SESSIONS OF THE IACHR IN CHILE
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ("the Commission" or
"the IACHR") is concluding its one hundred and eleventh special
session that was held in the Republic of Chile, at the invitation of the
Government of that country. The
IACHR is composed of Dean Claudio Grossman, President; Dr. Juan E. Méndez,
First Vice President; and Ms. Marta Altolaguirre, Second Vice President.
Dr. Hélio Bicudo, Professor Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Peter Laurie, and
Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo are also members of the IACHR. The sessions were coordinated by the Executive Secretary,
Ambassador Jorge Taiana, and the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. David J.
Padilla. Dr. Santiago Canton,
the Special Rapporteur of the IACHR for Freedom of Expression, served in
advisory capacity. Attorneys
Mario López Garelli, Verónica Gómez, and Pablo Saavedra represented the
Executive Secretariat, and administrative support was provided by Mrs.
Gloria Hansen and Mrs. Ana Adriazola.
IACHR is the main organ, under the Charter of the Organization of American
States ("the OAS"), responsible for ensuring the observance of
human rights in all the states of the Hemisphere.
The Commissioners are seven independent experts, elected on an
individual basis by the member states of the Organization.
In addition to its regular sessions held in Washington, D.C., the
IACHR has agreed, on numerous occasions, to hold special sessions away from
its headquarters, at the invitation of OAS member states.
In recent years, it has held special sessions in Brazil, Costa Rica,
and Venezuela. During these
sessions, it holds internal working meetings, formal interviews, and
numerous activities to promote the inter-American human rights system.
its one hundred and eleventh special session, the Commission held working
sessions and met with senior officials of the three branches of the Chilean
Government. The President of
the Republic of Chile, Dr. Ricardo Lagos, received the Inter-American
Commission, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. María
Soledad Alvear Valenzuela. In
addition, the IACHR met with the Minister of Justice, Dr. José Antonio Gómez
Urrutia and with the Minister of Planning, Dr. Alejandra Krauss Valle.
In the case of the Judiciary, the IACHR met with the President of the
Supreme Court, Dr. Hernán Alvarez García, and the judges of that court.
The Inter-American Commission held meetings with members of the
Legislature, in particular the Senate Commission on Human Rights and Foreign
Relations. It also went to the
headquarters of the Congress in Valparaíso to interview the Commissions on
Foreign Relations and Human Rights of the House of Representatives.
The Inter-American Commission also met with the Attorney General, Dr.
Guillermo Piedrabuena Richard, and with senior officials and authorities of
the Chilean State.
IACHR held discussions with representatives of different sectors of the
civil society, including 80 non-governmental organizations. Also, the IACHR
included on its agenda interviews with Chilean political parties, such as
the National Alliance of Political Parties for Democracy [Concertación
Nacional de Partidos por la Democracia], the Independent Democratic
Union [Unión Democrática
Independiente], the National Renewal [Renovación
Nacional], and the Communist Party [Partido
Comunista]. Mention should
also be made of a meeting held with Deans and Professors of more than 20 law
faculties in Chile, during which very useful legal and academic discussions
addition, the Inter-American Commission received a great deal of information
on the entry into force of the new Code of Criminal Procedure.
In that context, the program of activities in that country included a
visit to La Serena by an IACHR delegation, made up of the President, Vice
President, and Executive Secretary, in order to interview the regional
authorities in the Office of the Attorney General.
The Inter-American Commission is particularly appreciative of the
opportunity that it has been given to obtain on-site information on the
progress being made with this important change within the Chilean legal
system, and hopes that it will contribute to strengthening the judicial
guarantees of persons who are prosecuted.
its working meetings, the Inter-American Commission analyzed numerous
individual cases, approved reports pertaining to the admissibility and
merits phases, and adopted decisions on the publication of 14 reports.
The cases on which the IACHR has made a public decision are listed
Michael Edwards et al,
The IACHR paid special attention to the progress made with friendly
settlement proceedings that have been instituted in a total of 91 cases that
are currently being processed. It
also decided to grant precautionary measures to one person who, based on the
complaint, was suffering from mental health problems and has been condemned
to death in the United States of America.
It also granted precautionary measures to the President of the
Constitutional Court of Guatemala, who has been the object of serious
threats and harassment in that country as a result of the exercise of his
The Inter-American Commission also analyzed the progress made in the
37 cases being processed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
In addition, it approved its annual report of activities for the year
2000, which will be submitted to the Permanent Council of the OAS and then
to the General Assembly of the Organization.
In light of the entry into force of its Rules of Procedure, on May 1,
2001, the IACHR analyzed the implementation of various administrative
measures. It should be borne in
mind that the new Rules of Procedure approved in December 2000 by the IACHR
represent significant improvement in the area of human rights in the
Hemisphere, such as the expansion of access by victims in the case of
international proceedings, and more judicial guarantees for the parties.
Freedom of expression is a matter of great interest to the
Inter-American Commission. The
organs of the inter-American human rights systems have stated, time and time
again, that provisions related to contempt [desacato] and prior censorship are incompatible with the American
Convention. During meetings and interviews with members of the three
branches of the Chilean Governments, the Commissioners and Special
Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression noted their concern over a number of
restrictions on this right in the domestic legal system.
The IACHR received information regarding the legislative handling of
draft laws, approval of which will lead to progress in the area of
protection of freedom of expression in Chile.
The presence of the IACHR in Chile coincided with a legislative
decision to abolish the death penalty in that country.
In the view of the Inter-American Commission, this represents very
important progress by the Chilean Congress, and the Commission commends it
for this decision which marks an important milestone in terms of respect for
the right to life.
The IACHR thanks the State for all the assistance provided for this
productive special session in Santiago, Chile, a city that is of special
significance since it was there that this inter-American organ was
established in 1959. This has
been a fitting opportunity to share information with the Chilean State
authorities and the different civil society groups.
Santiago, Chile, April 6, 2001