The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has the honor to submit its report to the General Assembly, in compliance with the provisions of Article 52 f of the Charter of the Organization of American States.


          This report contains five chapters and has been prepared in accordance with Resolution 331 (VIII-0/80) of the General Assembly and Article 63 of the new Regulations of the Commission.


          Chapter I is a brief summary of the Commission's origin and juridical bases. This chapter also contains a brief account of the Commission's relationship with other organs of the inter-American system and regional and global institutions of a similar nature during 1985 and 1986.


          Chapter II refers to the activities undertaken by the Commission during the period covered by this report. Emphasis is placed on the Commission's principal activities, as well as the subjects it dealt with and the most important measures taken during its various sessions. It includes the participation of the Commission in the fifteenth regular session of the General Assembly as well as the resolutions adopted by this organ in relation to the work of the Commission in the field of human rights.


          Chapter III is entitled “Resolutions on Individual Cases.” This chapter contains several resolutions adopted by the Commission regarding specific cases presented to it, which the Commission processed in accordance with the applicable legal provisions.


          In Chapter IV the Commission has included special reports on developments in the human rights situation in Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Suriname--all of which have been the subject of previous Commission reports--in order to examine the measures taken by the various governments to comply with the recommendations that the Commission had made in those earlier reports and to examine developments in the observance of human rights in those countries in the twelve months preceding the approval of the present report.


          Chapter V constitutes a study by the Commission on areas in which the States should institute measures to further the cause of human rights, in accordance with the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the American Convention on Human Rights.


          The two latter chapters have enabled the Commission to conduct an overall review, albeit of necessity an incomplete one, of the status of human rights in the hemisphere, and to propose certain measures to facilitate increased observance of these rights.


          At present, in the judgment of the Commission, the situation with regard to human rights in many areas of the region is difficult and complex.


          On the one hand, the majority of peoples that lived under conditions of oppression, repression and confinement imposed against opponents have, by courage and respect for law, achieved democracy. On the other hand, however, the Commission is forced to acknowledge, to its regret, that there are still regimes in the Americas that remain in power by force and that, in some cases, the rise of some governments to power through elections has not always been accompanied by respect for the human person. Serious problems therefore persist in a number of areas and must be addressed.


          In the opinion of the Commission, the most serious crisis that human rights in the region are confronting involves, specifically, the right to life, the primary and most fundamental of all rights. The transgressions observed with respect to this basic right during the period dealt with in this report have two causes.


          The first has to do with the internal upheavals and civil wars that are taking place in Central America, especially, leaving in their wake as primary victims, in addition to the combatants themselves, vast sectors of the civilian population. These sectors have borne the brunt of action attributable to both the regular and insurgent forces as a result of bombings of the civilian population, the mining of fields and roads and summary executions in violation of international humanitarian law.


          Another factor that has affected the right to life in the period covered by this report has been the social polarization resulting from the lack of political participation. The denial of political rights in turn has given rise to acts of terrorism committed against the governments and provoked by those governments. Recourse to violence as an option to settle such conflicts, the Commission notes, has mutually strengthened extremist positions and rational and pacifist stances have found no option.


          Against that backdrop also, the Commission has noted, on the basis of a review of the human rights situation in several countries, that in some, the absence of an effective and modern judiciary with the capacity to redress promptly the mistakes or abuses of the authorities has also facilitated numerous human rights violations.


          Related to the judiciary is the problem of the lack of effectiveness of the petition for habeas corpus in some countries when a state of emergency has been decreed. Because of its importance, the Commission will request the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to give an advisory opinion on this matter.


          Another serious problem that has arisen during the period covered by this report concerns the persecution to which human rights organizations have been subject. The Commission would like to point out that these organizations have worked admirably precisely in those countries where the judiciary is more curtailed or limited.


          This latter problem as well as the problem of the preparation of the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights, which the Commission was mandated to prepare by the General Assembly, are included in the last chapter of this report.



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