N° 12/02




1.          On March 15, 2002, the 114th period of regular sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was concluded. Participating in the Sessions were: Dr. Juan E. Méndez, President; Lic. Marta Altolaguirre, First Vice President; Dr. José Zalaquett Daher, Second Vice President; and Commissioners Prof. Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo, and Dr. Clare Kamau Roberts.  The Executive Secretary of the Commission is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.


          2.          Dr. Diego García-Sayán, who was elected to the Commission by the OAS General Assembly in June of 2001, renounced his position on February 13, 2002. The reason for the decision was the fact that Dr. García-Sayán is currently serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru. In accordance with the procedure provided for in the American Convention on Human Rights and the IACHR Statute,  the Permanent Council has initiated the process to fill this vacancy.




          3.          The Commission continued to study the numerous individual petitions and cases alleging violations of the human rights protected by the American Convention and/or the American Declaration, and adopted a total of 49 reports on these individual cases and petitions. Additionally, the Commission considered requests presented within the terms of Article 25 of its Rules and decided to authorize precautionary measures in 10 cases. An annex to this press release lists the 40 reports in which the decision of the IACHR is public in nature, as well as the precautionary measures authorized. 




4.          During the week of March 4th through 8th, 2002, the Inter-American Commission held 24 hearings on individual cases and petitions in the admissibility, merits, friendly settlement and follow-up stages. Other hearings had the objective of receiving general information on the human rights situation in a particular country, or on a theme within the IACHR's competence. Additionally, several meetings were held with parties, in which themes relating to the resolution of various issues were discussed, particularly in cases in which a friendly settlement is being explored. The complete list of hearings held is also attached as an annex to this press release.

A.          Plenary Sessions


5.          In the course of the sessions, the Inter-American Commission held plenary hearings on the human rights situation in Colombia, Haiti, Peru and Venezuela. Additionally, the Commission, with all of its members, received representatives of the State and of civil society organizations, who presented information on the situation of the rights of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and on the case of the investigation of the death of Digna Ochoa, a Mexican human rights defender.


6.          The hearing on the situation of human rights in Colombia served to update the information received during the in loco visit to that country in December of 2001. During the sessions, the IACHR considered its progress in the preparation of its draft report on Colombia.


7.          The IACHR heard a delegation of representatives of Venezuelan civil society that reported on the general situation of human rights in that country. During the sessions, the Inter-American Commission also received information from the Executive Secretary and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression regarding the preparatory visit to Venezuela, which took place in February 2002. The Commission also discussed the preparation of the upcoming in loco visit to Venezuela in May, at the recent invitation of the President of the Republic, Hugo Chavez Frias.


8.          In addition, the plenary of the IACHR received information on the human rights situation in Haiti. During the sessions, the Commission considered  Resolution 806, issued on January 16, 2002 by the Permanent Council of the OAS, based upon which it was agreed to suggest different alternatives for action, within the framework of the functions assigned to the IACHR by the American Convention and its Statute. In this respect, the Inter-American Commission sent a delegation in February 2002 and will carry out a visit in the coming weeks to deepen and elaborate on its activities with respect to Haiti.


9.          Representatives of the Mexican Government and of the petitioners were present at the hearing on the investigation of the death of the human rights defender Digna Ochoa. Also in attendance was the independent expert that the Inter-American Commission assigned to the task of following the investigation, which is currently being carried out by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federal District of Mexico. The IACHR advisor will carry out his activities with the authorization of the Mexican federal government, which has made possible full access to the files of the investigation.


10.          During the period of sessions that concludes today, a public plenary hearing was held at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on terrorism and human rights, in which noted independent experts on this issue participated. In this session, the Commission received written and oral opinions by experts Joan Fitzpatrick, David Martin, Aryeh Neier, Jorge Santistevan and Ruth Wedgewood. After the public hearing, the Commissioners had the opportunity to discuss and consider ideas regarding the scope and content of the study on terrorism and human rights that is being prepared, based on the Resolution on this issue approved by the IACHR on December 12, 2001.


11.          The IACHR believes that its report will be very useful in the interpretation of the norms of international law and their application in the domestic law of the OAS member states, particularly due to the sensitive nature of the issue under consideration and because of the challenge posed by terrorism after September 11, 2001.


          B.          Meetings


12.          In the framework of a growing collaboration with the human rights organs of the universal system, the Commission received Maria Francisca Ize-Charrin, head of the Services Branch, and Dr. Roberto Garretón, advisor for Latin America to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The distinguished visitors shared information and presented a series of concrete suggestions for measures of cooperation with the inter-American human rights system. Along the same lines, the Commission held a meeting with Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People. In addition to their meetings with the Commissioners, the visitors from the United Nations had the opportunity to exchange information with the professionals of the Executive Secretariat.


13.          During this regular period, representatives of the IACHR met with Dr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Secretary of State for Human Rights of Brazil. In the meeting, discussions were furthered with respect to the initiative of the Brazilian government to pursue the friendly settlement of a number of pending cases and petitions, as well as follow-up on the recommendations in cases decided by the Inter-American Commission.


14.          Additionally, the IACHR received Dr. Sofía Macher and Dr. Carlos Iván De Gregori, members of the Truth Commission in Peru, at its headquarters. In this meeting, they discussed the work carried out by that Commission, as well as the possibilities for the collaboration of the IACHR within the framework of its competence. It should be emphasized that the inter-American system places great importance on guaranteeing the right to the truth in situations of systematic human rights violations.


15.          The Inter-American Commission has noted on numerous occasions the great importance of the work of human rights defenders. In addition to the hearing dedicated to this theme, in the course of the sessions a meeting was held during which the Executive Secretary and the Unit for Human Rights Defenders shared information with a large delegation of representatives of civil society.


16.          A group of made up of owners of communications media, journalists and representatives of civil society from Venezuela was received by the IACHR during the sessions. The visitors expressed a number of concerns relating to the situation of freedom of expression in that country.


17.          The Commissioners received Dean Claudio Grossman, observer in the process being carried out in Argentina to investigate the attack against the headquarters of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA). Dean Grossman presented updated information on this issue. It should be mentioned that the Argentine government, in the context of a case pending before the IACHR, invited this body to designate an observer in the AMIA process.


18.          In the course of the sessions, the IACHR also met with representatives of various governments and civil society organizations and other individuals who provided general information within the framework of its functions of protection and promotion of human rights in the hemisphere.




19.          Within its mandate, the Inter-American Commission has created various rapporteurships on different issues, as a mechanism of protection and promotion of human rights in the hemisphere.


20.          In this context, during the present period, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women informed the Commission of her in loco visit on February 12th and 13th, 2002 to evaluate the situation women's rights in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The visit was carried out at the invitation of the government of President Vicente Fox, and in response to previous expressions of concern by various representatives of civil society. In particular, the activity was focused on the serious situation of violence against women in the city mentioned, as well as the impunity due to the failure to identify those responsible. This situation was also the subject of a hearing before the plenary of the Inter-American Commission, in which representatives of Mexican civil society and the government participated, including a delegation of the state of Chihuahua.


21.          During the sessions, the IACHR also held other hearings with special relevance for women's rights in the hemisphere. In this respect, the IACHR received information on the situation of violence against women in the Americas, women's rights in general, and other individual cases and petitions currently pending that deal with these problems.


22.          The Commission continued with the process to select a new Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. It should also be mentioned that Dr. Santiago Canton, in his capacity as Special Rapporteur of the IACHR for Freedom of Expression, met with Mr. Eduardo Yáñez, known for his participation as a panelist on the television program “El Termómetro”, broadcast in Chile. Mr. Yáñez was accompanied by a delegation that expressed a number of concerns related to the situation of freedom of expression in Chile.


23.          The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families presented a report for the consideration of the IACHR to be included in the Annual Report for 2001. In addition, information was presented regarding the Rapporteur's next visit on this issue to Guatemala and the consideration of possible dates for a future visit to Mexico, in both cases at the invitation of the respective governments.


24.          With respect to the rights of the child, the Commission received the report of Dr. Hélio Bicudo, in conclusion of his mandate as Rapporteur on this issue and as Commissioner. The Commission also considered the work plan to be carried out by the Rapporteurship on the Rights of the Child in 2002, based on a project to be financed by the Inter-American Development Bank.




25.          The Commission dedicated a significant portion of the sessions to considering its Annual Report for 2001, which will be presented to the OAS General Assembly in Barbados in June of 2002.


Washington, D.C., March 15, 2002








          -        César Verduga Vélez, P12.274 – Report 8/02, Ecuador

          -        Mario Alfredo Lares Reyes, P12.379 – Report 19/02, United States

-         Hernán Galeas, P11.627 – Report 20/02, Honduras

-         Bessy Alvarez and Blanca Rodríguez, P12.109 – Report 21/02, Honduras

-         Jesús C. Zablah and Clara E. de Zablah, P12.114 – Report 22/02, Honduras

-         Rubén Ayala Bogado, P12.296 - Report 1/02, Paraguay


B.                 ADMISSIBILITY


-          Jorge Fernando Grande, Case 11.498 – Report 3/02, Argentina

-          Ricardo Neira González, Case 11.685 – Report 4/02, Argentina

-          Sergio y María Schiavini, Case 12.080 – Report 5/02, Argentina

-          Manickavasagam Suresh, Case 11.661 – Report 7/02, Canada

-          Noel Omeara Carrascal and others, Case 11.482 – Report 8/02, Colombia

-          Aucan Huilcaman and others, Case 11.856 – Report 9/02, Chile

-          James Judge, Case 12.393 - Report 10/02, Ecuador

-          Joaquín Hernández A. and others, Case 12.394 – Report 11/02, Ecuador

-         Jesús Enrique Valderrama Perea, Case 12.290 – Report 12/02, Ecuador

-          Tomás Lares Cipriano, Case 11.171 – Report 13/02, Guatemala

-          Bruce Harris, Case 12.352 – Report 14/02, Guatemala

-         Ramón Hernández B. and others, Case 11.802 – Report 15/02, Honduras

-          Marco A. Servellón B. and others, Case 12.331 – Report 16/02, Honduras

-          Yakye Axa Community, Case 12.313 – Report 2/02, Paraguay

     -          Sheldon Roach, Case 12.346 and Beernal Ramnarage, Case 12.377 – Report      17/02, Trinidad and Tobago


          C.          FRIENDLY SETTLEMENT

-         Juan M. Contreras San Martín and others, P 11.715 – Report 32/02, Chile

-          Mónica Carabantes Galleguillos, P12.046 – Report 33/02, Chile


          D.           MERITS


-          Diniz Bento Da Silva, Case 11.517 – Report 23/02, Brazil

          E.           ARCHIVE


          -          María Elba Rojas and others, P11.547, Costa Rica

-          Rudencio Masaquiza, P10.231, Ecuador

          -          Sergio Fernando Archila, P11.201, Guatemala

          -          Efraín Yaxon, P11.295, Guatemala

-          Estuardo López, P11.487, Guatemala

-          Juan y Aureliano Sirin Raxjal, P11.490, Guatemala

-          Rodrigue Flanan, P11.117, Haiti

-          Cajuste Lexius, Phabonord Sainvil and Sauveur Orelus, P11.150, Haiti

-          Fils Aimé Clerge, P11.151, Haiti

-          Viergela Paul, P11.152, Haiti

-          Jean Claude Joseph, P11.153, Haiti

-          Jean Marie Vincent, P11.379, Haiti

-          José Dolores Rivera, P11.470, Honduras

-          Mario Lewis Miller, P11.751, Panama

-          Juan Francisco Herrera, P12.312, Panama

-          Sylvia Rodríguez Richeri, P11.521, Uruguay

-          Neyda Martínez de Sibils and others, P11.761, Uruguay




-          Inmates of the Urso Branco Prison, Rondônia, Brazil

-          Embera Chamí Community, Colombia

-          REINICIAR, Colombia

          -          Guillermo Quevedo and functionaries of Tipografía Nacional, Guatemala

          -          Francisco De León and 10 other forensic anthropologists, Guatemala

-           Patrick Merisier and Berthony Philippe, Haiti

-           Detainees in the Guantánamo Base, United States

-           Napoleon Beazley, United States

-           Abu Ali Abdur Rahman (formerly James Jones), United States

-           Tracy Lee Housel, United States

-           Laorwins José Rodríguez Enríquez and others (Venevisión), Venezuela


          III.          HEARINGS

(In order of occurrence)


-        Situation of human rights in Guatemala

-        Follow-up of Case 11.198 – José María Ixcaya and others, Guatemala

          -          Situation of human rights Haiti

          -       Case 12.230 – Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo, Nicaragua

-        Follow-up of Case 11.381 – Milton García Fajardo, Nicaragua

-         Follow-up of reports on friendly settlement and merits, Ecuador

-        Case 12.365 - Elías López Pita and Luis Shinin Laso, Ecuador

-        Case 11.620 – Rigoberto Acosta Calderón, Ecuador

-        Case 11.515 – Bolívar Camacho Arboleda, Ecuador

-        Situation of human rights in Cuba (two hearings)

-         Situation of human rights in Colombia (two hearings)

-         Situation of human rights in Antioquia and defenders, Colombia

-         Situation of detention centers in Colombia

-         Follow-up of individual cases, Colombia (two hearings)

-         P519/01- Jesús María Valle, Colombia

-         P12.362 - Luis Fernando Lalinde, Colombia

-         P12.356 - Niños de Pueblorrico, Colombia

-         Situation of the afro-Colombian population of Costa Nariñense, Colombia

-         Situation of human rights defenders in the Americas

-         Situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the Americas

-         Situation of human rights of afro-descendants in the Americas

-         Case 12.266  - El Aro, Ituango, Colombia

-         Case 10.916 - James Zapata Valencia and Heriberto Ramírez Llanos, Colombia

-         P10.455 - Valentín Bastos, Colombia

-         V.Delgado and inhabitants of El Paraíso, precautionary measures, Colombia

-         OFP, precautionary measures, Colombia

-         CREDHOS, precautionary measures, Colombia

-         Embera Katío, precautionary measures, Colombia

-         Case 11.227, Unión Patriótica, Colombia

-         P12.337 – Marcela Valdés Díaz, Chile

-         P071/01 – Sonia Arce Esparza, Chile

-         Situation of the right to freedom of expression in Chile

-         Situation of human rights in Mexico (two hearings)

-         Follow-up of Cases Peredo V., Ejido Morelia and González Pérez, Mexico

-         Situation of the rights of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

-         P 12.299 – Digna Ochoa and others, Mexico

-         Situation of human rights in Peru

-         Situation of the right to freedom of expression in Panama

-         Situation of the rights of refugees in the Americas

-         Situation of human rights in Venezuela

-         P453/01 – Elías Santana, Venezuela

-         P683/00 – Jaime Lusinchi, Venezuela

-         Situation of afro-Brazilians and racial discrimination in Brazil

-         Case 11.634 – Jailton Néri de Fonseca, Brazil

-         Case 11.556 – Masacre de Corumbiara, Brazil

-         Follow-up of Cases Tames, Coutinho M., Da Penha and De Oliveira, Brazil

-         Situation of human rights in Argentina

-         Situation of access to medication in Argentina

-         Situation of violence against women in the hemisphere

-         Situation of the rights of women in the hemisphere

-         P12.387 - Alfredo López, Honduras