1. On May 7, 1999, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the "Commission" or the "IACHR") concluded its 103rd special session. The following Commissioners participated in the session: Prof. Robert K. Goldman, Chairman; Dr. Hélio Bicudo, First Vice-Chairman; Dean Claudio Grossman, Second Vice-Chairman; and Prof. Carlos Ayala Corao, Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé, and Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Commissioners.
2. Chairman Robert K. Goldman, on behalf of the IACHR, delivered the Commissions 1998 Annual Report to the Juridical and Political Affairs Committee of the Permanent Council of the OAS. At the same time, the Chairman delivered the published versions of the Report on the Human Rights Situation in Mexico and the Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia. These reports were approved, respectively, during the 99th and the 102nd sessions of the IACHR.
3. The 1998 Annual Report of the Commission comprises three volumes, which total almost 1,400 pages. Volume I includes chapters on the origin and legal bases of the IACHR, the Commissions activities, and reports on individual petitions and cases. The chapter on individual cases is included in Volume II, together with an analysis of human rights developments in the region, follow-up of the recommendations formulated by the IACHR in its reports on human rights in Member States, special studies, and recommendations to Member States concerning areas in which steps should be taken to achieve full observance of human rights. Finally, Volume III contains the Report of the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, which was analyzed and approved by the IACHR.
4. On May 6, 1999, at the invitation of the Juridical and Political Affairs Committee, the IACHR participated in the meeting held by that body to study the 1998 Annual Report presented to the General Assembly of the Organization. After taking into account the commentaries and observations of the permanent representatives of several States, the Chairman of the IACHR expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the meeting and responded to certain of the States remarks. In accordance with Article 44(1)(g) of the American Convention and Article 63 of the IACHRs Regulations, the 1998 Annual Report shall be presented to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States at its meeting in Guatemala City in June 1999.
5. During the session, the Commission examined numerous individual communications concerning alleged violations of the American Convention and/or the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and issued a total of 25 reports on individual cases and petitions. Listed below are the reports on those cases and petitions which are of a public nature.
- COHDINSA (Report No. 72/99, petition), Honduras;
- Elba Perrone and Juan Preckel (Report No. 67/99,
Case 11,738), Argentina;
6. Based on its examination of various files, the Commission decided to suspend the processing of the following cases, pursuant to Articles 48(1)(b) of the American Convention and 35(c) of its Regulations:
- Sebastián Ramos Mora and Luis Darío Ramos,
Case 11,772, Argentina;
7. Since its previous session, the Commission undertook various activities in contentious cases currently pending before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and sought provisional measures from the Court in several cases pending before the Commission. Some of the main activities are mentioned below.
8. On March 31, 1999, the Commission submitted Case 11,762 Baruch Ivcher Bronstein (Perú) to the Court.
9. On May 7, 1999, the Commission submitted a request to the Inter-American Court to amplify provisional measures ordered by the Court on May 27, 1998, to take all measures necessary to preserve the lives of 19 additional death row inmates in Trinidad and Tobago who have filed petitions with the Commission: Wilberforce Bernard (Case 12,140), Naresh Boodram and Joey Ramiah (Case 12,129), Clarence Charles (Case 11,851), Phillip Chotolal (Case 12,112), George Constantine (Case 11,787), Rodney Davis (Case 12,072), Natasha De Leon (Case 12,093), Mervyn Edmund (Case 12,042), Alfred Frederick (Case 12,082), Nigel Mark (Case 12,137), Wayne Matthews (Case 12,076), Steve Mungroo (Case 12,141), Vijay Mungroo (Case 12,111), Wilson Prince (Case 12,005), Martin Reid (Case 12,052), Noel Seepersad (Case 12,075), Gangaleen Tahaloo (Case 12,073), Keiron Thomas (Case 11,853) and Samuel Winchester (Case 12,043).
10. During the 103rd special session, the IACHR's Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Dr. Santiago Cantón, reported to the Commission on the activities carried out by his office since the 102nd ordinary session. The Rapporteur also laid out the list of future activities planned by his office for the protection and promotion of freedom of expression in the hemisphere. Those activities were approved unanimously by the IACHR in plenary.
11. The Rapporteur, Professor Carlos Ayala Corao, advised that he is collaborating with other OAS organs on the review of the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, approved by the Commission in 1997. The Rapporteur is also preparing a publication that will describe the activities and jurisprudence of the Commission in the field of indigenous rights, as well as the main materials produced by the Commission in this area.
12. Commissioner Hélio Bicudo, Rapporteur for Children's Rights, reported on his participation in the meeting on "Sexual Violence against Boys and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean", organized by the Inter-American Institute of the Child, headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay. Rapporteur Bicudo is also preparing an analysis of the scope of human rights under the American Convention as they apply to children and adolescents.
13. The Commission studied the responses to the questionnaires concerning the situation of migrant workers and their families in the hemisphere, which were submitted by the States since the 102nd regular session. In addition, Rapporteur Alvaro Tirado Mejía informed the Commission about recent developments on this matter in OAS member States.
14. As proposed by the Rapporteur for Women's Rights, Dean Claudio Grossman, the Commission reviewed several individual cases regarding the rights of women, as well as the status of legislative reform concerning womens rights in the Americas, in accordance with recommendation No. 6 of Chapter VII of the 1998 IACHR Annual Report. The Commission was also informed about the situation of domestic violence against women in the hemisphere, a matter of particular and serious concern for the Rapporteur.
15. At the 98th regular session, the Commission established voluntary funds for the work of its special rapporteurs, which remain open to contributions from OAS Member States, observers, multilateral organizations, cooperation agencies, foundations, and private institutions. During its 103rd special session, the Commission expressed its continued hope that sufficient support will be provided to the voluntary funds to enable the Commissions rapporteurs to fulfill their function effectively, namely to foster progress toward the full protection of the persons and rights on which the rapporteurs focus their efforts.
16. During its session, the IACHR reviewed preparations for various on-site visits planned for this year. The Commission proposed dates for a future visit to Paraguay in response to that States invitation. The Commission also decided to continue to carry out special on-site visits to several locations in the United States, pursuant to that States invitation. With respect to the invitation from Haiti for an on-site visit, the IACHR has continued its communications with the representatives of that State in order to establish dates. The IAHCR expresses its gratitude to the officials of these States for their cooperation in making the visits possible.
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17. The Commission will hold its next ordinary session from September 27 to October 8, 1999.
Washington, D.C., May 11, 1999