N° 25/09




Washington, D.C., May 8, 2009—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today presented its Annual Report to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS).


In presenting the report, the Chair of the IACHR, Commissioner Luz Patricia Mejía, said that 50 years after the creation of the Inter-American Commission, the human rights situation in the region is, on balance, positive. The countries of the Americas have strengthened their democracies and have recognized that each step they take to advance human rights protections for their people means another step toward consolidating democracy. Nevertheless, Commissioner Mejía recalled that the region continues to be characterized by structural inequality of opportunity and that it has the worst income distribution in the world. She underscored the close link between inequality and obstacles in access to justice.


“One constant challenge throughout all these decades has been the lack of access to justice, mainly for the most excluded sectors of society,”

she said. “Consequently, it is urgent for the States to make a real commitment not only to remove any legal, social or economic obstacles that limit the possibility of access to justice, but also to effectively guarantee that their justice systems function adequately and thus ensure that human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, are protected and in effect.”


These problems are reflected clearly in the petitions and cases processed by the IACHR. Of the 1,279 petitions received in 2008, 62% are complaints about violations of the right to justice and judicial protection. Of these, 23% have to do with criminal due process and another 26% to matters that are directly or indirectly linked to the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights. These numbers show that the principal challenge for the inter-American system for the protection of human rights is the direct result of the exclusion and poverty that affect the region.


“In this context,” Commissioner Mejía said, “it is no coincidence that the hemisphere has some of the highest rates of criminality and social violence in the world, which constitutes one of the principal threats to stability in the region and has a directly proportional effect on the democratic, social and economic development of the Member States and especially on the exercise of the rights of the most dispossessed sectors, directly affecting the goal of achieving social justice and freedom for all people of the Americas.”


The IACHR Annual Report addresses the issue of citizen security in its introduction. The report’s four chapters cover the activities carried out by the Commission and its rapporteurships in 2008 and presents information on the petitions and cases processed and the precautionary measures granted during the year.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.



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