SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT
OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
PRESENTATION OF THE
2009 ANNUAL REPORT
April 15, 2010
Mr. Chairman of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs; distinguished representatives of the Organization’s member states and observer countries; representatives of civil society; ladies and gentlemen:
As President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, I am pleased to present the Commission’s Annual Report for the year 2009 to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Permanent Council. In doing so, I am accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Santiago Canton, and by the members of the Executive Secretariat’s staff.
The report I am submitting to you today was adopted by the Inter-American Commission at the close of 2009 and was prepared in accordance with the guidelines set by the General Assembly and in compliance with Article 57 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure in force in 2009, the current Article 58. The report describes the general activities carried out by the IACHR, mainly under the presidency of Commissioner Luz Patricia Mejía Guerrero, and I would like to note her distinguished work as President of the Commission.
Structure and summary of the 2009 Annual Report
The Report is divided into two parts: the first deals with the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, while the second contains the report of the Commission’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
Chapter I deals with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as an auspicious moment for reflecting on the achievements obtained and the challenges still facing the region and the inter-American system in ensuring truly comprehensive protection for the human rights of all the Hemisphere’s inhabitants.
It also describes the importance of the recent amendments to the Commission’s Rules of Procedure. In 2009, following a process that lasted for more than two years and enjoyed the active participation of the states and civil society and an intense dialogue with the Inter-American Court, the Commission introduced far-reaching amendments dealing with four central axes of the human rights protection system: the precautionary measures mechanism, the processing of petitions and cases, the referral of cases to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court, and hearings on the situation of human rights in the member states. During these debates, the IACHR gave broad consideration to the valuable comments offered by states, civil society organizations, academics, and private citizens from across the Hemisphere in response to the open consultations on the preliminary draft text of the amendments that were held between May and August 2009. The chief goal of these reforms is to strengthen the inter-American system by further improving its protective and oversight tools, developing greater guarantees of due process, enhancing transparency, and ensuring participation by victims, all with the aim of realizing the system’s ultimate objective: protecting people.
In addition, this chapter emphasizes the importance of consolidating democracy in the region by means of a constant process that involves all sectors of society. Respect for human rights is a fundamental element in that process. Particular emphasis is placed on the essential role played by guaranteeing the rights of political participation, freedom of expression, freedom of association, judicial protection, and the right to a fair trial in developing a pluralistic community life that respects differences, where all voices are heard, and the strength or interests of one sector of society do not dominate to the detriment of any other.
Activities of the Inter-American Commission in 2009
Chapter II of the Annual Report contains a brief introduction to the Commission’s origins and legal bases, together with a description of the most important activities it carried out during 2009. Those activities included four periods of sessions, the adoption of 94 reports on individual cases, the holding of 89 hearings and 44 working meetings, and a number of working and thematic visits and hearings before the Inter-American Court. This reflects the great number and diversity of demands to which the Commission is subject and the different ways in which it contributes to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Hemisphere.
In addition to the three regular periods of sessions that the Commission held at its headquarters, a special period was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 7 and 8, 2009, at the invitation of that country’s government. In addition, on September 9 to 11, 2009, the IACHR made an official visit to Argentina to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Commission’s 1979 on-site visit and the 50th anniversary of the IACHR’s creation. The numerous activities carried out included a series of panel sessions on the 1979 visit, with the participation of former Commissioners who were a part of the original delegation; they were joined by former members of the Executive Secretariat’s staff, who shared their experiences and views on the impact of that visit to Argentina. In addition, a working session on the inter-American system was held with state officials; the IACHR met with civil society; and a visit was made to the Space for Memory (the former ESMA), where an event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the visit was organized, attended by the President of the Republic, at which plaques were unveiled in honor of the IACHR and, most particularly, in honor of the victims of state terrorism.
Also as part of the activities to commemorate the Inter-American Commission’s 50th anniversary, on September 3 and 4, 2009, the IACHR made an official visit to Chile at the government’s invitation, during which the Commission met with ranking state authorities and participated in a commemorative ceremony hosted by the President of Chile. The IACHR used the opportunity to reaffirm the currency of the ideals of the inter-American human rights system on the occasion of its 50th anniversary by signing the Declaration of Santiago de Chile. It also unveiled a commemorative plaque in the room where the creation of the Commission was agreed upon.
Among the thematic and working visits carried out, the Rapporteur for Haiti made a working visit to that country in late May 2009, with the aim of gathering information on citizen security and juvenile criminal justice in Haiti for the reports on those topics that the IACHR was preparing, one of which was published recently.
Similarly, the Rapporteur for Guatemala – who is also the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – visited that country in early June 2009, paying particular attention to the progress made with investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the serious human rights violations committed during the armed conflict, the situation of the rights of indigenous peoples, and the situation of human rights defenders.
The Rapporteur for Bolivia and Rapporteur for the Rights of Women visited that country in late June 2009; her visit focused on the progress made and the challenges still facing women in exercising their economic, social, and cultural rights without discrimination in Bolivia.
In my capacity as Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, in July 2009 I made a working visit to several detention centers in the U.S. states of Arizona and Texas, and I met with state authorities and representatives of civil society to discuss compliance with immigration and detention rules and due process standards in the country, with a view to including that information in the IACHR’s forthcoming report on the topic.
During 2009, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Children made a number of visits to such countries as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Panama, and Chile; these were with the aim of attending meetings and workshops at which he presented the Report on Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents.
In addition, the Commission made an on-site visit to Honduras on August 17 to 21, 2009, following which it submitted its preliminary comments on the human rights situation in the context of the coup d’état of June 28, 2009. During that visit, the IACHR met with representatives of the de facto government and different sectors of civil society, and it heard from several hundred people who made allegations, gave testimony, and provided information.
That visit enabled the IACHR to confirm the existence of a pattern of disproportionate use of public force, arbitrary arrests, and undue restrictions on freedom of expression, intended to restrict political participation by one segment of the public. The Commission also noted the repression of demonstrations through the installation of military checkpoints, the arbitrary enforcement of curfews, thousands of arrests, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and poor detention conditions. All the information gathered during the visit and through the constant monitoring of the situation in the country is set out in the report Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d’État, published in January of this year.
Many other states in the region also invited the Commission to conduct visits during 2009, which it has as yet been unable to do. The Commission would like to extend its thanks to those member states that have invited the Commission to visit them and to those that have kept those invitations open, since such visits play a key role in its work of promoting and protecting human rights in the Hemisphere. The Commission’s freedom to conduct visits and observe human rights situations has historically been one of the key tools in ensuring the effectiveness of the Inter-American human rights system, even during the worst of the repressive periods endured by some of the region’s countries.
During 2009, the IACHR’s various rapporteurships continued with their activities in support of a series of thematic initiatives and the system of individual petitions and cases.
The office of the Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples continued to support the working group charged with preparing the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Commission encourages the OAS member states to make their best efforts to adopt a regional instrument and to consider the UN Declaration as an important reference point in furthering their discussions. In addition, the IACHR adopted the report Captive Communities: Situation of the Guarani Indigenous People and Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Bolivian Chaco, due to be published soon, and it is about to publish a regional study on The State’s Duty of Protecting the Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Emphasizing the Right of Consultation and Prior Consent.
In May 2009, the IACHR presented two reports prepared by the office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women. The first of these was titled Report on the Rights of Women in Chile: Equality in the Family, Labor, and Political Spheres, which concludes that the problem of discrimination is one of the main obstacles women face in ensuring the effective protection and observance of their rights. The second report, titled The Right of Women to Live Free of Violence and Discrimination in Haiti, states that in addition to being connected to acts of violence, discrimination has meant that women are in a disadvantaged position in economic life and in the fields of education, health, justice, work, and decision-making. In addition, the Rapporteur’s office organized meetings of experts and participated in activities related to women’s political participation, reproductive rights, and economic and social rights in the region.
The office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child continued its work to promote and publish reports addressing the different forms of violence faced by children and adolescents in the Americas. Through a cooperation agreement signed by the IACHR and the UNICEF regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Rapporteur’s office conducted working visits and organized subregional consultations to gather information on the topic of juvenile justice in the Americas, for the report on the topic being prepared by the Commission.
In turn, in April 2009, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty visited two detention centers in the Argentine province of Mendoza, to examine current conditions at those facilities and the degree of compliance with the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2004. On that occasion, the government of Mendoza published the IACHR’s Principles and Good Practices regarding the Rights of People Deprived of their Liberty in the Americas, copies of which were distributed to Mendoza’s sentencing judges and prison officers. The IACHR is grateful for this valuable contribution to the dissemination of these principles, and it hopes that they are duly implemented. These principles are familiar to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, since the General Assembly has again assigned the Permanent Council the task of considering the preparation of an Inter-American Declaration on the rights, duties, and care of persons deprived on their freedom, based, inter alia, on the aforesaid principles.
As part of its work, the office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination continued to provide technical support to the working group of the OAS Permanent Council’s Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs that is preparing the draft American Convention Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination. The Rapporteur attended the Conference on the Durban Process, held in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 20 to 24, 2009. In addition, the Rapporteur gave a presentation at a side event on “People of African Descent: Assessing the Progress since Durban and the Way Forward.”
In addition to continuing its investigations into detention conditions and the right of due process of immigrants in the United States, with a view to publishing a thematic report on the topic, which was the reason for the working visit to the migrant detention centers in the U.S. states of Arizona and Texas, the office of the Rapporteur on Migrant Workers and the Members of their Families continued with its activities in support of the individual petitions system and in studying and processing precautionary measures, cases, and communications dealing with the rights of this sector of the population.
In addition, in late 2009, at the request of this Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, Commissioner Víctor Abramovich explained the process that led to the issuing of indicators in the areas of economic, social, and cultural rights. The IACHR’s report notes the importance of comprehensive respect for human rights, since guaranteeing civil and political rights is itself not enough if it does not also entail upholding our peoples’ economic, social, and cultural rights. It is therefore noteworthy that ten years after the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – also known as the Protocol of San Salvador – only 14 countries have ratified it and the Working Group charged with analyzing the regular reports from the Protocol’s states parties has not yet been completely established. In 2007, the Permanent Council was instructed by the General Assembly to consider adopting these indicators; the IACHR is, of course, available for any assistance that might be necessary in that regard.
At the same time, during 2009 the Human Rights Defenders Unit noted several situations of concern affecting the work of human rights defenders in the region. These included killings of indigenous and trade-union leaders, various bids to criminalize social protest in certain countries of the region, and the tapping of the telephone communications of various bodies, including human rights organizations, by the Administrative Security Department in Colombia. Among the activities carried out by the Unit, I would like to make particular mention of the second meeting of protection mechanisms for human rights defenders, which was held in Washington in October 2009; organized by the IACHR in conjunction with the FIDH and the OMCT, it was attended by, among others, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders and the Rapporteur of the African system.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression prepared its 2009 report, which is included in this Annual Report. In accordance with the Commission’s instructions, the report covers topics and activities on which the Rapporteur’s office placed priority over the year, including an assessment of the situation of freedom of expression in the Hemisphere.
During 2009, the IACHR approved and/or published a total of 11 thematic and country reports. The topics addressed by the Commission in these reports include such problems as discrimination faced by women and by populations of African descent, violence against children and adolescents, indigenous peoples’ right to commonly-held property, and citizen security and human rights.
Chapter III contains the Commission’s decisions on allegations of human rights violations in the Organization’s member states. This chapter also includes statistics on the IACHR’s different tasks, summaries of the precautionary measures adopted or expanded by the Commission during 2009, and an overview of follow-up on the recommendations handed down by the Commission in the decisions it has published since the year 2000.
As you are aware, one of the Commission’s main tasks is its work with the individual petitions system. The duties performed in the context of that system have ensured redress for many serious human rights violations, the correction of systemic deficiencies in public policies and legislation, and the bringing about of significant changes in the Hemisphere’s understanding of the content and scope of human rights.
Partly as a consequence of these achievements, it should come as no surprise that the first decade of this century saw a major increase in the number of petitions received: in 1997, the Commission received 458 petitions. Nowadays, with a trend that continues to rise, the Commission receives between 1,350 and 1,500 new petitions and several hundred requests for precautionary measures every year, and it carries out an increasing number of activities in performing its task of protecting and promoting human rights in the region. This is partly due to the growing number of mandates handed down by the OAS General Assembly, covering a range of topics from the situation of migrant workers to terrorism and human rights, and including the situations of women, children, senior citizens, as well as economic, social, and cultural rights, and many others. In addition, the number of the IACHR’s working visits continues to increase, as does its participation in academic activities and at meetings of the OAS’s political bodies. Another area of the Commission’s work that has seen notable growth is its publication of thematic reports containing recommendations for the member states. While in previous decades there were very few reports of that kind, in recent years the Commission has published more than 15 thematic reports, which have been welcomed by the Hemisphere’s states and civil society.
These increases in its workload have not been reflected in a corresponding increase in the resources allocated to the Executive Secretariat: in 1997, the General Assembly approved a budgetary allocation of US$2,854,600. In 2009 the budget was US$3,746,100, and the increases made have chiefly been in response to increases in staff salaries or to raise the honorariums and remunerations of the Commissioners, with the amount assigned to operating expenses remaining more or less constant. It should also be noted that the IACHR has insisted on the importance of funding a large proportion of its activities with OAS regular funds instead of depending on specific funds, in order to ensure the sustainability of the work that it carries out.
For a number of years, the IACHR has assumed that in order to address the matter of available resources seriously, it must also conduct self-assessment exercises to identify ways to increase its efficiency. By early 2007, the Commission had created tools to ensure juridical homogeneity and quality. However, the increase in the numbers of petitions received, together with the failure to assign the Commission greater resources, led to a chronic procedural backlog: as of March 2007, there were 3,712 petitions and cases at the initial review stage waiting to be studied. The delay was such that in some cases, complaints filed in 1997 had not yet been examined. At the same time, the demands of analyzing requests for precautionary measures and of following up on those that have been granted surpass the working capacity of the Executive Secretariat’s staff. A situation in which the same officers responsible for processing petitions had to deal with the urgent demands of requests for precautionary measures had the effect of causing delays in their analysis of petitions.
In that context, the Commission resolved to concentrate its efforts on reducing the procedural backlog, and it developed a program for the comprehensive strengthening of the Executive Secretariat’s human and technical resources through five components:
– A financial component, entailing the mobilization of resources by designing the Program for Strengthening the Protection and Promotion Capacities of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
– A structural component, to redesign the organizational structure of the Commission’s Executive Secretariat with the creation of the IACHR Registry, the Protection Group, and five Regional Sections.
– A methodological component, involving the adoption of working methods and procedures based on team work, specialization by procedural stage, and thematic specialization.
– A technological component, entailing the continued design and implementation of computer systems and technological tools to support legal work and case management.
– A political component, chiefly covering work in securing funds to ensure the sustainability of the new structure and the continuation of work underwritten by the Organization’s Regular Fund.
During 2009, the Commission completed 2,064 initial evaluations; it adopted 62 admissibility reports, 15 inadmissibility reports, and four friendly settlement reports; and it published 13 reports on merits. It referred a total of 11 cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It also issued a total of 34 requests for member states to adopt urgent precautionary measures in order to prevent irreparable harm to individuals. The IACHR believes this to be evidence of the achievements of the program to reduce the procedural backlog. Regardless of how much progress is made with handling petitions, however, the efficiency of that handling cannot advance beyond a certain point if adequate resources are not provided. The Commission has therefore duly presented, at a joint meeting of this Committee and the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs, its needs in the short, medium, and long terms. It must be understood that that presentation was made on the basis of costs that are clearly related to the quality of attention that the system’s users are entitled to receive.
At the same time, the effectiveness of the Commission’s contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights in the region through its system of contentious cases clearly depends on the cooperation of the member states in implementing the recommendations issued by the Commission. This Annual Report indicates that some states have made significant efforts in that regard, but that the general level of compliance remains unacceptably low. There are many cases in which the respondent states have not yet fully implemented the recommendations issued, and the Commission will therefore continue to monitor those cases closely and to report on developments.
Chapter IV of the 2009 Annual Report contains a specific analysis of the human rights situation in those OAS member states identified by the Commission as warranting particular attention. Thus, this chapter describes the situation of human rights in Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela.
In its report on the situation in Colombia, the IACHR pays particular attention to the progress made and challenges remaining in clearing up crimes committed during the internal conflict, including the involvement therein of paramilitary leaders who have been extradited to the United States in proceedings processed in Colombia under the Justice and Peace Law; the continued presence of systematic violations of the right to life and to humane treatment; and the situation of ethnic groups. In addition, the Commission analyzes the serious implications of the intelligence activities carried out against human rights defenders, social leaders, and judicial officials, which have had a grave impact on those individuals’ work. In this regard, the Commission has said that states must refrain from all forms of arbitrary or abusive interference in their correspondence, telephone conversations, and electronic communications, and that they must impose disciplinary and criminal penalties on individuals found guilty of such practices.
In analyzing the situation in Cuba, the IACHR paid particular attention to structural circumstances that seriously affect full enjoyment of human rights, especially political rights; to guarantees of due legal process and judicial independence; to the imprisonment of political dissidents; to restrictions of the right of residence and movement; to restrictions of freedom of expression; to the situation of human rights defenders; and to trade union freedoms. In addition, thoughts are offered on the economic and commercial sanctions imposed on the government of Cuba; it is again stated that the embargo must be ended on account of the impact those sanctions have on the human rights of the Cuban people, but that fact does not exempt the State from complying with its international obligations, nor does it excuse the violations of the American Declaration described in the report.
With regard to Haiti, it must be noted that the report deals with the situation in the country during 2009 – consequently, prior to the earthquake that claimed thousands of human lives and in light of which I again express the IACHR’s solidarity toward the Haitian people. The report analyzes the structural situations that were already seriously affecting the enjoyment of basic rights among the population and, most specifically, the grave violence that was preventing due observance of the rule of law; the country’s serious institutional crises; processes of institutional change that were having negative repercussions for human rights; and serious omissions in adopting measures necessary for the effective exercise of the basic rights – all situations which can only have worsened since.
Regarding Honduras, as part of its analysis in Chapter IV, the IACHR includes the executive summary of its report Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d’État, which describes the human rights situation since June 28, 2009, the date on which the Honduran coup d’état took place. As already stated, that report was largely based on information gathered during the Commission’s on-site visit to Honduras on August 17 to 21, 2009. The report indicates that the human rights violations it describes are a direct consequence of the breakdown in the constitutional order. For that reason, the Commission believes that the restoration of democratic institutionality in Honduras is necessary prerequisite for the effective protection and observance of the human rights of all that country’s inhabitants. During its visit to Honduras, the Commission saw that in addition to delegitimizing the country’s institutions, the coup d’état had led to serious human rights violations, including deaths, arbitrary declarations of states of emergency, repression of public demonstrations through a disproportionate use of force, criminalization of social protest, thousands of arbitrary arrests, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, poor detention conditions, militarization of the country’s territory, increased racial discrimination, violations of the rights of women, serious and arbitrary restrictions of the right of free expression, and grave infringements of political rights. The IACHR also saw that judicial remedies were ineffective in protecting human rights.
Finally, with reference to Venezuela, in Chapter IV the IACHR quotes the executive summary of its report Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela, in which the Commission analyzes the evolution of human rights in that country and, in particular, a series of circumstances that point to an absence of effective separation and independence between the branches of the Venezuelan government. The Commission also notes that in Venezuela, not all people are guaranteed full enjoyment of their rights irrespective of their position regarding government policy and that the State’s punitive power is being used to intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions. The Commission’s report establishes that Venezuela lacks the conditions necessary for human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their work freely. The IACHR also detects the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, people participating in public demonstrations, people held in custody, campesinos, indigenous peoples, and women. In the Commission’s view, all those circumstances have contributed to the weakening of the rule of law and democracy in Venezuela.
Chapter V of the Annual Report is intended to evaluate the steps taken to comply with the recommendations issued by the IACHR in both its report Access to Justice and Social Inclusion: The Road Toward Strengthening Democracy in Bolivia (2007) and its report Violence and Discrimination Against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia (2006).
The follow-up on the 2007 report titled Access to Justice and Social Inclusion: The Road Toward Strengthening Democracy in Bolivia deals with the same issues that were analyzed in the 2007 report, including both the positive developments and the main conflicts that have arisen in Bolivia over recent years and their relation to the State’s duty of respecting and ensuring the human rights of all people under its jurisdiction. In addition, it studies the topics of the administration of justice, the rights of detained and imprisoned individuals, the rights of indigenous peoples and campesino communities, the rights of women, the rights of children, and the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Each section of the follow-up report indicates the level of compliance with the recommendations, whether steps have been taken to address them, and, if so, the results attained and challenges remaining.
The follow-up report contained in Chapter V deals with the recommendations made by the IACHR in its report Violence and Discrimination Against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia of October 18, 2006. In that report, the Commission analyzed the main manifestations of violence in the armed conflict that have a particular impact on women, the repercussions of that violence on their persons and their lives, and, in particular, the discrimination suffered by Afro-Colombian women. The 2006 report also analyzed the progress made and challenges remaining in the response of the Colombian State to the armed conflict’s impact on women and it included a series of recommendations geared toward the design of a comprehensive state policy to address those problems and to make progress with protecting women’s human rights.
The follow-up report opens with a brief analysis of the impact of the Colombian armed conflict on women during the time frame studied, based on the recommendations issued by the Commission in its earlier report. The report also offers an analysis of the current situation of outbreaks of violence against women and the various forms of discrimination that continue to affect indigenous and Afro-Colombian women. In addition, it examines the response given by the State, from October 2006 to date, in the design and implementation of a regulatory framework and public policies to protect women’s human rights from violence and discrimination in the context of the armed conflict; in studying and preventing violence; in the administration of justice; and in humanitarian attention and support services for the victims of forced displacement. It also describes the progress made by the State and the obstacles that still remain in upholding the rights of women to truth, justice, and redress. Finally, the conclusions identify the main obstacles and progress in meeting the State’s obligations of protecting women’s human rights and of adopting a comprehensive state policy to provide a satisfactory response to the acts of violence and discrimination faced by women in this context.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished representatives and observers, esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen: on behalf of the Commission, I would like to thank the member states for the support they have given it in its constant efforts to duly discharge its mandate.
In particular, the IACHR would like to thank the governments of the following OAS member countries for their contributions this year: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States. It would also like to thank the observer countries that support the Commission’s activities: Denmark, France, Korea, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The Commission also welcomes and appreciates the contributions received from the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Commission, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Notre Dame University. These donations contribute in a concrete way to the strengthening of the inter-American human rights system in the Americas.
I would also like to mention those of my colleagues whose mandates came to an end in 2009: Commissioners Sir Clare K. Roberts, Florentín Meléndez, Paolo G. Carozza, and Víctor E. Abramovich, whom I thank for the notable efforts they made in discharging their duties during their time with the IACHR.
In addition, I would like to note my thanks to the current Commissioners, who deposited their trust in me by electing me to serve as the Commission’s President, and I also would like to acknowledge the professionalism and dedication to the promotion and protection of human rights of our Executive Secretary and all the Secretariat’s staff. We, the members of the Commission, are proud of the professional work carried out by the Executive Secretariat under the leadership of Santiago Canton, to whom we reiterate our sincere support.
The Commission has always placed a high priority on maintaining an open and frank dialogue with the member states and with civil society regarding the best ways to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in the Hemisphere. A clear example of that can be seen in the recent amendments to the Rules of Procedure, which we trust will enable the IACHR to respond more effectively to the requirements of the inter-American system’s users.
In addition, we hope that the member states’ commitment toward improving the inter-American system and, in particular, toward the work of the Commission will be reflected in the allocation of additional resources for its operations, in the ratification of all the Inter-American human rights instruments, and, most particularly, in their compliance with the recommendations and decisions of the system’s organs.