INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
In 1979, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights held three sessions: the forty-sixth,
forty-seventh and forty-eighth. These were held at the headquarters of
the Commission, at the General Secretariat of the Organization of
American States, Washington, D.C. Moreover, the Commission conducted an
on-site observation in the territory of the Republic of Argentina and
carried out other activities.
The Commission held its forty-sixth
session at its offices in Washington, D.C., from March 5 through 9,
The following members participated in
that session: Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches (Chairman), Tom J. Farer
(Vice Chairman), Carlos García Bauer and Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra.
Andrés Aguilar, Gabino Fraga and Fernando Volio Jiménez, members of
the Commission, were unable to attend for either personal or health
At that session, the Commission
approved the report submitted to it by the Special Commission that
conducted an on-site observation in the Republic of Haiti in August of
At that same session the Commission
considered the observations made by the Government of El Salvador with
respect to the Commission’s report on the situation of human rights in
that country, which the Commission had approved at its previous session.
It also analyzed the situation of human rights in Cuba and decided to
continue to prepare a report on political prisoners in that country,
without this precluding subsequent preparation of another report to
include a more extensive study with respect to the observance of other
Further, the Commission adopted a
number of decisions concerning the organization of the on-site
observation it would conduct in the Republic of Argentina in the course
of the year.
It also considered a preliminary
draft convention on the prevention and punishment of torture as an
international crime, which had been entrusted to the Inter-American
Juridical Committee in coordination with the Commission.
The Commission also considered the
communications received immediately prior to its work, in which 425 new
cases, involving a total of 643 victims from 16 countries, were
denounced. As for earlier denunciations, the Commission continued to
examine the cases and adopted a number of resolutions.
Finally, the Commission granted
hearings to individuals who requested them.
The Commission held its forty-seventh
session at its offices in Washington, D.C., from June 15 through 22,
The Secretary General of the
Organization of American States formally installed the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights which, in accordance with the 1969 Pact of
San José, Costa Rica, had been elected by the General Assembly on May
22 of that year.
By a consensus of its members and in
view of the fact that the current session was the first that the
Commission organized in accordance with the Pact of San José was to
hold, the Commission felt that new officers for this organ should be
elected, who would hold office until the General Assembly adopted and
implemented the Commission’s new Statute.
Dr. Andrés Aguilar was unanimously
elected Chairman; Dr. Luis Demetrio Tinoco Castro was unanimously
elected Vice Chairman. Dr. Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra and Dr. Francisco
Bertrand Galindo were elected principal and alternate members of the
Permanent Committee, respectively.
In addition to the members cited
above, Dr. Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches and Tom J. Farer took part in
During that session, acting in
accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights and taking
Permanent Council Resolution 253, of September 20, 1978, into account,
the Commission adopted its Draft Statute, which was submitted to the
General Assembly for approval.
Moreover, the Commission prepared the
annual report it was to submit to the General Assembly for
Furthermore, the Commission
considered the grave situation in Nicaragua with respect to human
rights, in the light of the numerous denunciations it had received. In
that regard, it sent a communication to the Eighteenth Meeting of
Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which was meeting at that
In accordance with its Statute and
Regulations, the Commission examined the situation of human rights in a
number of American states.
Finally, as it had been on previous
occasions, the Commission granted hearings to individuals or
representatives of institutions that requested such hearings.
Through a note dated December 18,
1978, the Government of Argentina invited the Commission to conduct an
on-site observation in that country. It was originally set for May of
1979. However, because of the changes that occurred within the
Commission as a consequence of the entry into force of the American
Convention on Human Rights, the visit had to be postponed. It finally
took place between September 6 and 20, 1979. At its forty-fifth session,
the Commission had decided to accept the invitation and at its
forty-seventh session, when the Government of Argentina renewed its
invitation, the Commission proposed to conduct that observation on the
dates mentioned above.
In accordance with the Regulations, a
Special Commission was appointed to conduct the on-site observation.
That Commission was composed of the following members: Dr. Andrés
Aguilar, Chairman; Dr. Luis Demetrio Tinoco Castro, Vice Chairman;
Professor Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches; Professor Tom J. Farer; Dr.
Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra and Dr. Francisco Bertrand Galindo.
During its stay in Argentina, the
Commission spoke with the President of the Republic, the members of the
Junta de Gobierno, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, the
Ministers of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Education, and
with other civil and military authorities, both national and provincial.
The Commission also had an
opportunity to meet with the former president of the Republic, the
President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, and representatives of
various political, religious, cultural, humanitarian, mass
communications media, professional, scientific, business, union and
student institutions, all of which provided it with important testimony
with respect to the situation of human rights in Argentina.
The Commission also visited the
following penitentiaries: Caseros and Villa Devoto in Buenos Aires;
Units 1 and 8 in Olmos, Unit 9 in La Plata, and the jails at Córdoba,
Resistencia and Rawson, as well as the La Rivera military detention
center in Córdoba and the Magdalena Military Detention Center in the
province of Buenos Aires.
In Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Tucumán
the Commission received denunciations addressed to the Commission,
alleging violations of human rights. For its part the Government of
Argentina made an agreement with the Commission that it would not take
any form of reprisals against persons that submitted denunciations to
the Commission or against the agencies and institutions that provided it
with information or testimony.
At the ninth regular session of the
General Assembly of the Organization, held in La Paz, Bolivia, from
October 22 through 31, 1979, the Commission was represented by its
Chairman, Dr. Andrés Aguilar, Commission members Professors Tom J.
Farer and Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches, and its Executive Secretary,
Dr. Edmundo Vargas Carreño.
The Chairman presented the Annual
Report of the Commission, which was topic 22 on the Agenda.
Moreover, the former Chairman of the
Commission, Professor Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches, presented the
report on the situation of human rights in El Salvador.
Further, as part of the Annual Report
submitted to the General Assembly in accordance with the Charter of the
Organization, the Commission presented the reports on the situation of
human rights in Chile, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.
At its twelfth plenary session, held
on October 31, 1979, the General Assembly approved six resolutions
related to human rights, the texts of which are as follows:
REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON
The annual report of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (AG/doc.1101/79) concludes
that, while there have been positive developments in the observance of
human rights in the member states, there has been no appreciable
improvement in the situation described in the previous annual report;
Disappearances in certain countries
have had a particular effect on the welfare of children either born to
women after their “disappearance” or kidnapped with their
parents—a method of repression which the Commission finds to be cruel
Torture in some countries appears to
be a common practice;
Detention of persons without trial
continues to be practiced often through the device of indefinite
maintenance of a state of siege;
Violations of human rights in the
hemisphere still constitute one of the most serious problems afflicting
the conscience of peoples and their governments;
Restrictions still exist in Chile on
the exercise of human rights;
According to the Commission’s
report, the number of denunciations about human rights in Uruguay has
diminished in quantitative terms, but very many of the conditions
described by the Commission still persist, and
The Government of Paraguay has not
complied with the recommendations made by the General Assembly at its
eighth regular session,
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
congratulate the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the work
it has done since the eighth session of the General Assembly, and to
note its annual report with great interest.
congratulate the Government of Panama for having taken the initiative in
inviting the Commission to visit the country, and for the cooperation it
provided during the visit, and to take note of the measures taken by the
Government of Panama to implement the recommendations contained in the
Commission’s special report.
declare that the practice of disappearance is an affront to the
conscience of the hemisphere, and is totally contrary to common
traditional values and to the declarations and agreements signed by the
American states, and to endorse the Commission’s recommendations for
prompt clarification of the status of persons who have disappeared under
circumstances described in the annual report.
endorse the United Nations Declaration on Torture, and to reiterate its
support for completion of an OAS Convention defining torture as an
international crime, pursuant to AG/RES. 368 (VIII-0/78).
urge the Government of Chile to step up adoption and implementation of
the measures necessary effectively to preserve and ensure the full
exercise of human rights in Chile, especially regarding clarification of
the situation of those detained persons who have disappeared, return of
exiles to their country, lifting of states of emergency, and prompt
reinstatement of the right to vote.
reiterate the need for the Government of Paraguay to respect human
rights, and to urge that government to demonstrate the willingness it
expressed in a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated July 2,
1979, to cooperate with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by
setting a date certain in the near future for its visit to that country,
as agreed with the Government of Paraguay in September 1977.
To request the Government of Paraguay
to lift the state of siege throughout the country, and to permit all
exiles to return.
reiterate its appeal to the Government of Uruguay for comprehensive
implementation of the measures recommended by the Commission in its
previous report, again to ask the Government of Uruguay to consider the
possibility of inviting the Commission to visit the country, and to take
note of the announcement by the Government of Uruguay that it is
planning to hold general elections in 1981, taking into account the
conclusions and observations set forth in the annual report of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
request the Commission to continue to monitor the exercise of human
rights in Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, and to report thereon to the
tenth regular session of the General Assembly.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: “RELIGIOUS
The annual report of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (AG/doc.1101/79) refers to the
situation of the religious group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses,
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
appeal to the member states not to place any impediment in their
legislation on the exercise of the right to freedom of religion and of
worship, in accordance with the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and its associated agencies, to urge the
re-establishment of their right to freedom of religion and worship based
on the aforementioned Declaration.
OF HUMAN RIGHTS
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
REAFFIRMING its commitment to promote
observance of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,
thank the individual members of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights for their dedication to the important objectives of this
Organization, and for the high level of objectivity and impartiality
they have maintained in carrying out the mandate of the Commission to
promote and defend human rights in this hemisphere.
To reaffirm recommendations made in AG/RES. 371 (VIII-0/78) that
member states cooperate fully with the Commission, including giving
their consent for on-site observations by the Commission.
To urge states where individuals have disappeared to refrain from
adopting or implementing laws that would have the effect of impeding
investigation of such disappearances.
ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN EL SALVADOR
SEEN the report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the
situation of human rights in El Salvador and its conclusions on the
responsibility of the previous government of El Salvador for the
systematic violation of those rights, and
the protection and recognition of human rights is one of the high
purposes of the OAS, and that observance of them is a source of
solidarity among the member states as well as a guarantee of respect for
human life and the dignity of man;
the Revolutionary Government, which has been ruling El Salvador since
October 15, 1979, has stated through its delegation to the Organization
that the regime referred to in the report was deposed, among other
reasons, for having violated the human rights of the Salvadorian people;
the Salvadorian delegation has informed the American states during this
ninth regular session of the General Assembly that the basis and aim of
the program of the Revolutionary Government is to guarantee full
observance of human rights, and that it is therefore solemnly committed
to carrying out necessary political, economic and social reforms, and
the primary function of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is
to promote the observance and defense of human rights in all the member
To thank the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and to
commend it on its report on the situation of human rights in El
To note with satisfaction the determination expressed by the new
government of El Salvador to promote and guarantee the effective
exercise of human rights in that member state.
To express the hope that the government of El Salvador will
ensure that the measures it has adopted or has offered to adopt, as well
as the recommendations contained in the report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, are strictly complied with, so that human
rights can be fully exercised.
To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to
continue monitoring the situation of human rights in El Salvador, and to
include its conclusions in its report to the tenth regular session of
the General Assembly.
OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
draft Statute (AG/doc.1093/79) prepared by the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights in accordance with Article 39 of the American Convention
on Human Rights —Pact of San José— and approved by the Commission
at its 47th meeting, and the corresponding statement of
reasons (AG/doc.1093/79 add. 1), and
draft Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights prepared
by the Working Group to study the draft Statutes of the Commission and
of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (AG/Com.I/doc.22/79), and
submitted to this Assembly for consideration, and
pursuant to Article 52 of the Charter, the General Assembly has the
power to determine the structure and functions of the organs of the
pursuant to Article 52 of the Charter, the General Assembly has the
power to determine the structure and functions of the organs of the
it is necessary to make a detailed study of the standards and procedures
on incompatibilities that should be incorporated into Article 8 of the
draft Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights prepared
by the abovementioned Working Group.
To approve the Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights contained in this resolution.
To instruct the Permanent Council to study, as soon as possible,
the standards and procedures on incompatibilities that should be
incorporated into Article 8 of the Statute approved by the General
Assembly, and to submit it to the tenth regular session of the Assembly
for appropriate decision.
OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
draft Statute of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights presented by
the Court, in accordance with Article 60 of the American Convention of
Human Rights, “Pact of San José,” which was approved by the Court
draft Statute of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights prepared by
the Working Group responsible for studying the draft Statutes of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and of the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights (AG/Com.I/doc.27/79 rev. 1), submitted to this
Assembly for consideration, and
in accordance with Article 52 of the Charter, the General Assembly is
responsible for the structure and function of the organs of the
approve the following
OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The Commission’s forty-eighth
session was held in Washington, D.C., November 29 through December 14,
1979. On that occasion, the new members of the Commission were
appointed, thereby completing the membership, and all its members took
part: Mr. Andrés Aguilar, Chairman; Luis Demetrio Tinoco Castro, First
Vice Chairman; Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra, Second Vice Chairman; Carlos
A. Dunshee de Abranches; Tom J. Farer; Francisco Bertrand Galindo, and César
During that session, the Commission
approved the Report on the situation of human rights in the Republic of
Argentina, which was drawn up on the basis of the on-site observation
conducted in that country in September 1979 and other sources of
information available to the Commission. That report was sent to the
Government of Argentina so that it might formulate the observations it
Moreover, the Commission adopted its
Sixth Report on the situation of political prisoners in Cuba. That
report was sent to the Government of Cuba so that the latter might
formulate the corresponding observations, if it felt such a measure was
During that same session, the
Commission approved its report on the situation of human rights in
Haiti, after receiving the observations made by the Government of that
Further, the Commission concluded its
preparation of a draft Inter-American Convention that classified torture
as an international crime. That draft was referred to the Inter-American
Juridical Committee, the organ which, together with the Commission,
received a mandate from the General Assembly to prepare such a
It also continued its examination of
a number of cases being processed that involved a number of individuals
from several countries. It adopted the corresponding resolutions.
Between June 16 and November 15,
1979, the Commission opened 171 new cases. To that figure must be added
the 4,153 new denunciations the Commission received during its on-site
observation in Argentina.
The Commission discussed other
matters, which included fulfillment of its mandates from the General
Assembly of the OAS; the awarding of the Rómulo Gallegos scholarship
for graduate studies in human rights; its publications policy, and the
seminars on the promotion on human rights, which it would sponsor
jointly with other agencies during 1980.
As it had done on previous occasions,
the Commission granted hearings to the individuals and institutions that
requested them on time.
At the end of this session, the
Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Andrés Aguilar, resigned from his post
as Chairman in view of the programs and activities the Commission was to
carry out during 1980 and because of prior commitments. The Commission
thanked Dr. Aguilar for this admirable performance of his functions.
In accordance with Article 5 of the
Regulations, the Vice Chairman, Dr. Luis Demetrio Tinoco Castro, became
Chairman, and Professor Tom J. Farer was elected First Vice Chairman.
At this session, held in Washington,
D.C., March 27 through April 11, 1980, acting in accordance with the
provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and after lengthy
discussion, the Commission drafted its Regulations. When doing so, it
took into consideration the preliminary drafts prepared by Professor
Abranches and by the Executive Secretariat.
At the same session, the Commission
received and analyzed the observations that the Government of Argentina
submitted on the Commission’s report on the situation of human rights
in that country, which had been prepared at the Commission’s previous
session. Taking those observations and the new evidence it had in its
possession into consideration, the Commission adopted its final Report
in that regard.
Further, the Commission made public
its Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti.
The Commission, which was meeting at
the time, also decided to accept the invitation it received from the
Government of Colombia to conduct an on-site observation in that
country. In view of the urgency of the Colombian Government’s request
for the Commission’s presence, the latter decided to conduct its visit
as soon as possible.
It also decided to prepare reports on
the situation of human rights in the republics of Nicaragua and
Guatemala, whose governments had invited it to conduct on-site
observations in those countries. The visit to Nicaragua will begin on
October 6 of this year. As of the date of this report, the Government of
Guatemala has not yet set the date for the Commission’s visit to that
The Commission conducted an on-site
observation in Colombia from April 21 through 27, 1980. The Minister of
Foreign Affairs, Dr. Diego Uribe Vargas, sent the corresponding
invitation “in order to examine the general situation of human rights,
and to be present at the public part of oral proceedings of the court
martial now being conducted, in accordance with the Constitution and the
Laws of the Republic, and to apprise itself of how the trials are
conducted.” In the note, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia
adds that the “Government wants the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights to acquaint itself with the investigations being conducted into
alleged abuses of authority with respect to human rights.” The
Commission accepted that invitation in a note dated April 2, 1980.
During its stay in Colombian
territory, the Commission interviewed representatives and figures from
the various sectors of Colombian society, such as authorities, former
presidents of the Republic, religious figures, human rights agencies,
professional associations, trade and labor union organizations,
representatives of private business and the mass communications media.
Further, the Commission visited detention centers and military centers
in a number of places throughout the country and, in accordance with the
corresponding rules and regulations, received denunciations concerning
alleged violations of human rights.
Furthermore, during the on-site
observation and subsequent thereto, the Commission noted how the
above-mentioned court martial were proceeding. On the occasion of its
visit to Colombia and at the invitation of the President of the
Republic, Julio César Turbay Ayala, the Commission contributed to the
satisfactory settlement of the problem of the occupation of the Embassy
of the Dominican Republic in Bogotá, in exercise of the mandate
conferred upon it and on the basis of the legal provisions that govern
To make that settlement possible, the
Commission and the Government of Colombia concluded an agreement through
an exchange of notes dated April 23 and 24, 1980.1
On July 17, 1980, a military coup
brought General Luis García Meza Tejada to power, thereby interrupting
the process of democratization that was underway under the interim
government of Mrs. Lidia Gueiler. Concerned over the disruption of the
democratic process in Bolivia and the denunciations of serious
violations of human rights as a result of the coup, the Permanent
Council of the Organization adopted Resolution 308, of July 25, 1980, in
which it requested the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to
examine the situation of human rights in Bolivia as soon as possible.2
In compliance with the terms of that
resolution, on August 8, 1980, the Commission addressed the Government
of Bolivia through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship. The
Commission’s letter to the Government of Bolivia is as follows:
The Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights has been observing, with genuine concern, the development
of the events that have been transpiring in Bolivia since last July 17.
Moreover, it has received denunciations and reports to the effect that a
situation has developed in Bolivia that affects the observance of human
rights, especially as regards the right to life, liberty and the
security of one’s person. Further, as you know, the Permanent Council
of the OAS, in resolution CP/RES. 308 (432/80), of July 25, 1980,
requested the Commission to examine the situation of human rights in
Bolivia as soon as possible.
Therefore, acting on instructions
received from the Commission and without this communication implying any
judgment on the Commission’s part as to the legitimacy or illegitimacy
of the Government of General Luis García Meza, as such a judgment is
not within its purview in accordance with the practices of international
law and the Statute and Regulations of the Commission itself, I am
addressing Your Excellency for the purpose of securing specific
information as to the following points, which are of special interest to
names of individuals who have died under unusual circumstances since
July 17, 1980;
names of individuals who have been detained as a result of the events
mentioned above, their status, place of detention and state of health;
names of individuals who are in asylum in various embassies and the
status of the procedures that have been followed to grant the
texts of the legal provisions enacted since July 17, 1980, which could
affect the observance of human rights and whether those legal provisions
have suspended the obligation incurred by Bolivia by virtue of the
American Convention on Human Rights.
Further, the Commission also wishes
to state to Your Excellency that in its view it would be invaluable to
have the permission of the Government over which General García Meza
presides, to conduct an on-site observation in Bolivia as soon as
possible, in accordance with Articles 54 and 55 of the Commission’s
Regulations, transcribed below:
extending an invitation for an on-site observation or in giving its
consent, the government shall furnish to the Special Commission all
necessary facilities for carrying out its mission. In particular, it
shall bind itself not to take any reprisals of any kind against any
persons or entities cooperating with the Special Commission of providing
information or testimony.
(Other Applicable Standards)
prejudice to the provisions in the preceding article, any on-site
observation agreed upon by the Commission shall be carried out in
accordance with the following standards:
The Special Commission or any of its members shall be able to
interview freely and in private, any persons, groups, entities or
institutions, and the government shall grant the pertinent guarantees to
all those who provide the Commission with information, testimony or
evidence of any kind;
The members of the Special Commission shall be able to travel
freely throughout the territory of the country, for which purpose the
government shall extend all the corresponding facilities, including the
The government shall ensure the availability of local means of
The members of the Special Commission shall have access to the
jails and all other detention and interrogation centers and shall be
able to interview in private those persons imprisoned or detained;
The government shall provide the Special Commission with any
document related to the observance of human rights that it may consider
necessary for the preparation of its report;
The Special Commission shall be able to use any method
appropriate for collecting, recording or reproducing the information it
The government shall adopt the security measures necessary to
protect the Special Commission;
The government shall ensure the availability of appropriate
lodging for the members of the Special Commission;
The same guarantees and facilities that are set forth here for
the members of the Special Commission shall also be extended to the
Any expenses incurred by the special committee, any of its
members and the Secretariat staff shall be borne by the Organization,
subject to the pertinent provisions.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed
assurances of my highest consideration.
Edmundo Vargas Carreño
As of the date of this report, the
Government of Bolivia has not replied to the Commission’s request.
During 1979, the Commission
sponsored, in conjunction with other agencies, seminars devoted to
topics on the promotion of human rights. In early 1979, a seminar on the
American Convention on Human Rights was held in San José, Costa Rica.
It was sponsored by the Commission, the Inter-American Bar Association
and the University of Costa Rica.
In September 1979, the Universidad
Jorge Tadeo Lozano of Bogotá, with the joint sponsorship of the
Government of Colombia, the General Secretariat of the OAS and this
Commission, conducted a seminar on the teaching of international law in
which special importance was given to the topic of the teaching of human
Moreover, from August 11 through 22,
1980, a Seminar on International Protection of Human Rights was held in
Mexico City. It was sponsored jointly by the Commission, the Juridical
Research Institute of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the
Matías Romero Institute and the International Human Rights Institute.
Members of the Commission and of the
Executive Secretariat participated in all those seminars, which were
inaugurated by high-ranking state officials.
The letter from the Government to the Chairman and members of
the Commission reads as follows:
Tom Farer, Chairman of the
Commission on Human Rights
you are well aware, Colombia has a long tradition of democracy, in
which human rights have been observed. Colombia’s national laws
make provision for the defense of human rights.
Colombia has signed international commitments at the world and
hemispheric levels, that obligate it to respect the supreme dignity
of the human being.
these considerations into account, the Government decided to extend
an invitation, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my charge, to
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit the country
and to perform therein the duties of that prestigious organ.
Government’s major concern is that civilian and military
authorities should not commit abuses of authority at any level.
Naturally, it does not discount the possibility that subordinates
may exceed the boundaries of their constitutional and legal duties.
To tolerate possible violations of this kind is a serious error, of
which the Government would never be guilty. Therefore, I can assure
the members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that no
denunciation will go uninvestigated and no guilty party will go
inviting Your Excelencies to visit Colombia, the Government is
establishing that its decision is to comply fully with the
obligations assumed under the American Convention on Human Rights
and to allow the Commission to examine the non restricted part of
all proceedings it may wish to examine, so that it may establish
that they are being conducted in accordance with the law.
the context of this letter, the Government acknowledges that the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights or its authorized
representatives may freely exercise, in accordance with the laws and
throughout the national territory, all its functions and the
To be completely free to contact attorneys representing
individuals being tried in Oral Court Martial and those being tried
in military courts.
To observe, in accordance with the provisions of the law, the
Oral Court Martial and to assure itself of the procedural guarantees
and that the proceedings are being conducted in accordance with the
law. It also has the power to make any observations it deems
appropriate to the competent authorities, to prevent any violation
of the rights of those brought to trial.
To guarantee transportation to the airport and departure from
the country for all those union members who are not being questioned
or who have been acquitted in those Oral Court Martial, when these
individuals so desire.
To point out any irregularity that might arise in these
proceedings and to study all those complaints they receive in
connection with trials in which the charges may not have been proven
properly or in which the proof may have been obtained by means that
clearly violate human rights, so that if such violations are proven,
the individuals affected may challenge the validity of the verdict.
To apprise itself of the investigations being conducted into
abuses of authority and the denunciations of specific cases of
violations of human rights, so that any individuals responsible for
such reprehensible acts may be punished with all the rigor of the
letter reaffirms the Government’s irrevocable decision to honor
its international commitments, which parallel its legal obligations
in the domestic realm.
the foregoing bases and if such action is deemed appropriate, the
members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, may serve
as guarantors vis-à-vis the individuals who took over the premises
of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, of the Government’s
strict compliance with all clauses of this letter, which takes
effect immediately as far as the Executive is concerned.
Government will continue to regard the freedom of the hostages as a
matter of urgency, as it always has.
await Your Excellencies’ reply, convinced as I am, that all the
facilities the Colombian Government will offer to the Commission to
enable it to perform its duty properly, will meet with the
Diego Uribe Vargas
of Foreign Affairs
In the Commission’s note to the
Government, after transcribing the text of the note from the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the following is stated:
In reply, it is my pleasure to
inform Your Excellency that the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights fully accepts the proposal formulated by the illustrious
Government of Colombia in the note transcribed above.
The Commission over which I
preside is of the view that the activities listed in that note
conform to the functions assigned to the Commission in the American
Convention on Human Rights and to the obligations that the
Government of Colombia has assumed by virtue of that instrument.
In that regard, I am pleased to
confirm for Your Excellency that the Commission—either directly or
through a delegation which it will appoint from among its members or
the attorneys serving within its Executive Secretariat—will
conduct freely and in accordance with the provisions of Colombian
law and the Regulations of the Commission, the activities listed in
Your Excellency’s note.
Further, the Commission is
willing to serve as guarantor vis-à-vis the individuals who took
over the premises of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, of the
Colombian Government’s strict compliance with all the clauses of
Your Excellency’s communication, which shall take effect
Accept, Excellency, the
assurances of my highest consideration.
Tom J. Farer
The Permanent Council’s resolution is as follows:
PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES,
principles established in the Charter of the Organization,
especially those expressed in Article 3, paragraphs d) and j);
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; and
Declaration of La Paz, adopted by consensus of the ninth regular
session of the General Assembly; and
each state has the right to develop its cultural, political, and
economic life freely and spontaneously and that in this free
development, the state shall respect the rights of the individual
and the principles of universal morality, as set forth in Article 16
of the Charter of the Organization;
this precept has been violated by the military coup that has taken
place in Bolivia in disregard of the elections recently held in that
strict respect for the principle of nonintervention,
To deplore the military coup which indefinitely suspends the
process of democratic institutionalization that was culminating in
the sister Republic of Bolivia.
To express its deepest concern over the loss of human life
and the serious violations of the human rights of the Bolivian
people, as a direct consequence of the coup d’état.
To request that, in the shortest time possible, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights examine the situation of
human rights in Bolivia.
To express its solidarity with the Bolivian people and its
confidence that they will find the most suitable means to maintain
the viability of their democratic institutions and their freedoms.