Nº 48/02





          As governments in the Americas and around the world refocus their security efforts to confront the threat of terrorism, they must ensure that the measures they take preserve democratic values and human rights, not undermine them, the President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Juan Méndez, said today.


          “In the Commission’s experience, when states have sacrificed fundamental rights in the name of fighting terrorism, the rule of law and democratic freedoms are eroded and the objectives of terrorism are ultimately advanced rather than diminished,” Méndez said in releasing the Commission’s Report on Terrorism and Human Rights.


          The comprehensive report, believed to be the first of its kind issued by an international organization, advises governments of the Organization of American States (OAS) on their international human rights commitments in the struggle against terrorism. It offers specific recommendations on how to implement the rules and principles when developing and applying anti-terrorism initiatives.


In a news conference at the National Press Club, Méndez said the report is intended to help legislators and other policymakers develop responses to terrorism that take into account standards established in international law.


          Since its creation more than 40 years ago, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has considered numerous challenging cases involving member states that have faced terrorist threats, Méndez noted. “In various countries of this region, the fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms of the Hemisphere’s inhabitants have been imperiled by terrorist violence as well as by disproportionate state responses to it.” he said.


          The report analyzes human rights standards in several key areas: the right to life, the right to humane treatment, the right to personal liberty and security, the right to a fair trial, the right to freedom of expression, the rights to judicial protection and non-discrimination, and the protection of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and other non-nationals.


          The complete Report on Terrorism and Human Rights, as well as an executive summary, can be found on the Commission’s Web site (



Washington, D.C., December 13, 2002.