No. 44/02






1.          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded its 116 regular period of sessions on October 25, 2002.  Dr. Juan E. Méndez, President; Lic. Marta Altolaguirre, First Vicepresident; Dr. José Zalaquett, Second Vicepresident; and Commissioners Prof. Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo, Dr. Clare Kamau Roberts and Dr. Susana Villarán, participated in the session.  The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.




2.          The IACHR devoted a substantial part of its sessions to the study and approval of its draft report on terrorism and human rights.  Once the final editing and translation of the report are concluded, it will be released to the public in a press conference together with the corresponding executive summary.  The Commission trusts that the report will assist the Member States and other actors interested in the Inter-American system in the planning and implementation of effective antiterrorist initiatives that fully comply with fundamental rights and liberties.




3.          The Commission continued with the consideration of numerous petitions and individual cases relating to alleged violations of the human rights protected by the American Convention, the American Declaration and other applicable instruments.  It adopted 38 reports, in total on those petitions and cases.  The Commission also considered requests pursuant to Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure and decided to grant precautionary measures in relation to seven requests.  A list of 26 reports with respect to which the IACHR’s decision is public, as well as the list of precautionary measures granted is attached.




          4.          As from the conclusion of its previous regular period of sessions, the IACHR has submitted the following cases to the contentions jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Plan de Sánchez (Guatemala); “Correccional de Menores Panchito López” (Paraguay); Ricardo Canese (Paraguay); Gómez Paquiyauri (Peru); and Lori Berenson (Peru).


          5.          Further, since March of 2002 the Commission requested provisional measures to protect the lives and physical integrity of inmates held at the prison of Urso Branco in Brazil and to protect the human rights defender Helen Mack and the personnel of the Fundación Myrna Mack in Guatemala.


          IV.          HEARINGS AND MEETINGS


          6.          During the week of October 14 to 18, 2002, the Inter-American Commission held 61 hearings.  Some referred to the admissibility, merits, friendly settlement and follow up of cases and individual petitions.  Others were granted in order to receive information of a general nature on the situation of human rights in a particular country or on a thematic area within the competence of the IACHR.  The complete list of hearings also appears as an annex.


7.          As part of the agenda for the period of sessions, the members of the Commission conducted more than 50 working meetings with the parties in petitions and cases relating to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela. Various issues were explored with a view to advancing diverse matters, especially those in which friendly settlement is under consideration.


          8.          As far as general situations are concerned, the Inter-American Commission held hearings to receive information relating to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.  The Commission also held hearings on legislative proposals regarding the imposition of the mandatory death penalty in Barbados and Belize.  The Commission also received information on the death penalty in Guatemala.  The IACHR devoted special attention as well to topics such as the administration of justice in Argentina and Colombia.  In the area of impunity, it analyzed the situation in El Salvador vis-à-vis the armed conflict in the 1980s; and it also received information regarding impunity for human rights violations that occurred during the period from 1968-1989 in Panama.  Para police violence in Venezuela was also the object of a hearing, as well as torture complaints in Mexico, and the official initiatives directed to punish and eradicate such violations.


          9.          As part of the fulfillment of its mandate on specific themes, the IACHR received information relating to the situation of the rights of women in the Hemisphere from a large delegation of representatives of organizations dedicated to promotion and protection of these rights.  The IACHR also received organizations of civil society and representatives of the State to present information on the situation of women killed or disappeared in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.


10.          In relation to the rights of children in the Hemisphere, in a hearing requested by the United Nations International Children’s Fund the Commission received the representative of UNICEF in Central America, the Director of the Inter-American Institute of Children (IIN) and a number of organizations of civil society devoted to the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the region.


11.          The rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala as well as the issue of indigenous land and land reform in Paraguay were also the subject of hearings during this regular period of sessions.


          12.          The IACHR also held a hearing on the situation of refugees and other persons requiring protection in the Hemisphere, with the participation of a representative of the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees (ACNUR).  Another issue on which the Commission received information was the impact of environmental degradation upon the enjoyment of the human rights of the inhabitants of the Americas, as presented by a group of specialists and academics, including the Special Rapportuer of the United Nations on the illegal transnational movement of toxic waste and dangerous products.  The Commission also received information on the effective respect of the right to freedom of expression in Central America as well as on community radios in the Hemisphere.  Additionally, during these hearings the IACHR was informed of the situation of persons infected of HIV/AIDS in several countries of the Americas, from the perspective of the enjoyment of rights protected by the instruments of the Inter-American System.


13.          Also during these period of sessions the IACHR met with representatives of various Governments and organizations of civil society.  In particular it met with representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  This meeting generated an exchange relating to different issues of common interest in the area of promotion and protection of human rights in the Caribbean.


14.          The Commission again devoted special attention to the work of human rights fenders in the Hemisphere.  During the session, the members of the Commission held a meeting with a delegation of representatives from the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations.  The Executive Secretary and the Human Rights Defenders Unit of the IACHR shared information on the preparation of a report on the situation of human rights defenders in the Hemisphere with a substantial delegation of representatives from civil society, some of them present at headquarters with the purpose of attending the hearings on petitions, cases and general matters relating to the defense and promotion of fundamental rights in the Americas.


          15.          During the sessions, the media in Colombia reported that the Colombian Commission of Jurists would produce “faceless witnesses” in one of the hearings.  In response, the IACHR contacted the newspaper involved to request the rectification of this erroneous information.


          16.          The Commission reminds the member States of their obligation to ensure the safety of persons appearing before the Inter-American human rights System.



17.          The Inter-American Commission initiated the consideration of its Annual Report for 2002, which shall be presented to the OAS General Assembly in June of 2003 in Santiago, Chile.

18.          During the sessions, the IACHR also made public and available on its website, a version of its 2001 Annual Report in Portuguese.  It is the first time in many years that the Commission makes its annual report of activities available in that language.  This constitutes an important initiative to promote the work of the IACHR in Brazil and among Portuguese speakers.  The translation and publication of the report were made possible by a significant financial contribution by the Government of Brazil during 2001.




          19.          During the year 2002, several States have ratified various instruments of the Inter-American System.  The IACHR salutes the ratification of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons by Mexico on April 9, 2002.  The Commission also wishes to highlight the ratification of the Inter-American Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, by Chile and El Salvador, on February 26 and March 8, 2002, respectively.


20.          The Inter-American Commission calls once more upon the member States of the OAS to continue ratifying these and other Inter-American instruments with the purpose of achieving the universalization of the system and provide for enhanced international protection of the fundamental rights of all inhabitants of the Americas.


21.          The Commission also urges the member States of the Organization to consider the importance of approving the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.  This instrument in force at the universal level provides for the creation of an independent international organ constituted by experts with the mandate to periodically visit detention centers and monitor the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.



22.          Close to the end of its sessions, the Commission learned that high ranking officers of the Armed Forces in Venezuela had called upon their comrades to rebel against the civilian authorities.  Fortunately there has been no impact on the institutional order of that country.  The IACHR reiterates that the exercise of freedom of expression, including calls to civil disobedience, is legitimate.  However a summons of members of the military to insubordination against civilian authorities is illegitimate and places institutional stability at risk.


23.          The summary of activities of these sessions illustrates, to an extent, some of the main concerns in the area of human rights that the Inter-American Commission has recently considered a priority.  What follows are some brief considerations in this regard.


24.          After the deplorable events of September 11, 2001 in the United States, the issue of terrorism and the measures that states must adopt to combat it has captured international attention and generated great concern around the globe.  Throughout its history the Commission has, on various occasions, strongly condemned terrorist actions and it has identified the legitimate ways to confront this scourge.  Invariably, the Commission has upheld the compatibility and interdependence of human rights and the effective fight against terrorism within the framework of the rule of law.  The purpose of any effective measure against terrorism must ensure the preservation of fundamental rights and the democratic institutions that terrorist actions seek to weaken and eventually destroy.


25.          The world has changed much since September 11 of last year.  Unfortunately, the exclusion of the vast majority of the population in the Hemisphere from the effective enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights remains among the factors that have not been altered.  In a majority of member States of the Organization of American States, the exclusion from the benefits of progress has placed large sectors of society in situations of particular vulnerability.  In this respect the IACHR notes that the socio-economic crises as well as some of the measures adopted in search of a solution have destroyed the standard of living of the inhabitants in many of our countries, at times with a serious impact, real or potential, upon the institutions of the State and the rule of law.


26.          The institutions conceived pursuant to the rule of law are inseparable from notion of democracy as the fundamental basis for the enforcement and protection of human rights in our Hemisphere.  The IACHR shall continue to advocate for the preservation and development of democracy and the right of the inhabitants of the Americas to feel represented and protected by this system of government.


27.          The holding of free elections in almost all of the member states of the Hemisphere is a fundamental step forward and yet the weakness of democratic institutions in several countries of the region affects the effective enforcement of fundamental rights and generates a propitious atmosphere for social crisis.  Without lasting stability, it is not possible to conceive of sustained social, economic, and cultural development in the region.


          28.          The strengthening of democracy in the Hemisphere must include the full respect for the work of human rights defenders.  The Commission has repeatedly pronounced against attacks that directly or indirectly hinder or render the work of human rights defenders in the Americas even more difficult.  However, it has continued to receive complaints of different kinds of attacks and acts of intimidation against persons dedicated to the protection of the fundamental rights in the region.  Each day new offenses are perpetrated against human rights defenders and their organizations, including attacks against physical integrity and extra judicial executions.  The available information indicates that a vast majority of these attacks are carried out with impunity.


          29.          The region is not immune to the increasingly complex realities at the international level.  New challenges must be faced with creativity and must take into account the achievements made during long and intense years.  The Commission wishes to underscore that States have not and should not deviate from their commitment to respect the international legal order.  The problems briefly outlined must be confronted within the framework of the international mechanisms with the necessary elements to respond to the fundamental necessities of security and justice.  The IACHR considers that this approach is the only option available to prevail upon scourges such as authoritarianism and terrorism, while working for the development and improvement of standards of living in the Hemisphere without discrimination.


          30.          The IACHR aspires to successfully comply with the tasks for which it is responsible and the mandates conferred upon it by the political organs of the Inter-American System.  The IACHR’s volume of work has increased considerably during the last few years.  However, the financial resources required to carry out the delicate functions and mandates conferred by the Summit of the Americas have not been allocated.  As direct consequence of this situation, the Inter-American Commission faces the serious risk of failing to duly attend to its mandate to protect and promote human rights in the Hemisphere.


          31.          In this sense, the Commission appreciates the financial support received from several States of the region and Permanent observers of the OAS.  Nonetheless, the General Assembly has on various occasions has urged the member states to provide financial support the work of the Commission.  During its last session held in Barbados, the General Assembly approved Resolution 1890 of June 4, 2002 on the “Evaluation of the workings of the Inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights with a view to its improvement and strengthening”.  The document reaffirms the intent of the OAS to “..continue taking concrete measures aimed at implementing the mandates of the heads of state and government on the strengthening and improvement of the inter-American human rights system, as set forth in the Plan of Action of the Third Summit of the Americas”, including “a substantial increase in the budget of the Court and the Commission so that, within a reasonable time, the organs of the system may address their growing activities and responsibilities.”




32.            The next ordinary sessions of the IACHR will be held in its headquarters between February 18 and March 7, 2003.


Washington, D.C., October 25 2002






I.           REPORTS




-         Argüelles et al., P 12.167, Argentina

-         Simone André Diniz, P 12.001, Brazil

-         Damião Ximenes Lopes, P 12.237, Brazil

-         Adolescents under the custody of FEBEM, P 12.328, Brazil

-         José del Carmen Álvarez Blanco et al, P 11.748, Colombia

-         Mariela Morales Caro et al., P 11.995, Colombia

-         Leydi Dayan Sánchez, P 12.009, Colombia

-         Luis Alfredo Almanacid Arellano, P 12.057, Chile

-         Cristian Daniel Sahli Vera et al., P 12.219, Chile

-         Laura Albán Cornejo, P 419/01, Ecuador

-         Vicente Aníbal Grijalva Bueno, P 649/01, Ecuador

-         Roberto Sassen Van Esloo Otero et al., P 183/02, Ecuador

-         Ronald Raxacacó, P 050/02, Guatemala

-         Fermín Ramírez, P 320/02, Guatemala

-         Dixie Urbina Rosales, P 11.562, Honduras

-         Santander Tristán Donoso, P 12.360, Panama

-         Heliodoro Portugal, P 357/01, Panama

-         Cesantes y Jubilados de la Contraloría General de la República, P 12.357, Peru

-         Janet Espinoza Feria et al., P 057/01, Peru

-         Arnold Ramlogan, P 12.355, Trinidad and Tobago

-         Alladin Mohammed, P 842/01, Trinidad and Tobago  
-         Takoo Ramcharan, P 197/01, Trinidad and Tobago


B.          MERITS


The Commission approved 16 reports on the merits and adopted the decision to publish the following cases:


-         Ramón Martínez Villareal, case 11.753, United States

-         Michael Domínguez, case 12.285, United States

-         Paul Lallion, case 11.765, Grenada

-         Benedict Jacob, case 12.158, Grenada

-         Finca La Exacta, case 11.382, Guatemala

-         Denton Aitken, case 12.275, Jamaica


C.           ARCHIVES


-         Mengo-Bitha Munsi, P 11.332, Canada

-         Valiam Kordou y otros, P11.741, Canada

-         Roberto San Vicente, P 11.838, Canada

-         Recaredo Ignacio Valenzuela et al., P 11.659, Chile

-         Rosa Astudillo et al., P 11.266, Ecuador

-         Alexander Williams, P 12.348, United States

-         Hortencia Araceñy Herrera, P 10.646, Guatemala

-         Otto Iván Rodríguez Venegas, P 10.863, Guatemala

-         Comunidades de Población en Resistencia, P 11.145, Guatemala

-         Evelyn Elizabeth de León Recinos et al., P 11.208, Guatemala

-         Guillermo Aníbal Mendoza García, P 11.209, Guatemala

-         Vecinos de San Jorge La Laguna, P 11.232 Guatemala

-         Rosalina Tuyuc, P 11.385, Guatemala

-         Víctor Manuel de León Cano, P 11.471, Guatemala

-         Cornelio Camey Noj, P 11.615, Guatemala

-         Oscar Arturo González Ruiz, P 11.578, Guatemala

-         Juan Abrego Choy, P 11.429, Guatemala

-         Jesús Herrera Dominoti, P 10.825, Peru

-         Faustino Huamaní Rodríguez, P 11.133, Peru

-         Oscar Antonio Vinces Rodríguez, P 11.185, Peru

-         Luis Enrique Quinto Facho, P 11.191, Peru

-         Yahude Simón Munaro, P 11.192, Peru

-         Empleados Jubilados de Electrolima, P 11.496, Peru

-         Francisco José Franco, P 11.881, Dominican Republic




-        Guadalupe Olvera et al., Mexico

-         Egon Hidalgo Salvador, Guatemala

-         File Lysias Fleury, Haiti

-         Luis Enrique Uzcátegui Jiménez, Venezuela

-         María Ramona Daza et al, Venezuela

-         Zunilda María de Araujo et al., Brazil


III.          HEARINGS (in the order they were held)


1.       Case 12.138 - María Teresa de la Cruz Flores, Peru

2.       Cases 11.830 and 12.038 (Peru)

3.       Follow up on cases (Joint press release February 22, 2001), Peru

4.       General Situation of Human Rights in Peru

5.       Case 12.249 - Jorge Odir Miranda Cortez et al, El Salvador

6.       Situation of impunity after the armed conflict, El Salvador

7.       General Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador

8.       General Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala   

9.       Situation of the application of the death penalty in Guatemala

10.      Situation of indigenous persons in Guatemala

11.     Case 12.352 - Bruce Harris Lloyd, Guatemala

12.      Situation of human rights in Espíritu Santo, Brazil

13.     Case 12.397 - Hélio Bicudo, Brazil

14.      General Situation of Human Rights in Brazil

15.      Situation of indigenous land and land reform in Paraguay     

16.      General Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela    

17.     Para police grupos in Venezuela

18.      Euclides Rafael Moreno Morean, Venezuela

19.      P 131/01 - Janet Delgado, Ecuador

20.      Precautionary measures Franklin San Andrés Laz et al, Ecuador

21.      Situation of refugees and other persons requiring protection in the Hemisphere  

22.      General Situation of Human Rights in Haiti

23.      General Situation of Human Rights in Colombia

24.      Situation of the administration of Justice in Colombia

25.      Situation of human rights in Arauca and Meta, Colombia

26.      Situation of human rights in the “Comuna 13”, Medellín, Colombia

27.     Case 12.050 – La Granja, Colombia

28.      Precautionary measures, Colectivo de Abogados, Colombia

29.      Precautionary Measures, Teniente Orozco Castro, Caso 12.250, Colombia

30.      Precautionary Measures, Gustavo Petro, Colombia

31.      Situation of persons infected with HIV/ AIDS in the Hemisphere

32.      Situation of freedom of expression in Central America

33.      Situation of environment degradation and human rights in the Hemisphere

34.      Precautionary Measures, Persons detained in Guantanamo, United States

35.      Situation of impunity for violations committed between 1968-1989, Panama

36.     Case 12.392 - Pedro Antonio Mejía Guerra, Honduras

37.      Situation of the rights of women in the Hemisphere  

38.     P 729/01 – Whitley Myrie, Jamaica

39.     P 2263/02 - Javier Suárez Medina, United States

40.      General Situation of Human Rights in Cuba

41.      Situation of the rights of children in the Americas

42.      Situation of victims of kidnapping in Colombia

43.     Case 11.141 - Villatina, Colombia

44.     Follow up of recommendations, Colombia

45.     P 12.376 – Alba Lucía Rodríguez Cardona, Colombia

46.     P 12.291 – Wilson Gutiérrez Soler, Colombia

47.     P 10.171 - Germán Escué, Colombia

48.      Precautionary Measures, Embera – Katío, Colombia

49.      Precautionary Measures, Cacarica, Colombia

50.      P 12.229 - Digna Ochoa et al, Mexico

51.      Situation of women killed or disappeared in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

52.      Information on torture in Mexico

53.     Case 12. 130 – Miguel Orlando Muñoz Guzmán, Mexico

54.     Case 12.228 – Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd, Mexico

55.      Situation of the application of the death penalty in Barbados     

56.      Situation of the application of the death penalty in Belize

57.      Situation of the rights of persons affected by banking measures (“corralito”), Argentina

58.      General Situation of Human Rights in Argentina

59.      Situation of the administration of justice in Argentina

60.     Case 12.388 – Yatama, Nicaragua

61.      Situation of community radios and freedom of expression in the Hemisphere