N° 03/04



 1.       The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights began its 119th regular session.  Pursuant to its Rules of Procedure, this being its first session in 2004, the IACHR elected its officers, as follows:  José Zalaquett, President; Clare K. Roberts, First Vice President; and Susana Villarán, Second Vice President.  The following are also commissioners of the IACHR: Evelio Fernández Arévalos, Freddy Gutiérrez, Florentín Meléndez and Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.  The Executive Secretary of the IACHR is Dr. Santiago A. Canton. 

          2.       Dr. José Zalaquett, a Chilean citizen, is a highly regarded jurist and Human Rights Professor.  In the course of his career, he has taught at numerous universities in the Hemisphere, particularly in Chile and the United States of America.  He has held senior management positions in several organizations dedicated to human rights, international humanitarian law, and international relations, including the Vicaría de la Solidaridad in Chile and, at the international level, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and the Center for Transitional Justice. 

          3.        Dr. Clare K. Roberts is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.  His juridical career has included several important posts in his country, including that of 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.


          4.       Dr. Susana Villarán, from Peru, is a specialist in education and journalism, and former Minister for Women and Human Development in Peru’s transitional government (2000-2001).  Among the many positions of responsibility held by Dr. Villarán in the course of her career, she has been Executive Secretary of the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Perú, Member of the Commission for the Reorganization and Modernization of Peru’s Police, and that country’s first Police Ombudsman.  She is also a member of Women for Democracy and various other civil society organizations concerned with women’s and childrens affairs.


5.       The Inter-American Commission also proceeded to appoint its rapporteurs for different subjects and countries:


-        Dr. José Zalaquett: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago.


-        Dr. Clare K. Roberts:  Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.


-        Dr. Susana Villarán: Women’s rights; Colombia, Nicaragua and Guatemala.


-        Dr. Evelio Fernández Arévalos: Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Honduras.


-        Dr. Freddy Gutiérrez: Rights of migrant workers and their families; El Salvador, Peru, Panama, and Uruguay.


-        Dr. Florentín Meléndez: Rights of persons deprived of their freedom; Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.


-        Dr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro: Rights of the child; Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, United States, and Venezuela.  

6.       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 62 hearings with individual petitioners and state representatives.


Washington, D. C., February 26, 2004