Link to the Annex
IACHR CONCLUDES ITS 140TH PERIOD OF SESSIONS
Washington, D.C., November 5, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 140th regular period of sessions from October 20 to November 5, 2010. The IACHR is composed of Felipe González, Chair; Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, First Vice-Chair; Dinah Shelton, Second Vice-Chair; and Commissioners Luz Patricia Mejía, María Silvia Guillén, José de Jesús Orozco, and Rodrigo Escobar. The Executive Secretary is Santiago A. Canton.
The Commission expresses its satisfaction over the approval of five friendly settlement reports in cases involving Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, as well as the significant progress achieved in other friendly settlement processes involving Argentina, Guatemala, and Mexico. The IACHR appreciates the willingness and collaboration shown by the parties in these meetings to move forward in these agreements, and announces its decision to strengthen this mechanism, which is an effective means for settling petitions and cases.
The Commission also draws attention to the presentation of the Report of the Truth Commission of Ecuador, offered jointly by representatives of the State and of civil society. The IACHR values the cooperation shown between governmental authorities and nongovernmental human rights organizations.
The Commission also appreciates the standing invitation that a number of countries in the region have extended to the IACHR, which shows a willingness to work with the Commission so that it can efficiently fulfill its function of promoting the observance and defense of human rights in the region. In this regard, given that the State of Nicaragua has not proposed dates for the IACHR to carry out a visit, despite repeated requests, the Commission hopes that the Nicaraguan State will propose dates in the near future.
The Commission is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Mexico— particularly the serious acts of violence reported in recent months, including murders and kidnappings, which especially affect migrants, and the persistent violence against women, including torture, rape, and other forms of sexual and domestic violence, as well as the general situation of impunity surrounding these cases. The IACHR will closely follow the situation in Mexico.
On another matter, the Commission expresses its deep concern about sexual violence against women and girls in Haiti, and the existence of a practice of illegal forced evictions from camps for internally displaced persons, which particularly impacts women and children. The Commission recommends that the State of Haiti adopt a moratorium on such evictions until a new government takes office.
The Commission is concerned about information it received regarding persistent standards and practices in the Dominican Republic depriving persons of Haitian descent who were born in that country of their right to nationality. The IACHR reiterates that the State's argument that there are no stateless persons in that country, since children born to Haitians in the Dominican Republic can be registered at the Haitian consulate, is incompatible with the Inter-American Convention and case law of the Inter-American Commission and Court.
The IACHR also received information about the statute of limitations imposed for criminal prosecutions in investigations into the forced sterilization of more than 2,000 women during the government of Alberto Fujimori in Peru. The IACHR condemns this situation of impunity and calls to mind that in a friendly settlement agreement signed on October 10, 2003, the State had made a commitment to identify and duly punish the perpetrators.
With regard to the United States, the IACHR deplores the execution of Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan on October 26, after the IACHR had requested an immediate suspension of his execution and a review of his trial, having concluded that his basic rights to due process had been violated. The Commission condemns the repeated failure on the part of the United States to comply with its decisions, especially in cases related to the death penalty.
In its hearings and working meetings, the IACHR received very troubling information about some of the structural human rights problems that persist in the region, having to do with respect for the right to life and humane treatment, guarantees of due process and judicial protection, and the exercise of economic, social, and cultural rights. The IACHR is concerned about information it received regarding a number of issues, including: the situation of the rights of children with disabilities; ongoing structural obstacles that hinder the effective enjoyment of indigenous peoples' right to their lands, territories, and natural resources, as well as the impact of energy and extractive industries that have been installed in their territories; the discrimination and abuse suffered by migrants in many countries in the region; the discrimination suffered by populations of African descent and the close link between racial discrimination and excessive use of police force; the continuing problem of femicide and domestic violence in the region and the impunity in which these cases often remain; and the subhuman conditions in which persons deprived of liberty live in the majority of countries of the hemisphere.
In addition, the IACHR is deeply concerned about information it received regarding the situation of systematic discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons (LGBTI) in the region. Most particularly, the IACHR is concerned about the situation in those countries of the English-speaking Caribbean where the conduct of LGBTI persons is criminalized, through laws in effect that impose criminal sanctions ranging from 10 years in prison or forced labor to life imprisonment for consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex. The Commission calls for these laws to be repealed. The IACHR also received information about serious acts of violence and hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTI community in countries of South America and Central America, as well as about the particular cruelty of the means of violence employed against members of the trans community. The Inter-American Commission has decided to intensify its efforts to defend the rights of LGBTI persons, and it will prepare a hemispheric report on the issue.
The Commission also received alarming information about the persistence of murders, acts of harassment, and threats against human rights defenders, organizations that promote women's rights, and magistrates and other members of the judiciary, as well as the ongoing practice in which State authorities make statements delegitimizing the work of human rights organizations. In some cases, they have gone so far as to stigmatize them as collaborators with terrorists groups or as organizations that seek to destabilize the State. The Inter-American Commission is deeply concerned about the effects that such statements may have on the safety of human rights defenders.
During the sessions, the Inter-American Commission also received unsettling information about serious problems in the implementation of precautionary measures in a number of countries in the region. The 140th period of sessions included two hearings on problems reported in the implementation of precautionary measures in Colombia and Honduras. The Commission urges the States to take urgent steps to effectively protect the beneficiaries of measures granted by the IACHR.
Likewise, the Commission deplores the fact that some individuals who have attended IACHR hearings in 2010 to provide testimony or information have been victims of actions—at times on the part of government authorities—to discredit them in their countries. The Commission reiterates that these persons should enjoy all necessary guarantees, and urges the States to refrain from any action that could place them at risk.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
Annex to Press Release 109/10
Audio and video of the public hearings of the 140th Period of Sessions
Schedule of hearings of the 140th period of sessions
Schedule of hearings in printable version
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