Invited by the Government of Haiti, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) will visit the country on August 21-25, 2000, in order to observe the overall human right situation in Haiti.  

            The IACHR is a principal organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the Hemisphere.  The seven members of the Commission are elected in their personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly for a four-year term.  The Commission’s terms of reference mainly derive from the American Convention on Human Rights and the OAS Charter, instruments ratified by Haiti. 

            The IACHR delegation comprises Professor Hélio Bicudo, Chairman; Ambassador Peter Laurie, and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo.  The delegation will be assisted by Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, Executive Secretary of the Commission; Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary; Dr. Bertha Santoscoy, specialist in Haitian affairs, Dr. Raquel Poitevien, an IACHR specialist; Ms. Rose-Marie Brière, OAS interpreter, and Mr. Luiz Coimbra, a public information officer.  Ms. Martha Keller and Ms. Gloria Molina will form part of the administrative support team. 

            During its stay in Haiti, the IACHR will meet with the highest government authorities and with representatives of various different sectors in society, such as:  political parties, human rights organizations, the Church, grass-roots groups and popular organizations, alleged victims of human rights violations, and others.  The Commission will also meet with representatives of international organizations, and it will visit some penitentiaries in Port-au-Prince. 

            To accomplish its objectives, the Commission employs various methods:  one of them is on-site visits to countries where the human rights situation is being reviewed.  A report is then made public on the findings.  This report provides a diagnostic assessment of the human rights situation in the country and puts forward a series of recommendations on how to improve it.  The Commission also works on specific areas of concern to the Hemisphere (prison conditions, rights of the child, women’s rights, etc.)  Another very important method used by the Commission is processing individual petitions when it receives complaints alleging violation of rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.  

            The Commission’s visit will take place in the framework of the jurisdiction established by the American Convention on Human Rights and the Commission’s Regulations.  Within this legal framework, the states parties to the Convention undertake to provide all the facilities required for the success of the Commission’s observation mission and, in particular, not to take reprisals against persons or entities cooperating with the mission by providing information and testimony.

            As is customary in visits of this nature, during its stay in Haiti the IACHR will be prepared to receive petitions from persons who allege that their rights have been violated.  The petitions should be submitted in writing.  A model form for this is available in the OAS office, located on the corner of Borno and Métellus No. 15, in Pétion-ville, Haiti.  During its stay, the Commission will have an office in the Montana hotel in Pétion-ville, which will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. from August 21-25, 2000. 

            At the end of its visit, the Commission will hold a press conference in the Montana hotel, at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, August 25, 2000.  At the conference a press release will be distributed containing a few preliminary observations by the Commission with regard to the human rights situation in Haiti. 

            The Commission will then return to its headquarters in Washington to evaluate its findings and prepare a report on the human rights situation in Haiti. 





            The Commission would like to thank the Government of Haiti and civil society organizations for the cooperation and facilities provided, as well as international organizations for their help in the preparations for this visit.  The Commission once again reiterates its willingness to cooperate with the democratic governments of the Hemisphere in promoting and protecting human rights. 


Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 21, 2000