Nº 18/00 

        1.  The 109th special session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ("the Inter-American Commission" or the "IACHR") ended on December 8, 2000.  Dr. Hélio Bicudo, Chairman; Dean Claudio Grossman, First Vice Chairman; Dr. Juan E. Méndez, Second Vice Chairman; and Commission members Professor Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Peter Laurie, and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo participated in sessions.  Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, Executive Secretary, and Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary, were responsible for the preparation and coordination of sessions. 

        I.          RECENT EVENTS IN PERU 

          2.  The Inter-American Commission expresses its most profound satisfaction with the well-publicized events in Peru aimed at restoring the rule of law.  The IACHR therefore congratulates the Peruvian people, in particular the women and men who fought for the restoration of democracy in the country and played a very prominent role in defending the institution of democracy and human rights during the most difficult moments of the rule of the authoritarian government that recently ended. 

          3.  In that regard, the work being done by the transition government headed by the esteemed President of Peru, Dr. Valentín Paniagua, the members of his cabinet, and the Congress of the Republic of Peru to redefine and strengthen the core institutions of the State is noteworthy.

This work has included implementation of the recommendations and precautionary measures proposed by the Inter-American Commission. 

          4.  In the discharge of the authority vested in it by the American Convention on Human Rights, its Statute, and its Regulations, as well as other instruments on this subject, the IACHR conducted various activities aimed at guaranteeing respect for human rights in Peru during the rule of the regime that recently ended.  In that regard, the Commission deems it useful to outline a number of the concluding remarks of its Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Peru, published June 2, 2000, prior to the start of the OAS General Assembly in Windsor: 

The election of Alberto Fujimori has not been held in keeping with the guarantees of fair and free elections required for the people of Peru to exercise their sovereign will. In view of the foregoing, the time period covered by the next presidential term will be characterized by the presidency having been obtained in violation of the right of the Peruvian people "to vote ... in genuine ... elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free expression of the will of the voters," enshrined in Article 23 of the American Convention. 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes that both the process leading up to and the results of the 2000 elections in Peru are the foreseeable outcome of several years in which the arbitrary will of the Government has prevailed over the law and over democratic institutions. 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calls for a return to the rule of law in Peru, and for  the convocation, in a reasonable time, of free, sovereign, fair, and genuine elections that are up to the respective international standards.[1] 

          5.  The Commission is confident that under the leadership of the new Peruvian authorities, the elections to be held in April 2001 will be fair and will reflect the will of the Peruvian people. 

          6.  The implementation by the new Peruvian Government of the recommendations and precautionary measures of the Inter-American Commission should be noted.  During the ten-year term of Mr. Fujimori, the IACHR took cognizance of various individual cases involving violation of human rights, and issued more than twenty-four reports on the merits of cases[2], many of which involved numerous victims.  These reports contain recommendations to the Peruvian State that are pending implementation, pertaining mainly to the sanctioning of the persons responsible for violations and compensation to the victims.   

7.  In addition, the IACHR has referred several cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.[3] In most instances, the Inter-American Court handed down judgments that are awaiting full or partial execution by Peru.  The Commission is confident that the new Peruvian Government will seek the most expeditious manner to implement, as quickly as possible, the decisions that are pending issued by both organs of the inter-American human rights system.  To that end, the IACHR is available to the parties to examine whether or not it would be appropriate to attempt to reach friendly settlements in the cases and petitions that are pending. 

8.  Lastly, within the framework of its competence, the Inter-American Commission is offering its assistance to Peru with work being done to restore the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Peru. 


9.  During its special session, the Inter-American Commission completed amendment of its Rules of Procedure, within the framework of the strengthening of the inter-American human rights system.  This process was conducted in a comprehensive and transparent manner, which made it possible to hear the positions and comments of many OAS member states, plus 100 non-governmental organizations and other civil society representatives, as well as independent experts in the field. 

          10.  The objective sought in amending the Rules of Procedure is to update them in light of the practices of the past two years and to enhance the legal security and transparency of proceedings.  The main amendments and new rules approved by the IACHR and incorporated into its Regulations are summarized below.  The final text will be published in early 2001 and will take effect on May 1. 


          11.  The new Rules of Procedure provide for a proceeding for the admissibility of petitions as a separate phase, in order to determine whether they meet the requirements established therein and to make a decision by means of a public report. 

          12.  The new Rules of Procedure shorten both the admissibility and merits phases, in order to reduce the time period for the processing of petitions and cases. 

          Friendly settlement 

          13.  In keeping with the spirit of the American Convention, the new Rules of Procedure emphasize a friendly settlement offer as a procedural step prior to a decision on the merits, as well as during any phase of the review of a petition or case.  Furthermore, this phase is expressly introduced in proceedings involving States that are not parties to the American Convention. 


          14.  The new Rules of Procedure consolidate the judicial framework for monitoring implementation of the recommendations made in reports on individual cases and on the situation of human rights in OAS member States.

Precautionary measures 

          15.  The Inter-American Commission makes clear the rules governing precautionary measures in its new Rules of Procedure , in light of current practices, in the interest of better protection of the fundamental rights of persons and the legal security of the parties. 

          Criteria and factors for the submission of cases to the Inter-American Court 

          16.  The Commission decided to include a provision in the text of its new Rules of Procedure stating that the cases of those member States that have accepted the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court and have failed to implement the recommendations in the report approved in accordance with Article 50 of that instrument shall be submitted to that organ, except a well-founded decision is adopted by an absolute majority of its members.  In making this decision, the Commission shall give consideration mainly to ensuring justice in the particular case, based on the following factors, among others: the position of the petitioner; the nature and gravity of the violation; the need to develop or clarify the case law of the system; the possible effect of the decision on the legal systems of member States; and the quality of the evidence available. 

          Participation of the victim 

          17.  The new Rules of Procedure permit participation by the petitioner and the victim in the phase preceding the decision to refer a case to the Court.  Once this decision has been made, it is stipulated that these persons shall have access to all relevant information for the preparation of the petition.  Furthermore, petitioners, victims, and their agents may join a case referred to the Inter-American Court as representatives and submit their documents independently. 

          Rapporteurs' offices and working groups 

          18.  The Commission decided to define the legal framework for establishing rapporteurs' offices and working groups so that they can perform their duties better.  In particular, a working group on admissibility was established, which will meet prior to sessions and will make recommendations to the plenary session on this matter. 


19.  On December 6, 2000, a conference organized by the Inter-American Commission was held at the OAS General Secretariat.  Participating in it were the representatives of States, of different sectors of the civil society, of the OAS General Secretariat, and of the organs responsible for the promotion and protection of the human rights of the inter-American system.  The speakers were prominent persons representing the aforementioned sectors.  Among them, mention should be made of the Chairman of the Inter-American Press Association, Mr. Danilo Arbila, who stressed the support of the press for the work of the organs of the system, characterized by strong defense of the right to freedom of expression. 

20.  The main topics of the conference revolved around the proposals made to strengthen the inter-American human rights system, and, specifically, determining whether the possible amendment of the American Convention would serve to strengthen or weaken this system. 

21.  In this regard, there was a consensus among the speakers that any process designed to strengthen the system would be successful only if it makes provisions for action to be taken progressively, which is essential; in particular, for the need for consensus among all sectors involved in this process, including States, the civil society, and the organs of the system.  It was stressed that the announced amendment of the regulations of the organs of the system should take into account the need for inter-American human rights processes to be flexible, transparent, predictable, and for these processes to facilitate access by victims to the organs of the inter-American system. 

22.  Furthermore, there was a general consensus among the participants that currently this process should take into account the specific need to: 

Provide the organs of the inter-American human rights system with the human and financial resources required for their proper functioning. 

Make the system universal; that is, all the countries of the Hemisphere should ratify all the human rights treaties of the inter-American system and accept the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 

Give due priority, within the political organs of the OAS, to monitoring of implementation of the recommendations and judgments of the organs of the inter-American system.  To that end, specific proposals were made. 

          23.  Lastly, there was a consensus at the Conference that the current process to strengthen the system involves application of the above-mentioned points. Consequently, amendment of the American Convention on Human Rights was ruled out, since it would be inappropriate and even counterproductive.  The representatives of the human rights entities called on society to remain vigilant in the face of any attempt to undermine the inter-American human rights system at the next session of the OAS General Assembly to be held in San José, Costa Rica next year. 


          24.  The Inter-American Commission proceeded to review numerous individual communications alleging violation of the human rights protected under the American Convention and/or the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. 

          i.  Admissibility

         - Ramón Martínez Villareal, Case 11,753 - Report 108/00, United States

          - Guy Malary, Case 11,335 - Report 113/00, Haiti

          - Miguel Orlando Muñoz Guzmán, Case 12,130 - Report 106/00, Mexico 

          ii.  Friendly settlement

          - Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, Case 11,808 - Report 107/00, Mexico         

iii.  Merits

          - César Cabrejos Bernuy,  Case 11,800 - Report 110/00, Peru

          - Pedro Pablo López González et al, Case 11,031 - Report 111/00, Peru

          - Yone Cruz Ocalio, Case 11,099 - Report 112/00, Peru 


          25.  During the on-site visit to Haiti conducted August 20-25, 2000, the Inter-American Commission noted that the most critical and disturbing aspect of the current human rights situation in that country is the deterioration of the political climate and lack of political consensus on the method for strengthening democracy.  The IACHR was informed of a host of irregularities in the electoral process, political polarization, and a climate of intimidation prevailing throughout the country.  At the end of its on-site visit, the Commission, through a press release, urged all sectors of Haitian society, particularly the Government, to strive for consensus with a view to strengthening democracy.  In that regard, it noted that a satisfactory resolution to the controversy surrounding the May legislative elections would be critical to the achievement of that consensus and to the holding of presidential elections in an atmosphere of peace and inclusion.

           26.  Last November 26,  presidential and legislative elections were held in Haiti in a climate of tension and accusations of electoral fraud.  The opposition indicated that the electoral process was tainted and called on the population to boycott the voting process.  A climate of intimidation and violence prevailed in the days preceding the elections, due to several bombings that led to deaths and injuries.         

          27.  The inter-American Commission deplores the acts of violence that have occurred and expresses its grave concern over the human rights situation in Haiti.  The Commission reiterates that human rights can be exercised only in a context of effective democracy that is inclusive rather than exclusive.  Democracy is based not only on the right of the majority to govern, but also on the right of the minority to dissent.  These rights can be guaranteed only in an institutional context of the rule of law, due process, and complete freedom of expression and association. 


28.  On December 7, 2000, Paraguay deposited its instrument of ratification of the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty.  This important event was marked by an official ceremony convened by the OAS Secretary General, with the participation of the representatives of Paraguay and the Inter-American Commission.  The IACHR congratulates Paraguay on its initiative and urges all OAS member States to work towards ratification of the inter-American human rights instruments, with a view to full inclusion in the system. 

29.  The Inter-American Commission also notes the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Guatemala of October 31, 2000, in which it pointed out that the imposition of the death penalty for kidnapping offenses amounts to a broadening of this penalty and thus violates Article 4(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights. 

30.  The Inter-American Commission was also pleased to receive information that the Supreme Court of Suriname has decided to suspend the statute of limitations on criminal proceedings related to the 1982 December massacre of 15 prominent citizens of that country.  The Supreme Court has ordered the Attorney General to launch an investigation into these murders, which took place during the military dictatorship of Desi Bouterse. 


31.  The Inter-American Commission was pleased to accept the generous offer of the Government of Grenada to host a human rights seminar for persons from Caribbean countries.  The event will be held with the assistance of the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Caribbean Human Rights Network.  The seminar is the first of two that will be held in the Caribbean based on an IACHR decision, and is aimed at promoting the human rights instruments and mechanisms of the inter-American system in that region. 

32.  It should be noted that this initiative was proposed at the meeting between the Inter-American Commission and representatives of CARICOM countries, headed by the Attorney General of Jamaica, Honorable Arnold Joseph Nicholson.  That meeting was held at the OAS headquarters last October 18, in order to share views on the proceedings and case law of the Inter-American Commission related to the system of petitions, and on ways of strengthening cooperation between CARICOM member States and the Inter-American Commission. 

Washington, D.C., December 8, 2000


[1] IACHR, Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Peru, June 2, 2000, paras. 10-12.

[2] Report No. 43/00 Alcides Julio César et al,  Report No. 44/00, Américo Zavala Martínez, Report No. 45/00, Manuel Mónago Carhuaricra et al, Report No. 46/00 Manuel Meneses Sotacuro et al, Report No. 47/00 Manuel Pacotaype Chaupin, Report No. 48/00 Walter Vasquez Vejarano, Report No.49/00 Carlos Molero Coca et al, Report No. 119/99 Susana Higuchi, Report No. 19/99 Pastor Juscamaita Laura, Report No. 20/99 Rodolfo Robles Espinoza and sons, Report No. 51/99 Anetro Castillo Pezo et al, Report No. 52/99 Raúl Zevallos Loayza et al, Report No. 53/99 David Palomino Morales et al, Report No. 54/99 William León Laurente et al, Report No. 55/99 Juan de la Cruz Núñez Santana et al, Report 1/96 Chumbivilcas, Report 5/96 Raquel Martín de Mejía, Report 1/95 Alan García, Report 27/94 Jaime Salinas, Report 37/93 Guadalupe Ccalloccunto, Report 9/93 Raúl Salas Chocas, Wilson Salas Huánuco, Abel Asparrín Huamán, Teódulo Simeón Yaringaña, Jaime Jesús Montalvo, Nicolás Chocas Cavero, José Jacob Camarena, Freddy Flores, Report 10/93 Teófilo Rímac Capcha, Report 11/93 Falconieri Saravia Castillo, Report 12/93 Simmerman Rafael A.Navarro.

[3] These cases are: Neira Alegría et al (Case No.10,087); María Elena Loayza Tamayo (Case No.11,154); Castillo Páez (Case No.10,733); Cantoral Benavides (Case No.11,337); Durand and Ugarte (Case No.10,009); Castillo Petruzzi et al (Case No.11,319); Cesti Hurtado (Case No.11,730); Baruch Ivcher (Case No.11,762), Tribunal Constitucional (Case 11,760) and Barrios Altos (Case 11,762).