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IACHR ends its 127th regular period of sessions
Washington, March 9, 2007 – The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) today ended its 127th regular period of sessions, during which it elected its officers. Its new board of officers is now comprised by Florentín Meléndez, President; Paolo Carozza, First Vice-President; and Víctor Abramovich, Second Vice-President. The other Commissioners of the IACHR are Clare K. Roberts, Evelio Fernández Arévalos, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro and Freddy Gutiérrez. Dr. Santiago A. Canton is the Executive Secretary of the IACHR since August 2001.
During this regular period of sessions, the IACHR adopted reports on individual cases and petitions and held 30 working meetings and 48 hearings, some of them in the framework of individual petitions and cases or precautionary measures and others on general or specific situations of human rights.
The IACHR also approved in this period of sessions its annual report of 2006, which includes an analysis of the progress registered in the year regarding human rights in the region, as well as pending challenges. Among the advances, the report highlights the political will to ensure the full enjoyment of the fundamental freedoms in the Hemisphere. Notwithstanding, the report also points out that important challenges remain, including citizen security, social inequity, access to justice and democratic consolidation. The report will be presented to the 37th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which will take place in Panama from June 3 to 5, 2007.
The presidential renovation in 12 countries of the Hemisphere in the last biennium is a sign of the consolidation of the electoral processes, but the weakness of the democratic institutions and a deep inequality in socioeconomic terms persist. The marginalization and the social exclusion that continue to characterize the region prevent the effective enjoyment of the economic, social and cultural rights of ample sectors of the population, as well as the fortification of the democratic institutions. Although the inequality continues to be a central axis for the diagnosis on the enjoyment of human rights in the region, it is not a matter that occupies a prominent space in the public policies of the States.
The IACHR finds a connection between the social exclusion and the institutional degradation. Evidence of this relation is that most of the victims of tortures come from impoverished sectors, as well as most people who undergo arbitrary detentions, beatings and police executions. The alarming collapse of the prison systems and the violent abuse of indigenous peoples who resist the expulsion from their territories are also indicative of this relation. In addition, the behavior of police, state public prosecutors and other civil employees is often marked by racial, ethnic and gender discrimination.
Citizen insecurity and the fragility of the Judicial Power in most of the countries of the region, combined with attacks, in some countries, against the independence and impartiality of this power of the State, represents one of the greatest difficulties confronted by the States Members of the OAS to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights. This is translated into problems of inegalitarian access to justice, slow judicial processes, impunity in cases of serious violations to fundamental rights and violations to due process.
The member States of the OAS must collectively increase the governability in the region and the quality of public management, as indispensable requirements for the promotion and effective protection of human rights. The Commission reiterates that the structural weakness of many basic democratic institutions, added to specific crises that generate political instability, prevent the formation of ample and lasting consensus on the inclusive public policies that are indispensable for effective enjoyment of human rights. In order to advance towards this objective it is necessary to amplify and to deepen freedom in the Americas, to build societies with full participation of all its citizens, an independent, impartial and prompt justice, greater transparency in public management, an ample freedom of expression and association, total respect for gender equality, guarantees for the rights of indigenous peoples, Afro descendent communities and other groups in situation of vulnerability.
During this period of sessions, the IACHR received the visit of a delegation from the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights, which consisted of the Commissioner Angela Melo, Rapporteur for the Rights of Women, and Commissioner Sanji Monageng, who were accompanied by high officers of the Executive Secretariat. The delegation participated on February 6, 2007, in hearings on cases, petitions and general situations, and held a meeting with the Commissioners and the personnel of the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR with the purpose of exchanging information regarding the functioning of the inter-American and African systems of human rights. The Inter-American Commission highly values the presence of the Commissioners and hopes to continue the exchange in the future through possible mechanisms of institutional cooperation.
The IACHR will hold this year other two regular periods of sessions, one from July 16 to 27 and another one from October 8 to 19, both in the IACHR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The IACHR would like to take this opportunity to make a call to international solidarity with Bolivia. In view of the natural disasters that have lashed this South American country in the last few months as a result of the climatologic phenomenon El Niño, the IACHR exhorts the international community to adopt urgent humanitarian initiatives to attend to the affected population.
The IACHR again emphasizes and thanks for the important financial contribution from the governments of the following countries members of the Organization: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. It also wishes to thank the observant countries that support the activities of the Commission: Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. The Inter-American Development Bank, the European Commission, the Open Society Institute and the Secretariat of the Commonwealth have also contributed with specific funds to the IACHR. These contributions make possible the strengthening of the Inter-American system and the respect of human rights in the American hemisphere.