the Commission.
The thirty-first meeting of the Inter-American Bar Association
took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from June 25 to July 1.
The Commission was represented by Professor Claudio Grossman and
Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez.
In keeping with past practice the Commission conducted
consultations with the Secretary General elect, César Gaviria Trujillo
in Bogotá, Colombia in June, 1994 and subsequently met with him in
Washington, D.C., in September of the same year to discuss future
activities and requirements of the IACHR.
Dr. Milton Castillo was invited in July of 1994 to participate as
a panelist by the Labor and Human Rights Institute of the Florida
International University to speak on the Inter-American System for the
Protection of Human Rights.
In July, 1994, Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary,
took part in a moot court at the University of Swaziland at the
invitation of a consortium of universities in southern Africa. He
described the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.
Dr. Padilla taught a course on human rights and international law
at American University during June, July, and August, 1994.
On October 6, 1994, he took part in a conference of the Society
of International Law at Yale University Law School.
Again, the topic was the inter-American system for the protection
of human rights.
In Caracas, Venezuela, on September 29 and 30, in honor of the
thirty-fifth anniversary of the Commission, there was a lecture series
on the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights.
The series was cosponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez was one of the lecturers
In the second half of September, the Commission participated,
through the Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, and Dr. Manuel Velasco Clark,
attorney in charge of matters dealing with the country, in various
activities in the Republic of Colombia.
These activities include their attendance at the deposition of
Rosa Delia Valderrama before Commissioned Judge Bernardo Gaitán Maecha,
which took place in Santafé de Bogotá, under the judicial proceedings
ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the investigation
of the detention and disappearance of Isidro Caballero and María del
Carmen Santana. Also Dr.
Valladares continued monitoring the work of the Human Rights Commission
established by Decree 1533 to oversee compliance with the agreements on
reintegration of the guerrilla group Trend of Socialist Renewal (Corriente
de Renovación Socialista). He
also monitored the investigations of the Commission on the Violence in
Trujillo (Comisión de los Hechos Violentos de Trujillo), seeking a
friendly settlement based on respect for human rights, as proposed by
the parties to case 11.007.
In the third and fourth week of October, the Commission also
participated, through Dr. Valladares, in the on-site activities in
Trujillo, Department of Valle del Cauca, to go more deeply, with the
victims' families and eyewitnesses of the events, into the investigation
and information gathering, which
concluded with the agreement signed by the Colombian Government and the
petitioners, as described in chapter four of this report.
During these visits, working meetings were held with the
Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior, with the Presidential
Advisers for Human Rights, for Peace, and for Defense and National
Security, with the Public Defender, the Director of the Department of
Administrative Security (DAS), the Army Inspector General, the National
Police Inspector General, the Attorney General, the Director of the
Colombian Red Cross, the Representative of the International Committee
of the Red Cross, the Human Rights Committee of the Senate of the
Republic, the Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives,
and with the following nongovernmental organizations:
the Colombian Episcopal Conference; the Interfaith Commission of
Justice and Peace; the Andean Commission of Jurists; the José Alvear
Law Group; and the Committee on Solidarity with Political Prisoners,
On November 22 there was a ceremony in San Jose, Costa Rica to
mark various anniversaries regarding human rights in the inter-American
system: the thirty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the twenty-fifth anniversary
of the adoption of the American Convention or Pact of San Jose, the
fifteenth anniversary of activities of the Inter-American Court, and the
fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of Inter-American Human
Rights Institute. The
Commission was represented by its Executive Secretary, Dr. Edith Márquez
The ceremony, held at the Court's headquarters, was presided over
by the President of Costa Rica, Mr. José María Figueres Olsen; the
Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. C
Gaviria Trujillo; and the President of the Court, Judge Rafael Nieto
Navia. Also present were the rest of the judges on the Court, the
Executive Secretary of the Commission, the diplomatic corps resident in
Costa Rica, representatives of international organizations of the United
Nations and the regional system, representatives of nongovernmental
organizations, and special guests.
Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer was involved in drawing up the declaration
and action plan on "Society, Violence, and Health in the
Americas" in the Pan American Health Organization. The Declaration
was approved at the Inter-American Conference on November 17, 1994.
Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Executive Secretary of the
Commission, was invited to participate in two events in October and
November: the Twenty-Fifth Biennial Convention of the Alliance of Pan
American Roundtables, in Miami, Florida, on the subject of women's
rights; and a conference organized by the Canadian Association of Latin
American and Caribbean Studies, in Ottawa, Canada, on inter-American
systems for the protection of human rights. At the former event she was
represented by Dr. Claudia Martín, and at the latter by Dr. Diego Rodríguez.
In November the Commission was invited to participate in a
conference organized by the New York University School of Law on the
issue of the competence of the Inter-American Commission and Court.
The Commission was represented by Dr. Manuel Velasco Clark.
Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Vice Chairman of the Commission,
attended the International Symposium to Commemorate the Tenth
Anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, which was
held December 5-7 in San José, Costa Rica.
From December 7 to 10, in Strasbourg, France, there were
activities commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the
International Institute of Human Rights, at which the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights was represented by its First Vice-President,
Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía.