No. 4/03







          1.          On March 7, 2003 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded its 117th regular session. At the outset, the IACHR renewed its officers as follows: Marta Altolaguirre, President; José Zalaquett, First Vice-President; Clare K. Roberts, Second Vice-President.  The other members of the IACHR are Robert K. Goldman, Juan E. Méndez, Julio Prado Vallejo, and Susana Villarán.  The Executive Secretary of the Commission is Santiago A. Canton.




          2.          The Commission continued its consideration of numerous individual petitions and cases in which violations are alleged of the human rights protected by the American Convention, the American Declaration, and other inter-American instruments.  It adopted a total of 41 reports on individual cases and petitions.  In addition, the Commission issued 5 precautionary measures pursuant to Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure.  Attached to this press release is a list of the reports, as well as a list of the precautionary measures issued.




          3.          During the week of February 24 to 28, 2003, the Inter-American Commission held 52 hearings.  Those that refer to individual cases and petitions addressed issues of admissibility, the merits, friendly settlement, and follow-up.  Other hearings were held to receive general information on the human rights situation in a given country, or on one or another subject that comes under the purview of the IACHR.  The complete list of hearings is attached to this press release.


          4.          The IACHR thanks the attendants to the hearings, in a personal capacity or as petitioners, as well as representatives of member states of the OAS.  In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos was present at the hearings, as well as Cabinet secretaries and Attorney Generals of several countries.


5.          During the hearings, general information was received with respect to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela. The IACHR also focused on issues such as the administration of justice, in Argentina, El Salvador and Peru.  In addition, the IACHR heard from civil society organizations and officials of the Mexican Government who presented information on the situation of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez. 


6.          Torture and racial discrimination were matters of special concern addressed in this session.  In the context of its cooperation with the United Nations mechanisms, the Inter-American Commission received information form Mr. Theo Van Boven, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture, and Mr. Doudou Diene, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  In addition, the Commission held hearings in which it received information on torture in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.


7.          The development of economic, social and cultural rights (“ESCR”) is one of the Commission’s priorities.  In this regard, it received information on the general situation of ESCR in several countries of the hemisphere, as well as an analysis of the most recent case-law developments in this matter.  Also, the IACHR was advised of the situation of persons living with HIV/AIDS in several countries of the Americas.


8.          The hearings on the general human rights situation in the member States addressed various issues under the purview of the IACHR.  In particular, information was received on the situation of the right to freedom of expression in various countries.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR participated in those hearings.  The rights of indigenous peoples of the hemisphere were also the subject of a hearing.


          9.          The Commissioners held working sessions with the parties concerned, regarding more than 50 petitions and cases from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.  During these working sessions, specific aspects were discussed regarding matters at different procedural stages before the inter-American human rights system.  The discussions included progress in compliance with the Commission’s recommendations, as well as the initiation and completion of friendly settlements.


          10.          The IACHR renewed its dialogue with representatives of several member governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  Commission President Marta Altolaguirre and Second Vice-president Clare Roberts met during the course of this session with representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.  This meeting provided an excellent opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion of issues related to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Caribbean region.


          11.          The President of the Inter-American Commission and lawyers of the Executive Secretariat met with members of several non-governmental organizations.  In addition, as is customary, the Executive Secretary engaged in an exchange of information on issues of mutual interest with representatives of civil society.




          12.          On March 1, 2003, the IACHR held a “Working Session on the Implementation of International Human Rights Commitments and Standards in the Inter-American System”.  This event, which was possible thanks to the cooperation of the International Justice Project, included four panels. The first provided a context and summary of the issues to be addressed, while the three additional panels discussed legislative, judicial, and intra-governmental mechanisms and initiatives to implement international commitments related to human rights. During the working session, more than 70 representatives of OAS member states were able to hear from 15 independent experts and governmental authorities on human rights commitments, and had an opportunity to ask questions and share opinions with them. 


          IV.          ANNUAL REPORT


          13.          The Inter-American Commission approved its Annual Report for 2002, which will be submitted to the OAS General Assembly in Santiago, Chile in June 2003.




          14.          Since its previous regular session, the IACHR has referred four applications to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, against Costa Rica, Suriname, and Mexico.  Below is a summary of the three cases that have been notified by the Inter-American Court.  During the same period, it has submitted four requests for provisional measures seeking protection for various individuals. Three of these refer to Venezuela, and one to Colombia.


          A.          CONTENTIOUS CASES


          15.          Case 11821 on Stefano Ajintonea et al. against Suriname (Moiwana Massacre) was submitted to the Court on December 20, 2002.  The facts refer to a military attack on the Ndjuka Maroon community of Moiwana, in which the soldiers terrorized the inhabitants, massacred over 40 men, women, and children, and completely destroyed the village.  The survivors had to flee and then went into exile or ended up as internally displaced persons, which resulted in the loss of their property, their community, and their way of life.  More than 16 years after the fact, these events have not been adequately investigated, nor have the persons responsible been punished.  The purpose of the application is for the Inter-American Court to determine the responsibility of the State of Suriname for the continuing denial of justice to the detriment of the inhabitants of Moiwana and their family members, in violation of articles 25 and 8(1) of the American Convention.


          16.          On January 28, 2003, the IACHR referred Case 12367 on Mauricio Herrera Ulloa and Fernando Vargas Rohrmoser (“La Nación” daily newspaper) against Costa Rica. Herrera Ulloa, a journalist, wrote a series of articles published by La Nación in May and December 1995, about a diplomat named Félix Przedborski.  In those articles, he partially reproduced several articles from the Belgian press that attributed illegal acts to Mr. Przedborski. The purpose of the application is for the Court to establish the violations committed by Costa Rica in the criminal conviction of Mauricio Herrera Ulloa, who was found guilty of the crime of defamation, which resulted in the conviction being entered into the Judicial Registry of Criminal Offenders; removal of the link in the digital version of La Nación between Przedborski’s last name and the articles written by Mauricio Herrera Ulloa; and the judicial notification to Mr. Fernando Vargas Rohrmoser to comply with the judgment, with the warning that possibly he would be found to be in criminal contempt of the judicial authority. The Court is asked to determine responsibility for violations of articles 13, 2, and 1(1) of the American Convention.


          17.          Case 12228 - Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd against Mexico was referred to the Inter-American Court on January 30, 2003.  Mr. Martín del Campo Dodd was arbitrarily detained on May 30, 1992, and subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment by members of the judicial police of Mexico City for the purpose of making him confess to the murder of his sister and brother-in-law, committed the night before.  Several judges ignored his allegations of torture and gave probative value to the alleged confession, and he has been in prison ever since.  Considering that Mexico accepted the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on December 16, 1998, the application refers to the facts that occurred from that date on, when Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty.  The Court is asked to establish the responsibility of Mexico for denying Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd the rights to personal liberty, due process, effective judicial protection, and humane treatment, on keeping him arbitrarily detained and rejecting his statement of innocence based on evidence that he had been forced to confess under torture, in violation of articles 7, 8, 25, 5, and 1(1) of the American Convention. In addition, the State is alleged to have given probative value to the victim’s confession under torture in violation of Article 10 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture; and to have failed to duly investigate and punish the persons responsible for the acts of torture that were established by the authorities, constituting violations of articles 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.


          B.          PROVISIONAL MEASURES


          18.          On November 27, 2002, the Executive Secretariat forwarded to the Inter-American Court three requests for provisional measures with respect to Venezuela. The first refers to the situation of Liliana Ortega and other members of the Comité de Familiares de Víctimas de los sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC).  On that same date, the Court ordered the Venezuelan State to adopt “without delay, whatever measures are necessary to protect the life and personal integrity” of the members of COFAVIC and to investigate “the facts alleged that gave rise to these measures in order to discover the persons responsible and punish them.”


          19.          Another request for provisional measures presented on November 27, 2002, refers to Mr. Luis Enrique Uzcátegui Jiménez, who alleged that he had been subjected to harassment and threats. The request for provisional measures was preceded by precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission.  In the resolution that orders the provisional measures, the Court said that there was “an extremely serious and urgent situation in respect of the life and physical integrity of Mr. Luis Enrique Uzcátegui Jiménez” and that in addition to the obligation to provide him protection, Venezuela should “investigate the facts that gave rise to this request for provisional measures to identify the persons responsible and impose the pertinent sanctions on them.”


          20.          In addition, a request for provisional measures was presented on behalf of Luisiana Ríos, Armando Amaya, Antonio José Monroy, Laura Castellanos, and Argenis Uribe, employees of the television station Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV). On November 27, 2002, the Court decided that there was “an extremely serious and urgent situation in respect of the life and physical integrity” of the persons mentioned, and accordingly it ordered Venezuela to adopt provisional measures for their protection and to investigate the threats that led to the request.


          21.          During the session that concluded on Friday, the Inter-American Commission decided to request provisional measures on behalf of the Community Council of Jiguamiandó and families from Curbaradó, municipality of Carmen del Darién, department of El Chocó, Colombia. The request was forwarded to the Inter-American Court on March 5, 2003.




          22.          On January 29, 2003, Guatemala deposited the instrument of ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities.


          23.          The Inter-American Commission once again calls on all the member states of the OAS to continue ratifying the inter-American human rights instruments, so as to attain universality of the system and to expand the international protection of the fundamental rights to all inhabitants of the Americas.




          24.          Through its Executive Secretariat, the IACHR continued advising the Working Group entrusted with preparing the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the special session held February 24 to 28 in Washington, D.C. The session was attended by representatives of the member states of the OAS, more than 100 leaders and representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and observers.  The Inter-American Commission values the efforts of the members states in the process of preparing the Draft Declaration, and celebrates the substantive progress on the text and the key participation of the representatives of the indigenous peoples. The IACHR considers that Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, of the International Labor Organization, represents the minimum guarantees and rights protected by an international human rights instruments, and is hopeful that the final text of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly will go beyond that minimum standard.


* * * * * * *  *  

25.          The next regular session of the IACHR will be held at its headquarters October 7 to 24, 2003.


Washington, D.C., March 10, 2003






I.           REPORTS




-         Jorge Omar Gutiérrez - P 12.221, Report 1/03, Argentina

-         José Eduardo Acurso – P 11.306, Report 2/03, Argentina

-         Carlos Menem Jr. – P 12.257, Report 3/03, Argentina

-         Dorado de Carajás – P 11.820, Report 4/03, Brazil

-         Mario Alberto Jara Oñate et al, P - 12.195, Report 31/03, Chile

-         Gilda Rosario Pizarro et al., P - 12.281, Report 32/03, Chile

-         Jesús María Valle – P 519/01, Report 5/03, Colombia

-         Alcides Torres Arias – P 597/00, Report 6/03, Colombia

-         Santo Domingo – P 289/02, Report 25/03, Colombia

-         Whitley Myrie – P 729/02, Report 7/03, Jamaica

-         Michael Gayle – P 191/02, Report 8/03, Jamaica

-         María Estela García Ramírez and Celerino Jiménez – P 12.116, Report 9/03, Mexico

-         Tomás de Jesús Barranco – P 12.185, Report 10/03, Mexico

-         Xakmok Kasek Community (Enxet People) - P 326/01, Report 11/03, Paraguay

-         Sawosamaxa Community - P 322/01, Report 12/03, Paraguay

-         Jorge Rosadio Villavicencio – P 12.031, Report 13/03, Peru

-         Roger Herminio Salas – P 185/01, Report 14/03, Peru




-         Janet Delgado and others - P 131/01, Report 15/03, Ecuador

-         Edison Rodrigo Toledo Echeverría – P 346/01, Report 16/03, Ecuador

-         María Estela Acosta Hernandez et al. (Explosions of the Reforma Sector in Guadalajara) –         P 11.823, Report 17/03, México


C.          MERITS


          The IACHR adopted a total of 21 reports on the merits.  These reports will be submitted to the respective member states under Article 50 of the American Convention and Article 43 of the IACHR’s Regulations.




-          Carmelo Soria Espinoza - Case 11725, Report 19/03, Chile




-         Juan Cristóbal Peña, Chile

-         Senator Piedad Córdoba, Colombia

-         Carlos Rosero and members of the Equipo del Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN),

-         Over Dorado Cardona, Colombia

-         Venevisión Press Workers, Venezuela


III.          HEARINGS (in the order in which they were held)


1.        Situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the inter-American system

2.        Information on acts of torture in Chile

3.        General human rights situation in Chile

4.        General human rights situation in Nicaragua

5.        Precautionary measures for persons living with HIV in Nicaragua

6.        Human rights situation in Colombia

7.        Human rights situation in Colombia (second hearing)

8.        Human rights situation in Arauca, Colombia

9.        Human rights situation in Comuna 13, Medellín, Colombia

10.    Afro-Colombian communities of Jugiamiandó, precautionary measures. Colombia

11.    P 289/02 - Santo Domingo, Colombia

12.    Case 12,250 – Mapiripán, Colombia

13.    Case 11,955 - Mariela Morales Caro et al. (La Rochela Massacre), Colombia

14.    Case 11,748 - Pueblo Bello, Colombia

15.    Situation of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas

16.    Human rights situation in Sao Paulo, Brazil

17.    Human rights situation in Venezuela

18.    General situation on the independence of judges in El Salvador

19.    Situation of the rights of the child in Honduras

20.    Situation of the right to freedom of expression in Honduras

21.    Human rights situation in the Archipelago of San Andrés, Colombia

22.    Case 11,141 – Villatina, Colombia

23.    Precautionary measures - Embera Katío community, Colombia

24.    Case 11,482 - Omeara Carrascal et al., Colombia

25.    Follow-up on recommendations in individual cases, Colombia

26.    United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism and Xenophobia, Mr. Doudou Diene

27.    P 4617/02 - Mercedes Julia Huenteao et al. (RALCO), Chile

28.    Minister of Human Rights of Brazil, Mr. Nilmario Miranda

29.    P 12,229 – Digna Ochoa y otros, Mexico

30.    Situation of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

31.    Situation of impunity in Mexico

32.    General human rights situation in Venezuela

33.    Situation of para-police groups in Venezuela

34.    Case 11,699 - Víctor Arangurez Moreno et al. (Catia checkpoint), Venezuela

35.    Case 11,706 – Haximú Massacre, Venezuela

36.    General human rights situation in Cuba

37.    Situation of journalists in Venezuela

38.    Information on acts of torture in Brazil

39.    General human rights situation in the state of Paraíba, Brazil

40.    Precautionary measures - Senilda Maria de Araujo et al., Brazil

41.    Situation of the death penalty in Jamaica

42.    General human rights situation in Peru

43.    Situation of the anti-terrorist legislation in Peru

44.    Follow-up to recommendations (Cases in Press Release of February 22, 2001), Peru

45.    Case 12,165 – Monsi Lilia Velarde Retamozo, Peru

46.    General human rights situation in Guatemala

47.    General situation of justice workers in Guatemala

48.    Precautionary measures on behalf of persons living with HIV, Guatemala

49.    Case law with respect to economic, social and cultural rights in the hemisphere

50.    General situation on the administration of justice in Argentina

51.    Information on acts of torture in Argentina

52.    Follow-up to Report 28/92, on the “full stop” and “due obedience” laws, Argentina