Nº 28/04






          The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Dr. Santiago A. Canton, expressed thanks to the European Commission today for its financial support of important activities concerning the protection and promotion of human rights.


          He did so on the occasion of the dissemination of preliminary observations on the visits to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras of the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Children, Commission member Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, and its Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Freedom, Commission member Florentín Meléndez.[1]/  Said visits were carried out in conjunction with UNICEF, for the purpose of gathering information on the human rights situation of children and adolescents involved with groups known as pandillas or maras (gangs).  The Commission’s preliminary observations may be found on its Web page (


          The Executive Secretary emphasized that, in the opinion of the IACHR, “the starting point must be the recognition that children and adolescents have human rights,” and that policies concerning maras or pandillas must be developed on the basis of the general principles of “comprehensive protection” and the “best interests of the child,” and not simply from a repressive or punitive viewpoint.


          With regard to the visit to Honduras, the Executive Secretary underscored the valuable financial support received from the European Commission, which had made it possible for Rapporteur Florentín Meléndez to observe the special situation of children and adolescents who were deprived of freedom in that country.


          The Executive Secretary also said that the funds received from the European Commission in 2004 had helped support numerous IACHR activities, including visits to Bolivia, Guatemala, Colombia, and Haiti, as well as other activities related to the Commission’s participation in proceedings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.



Washington, D. C., December 10, 2004


[1] In keeping with Article 52 of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, Dr. Florentín Meléndez, a Salvadoran national, did not participate in the visit to El Salvador.