Under its mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights, the IACHR has been reviewing the status of human rights in the countries of the hemisphere and has drawn up special reports on some of them.


          These reports have been prepared on the Commission’s own initiative. Other reports originated in a mandate the Commission received from the OAS General Assembly. Some reports were drawn up after the Commission visited the country in response to an invitation from the government.


          In its Annual Report for 1983-1984, the Commission included in Chapter IV updated reports on Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay. The Commission also noted that it had drawn up in October 1983 an extensive report on the situation in Cuba (OEA/Ser.L/II.61, doc. 29, rev.1). The Commission pointed out at that time that it would not include an additional report on Suriname, because it had received an invitation from the Government of that country to make a new on-site observation visit, which was scheduled for 1985 and was carried out at that time.


          The Commission feels that there are no reasons to warrant the inclusion at this time of a special section on Argentina and Uruguay. Both countries have demonstrated during the period covered by this report their vigorous dedication to strengthening the rule of law and the democratic system of government, thus consolidating a system ensuring full observance of human rights.


          The Commission also wishes to express its gratification that the Government of Uruguay has deposited its instrument of ratification to the American Convention on Human Rights with the General Secretariat of the OAS on April 19, 1985. This ratification was made with the express declaration that Uruguay recognizes the competence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for an indefinite time and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on all matters relating to the interpretation or application of that Convention, on the condition of reciprocity, according to the provisions of Article 45, paragraph 3 and Article 62, paragraph 2.


          The Commission has felt it necessary to draw up a special report on Chile, in view of the deterioration in the human rights situation the IACHR has observed in that country.


          The Commission has likewise felt it necessary to draw up a special report on Suriname, recording the findings of its on-site observation visit in January 1985, to update its previous report of October 1983.


          For the above reasons, this chapter will not include sections on Argentina, Chile, Suriname and Uruguay, and will have sections only on the status of human rights in Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Paraguay, all of which have been the subject of previous IACHR reports.


          Notwithstanding the special section on the on-site observation visit made by the Special Commission of the IACHR in Guatemala in May 1985, the Commission will later draw up a broader and more extensive report on that country.




          In 1983, the Commission drew up a broad and comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in Cuba, which was published in December of that year. The report covered civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights, for the entire period of the present Cuban regime, that is, 25 years.


          The information the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received in the last year indicates that the status of human rights in Cuba has changed very little from the assessment made in that report. Consequently, the two main features that have characterized the nonobservance of civil and political rights in that country continue: concentration of power in a small group since the present regime came to power and the nonexistence of the rule of law because individuals do not have the remedies that would protect them from government action.


          The Commission wishes to note that the Cuban Government’s failure to respond to numerous IACHR requests for information and the complete absence of contact between both parties are factors that have made, and continue to make difficult the tasks of promoting and protecting human rights that the OAS Charter has assigned to the Commission in relation to the member countries. To this must be added the strict control exercised by the Cuban Government over the flow of information, which prevents making a precise and up-to-date assessment of the status of human rights in Cuba as the IACHR would wish.


          The Commission has carefully observed the development of negotiations between the Governments of Cuba and the United States to regularize some of the situations brought about by the massive flight of people through the Port of Mariel in 1980. The Commission regrets that obstacles have again prevented total normalization and reiterates to the Government of Cuba that is international obligations require it to permit emigration from the country of any of its citizens that wish to leave.


          In addition, the Commission has continued to receive information about numerous persons that have been sentenced to long periods of imprisonment for ideological reasons or conduct that the government has regarded as representing a danger for the security of the State. The Commission has been informed also that in September 1985 the Cuban Government decided to release 70 political prisoners in response to a request from a group of United States Catholic Bishops that visited the country in January 1985. The Commission hopes that this type of measure will also be applied to those known as “unbreakable prisoners” (presos plantados), who, according to information provided to the Commission, total 132. The status of these prisoners is a cause of serious concern to the IACHR, because they have been in prison for an average of 22 years under extremely harsh conditions, and most of them suffer from various physical ailments.


          The Commission wishes to reiterate its interest in obtaining information from the Government of Cuba, both on the status of human rights in general and on the individual cases being processed. The Commission also hopes that domestic and international conditions will be established that will allow former political prisoners to leave Cuba if they wish and to settle in whatever country they select. The Commission also feels it would be a highly positive action if the Cuban Government continued to free prisoners accused of crimes against the security of the State, particularly the “unbreakable prisoners” who are still held in Cuba.


[ Table of Contents | Previous | Next ]