No. 29/01




The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted its 113th regular session at OAS headquarters in Washington D.C., November 12 to 16. During the session, it held 52 hearings on individual cases and petitions being processed before the IACHR, as well as others of a general nature dealing with the human rights situation in countries of the hemisphere.  Victims or their representatives as well as governments participated in these hearings, which were held in camera.


During the general hearings, the IACHR received reports on the human rights situation in Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Venezuela.  It received information on the human rights situation in Colombia from a number of independent organizations and also from the government.  That information will be taken thoroughly into account during the forthcoming visit of the IACHR to Colombia, from December 7 to 13.


Hearings were also held on the general status of freedom of expression in Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela, and the IACHR received reports on a number of factors that could imperil freedom of expression in other member states of the OAS.  Through the efforts of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the IACHR pays special attention to exercise of the right of freedom of expression, because of its direct relationship to the functioning of the democratic system and full respect for all human rights.  As well, other hearings were held on the human rights of refugees, women and human rights defenders in the Americas.


On this point, the IACHR considers it essential that states take steps to guarantee the life and physical safety of human rights defenders, so that they are free to conduct their work.  During these hearings, the IACHR was greatly concerned to learn of the murder of 68 human rights defenders in Colombia in recent years.  The IACHR reiterates its condemnation of the murder of Digna Ochoa, a lawyer who was killed in Mexico City on October 19.  That crime was preceded by threats and attacks that led both the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to call for protective measures for Digna Ochoa.  After her murder, the Inter-American Court, at the request of the IACHR, ordered new provisional measures on behalf of members of the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center in Mexico, and other individuals who had a working relationship with Ochoa.  The IACHR also held a hearing with petitioners and the Mexican state as part of its processing of the petition on Digna Ochoa, which had begun before the assassination.


The IACHR expresses its gratitude for the meeting held with Mrs. Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, during its regular session.  That meeting served to underline mutual concern for the situation of human rights defenders in the Americas, and provided an opportunity to exchange information and ideas on mechanisms to guarantee more effectively the work of those defenders, which is so vital to the enforcement of human rights.


As well, the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Dr. Santiago Canton, held meetings with members of various nongovernmental organizations active in defending and promoting human rights.  Those meetings focused on general aspects of IACHR procedures and practice.


The hearings ended with a roundtable on the inter-American human rights system, in which Commissioners Claudio Grossman, Hélio Bicudo and Peter Laurie shared their experiences as members of the IACHR.  A number of distinguished representatives of civil society, human rights academic experts, diplomatic representatives of member states of the OAS and invited guests participated in the event.  The roundtable also provided an occasion to recognize the valuable services provided to the inter-American system by Commissioners Grossman, Bicudo and Laurie, who will complete their mandates at the end of this year.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is an autonomous body of the OAS responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in the hemisphere.  The powers of the IACHR flow essentially from the American Convention on Human Rights and the OAS Charter. The Commission is composed of Dean Claudio Grossman, President; Dr. Juan E. Méndez, First Vice-President; Ms. Marta Altolaguirre, Second Vice-President.  The following members also participated in the sessions: Dr. Hélio Bicudo, Prof. Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Peter Laurie and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo. Dr. Santiago A. Canton serves as Executive Secretary of the Commission.


·         See attached list of hearings held.


Washington D.C., November 19, 2001



ANNEX – IACHR Press Release N° 29/01


1.     Case 11.876 – Lori Berenson, Peru

2.     P 11.666 – “Panchito López” youth detention center, Paraguay

3.     Case 12.032 - Ricardo Canese, Paraguay

4.     General human rights situation in Venezuela

5.     Status of the right to freedom of expression in Venezuela

6.     P 12.354 – Kuna indigenous people of Mandungandi and Embera de Bayano, Panamá

7.     P 12.380 – Alirio Uribe Muñoz, Colombia

8.     P 11.883 – John Ricardo Ubaté and P 11.990 – Oscar Orlando Bueno Bonnett, Colombia

9.     Case 11.727 – Hernando Osorio and Case 11.726 – Norberto J. Restrepo, Colombia

10.   Case 12.050 – La Granja, Ituango, Colombia

11.   Precautionary measures – Communities of the Río Cacarica (Displaced persons of Turbo), Colombia

12.   Follow-up to recommendations in reports on individual cases, Colombia

13.   Human rights situation in Colombia

14.  Precautionary measures – political prisoners in Colombia

15.  Precautionary measures – Organización Femenina Popular/CREDHOS, Colombia

16.   Case 11.227 – Unión Patriótica, Colombia

17.   General situation and situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala

18.   Case 11.763 – Plan de Sánchez Massacre, Guatemala

19.   P 11.197 – Los Cimientos, Guatemala

20.   Case 11.681 – Massacre in the village “Las Dos Erres”, Guatemala

21.   Situation of the right to freedom of expression in Guatemala

22.   Case 11.849 – Loencio Florián López and others, Peru

23.   Case 11.015 – Castro Castro Prison, Peru

24.   P 12.124 – Daniel David Tibi, Ecuador

25.   Situation of the rights of refugees in the Americas

26.   Situation of human rights defenders in the Americas

27.   General human rights situation in Jamaica

28.   General human rights situation in Mexico

29.   Follow-up to Cases 11.430 – General Gallardo; 11.411 – Ejido Morelia; 11.520 – Aguas Blancas; 11.543 – Hernández; 11.610 – L. Riebe and others; 11.509 – M. Manríquez and 11.103 – P. Peredo, Mexico

30.    Human rights situation of indigenous peoples in Mexico

31.   Situation of prisoners in Brazil

32.   Case 12.058 – Gibson Nogueira, Brazil

33.   P 12.353 – Telephone interceptions MST, Brazil

34.   General situation – “Operation Gatekeeper”

35.   Follow-up to Report 133/99 – Carmelo Soria Espinoza, Chile

36.   Situation of persons living with the HIV/AIDS virus in Chile

37.   Situation of the rights of women in the Americas

38.   General human rights situation in el Salvador

39.   Follow-up to Reports 1/99 – Lucio Parada Cea; 136/99, Ellacuría and others (Jesuits); and 37/00 – Monseñor Romero, El Salvador

40.   Cases 12.132 –  Serrano Cruz sisters and  11.967 – Mauricio García Prieto, El Salvador

41.   12.189 – Dilcia Yean and Violeta Bosica, Dominican Republic

42.   P 639/00 – Alfredo López Alvarez, Honduras

43.   Case 11.280 – Juan Carlos Bayarri, Argentina

44.   P 12.010 – Mapuche children and youth of Neuquén (Paynemil), Argentina

45.   Case 11.796 – Mario Gómez Yárdez, Argentina

46.   Case 12.080 – Schiavini, Argentina

47.   Case 11.670 – Menéndez, Caride and others, Argentina

48.   General human rights situation in Cuba

49.   P 12.379 – Mario Alfredo Lares Reyes and others, United States

50.   P 12.264 – Franz Britton a.k.a. Collie Wills, Guyana

51.   General human rights situation in Honduras

52.   Right to freedom of expression in Honduras

53.   P 12.367 – Mauricio Herrera Ulloa (Diario “La Nación”), Costa Rica

54.   Right to freedom of expression in Venezuela

55.   P 12.229 – Digna Ochoa and others, Mexico