1. The 109th special session of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights ("the Inter-American Commission" or the
"IACHR") ended on December 8, 2000.
Dr. Hélio Bicudo, Chairman; Dean Claudio Grossman, First Vice
Chairman; Dr. Juan E. Méndez, Second Vice Chairman; and Commission members
Professor Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Peter Laurie, and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo
participated in sessions. Ambassador
Jorge E. Taiana, Executive Secretary, and Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant
Executive Secretary, were responsible for the preparation and coordination
RECENT EVENTS IN PERU
Inter-American Commission expresses its most profound satisfaction with the
well-publicized events in Peru aimed at restoring the rule of law.
The IACHR therefore congratulates the Peruvian people, in particular
the women and men who fought for the restoration of democracy in the country
and played a very prominent role in defending the institution of democracy
and human rights during the most difficult moments of the rule of the
authoritarian government that recently ended.
In that regard, the work being done by the transition government
headed by the esteemed President of Peru, Dr. Valentín Paniagua, the
members of his cabinet, and the Congress of the Republic of Peru to redefine
and strengthen the core institutions of the State is noteworthy.
This work has included
implementation of the recommendations and precautionary measures proposed by
the Inter-American Commission.
In the discharge of the authority vested in it by the American
Convention on Human Rights, its Statute, and its Regulations, as well as
other instruments on this subject, the IACHR conducted various activities
aimed at guaranteeing respect for human rights in Peru during the rule of
the regime that recently ended. In
that regard, the Commission deems it useful to outline a number of the
concluding remarks of its Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in
Peru, published June 2, 2000, prior to the start of the OAS General Assembly
election of Alberto Fujimori has not been held in keeping with the
guarantees of fair and free elections required for the people of Peru to
exercise their sovereign will. In view of the foregoing, the time period
covered by the next presidential term will be characterized by the
presidency having been obtained in violation of the right of the Peruvian
people "to vote ... in genuine ... elections, which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free
expression of the will of the voters," enshrined in Article 23 of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes that both the process
leading up to and the results of the 2000 elections in Peru are the
foreseeable outcome of several years in which the arbitrary will of the
Government has prevailed over the law and over democratic institutions.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calls for a return to the rule of
law in Peru, and for the
convocation, in a reasonable time, of free, sovereign, fair, and genuine
elections that are up to the respective international standards.
5. The Commission is
confident that under the leadership of the new Peruvian authorities, the
elections to be held in April 2001 will be fair and will reflect the will of
the Peruvian people.
The implementation by the new Peruvian Government of the
recommendations and precautionary measures of the Inter-American Commission
should be noted. During the
ten-year term of Mr. Fujimori, the IACHR took cognizance of various
individual cases involving violation of human rights, and issued more than
twenty-four reports on the merits of cases,
many of which involved numerous victims.
These reports contain recommendations to the Peruvian State that are
pending implementation, pertaining mainly to the sanctioning of the persons
responsible for violations and compensation to the victims.
In addition, the IACHR has referred several cases to the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
In most instances, the Inter-American Court handed down judgments that are
awaiting full or partial execution by Peru.
The Commission is confident that the new Peruvian Government will
seek the most expeditious manner to implement, as quickly as possible, the
decisions that are pending issued by both organs of the inter-American human
rights system. To that end, the
IACHR is available to the parties to examine whether or not it would be
appropriate to attempt to reach friendly settlements in the cases and
petitions that are pending.
Lastly, within the framework of its competence, the Inter-American
Commission is offering its assistance to Peru with work being done to
restore the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Peru.
II. AMENDMENT OF THE RULES OF PROCEDURE
During its special session, the Inter-American Commission completed
amendment of its Rules of Procedure, within the framework of the strengthening of
the inter-American human rights system.
This process was conducted in a comprehensive and transparent manner,
which made it possible to hear the positions and comments of many OAS member
states, plus 100 non-governmental organizations and other civil society
representatives, as well as independent experts in the field.
10. The objective sought
in amending the Rules of Procedure is to update them in light of the practices of
the past two years and to enhance the legal security and transparency of
proceedings. The main
amendments and new rules approved by the IACHR and incorporated into its
Regulations are summarized below. The
final text will be published in early 2001 and will take effect on May 1.
The new Rules of Procedure provide for a proceeding for the admissibility of
petitions as a separate phase, in order to determine whether they meet the
requirements established therein and to make a decision by means of a public
The new Rules of Procedure shorten both the admissibility and merits phases,
in order to reduce the time period for the processing of petitions and
In keeping with the spirit of the American Convention, the new Rules
of Procedure emphasize a friendly settlement offer as a procedural step prior
to a decision on the merits, as well as during any phase of the review of a
petition or case. Furthermore,
this phase is expressly introduced in proceedings involving States that are
not parties to the American Convention.
14. The new Rules of Procedure consolidate the judicial framework for monitoring implementation of the recommendations made in reports on individual cases and on the situation of human rights in OAS member States.
Inter-American Commission makes clear the rules governing precautionary
measures in its new Rules of Procedure , in light of current practices, in the
interest of better protection of the fundamental rights of persons and the
legal security of the parties.
and factors for the submission of cases to the Inter-American Court
The Commission decided to include a provision in the text of its new
Rules of Procedure stating that the cases of those member States that have accepted
the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court and have failed to
implement the recommendations in the report approved in accordance with
Article 50 of that instrument shall be submitted to that organ, except a
well-founded decision is adopted by an absolute majority of its members. In making this decision, the Commission shall give
consideration mainly to ensuring justice in the particular case, based on
the following factors, among others: the position of the petitioner; the
nature and gravity of the violation; the need to develop or clarify the case
law of the system; the possible effect of the decision on the legal systems
of member States; and the quality of the evidence available.
of the victim
17. The new Rules of
Procedure permit participation by the petitioner and the victim in the
phase preceding the decision to refer a case to the Court. Once this decision has been made, it is stipulated that these
persons shall have access to all relevant information for the preparation of
the petition. Furthermore,
petitioners, victims, and their agents may join a case referred to the
Inter-American Court as representatives and submit their documents
offices and working groups
18. The Commission
decided to define the legal framework for establishing rapporteurs' offices
and working groups so that they can perform their duties better.
In particular, a working group on admissibility was established,
which will meet prior to sessions and will make recommendations to the
plenary session on this matter.
CONFERENCE ON THE STRENGTHENING OF THE INTER-AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS
On December 6, 2000, a conference organized by the Inter-American
Commission was held at the OAS General Secretariat.
Participating in it were the representatives of States, of different
sectors of the civil society, of the OAS General Secretariat, and of the
organs responsible for the promotion and protection of the human rights of
the inter-American system. The
speakers were prominent persons representing the aforementioned sectors.
Among them, mention should be made of the Chairman of the
Inter-American Press Association, Mr. Danilo Arbila, who stressed the
support of the press for the work of the organs of the system, characterized
by strong defense of the right to freedom of expression.
The main topics of the conference revolved around the proposals made
to strengthen the inter-American human rights system, and, specifically,
determining whether the possible amendment of the American Convention would
serve to strengthen or weaken this system.
In this regard, there was a consensus among the speakers that any
process designed to strengthen the system would be successful only if it
makes provisions for action to be taken progressively, which is essential;
in particular, for the need for consensus among all sectors involved in this
process, including States, the civil society, and the organs of the system.
It was stressed that the announced amendment of the regulations of
the organs of the system should take into account the need for
inter-American human rights processes to be flexible, transparent,
predictable, and for these processes to facilitate access by victims to the
organs of the inter-American system.
Furthermore, there was a general consensus among the participants
that currently this process should take into account the specific need to:
the organs of the inter-American human rights system with the human and
financial resources required for their proper functioning.
the system universal; that is, all the countries of the Hemisphere should
ratify all the human rights treaties of the inter-American system and accept
the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
due priority, within the political organs of the OAS, to monitoring of
implementation of the recommendations and judgments of the organs of the
inter-American system. To that
end, specific proposals were made.
Lastly, there was a consensus at the Conference that the current
process to strengthen the system involves application of the above-mentioned
points. Consequently, amendment of the American Convention on Human Rights
was ruled out, since it would be inappropriate and even counterproductive. The representatives of the human rights entities called on
society to remain vigilant in the face of any attempt to undermine the
inter-American human rights system at the next session of the OAS General
Assembly to be held in San José, Costa Rica next year.
PETITIONS AND INDIVIDUAL CASES
Inter-American Commission proceeded to review numerous individual
communications alleging violation of the human rights protected under the
American Convention and/or the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties
- Ramón Martínez
Villareal, Case 11,753 - Report 108/00, United States
- Guy Malary,
Case 11,335 - Report 113/00, Haiti
- Miguel Orlando Muñoz Guzmán,
Case 12,130 - Report 106/00, Mexico
- Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, Case 11,808 - Report 107/00, Mexico
- César Cabrejos Bernuy, Case
11,800 - Report 110/00, Peru
- Pedro Pablo López González et
al, Case 11,031 - Report 111/00, Peru
- Yone Cruz Ocalio, Case 11,099 - Report 112/00, Peru
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN HAITI
25. During the
on-site visit to Haiti conducted August 20-25, 2000, the Inter-American
Commission noted that the most critical and disturbing aspect of the current
human rights situation in that country is the deterioration of the political
climate and lack of political consensus on the method for strengthening
democracy. The IACHR was
informed of a host of irregularities in the electoral process, political
polarization, and a climate of intimidation prevailing throughout the
country. At the end of its
on-site visit, the Commission, through a press release, urged all sectors of
Haitian society, particularly the Government, to strive for consensus with a
view to strengthening democracy. In
that regard, it noted that a satisfactory resolution to the controversy
surrounding the May legislative elections would be critical to the
achievement of that consensus and to the holding of presidential elections
in an atmosphere of peace and inclusion.
Last November 26, presidential
and legislative elections were held in Haiti in a climate of tension and
accusations of electoral fraud. The
opposition indicated that the electoral process was tainted and called on
the population to boycott the voting process.
A climate of intimidation and violence prevailed in the days
preceding the elections, due to several bombings that led to deaths and
The inter-American Commission deplores the acts of violence that have
occurred and expresses its grave concern over the human rights situation in
Haiti. The Commission
reiterates that human rights can be exercised only in a context of effective
democracy that is inclusive rather than exclusive.
Democracy is based not only on the right of the majority to govern,
but also on the right of the minority to dissent.
These rights can be guaranteed only in an institutional context of
the rule of law, due process, and complete freedom of expression and
RATIFICATION OF INTER-AMERICAN INSTRUMENTS AND APPLICATION OF
On December 7, 2000, Paraguay deposited its instrument of
ratification of the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights
pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty.
This important event was marked by an official ceremony convened by
the OAS Secretary General, with the participation of the representatives of
Paraguay and the Inter-American Commission.
The IACHR congratulates Paraguay on its initiative and urges all OAS
member States to work towards ratification of the inter-American human
rights instruments, with a view to full inclusion in the system.
The Inter-American Commission also notes the ruling of the
Constitutional Court of Guatemala of October 31, 2000, in which it pointed
out that the imposition of the death penalty for kidnapping offenses amounts
to a broadening of this penalty and thus violates Article 4(2) of the
American Convention on Human Rights.
The Inter-American Commission was also pleased to receive information
that the Supreme Court of Suriname has decided to suspend the statute of
limitations on criminal proceedings related to the 1982 December massacre of
15 prominent citizens of that country.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Attorney General to launch an
investigation into these murders, which took place during the military
dictatorship of Desi Bouterse.
HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR IN GRENADA
The Inter-American Commission was pleased to accept the generous
offer of the Government of Grenada to host a human rights seminar for
persons from Caribbean countries. The
event will be held with the assistance of the Inter-American Institute for
Human Rights, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Caribbean Human Rights
Network. The seminar is the
first of two that will be held in the Caribbean based on an IACHR decision,
and is aimed at promoting the human rights instruments and mechanisms of the
inter-American system in that region.
32. It should be noted that this initiative was proposed at the meeting between the Inter-American Commission and representatives of CARICOM countries, headed by the Attorney General of Jamaica, Honorable Arnold Joseph Nicholson. That meeting was held at the OAS headquarters last October 18, in order to share views on the proceedings and case law of the Inter-American Commission related to the system of petitions, and on ways of strengthening cooperation between CARICOM member States and the Inter-American Commission.
Washington, D.C., December 8, 2000
IACHR, Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Peru, June 2,
2000, paras. 10-12.
Report No. 43/00 Alcides Julio César et al,
Report No. 44/00, Américo Zavala
Martínez, Report No. 45/00, Manuel Mónago
Carhuaricra et al, Report No. 46/00 Manuel
Meneses Sotacuro et al, Report No. 47/00 Manuel
Pacotaype Chaupin, Report No. 48/00 Walter
Vasquez Vejarano, Report No.49/00 Carlos
Molero Coca et al, Report No. 119/99 Susana
Higuchi, Report No. 19/99 Pastor Juscamaita Laura, Report No. 20/99
Rodolfo Robles Espinoza and sons, Report No.
51/99 Anetro Castillo Pezo et al, Report No. 52/99 Raúl Zevallos Loayza
et al, Report No. 53/99 David Palomino
Morales et al, Report No. 54/99 William León
Laurente et al, Report No. 55/99 Juan de la Cruz
Núñez Santana et al, Report 1/96 Chumbivilcas, Report 5/96 Raquel Martín
de Mejía, Report 1/95 Alan García, Report 27/94 Jaime Salinas, Report
37/93 Guadalupe Ccalloccunto, Report 9/93 Raúl Salas Chocas, Wilson
Salas Huánuco, Abel Asparrín Huamán, Teódulo Simeón Yaringaña,
Jaime Jesús Montalvo, Nicolás Chocas Cavero, José Jacob Camarena,
Freddy Flores, Report 10/93 Teófilo Rímac Capcha, Report 11/93
Falconieri Saravia Castillo, Report 12/93 Simmerman Rafael A.Navarro.
These cases are: Neira Alegría et al (Case No.10,087); María Elena
Loayza Tamayo (Case No.11,154); Castillo Páez (Case No.10,733);
Cantoral Benavides (Case No.11,337); Durand and Ugarte (Case No.10,009);
Castillo Petruzzi et al (Case No.11,319); Cesti Hurtado (Case
No.11,730); Baruch Ivcher (Case No.11,762), Tribunal Constitucional
(Case 11,760) and Barrios Altos (Case 11,762).