No. 3/03


 The IACHR elects officERS and begins its regular sessionS




1.          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights began its 117th regular sessions.  This being the first period of sessions of 2003, pursuant to its Rules of Procedure the IACHR renewed its board of officers as follows:  Dr. Marta Altolaguirre, President; Dr. José Zalaquett, First Vice-President; and Dr. Clare K. Roberts, Second Vice-President.  Other members of the IACHR are Professor Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Juan E. Mendez, Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo, and Dr. Susana Villarán; the Executive Secretary of the IACHR is Dr. Santiago A. Canton.  Dr. Altolaguirre succeeds Dr. Méndez, who completed his yearlong mandate as President.


2.          President Marta Altolaguirre, a Guatemalan, has been a member of the Commission since January 2000.  Her specific responsibilities in the IACHR include her work as Rapporteur for the rights of women.  Dr. Altolaguirre, an attorney and notary, was a member of the Council of the Office of the Public Prosecutor of her country.  She was also the Chair of the Presidential Commission of Human Rights in Guatemala (COPREDEH) and represented Guatemala in this capacity in the Inter-American human rights system and in organs concerned with human rights in the United Nations system.


3.          First Vice-President José Zalaquett, a Chilean, is well known as a jurist and professor of human rights.  His background includes teaching in numerous universities in the Hemisphere, particularly in Chile and the United States of America.  He has held executive posts in various human rights organizations and organizations concerned with international humanitarian law and international relations; of particular note are the Vicaría de la Solidaridad of Chile and, at the international level, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and the Center for Transitional Justice.


4.          Dr. Clare K. Roberts, Second Vice-President of the Inter-American Commission, is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.  The legal experience of Dr. Roberts includes having held senior positions in his country, such as Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs between 1994 and 1997.  He has been an international legal consultant for several public and private organizations, and he is also a Member of the International Bar Association and the Inter-American Bar Association, as well as an Associate Member of the American Bar Association.


5. The IACHR is the principal organ under the Charter of the OAS, with responsibility for ensuring respect for human rights in all states of the American continent. It is comprised of seven jurists, independent experts, who are elected in their individual capacities by the member states of the Organization.  During its period of sessions, the Commission will consider draft reports on human rights violations in the procedural stages of admissibility, merits, friendly settlement, and complaints filed with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The IACHR will also review human rights situations in various member states of the OAS and will hold 55 hearings with individual petitioners and state representatives.


Washington, D.C., February 26, 2003