IV. Citizen security and human rights
35. As previously observed, the insecurity generated by crime and violence in the Americas is a very serious problem in which the observance and enjoyment of human rights are at stake. Citizen security policies must be evaluated from a perspective of respect and guarantee of human rights. On the one hand, negative obligations involving abstention and respect; on the other hand, positive obligations linked to the adoption of prevention measures. The effective enforcement of rights involves positive and negative obligations at four levels: the obligation to respect, the obligation to protect, the obligation to ensure and the obligation to promote the right in question. The obligation to respect is defined as the State’s duty not to interfere with, hinder or bar access to, the enjoyment of the resources that are the object of the right. The obligation to protect is the duty to prevent third parties from interfering with, hindering or barring access to the resources that are the object of that right. The obligation to ensure means to guarantee that the titulaire of the right is able to gain access to the enjoyment of the right, when he or she is unable to do it for him or herself. The obligation to promote is the duty to create conditions so that the titulaire of a right can have access to the enjoyment of the right.
36. One of the main dimensions of state obligations is linked to the judicial clarification of criminal conduct with the view to eliminating impunity and preventing the recurrence of violence. Both the Inter-American Commission and Court have condemned the impunity of events violating fundamental rights. Impunity facilitates the continuing repetition of human rights violations and the total defenselessness of victims and their families. Undoubtedly the adequate and effective administration of justice on the part of the judicial branch and to an appropriate extent, of disciplinary entities, has a fundamental role not only in terms of reparations but also in terms of the lessening of the risk and the scope of violence.
A. The States’ obligations from the standpoint of citizen security
37. The American Convention protects the right to life (Article 4), physical integrity (Article 5), and liberty (Article 7) among others relating to citizen security, which will be analyzed in detail in forthcoming chapters of the present report. Article 1 of the American Convention provides that
The States Parties to this Convention undertake to respect the rights and freedoms recognized herein and to ensure to all persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights and freedoms, without any discrimination for reasons of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth, or any other social condition.
The Commission and the Court have repeatedly examined the scope of this provision to determine what is meant by positive obligations in the realm of human rights. The Court, specifically, has established precedent to the effect that
[P]rotection of the law consists, fundamentally, of the remedies the law provides for the protection of the rights guaranteed by the Convention. The obligation to respect and guarantee such rights, which Article 1(1) imposes on the States Parties, implies, as the Court has already stated, the duty of the States Parties to organize the governmental apparatus and, in general, all the structures through which public power is exercised, so that they are capable of juridically ensuring the free and full enjoyment of human rights.
The scope of the juridical concept of positive obligations within the Inter-American system is elaborated upon in Article 2 of the American Convention, which provides as follows:
Where the exercise of any of the rights or freedoms referred to in Article 1 is not already ensured by legislative or other provisions, the States Parties undertake to adopt, in accordance with their constitutional processes and the provisions of this Convention, such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to those rights or freedoms.
The Court has reiterated that
(…) the general duty under Article 2 of the American Convention implies the adoption of measures of two kinds: on the one hand, elimination of any norms and practices that in any way violate the guarantees provided under the Convention; on the other hand, the promulgation of norms and the development of practices conducive to effective observance of those guarantees. Furthermore, adoption of these measures becomes necessary when there is evidence of practices that are violations of the American Convention in any way.
The international obligations undertaken by the member states, in accordance with the general principles on this subject, must be performed in good faith, in keeping with Articles 26, 27 and 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
38. Before dealing with the issues directly related to public policy on citizen security and in order to understand the possible scope of the international responsibility, it is necessary to review the criteria for attribution of state responsibility established in the American Convention, as well as its interpretation by the Commission and the Court in reports and judgments in relevant individual cases. Broadly speaking, persons under state jurisdiction may see their fundamental rights compromised either from the behavior of State agents or from conduct perpetrated by individuals which, if not clarified generates state responsibility for non-fulfillment of the obligation to provide judicial protection. In the case of persons in especially vulnerable situations, State responsibility also arises because of the lack of measures to prevent harm. The particular case of obligations reinforced under the Convention of Belém do Pará will also be addressed.
1. State responsibility for the acts of its agents and third parties
39. Article 1(1) is crucial to establish whether a violation of the human rights embodied in the American Convention can be attributed to a State Party. This Article does in fact entail a commitment by the States Party to the fundamental duties of respecting and ensuring rights, so any abridgment of the human rights recognized by the Convention that may be attributed, according to the rules of international law, to actions or omissions by any public authority constitutes an act attributable to the State, entailing its international responsibility under the terms set forth in the Convention and international law. It is a principle under international law that the State is responsible for the acts and omissions of its agents carried out in their official capacity even if they act outside the limits of their sphere of competence. The international responsibility of the State is based on acts or omissions of any of its powers or organs, irrespective of their rank, which violate the American Convention, and is generated immediately with the international illegal act attributed to the State. In these conditions, in order to establish whether a violation of the human rights established in the Convention has been committed, it is not necessary to determine, as it is in domestic criminal law, the guilt of the perpetrators or their intention; nor is it necessary to identify individually the agents to whom the acts that violate the human rights embodied in the Convention are attributed. It is sufficient that a State obligation exists and that the State failed to comply with it.
40. A State’s international responsibility may arise from the attribution of human rights violations committed by third parties or individuals, within the framework of the State’s obligations to guarantee respect for those rights between individuals. The Court has recognized that
Said international responsibility may also be generated by acts of private individuals not attributable in principle to the State. The States Party to the Convention have erga omnes obligations to respect protective provisions and to ensure the effectiveness of the rights set forth therein under any circumstances and regarding all persons. The effect of these obligations of the State goes beyond the relationship between its agents and the persons under its jurisdiction, as it is also reflected in the positive obligation of the State to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure effective protection of human rights in relations amongst individuals. The State may be found responsible for acts by private individuals in cases in which, through actions or omissions by its agents when they are in the position of guarantors, the State does not fulfill these erga omnes obligations embodied in Articles 1(1) and 2 of the Convention.
2. The obligation to adopt measures to prevent the violation of rights linked to citizen security
41. Prevention involves all legal, political, administrative and cultural measures for the promotion of the protection of human rights that ensure that their violation be considered and treated as a punishable offence for the perpetrators. It also involves the duty to provide reparations to the victims.
42. At the same time, States are not responsible for all the human rights violations committed between individuals within its jurisdiction. Indeed, the nature erga omnes of the treaty-based guarantee obligations of the States does not imply their unlimited responsibility for all acts or deeds of individuals. Their obligation to adopt prevention and protection measures for individuals in their relationships with each other is conditioned by the awareness of a situation of real and imminent danger for a specific individual or group of individuals and to the reasonable possibilities of preventing or avoiding that danger. In other words, even though an act, omission or deed of an individual has the legal consequence of violating the specific rights of another individual, this is not automatically attributable to the State, because the specific circumstances of the case and the execution of these guarantee obligations must beconsidered.
43. The rights to life and to humane treatment are central to the Convention. According to Article 27(2) of the said treaty, these rights are part of a non-derogable nucleus, because they are established as rights that cannot be suspended in case of war, public danger or other threats to the independence or security of the States Parties. It is not sufficient to abstain from violating these rights. States must adopt positive and specific measures in response to the specific needs of those who require protection because of their personal profile or their current situation. States have the obligation to guarantee the conditions to ensure that violations of these inalienable rights do not occur. In compliance with the obligations imposed by Article 4 of the American Convention, in relation to Article 1(1) thereof, this not only assumes that no one shall be deprived of his life arbitrarily, but also, in light of the State’s obligation to guarantee the full and free exercise of human rights, it requires States to adopt all the appropriate measures to protect and preserve the right to life, pursuant to the obligation to ensure the enjoyment of human rights for all persons under its jurisdiction.
44. There is under international law a primary duty of the State to ensure the right to life through domestic criminal law with effective provisions contemplating the commission of offenses against persons supported by enforcement machinery for prevention, suppression and punishment for non-compliance with such provisions. In some cases this obligation extends to the positive duty of the authorities to adopt preventive operative measures to protect an individual or group individuals, whose lives are at risk of criminal offenses by other individuals. For a positive obligation to arise, it must be established that the authorities knew, or ought to have known, at the time of the existence of a real and immediate danger to the life of an identified individual or individuals from the criminal acts of a third party and that they failed to take measures within the scope of their powers which, judged reasonably, might have been expected to avoid that danger. In situations of serious and systematic violations of human rights, the State’s obligation to adopt positive measures of prevention and protection under Article 1(1) of the American Convention are enhanced.
3. The duty to investigate
45. The obligation of Sates to investigate cases of violations of these rights arises from this general obligation to guarantee the rights established in Article 1(1) of the Convention, together with the substantive right that must be protected or ensured and the due process and judicial protection guarantees set forth in Articles 8 and 25. In light of this duty, the authorities must investigate conduct affecting the enjoyment of the rights protected in the American Convention and subject to public prosecution, as soon as they become aware of them. This investigation must be carried out, without delay, by all available legal means with the aim of determining the truth and the investigation, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators. During the investigation procedure and the judicial proceedings, the victims of the human rights violations, or their next of kin, should have extensive opportunities to participate and be heard, both in the clarification of the facts and the punishment of those responsible, and in seeking fair compensation. However, the investigation should be assumed by the State as an inherent juridical obligation and not merely as a reaction to private interests, which depend on the procedural initiative of the victims or their next of kin and on the contribution of evidence by private individuals, while the public authority is not making an effective effort to discover the truth.
46. The duty of the State to investigate conduct affecting the enjoyment of the right protected in the Convention applies irrespective of the agent to which the violation may eventually be attributed. In those cases where conduct is attributed to individuals, the lack of serious investigation could compromise the international responsibility of the State. In cases where the conduct may involve the participation of its agents, States have a special duty to clarify the facts and prosecute those responsible. Lastly, in cases involving the commission of serious violations of human rights such as torture, extrajudicial executions, and forced disappearances the Court has established that amnesties, statutes of limitation and provisions for the exclusion of responsibility, are inadmissible and cannot prevent the investigation and punishment of those responsible. Crimes against humanity give rise to the violation of a series of non-derogable rights that are recognized by the American Convention, whose violation cannot remain unpunished. Likewise, it has determined that the investigation must be conducted resorting to all legal means available and must be focused on the determination of the truth and the investigation, prosecution, arrest, trial, and conviction of those persons responsible for the facts, both as perpetrators and instigators, especially when State agents are or may be involved in such events. Amnesty laws leave victims defenseless and perpetuate impunity for crimes against humanity. Therefore, they are overtly incompatible with the wording and the spirit of the American Convention, and undoubtedly affect rights embodied in the Convention.
4. Reinforced obligations in the area of violence against women pursuant to the Convention of Belém do Pará
47. In the case of crimes involving violence against women, in addition to the generic obligations contained in the American Convention, the States have an obligation reinforced under the Convention of Belém do Pará. This Convention defines violence against women as “any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere” and Article 7(b) obliges the States parties to apply due diligence to prevent, punish and eradicate violence. Given that not all breaches of human rights committed against women necessarily implicate a breach of the provisions of the Convention of Belém do Pará, it must be determined in a particular case whether the acts of violence have been influenced by a context of discrimination against women. In cases where it has been determined that acts of violence against a woman fall within the obligations undertaken by the States party to the Convention of Belém do Pará, it is necessary to examine whether the authorities have fulfilled their duty to guarantee the rights affected (life, personal integrity, liberty, as appropriate), in accordance with Article 1(1) of the American Convention and Article 7 of the Convention of Belém do Pará, which forms the international corpus juris in the area of the prevention and punishment of violence against women.
48. The States’ duty of effective investigation has additional significance when a woman sees her right to life, physical integrity or personal liberty affected, in the general context of violence against women. It is imperative to reinforce society’s condemnation and to maintain women’s confidence in the authorities’ ability to protect them from the threat of violence. In its report on “Access to justice for women victims of violence” the Commission pointed out that:
[t]he influence exerted by discriminatory socio-cultural patterns may cause a victim’s credibility to be questioned in cases involving violence, or lead to a tacit assumption that she is somehow to blame for what happened, whether because of her manner of dress, her occupation, her sexual conduct, relationship or kinship to the assailant and so on. The result is that prosecutors, police and judges fail to take action on complaints of violence. These biased discriminatory patterns can also exert a negative influence on the investigation of such cases and the subsequent weighing of the evidence, where stereotypes about how women should conduct themselves in interpersonal relations can become a factor.
In those cases where there is a breach of the obligation to investigate criminal conduct involving violence against women, the Inter-American Court has thus pointed out that the impunity for such crimes sends a message that violence against women may be tolerated. This favors its perpetuation and social acceptance of the phenomenon, insecurity, and the mistrust in the administration of justice. For its part, the Inter-American Court has emphasized that the creation and use of stereotypes becomes one of the causes and consequences of gender violence against women. In this sense, it found that in cases involving violence against women and impunity the States, influenced by a culture of discrimination against women, are responsible for failing in their duty of non discrimination contained in Article 1(1) of the Convention, in relation to the duty to ensure the rights of the victims and their families.
49. As regards to the duty of prevention, the States must adopt comprehensive measures to comply with due diligence in cases of violence against women. In particular, they must have in place an adequate and effective legal framework of protection, together with policies of prevention and practices which permit action in an efficacious manner against risk factors, and a condemnation of violence against women. For its part, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has provided guidelines on what measures States should take to fulfill their international obligations of due diligence regarding prevention, i.e.: ratification of international human rights instruments; constitutional guarantees on the equality of women; the existence of national laws and administrative sanctions that issue adequate compensation to women victims of violence; policies or plans of action that concentrate on the question of violence against women; making the criminal justice system and police more aware of gender issues; access to and availability of support services; the promotion of awareness and a modification of discriminatory policies in the sphere of education and the media, and the collection of data and publication of statistics on violence against women.
B. The characteristics of public policy on citizen security
50. Human rights standards must be incorporated when building a policy on citizen security, where they serve both as a guide and as a boundary beyond which State interventions must not go. These standards are part of the framework of laws originating in the instruments that together comprise international human rights law and in the decisions and case law delivered by the oversight bodies from the different systems of protection. They set general guidelines, indicating the minimum degree of protection that a State must afford. The Commission has repeatedly reminded the member states of their obligation to ensure the security of the population and to guarantee the rule of law with full respect for human rights. The member states must work from this premise when defining and conducting the measures necessary to ensure the rights that are most vulnerable where crime and violence are high. The Commission has already observed that “(...) violence and crime seriously undermine the rule of law (...)".
51. The design, implementation and evaluation of policies on citizen security in the region have to be defined within the frame of reference that the international principles of human rights provide, especially the principles of participation, accountability and non-discrimination. According to the most widely accepted definitions at the international level: (1) the principle of participation means that “[e]very person and all peoples are entitled to active, free and meaningful participation in, contribution to, and enjoyment of civil, economic, social, cultural and political development in which human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realized”; (2) the principle of accountability and rule of law means that “States and other duty-bearers are answerable for the observance of human rights. In this regard, they have to comply with the legal norms and standards enshrined in human rights instruments. Where they fail to do so, aggrieved rights-holders are entitled to institute proceedings for appropriate redress before a competent court or other adjudicator in accordance with the rules and procedures provided by law”; and (3) the principle of equality and non-discrimination means that “All individuals are equal as human beings and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. All human beings are entitled to their human rights without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, ethnicity, age, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status as explained by the human rights treaty bodies.”
52. Based on the preceding paragraphs, it is clear that citizen security must be thought of as public policy, defined as the guidelines or courses of action that the State authorities lay down in order to achieve a given objective and that serve to create or transform the conditions under which individuals or groups in society conduct their affairs. A public policy is, therefore, a planning tool that makes efficient use of available resources, within a framework of constant participation by the social actors involved. According to the most widely accepted definitions, public policies are: (1) comprehensive (as they systematically address human rights as whole); (2) inter-sectoral (because they impact the activities, plans and budgets of various state actors); (3) participatory (because the population in question is constantly involved and because public policies are instrumental in making societies more democratic); (4) universal (because they are all-encompassing and do not discriminate in any way); and (5) intergovernmental (because they involve agencies in central and local government).
53. Public policies must also be sustainable. Given their nature, their execution is a middle- to long-term undertaking. This means that a public policy’s implementation must not be measured by the length of just one administration. Consequently, to be truly effective, any public policy on citizen security must be supported by a strong political consensus and enjoy the support of broad sectors of the population, which is also central to strengthening democratic governance in the region. Building a sustainable policy on citizen security is difficult when a subjective sense of insecurity is manipulated for purely partisan political purposes, a scene that plays itself out in some countries of the region at election time. This is not to say that some issues may be barred from open public debate. Quite the contrary, the give-and-take of ideas, the introduction of alternative proposals for resolving the major issues of concern to the public, and the citizenry’s demand for accountability on the part of public authorities are all fundamental elements of a democratic society. However, given the public’s heightened sensitivity to acts of violence or the spread of certain crimes within the Hemisphere in recent years, the issue of citizen insecurity has figured prominently in election debates, with short-term effects, more so than it has in efforts undertaken to keep society properly informed and to rally public institutions, social organizations, the mass media and the community in general to reflect upon the factors that contribute to this problem and on truly effective measures to improve the public’s living conditions in the face of the threat of violence and crime.
54. This public policy concept cannot be fully understood without specific reference to human rights. The purpose of public policies is to give effect to these rights in law and in practice, and in the conduct of state institutions and agents, so that member states may fully comply with their international obligations to protect and ensure. The reference to the rights-based approach in public policies must be understood on two dimensions that, although different, nonetheless complement each other. The standards and principles of human rights are both a guide and a roadmap for designing, implementing and evaluating public policies. The objective of the public policies that the States craft must be to give effect to these rights.
55. Member States must devise and implement public policies with a rights-based approach as instruments to enable rigorous compliance with their negative and positive obligations, especially those undertaken within the framework of the Inter-American system with respect to the rights at stake in citizen security. The Commission has stated the following in this regard: “The IACHR considers that there is a pressing need for states to reflect on this matter and to adopt effective measures and public policies to guarantee the safety of the population and respect for human rights.” For the Commission, a public policy on citizen security seen from a human rights-based approach is one that involves simultaneous measures in three strategic areas: the institutional area; the normative area, and the preventive area. In this way, two essential requirements of public policy are satisfied: that it is comprehensive and multilateral.
56. The institutional area concerns the capacity of the state apparatus to fulfill its human rights obligations. In the case of public policy on citizen security, the operational-institutional aspects basically concern the human and material resources assigned to the judicial branch, the public prosecutor’s office, the police force and the prison system. Accordingly, member states must put together reliable indicators so that they are able to constantly evaluate the following, inter alia: (1) human resources, from the quantitative and qualitative standpoints; (2) the mechanisms for selecting and providing basic and specialized training to the civil servants in the institutions in question and their career service; (3) the working conditions and pay of these civil servants, and (4) the equipment, means of transportation and communications available to perform the assigned functions. Specifically, in the case of the prison system and police force, the First Meeting of the Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas recommended the following:
(...) [to] [s]trengthen and, as appropriate, establish policies and programs for the modernization of the prison systems of the member states and for the design of sustainable social reintegration models, especially for youth; (...)Promote the modernization of police management by incorporating transparency and accountability, enhance the professionalization of security forces; and improve the living and working conditions of their members (...).
57. The normative area of public policy on citizen security means adapting the legal framework to meet the need to prevent or suppress crime and violence, and to develop criminal procedure and prison management. A state’s domestic laws must strike a balance between the authorities vested in state institutions (the judicial system, the police system and the prison system) and the necessary guarantees of human rights. As repeatedly observed in this report, in most cases the laws and regulations pertaining to the policy of citizen security establish limits or restrictions on the exercise of certain human rights. Hence, regardless of the circumstance, the principle of legality requires that these rules have the rank of law, both in the material sense and in the formal sense. This was the finding of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which analyzed Article 30 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The provisions of international human rights law must be interpreted as a harmonious whole. This means, on the one hand, weighing rights of equal hierarchy that often contradict each other; on the other hand, it means that the member states’ legal systems can stipulate that the exercise of certain rights may be regulated and ultimately subject to some form of restriction or limitation. The principles of legality, respect for the rule of law, the dignity of the human person, exception from law, equality and nondiscrimination establish the limits for any restriction or limitation on the exercise of human rights, specifically as regards the means that member states take to deal with the problems created by crime and violence. The Commission must also underscore the fact that there are certain rights protected by the Inter-American system that can never be suspended.
58. The preventive area includes responsibilities that are beyond the competence assigned to the judicial system and the police. Based on the definition of public policy adopted, this area includes the non-punitive measures that other state agencies must implement (within both the central government and local governments), working in partnership with civil society organizations, private enterprise and the media. These are social, communitarian and situational measures whose purpose is to influence the enabling factors or social, cultural, economic, environmental or urban risk factors, among others, that contribute to higher rates of violence and crime. Those in charge of crafting public policy in citizen security must even consider the costs and benefits of prevention measures as opposed to measures to suppress violence and crime.
59. A public policy on citizen security must address the various dimensions of the problems that cause crime and violence. Hence, the measures taken must be a comprehensive approach to those problems. Having said this, and given the experience gained from the programs and projects conducted in the region in recent years, preventive activities should be the centerpiece of the measures that the member states take to deal with violence and crime. The authorities responsible for citizen security said as much when singling out the need to adopt measures designed to
(…) [f]oster, in coordination with the pertinent institutions, public policies designed to prevent crime, violence, and insecurity, and (…) Promote educational programs, in particular in schools, and raise awareness among the different players in society regarding the prevention of crime, violence, and insecurity (...).
60. The most successful experiences in crime prevention in the Hemisphere have focused mainly on dealing with the factors that make violence a recurring problem at the local level. These efforts have involved measures to reduce alcohol consumption and to limit and regulate private possession of firearms. Another important aspect of these efforts has been the work done in urban redesign, to create and maintain public-friendly areas and transportation systems. Job centers have been created in the more violent areas of the cities. At the institutional level, the successful programs chose to create a more professional police force and to implement programs to improve the relationship between the police and local communities. There have been positive returns as well on security management that relies on good information about the objective and subjective reality of violence and crime. These systems feature performance indicators, data gathering, and geo-referenced mapping in order to use the human and material resources of the institutions in the citizen security system to better advantage. Mention should also be made of the programs designed to work on the enabling factors of violence and crime in specific areas, such as the programs to promote non-violent techniques for settling disputes in schools; early child development programs and programs that support families with children, adolescents and young adults who are more vulnerable to crime and violence. Programs in the area of recidivism prevention are working with young adults who have already committed crimes but are being offered an alternative to imprisonment. The idea is to make them conscious of the harm they have done and to pay for their crimes by making reparations to the victim or doing community service.
61. Given the positive obligations undertaken by the States, they have a duty to create the conditions that will enable public policy on citizen security to focus on building an efficient institutional structure capable of ensuring, to all persons, the effective exercise of the human rights most threatened by violence. The Commission is concerned by the chronic weaknesses in the region in terms of creating institutions with which to manage citizen security properly. These weaknesses are particularly evident in the following: (1) the treatment of victims of crime and violence; (2) privatization of security services; (3) governability of citizen security; (4) professionalization and modernization of the police forces; and (5) the intervention of the armed forces in tasks related to citizen security.
1. The treatment of victims of crime and violence
62. The United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power” defines “victim of crime and violence” as
persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within member states, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.
In the words of the Declaration, the Commission observes that a “person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The term "victim" also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.” 
63. The Commission has repeatedly addressed the obligations that member states have vis-à-vis victims of violence and crime, obligations that emanate from Article 1(1) of the American Convention which establishes the obligation of the States parties to guarantee the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognized in that instrument with respect to persons under their jurisdiction. This obligation includes the duty to organize the government apparatus, and, in general, all structures through which State power is exercised, in such as way that they are capable of ensuring the full and free exercise of human rights in a legal context. As a result of this obligation, the States parties have a legal duty to prevent, investigate, and sanction the violation of all rights protected under the American Convention.” The Commission has established in the context of individual cases that illegal acts that violate human rights, although not directly attributable to State agents, may involve international responsibility for lack of due diligence to prevent the violation, or to clarify it in terms required by the Convention.
64. The Court makes the point that impunity leaves victims and their relatives defenseless. It has also indicated that “the States must prevent, investigate and punish any violation of the rights recognized by the Convention and, moreover, if possible attempt to restore the right violated and provide compensation as warranted for damages resulting from the violation.”
65. Citing the Court, the Commission has also addressed the member states’ duty to prevent and combat impunity, which is defined as “an absence, on the whole, of investigation, prosecution, arrest, trial and conviction of those responsible for violating rights protected by the American Convention.”
66. Therefore, it is clear from the preceding paragraphs that member states are responsible vis-à-vis their citizenry to conduct effective plans and programs to prevent crime and violence, based on a strategy that involves state institutions in various sectors, ranging from the police and judicial system to methods of social, community or situational prevention, which institutions in the education, health, labor and other sectors are to conduct, engaging as well national and local governments. When, despite this preventive work, crime and violence still claim victims, the State has an obligation to provide these victims with proper treatment that conforms to international standards. In particular, the State must have an adequate set of institutions to apply effective protocols of intervention, in the terms described by the aforementioned United Nations “Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crimes and Abuse of Power.” That document sets specific guidelines regarding access to justice and compassionate and respectful treatment of victims; restitution by offenders; compensation by the State when restitution from the offender is not available; and material, medical, psychological and social assistance for the victims of crime and violence. At the same time, the member states should take into account, where appropriate, the provisions of the “Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law,” also approved by the United Nations.
67. Member states must comply with their positive obligations with respect to the rights at stake in the area of citizen security by transforming these guidelines into an institutional normative framework and earmarking the budgetary appropriations needed to enable practical responses to the victims of violence and crime. The normative framework and institutional practices must make provision for the training that police, judicial, health and government social services will require; the intervention protocols common to all areas of the State; and a proper infrastructure. The Commission reiterates that “the victims' participation in the various procedural stages guarantees the right to the truth and justice is part of the complex structure of checks and balances in criminal proceedings and encourages public oversight of government actions.”
68. The Commission has established that whenever persons identified as members of vulnerable groups are injured and there is a general pattern of negligence and lack of effectiveness to process and punish the perpetrators, the State not only fails to comply with its obligation to clarify an offence but also fails to comply with its duty to prevent degrading practices. The Commission has indicated that
[such] general and discriminatory judicial ineffectiveness also creates a climate that is conducive to [ ] violence, since society sees no evidence of a willingness by the State, as the representative of society, to take effective action to sanction such acts.
The Commission has established that in order to guarantee the right to non-discrimination, the States are required to adopt positive measures by establishing, for such purposes, distinctions based on de facto inequities. In a case on patterns of discrimination and violence by the Police against youths belonging to an especially vulnerable social group due to its racial and social condition, the Commission indicated that the victim’s situation justified adopting positive measures in its favor, such as equal treatment before the law (Article 24 of the American Convention), and respect for the presumption of innocence (Article 8 of the American Convention). The Commission has indicated that in those cases,
[f]rom this perspective, the failure to take affirmative measures to reverse or change de iure or de facto discriminatory situations harmful to a specific group produces international responsibility on the part of the State. (…) From another perspective, although the laws (..) are not discriminatory and prima facie do guarantee apparent equality, in reality the situation is otherwise, as the bias of the State police, according to existing studies, indicates the use of unnecessary violence towards those subject to their procedures, particularly those individuals with characteristics of the black race and who reside in marginal areas (favelas). This conduct often leads to the death of the subject. It is for this reason that the mere promulgation of laws that have no practical effect does not guarantee the full enjoyment and exercise of rights.
The formal existence of legal provisions guaranteeing equality is not sufficient. Rather, such provisions must be effective, that is, they must yield the results or responses needed for the protection of the rights embodied in the Convention.
69. Although the services the State provides are to be universal, it must ensure that adequate systems are in place to treat victims of violence or crime who are women, children or adolescents, senior citizens, the indigenous population or Afro-descendent population. In the past the Commission has observed that the member states must have specialized personnel in all institutions of the citizen security system, who are prepared to provide quality service to the entire population, thereby fulfilling the principles of equality and nondiscrimination recognized in Article 24 of the American Convention.
2. Privatization of citizen security
70. In the last twenty-five years, the number of private firms offering security services has increased steadily in the Americas. In many cases, the employees of these businesses far outnumber the police in the member states. Recent studies show how the number of private security services is growing worldwide. These studies find that in the period that preceded the current global economic crisis, private firms or industries involved in security on the world’s major markets experienced extraordinary growth rates that ranged between 8% and 9%. This was twice the rate of growth of the global economy as a whole, and was exceeded only by the growth in the automotive industry during that same period. In Latin America, the growth in the market for private security goods and services is estimated at around 11% over the last 15 years.
71. The Commission has made some opportune observations about certain problems associated with the increasing involvement of private firms in delivering security services. It has highlighted the fact that “because private police services are not legally registered, the State has no control over their sometimes criminal activities, which is a factor enabling abuses.” The Commission also observed the lack of procedures to control private security firms and expressed its concern over the complaints lodged alleging violations of individual rights by employees of private security firms.
72. To be in compliance with their duty to ensure the human rights at stake in citizen security policies, the member states must undertake the mission of preventing, deterring and suppressing crime and violence, as theirs is a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. The privatization of the functions involved in citizen security is a departure from the concept of human rights, where the State is responsible for guaranteeing that citizen security is defended, protected and ensured. Instead, citizen security becomes a mere product to be bought on the market and, in most cases, is available only to those sectors of society with the means to buy it.
73. In countries where the law allows private security firms to operate according to the rules governing business activity, the presence of these firms must be properly regulated by public authorities. The domestic legal system must regulate the functions that private security services can perform; the types of weapons and materials they are authorized to use; the proper mechanisms to oversee their activities; introduction of licensing, and a system whereby these private security firms are required to report their contracts on a regular basis, detailing the typing of activities they perform. Likewise, the public authorities should demand compliance with selection and training requirements that individuals hired by these private security firms must meet, specifying which public institutions are authorized to issue certifications attesting to the firms’ employees. By the definition that the Commission adopted in this report, private firms only offer security for assets and valuables, and are not intended to augment or supplant the member states’ obligations in the area of citizen security, as the State’s responsibility for the protection of human rights is a non-delegable duty.
3. Democratic governance of citizen security
74. The Commission defines democratic governance of citizen security as the lawful authorities’ institutional capacity to design, implement and evaluate policies to prevent and control violence and crime. Historically within the region, the political system delegated these responsibilities –often informally- to the state security forces. The result was that decisions about the security of persons and their property were informed mainly by the interests of those forces; these decisions were completely separate and apart from the rest of public policy and not subject to any form of citizen oversight. In many cases, the result was the abuse and misuse of power on the part of state security forces. This institutional weakness and the lack of civilian oversight constitute a clear-cut failure to fulfill the obligations that the member states have undertaken vis-à-vis their duties with respect to the human rights at stake in public policy on citizen security.
75. The difficulties with respect to governance of citizen security became readily apparent when many countries in the Hemisphere over the last twenty-five years began their return to a democratic system of government after years of civil war, authoritarian government or military dictatorship. While the institutional deficit in the region has been a longstanding problem, the absence of the rule of law during those periods only exacerbated the problem. The Commission has already spoken out about what the weakness of democratic institutions means for the observance of human rights. It held that
the democratic system and the observance of the rule of law are crucial for effective protection of human rights. In accordance with international instruments on human rights, a state in which the rule of law prevails is one that functions soundly and that equitably and effectively fulfills its responsibilities in the areas of justice, security, education and health. In the final analysis, the rule of law entails full respect and effective exercise of the human, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the inhabitants of states, ensuring access to better and increased protection of the values of human dignity.
76. To enable democratic institutions to function normally and the citizenry to exercise control over the political system, legitimately elected government authorities must undertake full responsibility for designing and putting in place a public policy on citizen security. Within the apparatus of government, the ministries or secretariats that have responsibilities in the area of citizen security must have technical and policy personnel trained in the various professions associated with citizen security, to craft and make decisions in the established areas within this public policy. The legislatures must have professional advisory services to enable them to exercise effective political oversight of the measures implemented to prevent and control violence and crime. Member States must also put into place systems to allow civil society to participate and thereby make democratic oversight possible, to foster transparency and hold accountable officials of the institutions in charge of public policy on citizen security.
4. Professionalization and modernization of police forces
77. Time and again the Commission has stressed the vital role that the police play in enabling the democratic system of government to function properly. It has said that “[t]he police force is a fundamental institution to uphold the rule of law and to guarantee the security of the population. Given its nationwide coverage and the variety of its functions, it is one of the State institutions that most often have relations with the public.” It also observed that “an honest police force that is professional in its approach, well trained and efficient is essential for gaining the confidence of citizens.”
78. Under the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, the member states must be mindful of the fact that law enforcement officials perform “a social service of great importance and there is, therefore, a need to maintain and, whenever necessary to improve the working conditions and status of these officials.” These principles make express reference to the fact that “law enforcement officials have a vital role in the protection of the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and in the instruments of international human rights law that comprise the Inter-American system.
79. Within the Hemisphere, there has always been a tension between the member states’ obligation to respect, protect and ensure human rights and the law, on the one hand, and the operational structure and practices of the police force on the other. In the vast majority of the countries of the region, it was not until the early 1990s that the magnitude of this problem began to be realized. What followed was a process to introduce substantive changes in police institutions, designed to modernize them and make them more professional. The idea was to make them more effective at their job of preventing and controlling crime and violence, without undermining the commitments that the member states had undertaken in the area of human rights. This process is still ongoing. While significant headway has been made in the Americas, there have also been times when police forces have reverted back to the traditional ways of doing business.
80. These efforts to modernize and professionalize police forces within the region are up against longstanding institutional problems. In general, apart from an occasional formal change, police forces have not modernized their philosophical frame of reference. In a number of countries of the Hemisphere, the police philosophy is still tied to the concept of public order, with the security of the State as the first priority, over the needs of the individuals or groups that make up society. In traditional police literature in the region, human rights are at most mentioned only in passing and they are never tied in with what are understood to be the values or principles of police work. For a police force to aspire to be respectful of human rights, it should not only be trained in human rights theory but it should also organize itself, select its personnel, train constantly and perform its professional functions to ensure the observance of the human rights of the public it serves.
81. On the other hand, in most countries of the region, the territorial and functional deployment of police forces follows a reactive model and disregards the proactive model of police work that focuses especially on prevention and deterrence of violence and crime. Rounding out the picture, the human and material resources of the police are often not distributed to be responsive to the real needs of the public. A large percentage of a police force is assigned to deskwork or as support to other public institutions or private entities that have no relationship –direct or indirect- to citizen security. Thus, large sectors of society continue to demand that the number of police be increased to deal with violence and crime. In many cases, however, the number of police in the Hemisphere is well above the internationally accepted ratio of police per inhabitant. In reality, the problem is attributable to an inefficient distribution of police officers to effectively discharge the police’s security functions, and to the model of police work historically used in the region.
82. The functions of prevention, deterrence and suppression of crime, especially organized crime, trafficking in persons or drug trafficking, require effective police officers who are highly trained in police investigation and intelligence work. They must also have the equipment and material resources needed to perform their job effectively. Within the Hemisphere, serious shortcomings are common in this respect, which fosters impunity, increases the sense of insecurity within the public and its mistrust of the institutions within the citizen security system. On the subject of police intelligence services, the Commission recalls that the Inter-American Court has held that
[t]hese agencies must, inter alia, be: a) respectful, at all times, of the fundamental rights of persons; and b) subject to control by civil authorities, including not only those of the executive branch, but also, insofar as pertinent, those of the other public powers. Measures to control intelligence activities must be especially rigorous because, given the conditions of secrecy under which these activities take place, they can drift toward committing violations of human rights and illegal criminal actions…
83. Police forces must have personnel and infrastructure specialized to provide quality services that meet the needs of those sectors of the population that are most vulnerable to violence and crime, such as women, children and adolescents, the indigenous population, Afro-descendents and migrants. The Commission has indicated that
[w]hile the doctrine of the Inter-American human rights system, like that of other human rights regimes, does not prohibit all distinctions in treatment in the enjoyment of protected rights and freedoms, it requires at base that any permissible distinctions be based upon objective and reasonable justification, that they further a legitimate objective, regard being had to the principles which normally prevail in democratic societies, and that the means are reasonable and proportionate to the end sought (...) The principle of equality may also sometimes require member states to take affirmative action as a temporary measure in order to diminish or eliminate conditions which cause or help to perpetuate discrimination, including vulnerabilities, disadvantages or threats encountered by particular groups such as minorities and women.
In this context, the situation of vulnerability of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals and the list of discrimination vis-à-vis violence and crime, deserves special attention. The Court, too, has been very clear about the scope of the principle of equality before the law:
the principle of equality before the law, equal protection before the law and non-discrimination belongs to jus cogens, because the whole legal structure of national and international public order rests on it and it is a fundamental principle that permeates all laws. Nowadays, no legal act that is in conflict with this fundamental principle is acceptable, and discriminatory treatment of any person, owing to gender, race, color, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic situation, property, civil status, birth or any other status is unacceptable. This principle (equality and non-discrimination) forms part of general international law. At the existing stage of the development of international law, the fundamental principle of equality and non-discrimination has entered the realm of jus cogens.
84. The Commission has addressed this issue on a number of occasions, noting that
public policy in the area of citizen security does not take into account the specific needs of women. Family and domestic violence particularly affect women but are not considered a public safety issue. Furthermore, we can see from the absence of studies or statistics on the prevalence of family or domestic violence and from the lack of information on the prevalence of sexual crimes that mostly affect women that the issue of violence against women is largely ignored.
The Commission believes that the police forces in the member states should be equipped with specialized services to treat women victims of violence and crime, with properly trained staff and with intervention protocols that enable them to work with other state and civil society organizations. In this way, the impact of the prevention measures will be all the greater and secondary victimization may be avoided, while also laying the groundwork for an effective investigation of the facts and to bring the responsible parties to justice.
85. The Commission also notes that, in the Americas, women serving on the police force do not as a rule receive equal and nondiscriminatory treatment with respect to their job-related rights, especially in regards to assignment of duty stations and posts or the opportunity to actually perform all the functions involved in police work. The international standards on this issue address three specific aspects: (1) "Access and appointment to the police service, (2) Equality of opportunity within the police service and (3) Deployment of women police.”
86. The makeup of a police force must be representative of each country’s social and cultural reality. Given the particular nature of the various societies within the Hemisphere, the Commission has had occasion to observe that a country has to maintain a multiethnic and multicultural police force, and take particular care to encourage members of indigenous peoples and women to participate in various agencies of the State. This requirement is specifically embodied in the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, which provides that “Every law enforcement agency should be representative of, and responsive and accountable to, the community as a whole.” The Commission has previously observed that the State institutions, including the police force, must have the elements to enable them to respond properly to everyone living within the country’s territory, respecting all cultural manifestations, among them the various languages and dialects in use. The Court, for its part, has developed an extensive body of case law and has ruled that:
There is an inseparable connection between the obligation to respect and guarantee human rights and the principle of equality and non-discrimination. States are obliged to respect and guarantee the full and free exercise of rights and freedoms without any discrimination. Non-compliance by the State with the general obligation to respect and guarantee human rights, owing to any discriminatory treatment, gives rise to its international responsibility.
87. As previously noted in this report, the main victims of violence in the Hemisphere are children and adolescents. In many countries of the region, violations of criminal law committed by persons under the age of eighteen take a serious toll on citizen-security-related human rights among large sectors of the population. Police interventions in these situations of heightened vulnerability require that member states adopt special practices and procedures to ensure the rights of this segment of the population. Since the Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force, international law recognizes that children and adolescents, like other persons, have the same rights as all other human beings, and that it is the States’ duty to promote and ensure them equal and effective protection; it is also recognized that certain groups, including children and adolescents, enjoy special legal protections and specific rights. It is not a matter of having public policy on citizen security afford different rights to children under the age of 18; instead it is a question of establishing additional protection for this sector of the population in their relations with the State, society and the family. This was the finding of the Inter-American Court when addressing the obligations of special protection that member states have undertaken. It provided that “This provision [Article 19 of the American Convention] must be construed as an added right which the Convention establishes for those who, because of their physical and emotional development, require special protection.”
88. In the same direction, based on the doctrine of integral protection, which the Convention on the Rights of the Child renders as the best interests of the child, the latter’s only possible interpretation is that each and every one of a child’s human rights must be respected and observed. In other words: all decisions taken by the family, society or the State that affect an individual under the age of eighteen will have to objectively consider the effective observance of all those rights, without exception. This was the understanding of the Inter-American Court where it held that “(…) the phrase “best interests of the child”, set forth in Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, entails that children’s development and full enjoyment of their rights must be considered as the guiding principles to establish and apply provisions pertaining to all aspects of children’s lives.” Any public policy on citizen security must bear in mind that the concept of best interests of a child or adolescent is no longer a subjective or imprecise concept left to the discretion of the adults to determine; instead it is an exact indicator of how the effective enjoyment of the rights of persons under the age of eighteen are ensured.
89. Historically, in the Commission’s view, the relationship between the police force and that sector of the population comprised of children and adolescents has been a complex one, always marked by pronounced problems in communication. In various countries of the region where the increase in the levels of violence and crime has sectors of the population demanding more repressive measures, the relationship between the police and young people has become even more difficult. Thus, where police business is concerned, the effectiveness of the special measures of protection depends on whether a proper framework of laws is in place that is consistent with international standards, and whether specially formed units are in place to intervene in situations involving minors under the age of 18 who are either victims or perpetrators of acts of violence or crime. The foregoing notwithstanding, all police personnel should receive basic training on how to conduct themselves in situations of this type; intervention protocols should be introduced, as should referral criteria and facilities for teamwork with other public institutions and civil society organizations.
90. Public policy on citizen security must devote special attention to the relationship between the police and migrants and their families, recognizing that migrant women, children and adolescents are the most vulnerable. In many countries of the region, migrants are stigmatized; large sectors of the population blame them for the increase in violence and crime. On the other hand, they are easy targets of crime and state and private violence. As for the international standards on the human rights of migrant persons, the Inter-American Court and the Inter-American Commission have established positions on: (1) the grounds for denying immigrants their freedom; (2) the guidelines for detention during immigration proceedings; (3) the rules of due process that must govern immigration proceedings; (4) the guarantee of the right to be represented by legal counsel to challenge decisions in cases of individual deportation and mass expulsion; and (5) access to the basic social rights in the case of undocumented immigrants, especially their basic labor rights. Often, these processes of exclusion play out in the context of the “partial integration” of documented immigrants whose rights are not recognized as fully as those who are citizens of a country. Compounding this are specific threats to the human rights of immigrants and their families, in the form of international human trafficking and the violence in border areas. The Court has held that
[m]igrants are generally in a vulnerable situation as subjects of human rights; they are in an individual situation of absence or difference of power with regard to non-migrants (nationals or residents). This situation of vulnerability has an ideological dimension and occurs in a historical context that is distinct for each State and is maintained by de jure (inequalities between nationals and aliens in the laws) and de facto (structural inequalities) situations. This leads to the establishment of differences in their access to the public resources administered by the State.
91. On the other hand, member states must take into account that the principles of equality before the law, equal protection of the law and non-discrimination must inform the system for protecting the labor rights of members of a police force. The Commission has had occasion to address the working conditions of police officers in the vast majority of the countries of the region and found that the “physical conditions under which they work are also not good, and some other aspects of their working conditions are deplorable. Salaries are also very low.” Among the positive measures to ensure the human rights associated with citizen security, member states must have a professional police force. Accordingly, rules and regulations to govern the police career service must be observed. The Commission has said that a true police career service should be created, and include rigorous training featuring instruction in police procedure and human rights, strict selection criteria and a promotion system. The necessary material resources to enable the police to perform their duties must be supplied, they should paid a decent wage that is commensurate with the job they perform and that attracts suitable recruits; lastly, excesses should be punished to purge the force of corrupt and criminal elements. At the same time, the police career service should also stipulate the requirements that must be present to discharge officers from the service and provide for pensions systems that ensure them a decent quality of life once they retire.
92. The most widely recognized literature in the region mentions the following among the rights of members of the police force: (1) fair pay that affords the police officer and his or her family a decent living, taking into account the dangers, responsibilities and stress that the police officer experiences every day in his or her work; (2) safety and hygiene on the job; (3) respect for working hours and the required psychological and physical support, with time off for relaxation and vacation that is proportionate to the toll that the constant stress of the job exacts; (4) following the orders of superiors when those orders are lawful; if not, the right to challenge the orders without having to face criminal or disciplinary sanctions for refusal to follow an unlawful order or one that violates human rights; (5) constant training that enables the police officer to perform his or her functions, and a police career service that will be an academic-professional underpinning of the cultural transformation. The men and women who serve on the police force must receive ongoing instruction and practical training in human rights, and thorough training and instruction in the area of tactical danger assessment, so that they are able to determine, in every situation, whether the use of force, including lethal force, is proportionate, necessary and lawful.
93. Also in regard to the rights that officers in a police force enjoy, it is crucial to consider the right to organize. Member States must guarantee members of the police force their right of association for defense of their professional rights, as prescribed by international law. A permanent balance must be maintained between the police officers’ right to associate for labor purposes and the member states’ fulfillment of the obligations they have undertaken with respect to the entire population under their jurisdiction, all in accordance with the international law of human rights. Striking this balance may mean that the organized labor activities of police officers may be subject to certain limitations or restrictions that do not apply to other workers, either in government or the private sector. These limitations or restrictions are unique to an institution governed by specific rules of discipline and hierarchy and by the needs of a democratic society. This report will elaborate upon this point when examining the right of freedom of association and its relationship to public policy on citizen security.
94. Another essential aspect of the professional career service for the police is the creation of systems that provide constant training and specialized instruction. The member states have an obligation to update the professional skills and practices of all police personnel. Working through competent institutions, they are to plan and put into practice courses, seminars and lectures and provide study materials, all intended to provide police officers with constant professional training, especially in those subjects or techniques that have changed or evolved the most. Police personnel should be afforded every opportunity to attend refresher courses and to pursue their education to a higher level in areas that are relevant to the police service. To keep these training activities and specialized instruction on the right track, the responsible authorities must periodically evaluate the professional skills and knowledge of police officers. When examining the situation of citizen security in the region, the Commission has reiterated that
(...) a good part of the problem lies in the highly inadequate training received by agents (…) Many of them never completed the preparatory phase of their training, which is generally superficial and bears little relation to what should be their primary function: the investigation and prosecution of crimes. The lack of proper training means that not only do they not have a clear idea of the importance of the law but also makes it difficult for them to operate within its framework. The habit of operating in a certain way, without any accountability for the abuses that they may commit, has created a pattern of behavior that is difficult to eradicate.
95. One of the main obstacles to proper fulfillment of the member states’ obligations with respect to the rights at stake in citizen security has been the lack of effective accountability systems to ensure transparent performance and enable the citizenry to exercise various types of oversight. The Commission made this point where it provided that “[c]itizen security is compromised (…) by the fact that there is no efficient police force that is respectful of human rights, dedicated to internal security, and thus enabling a rapprochement between police and the citizenry.” Thus, an institutional structure and human and material resources are essential for this type of performance; indicators must be devised and made public so that the entire population knows what they are; the means to verify compliance with the goals or objectives set within public policy on citizen security must also be clearly defined.
96. From the standpoint of the rules of conduct of a police force, the Commission observes that many countries of the region lack any clear-cut, established rules spelling out what the police can and cannot do in police interventions. In general, police procedures are subject to administrative regulation, through rules, guidelines or service orders. Only in a few, rare exceptions are police procedures spelled out by law. As the Commission noted earlier in this report, based on the case law of the Inter-American Court only law, in the formal sense and the material sense, can restrict or limit the exercise of human rights. Where there is no clear set of laws, rules and regulations available to the public and constituting the basis of the training and instruction that police officers receive, police officers are more likely to rely upon their own judgment. Such a situation invites violations and abuses of power.
97. In this sense, and according to the principle of legality, member states have an obligation to enact laws and comply with international law on the subject for strict regulation of police procedures. Such regulation is particularly important in cases where the police are called upon to act quickly, before the public prosecutor’s office or the competent court can examine all the facts. State agents must know and follow these rules to the letter. The State, for its part, must use every means within its power to ensure that these rules are brought to the public’s attention. The Inter-American Court cited the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s analysis of Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, where it held that
(…) Article 2 of the Covenant generally leaves it to the States parties concerned to choose their method of implementation in their territories within the framework set out in that article. It recognizes, in particular, that the implementation does not depend solely on constitutional or legislative enactments, which in themselves are often not per se sufficient. The Committee considers it necessary to draw the attention of States parties to the fact that the obligation under the Covenant is not confined to the respect of human rights, but that States parties have also undertaken to ensure the enjoyment of these rights to all individuals under their jurisdiction. This aspect calls for specific activities by the States parties to enable individuals to enjoy their rights (…) In this connection, it is very important that individuals should know what their rights under the Covenant (and the Optional Protocol, as the case may be) are and also that all administrative and judicial authorities should be aware of the obligations which the State party has assumed under the Covenant.
98. Likewise, the regulations governing police procedure must include codes of ethics or principles of police conduct. Accordingly, the law must spell out the internal disciplinary measures through which administrative due process is followed. The law must specify the conduct that would warrant a disciplinary reprimand, while also identifying the bodies that will prosecute the case, the procedures that must be followed to investigate each specific case, the penalties to be imposed, as well as the resources that the officer involved can use to challenge the decision. Naturally, this is notwithstanding any criminal liability that the police officer may have incurred, which would fall within the jurisdiction of the regular courts. A police disciplinary system that functions properly (with internal investigative agencies charged with prosecuting and, where appropriate, punishing conduct already classified as misdemeanors or more serious offenses) is an essential element in a modern, professional and democratic police force. A disciplinary system that affords all the constitutional guarantees and the protection of a speedy hearing is a basic incentive to those police officers who perform their functions dutifully, responsibly and lawfully. The quality of the police disciplinary system will be a primary factor in eradicating impunity and increasing public confidence in the State as a repository of public force, since the public will see that the conduct of the police is transparent, regulated and not arbitrary.
99. In the past, the Commission has addressed these issues, expressing its concern over the improper practices employed by some police forces, and over the State’s “lack of proper attention to the matter (…), since an honest police force that is professional in its approach, well trained and efficient is essential for gaining the confidence of citizens.” The Commission emphasized the point that as long as skepticism makes people reluctant to lodge complaints about criminal acts because they consider the police to be ill-equipped as an organization to conduct the necessary investigations, serious cases of taking justice into private hands will increase and, with them, impunity.” In order to combat this problem, the Commission has said that a true police career service must be created, including rigorous training, featuring instruction in police procedure and human rights, strict selection criteria and a promotion system. The necessary material resources to enable the police to perform their duties must be supplied; they should be paid a decent wage that is commensurate with the job they perform and that attracts suitable recruits; lastly, excesses should be punished to purge the force of corrupt and criminal elements.
5. The intervention of the armed forces in the work of citizen security
100. One of the Commission’s central concerns with respect to the actions that the member states have taken as part of their policy on citizen security is the following: the involvement of the armed forces in professional tasks that, given their nature, fall strictly with the purview of the police force. The Commission has repeatedly observed that the armed forces are not properly trained to deal with citizen security; hence the need for an efficient civilian police force, respectful of human rights and able to combat citizen insecurity, crime and violence on the domestic front.
101. The Commission’s concern over this situation, which occurs in various countries of the region, also is linked to the functioning of the democratic system of government, since
in a democratic system it is essential to make a clear and precise distinction between internal security as a function for the police and national defense as a function for the armed forces, since they are two substantively different institutions, insofar as the purposes for which they were created and their training and preparation are concerned. The history of the Hemisphere shows that, broadly speaking, the intervention of the armed forces in internal security matters is accompanied by violations of human rights in violent circumstances.
102. A public policy on citizen security that becomes an efficient tool enabling member states to properly perform their obligations of respecting and ensuring the human rights of all persons subject to their jurisdiction, must have functioning institutions and a professional structure suited to those ends. The distinction between the functions of the armed forces, which are limited to defending national sovereignty, and the functions of the police, which has exclusive responsibility in the matter of citizen security, is an essential premise that cannot be overlooked when devising and implementing public policy on citizen security. The Court has held that “(...) the States must restrict to the maximum extent the use of armed forces to control domestic disturbances, since they are trained to fight against enemies and not to protect and control civilians, a task that is typical of police forces.”
103. Within the region, it is sometimes suggested –or even carried out directly- that military troops take over internal security based on the argument that violence or criminal acts are on the rise. The Commission has also addressed this point, stating that arguments of this type “confuse the concepts of public security and national security, when there is no doubt that the level of ordinary crime, however high this may be, does not constitute a military threat to the sovereignty of the State.”
104. One particularly serious issue is that in some countries of the region, the armed forces’ participation in matters of internal security is obvious from the fact that they are deployed nationwide as part of a strategy whose main objective is to increase troop visibility by means of preventive or deterrent patrols; more troubling still is the fact that the armed forces also have a hand in criminal investigations and intelligence gathering. The Commission has observed that in some cases, the armed forces “continue participating in the investigation of crimes – in particular in cases related to drug-trafficking and organized crime – immigration control, and civilian intelligence tasks.” If a democratic system of government is to function properly, these kinds of activities should be the purview of the civilian police force, subject to the necessary scrutiny by the legislature and, if need be, the judicial branch.
105. In the final analysis, issues that have to do with citizen security are the exclusive purview of the civilian police force, which is to be organized and trained in the manner described in this report. The Inter-American Commission concurs with the following: “The State must be ready and willing to deal with conflicts through peaceful means, as this is an axiom of citizen security which holds that differences arise between citizens who are to be protected, not between enemies one has to fight.”
 Abramovich, Víctor and Courtis, Christian. Apuntes sobre la exigibilidad judicial de los derechos sociales, 2005, available at http://www.juragentium.unifi.it/es/surveys/latina/courtis.htm.
 I/A Court H.R., Velásquez Rodríguez v. Honduras Case. Judgment of July 29, 1988. Series C No. 4, paragraph 166; and Godínez Cruz v. Honduras Case. Judgment of January 20, 1989. Series C No. 5, paragraph 175.
 I/A Court H.R., Castillo Petruzzi et al. v. Peru Case. Judgment of May 30, 1999. Series C No. 52, paragraph 207; Baena Ricardo et al. v. Panama Case. Preliminary Objections. Judgment of November 28, 2003. Series C No. 104, paragraph 180; Cantoral Benavides v. Peru Case. Merits. Judgment of August 18, 2000. Series C No. 69, paragraph 178; La Cantuta v. Peru Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 29, 2006. Series C No. 162, paragraph 172.
 Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Pacta sunt servanda: “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.” Article 27: “Internal law and observance of treaties. A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty. This rule is without prejudice to Article 46.” Article 31. General rule of interpretation: “1. A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose. 2. The context for the purpose of the interpretation of a treaty shall comprise, in addition to the text, including its preamble and annexes: (a) any agreement relating to the treaty which was made between all the parties in connection with the conclusion of the treaty; (b) any instrument which was made by one or more parties in connection with the conclusion of the treaty and accepted by the other parties as an instrument related to the treaty. 3. There shall be taken into account, together with the context: (a) any subsequent agreement between the parties regarding the interpretation of the treaty or the application of its provisions; (b) any subsequent practice in the application of the treaty which establishes the agreement of the parties regarding its interpretation; (c) any relevant rules of international law applicable in the relations between the parties. 4. A special meaning shall be given to a term if it is established that the parties so intended. In its case law, the Court has established the content and scope of the rule of pacta sunt servanda in relation to the international obligations undertaken by the States in the matter of human rights.” On this specific point, the Court has held that “(…) the promulgation of a law that manifestly violates the obligations assumed by a state upon ratifying or acceding to the Convention constitutes a violation of that treaty and, if such violation affects the guaranteed rights and liberties of specific individuals, gives rise to international responsibility for the state in question…the enforcement of a law manifestly in violation of the Convention by agents or officials of a state results in international responsibility for that state. If the enforcement in question constitutes an international crime, it will also subject the agents or officials who execute it to international responsibility.” I/A Court H.R., Advisory Opinion OC-14/94, December 9, 1994, Series A No. 14, paragraphs 50 and 57.
 I/A Court H.R., “Mapiripán Massacre” v. Colombia Case. Judgment of September 15, 2005. Series C No. 134, paragraph 108; and Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006, Series C No. 140, paragraph 111.
 I/A Court of H.R, “Mapiripán Massacre” v. Colombia Case. Judgment of September 15, 2005. Series C No. 134, paragraphs 111 and 112; Moiwana Community v. Suriname Case. Judgment of June 15, 2005. Series C No. 124, paragraph 211; Gómez Paquiyauri Brothers v. Peru Case. Judgment of July 8, 2004. Series C No. 110, paragraph 91; 19 Merchants v. Colombia Case. Judgment of July 5, 2004. Series C No. 109, paragraph 183; Maritza Urrutia v. Guatemala Case. Judgment of November 27, 2003. Series C No. 103, paragraph 71; Bulacio v. Argentina Case. Judgment of September 18, 2003. Series C No. 100, paragraph 111. Also, in its Advisory Opinion on the Juridical Condition and Rights of Undocumented Migrants the Court established that “[…]the obligation to respect human rights between individuals should be taken into consideration. That is, the positive obligation of the State to ensure the effectiveness of the protected human rights gives rise to effects in relation to third parties (erga omnes). This obligation has been developed in legal writings, and particularly by the Drittwirkung theory, according to which fundamental rights must be respected by both the public authorities and by individuals with regard to other individuals. I/A Court H.R. “Juridical Condition and Rights of Undocumented Migrants” Advisory Opinion OC-18/03 of 17 September 2003, Series A No. 18, paragraph 140. The Court took into account similar considerations when issuing provisional measures to protect groups and communities from acts of violence or threats by State agents and third parties.
 I/A Court H.R, Velásquez Rodríguez v. Honduras Case. Judgment of July 29, 1988, Series C No. 4, paragraph 166; Perozo et al. v. Venezuela Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations, and Costs. Judgment of January 28, 2009. Series C No. 195, paragraph 149; Case of Anzualdo-Castro v. Peru. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of September 22, 2009. Series C No. 202, paragraph 63; Case of González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205, paragraph 252.
 I/A Court H.R, González et al. (“cotton field”) v. Mexico Case. Series C No. 205, Judgment November 16, 2009, paragraph 280; Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006. Series C No. 140, paragraph 123; Indigenous Community Sawhoyamaxa v. Paraguay Case. Judgment of March 29, 2006. Series C No. 146, paragraph 155; and Valle-Jaramillo and et al. v. Colombia Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 27, 2008. Series C No. 192, paragraph 78. See also ECHR, Case of Kiliç v. Turkey, Judgment of 28 March 2000, paragraphs 62 and 63 y ECHR, Case of Osman v. the United Kingdom, Judgment of 28 October 1998, paragraphs 115 and 116.
 I/A Court H.R., Baldeón García v. Peru Case. Judgment of April 6, 2006. Series C No. 147, paragraph 81; Indigenous Community Sawhoyamaxa v. Paraguay Case. Judgment of March 29, 2006. Series C No. 146, paragraph 154; and Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006. Series C No. 140, paragraph 111.
 I/A Court H.R., The “Street Children” v. Guatemala Case (Villagrán Morales et al.). Judgment of November 19, 1999. Series C No. 63, paragraph 144; Miguel Castro-Castro Prison v. Peru Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 25, 2006. Series C No. 160, paragraph 237; and Vargas-Areco v. Paraguay Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of September 26, 2006. Series C No. 155, paragraph 75.
 I/A Court H.R., Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006. Series C No. 140, paragraph 120; Miguel Castro-Castro Prison v. Peru Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 25, 2006. Series C No. 160, paragraph 237; and Vargas-Areco v. Paraguay Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of September 26, 2006. Series C No. 155, paragraph 75.
 European Court of Human Rights, Kiliç v. Turkey, Judgment of 28 March 2000, Application No. 22492/93, paragraphs 62 and 63; Osman v. the United Kingdom Judgment of 28 October 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-VIII, paragraphs 115 y 116.
 I/A Court H.R., Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006. Series C No. 140, paragraph 142; Heliodoro-Portugal v. Panama Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations, and Costs. Judgment of August 12, 2008. Series C No. 186, paragraph 115; and Perozo et al. v. Venezuela Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations, and Costs. Judgment of January 28, 2009. Series C No. 195, paragraph 298.
 I/A Court H.R., “Mapiripán Massacre” v. Colombia Case. Judgment of September 15, 2005. Series C No. 134, paragraph 219; Moiwana Community v. Suriname Case. Judgment of June 15, 2005. Series C No. 124, paragraph 147; and Serrano Cruz Sisters v. El Salvador Case. Judgment of March 1, 2005. Series C No. 120, paragraph 63.
 I/A Court H.R., González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico Case. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205, paragraph 291; Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006. Series C No. 140, paragraph 145; and Kawas-Fernández v. Honduras Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of April 3, 2009. Series C No. 196, paragraph 78.
 I/A Court H.R., Massacre of Pueblo Bello v. Colombia Case. Judgment of January 31, 2006. Series C No. 140, paragraph 143; Heliodoro-Portugal v. Panama Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations, and Costs. Judgment of August 12, 2008. Series C No. 186, paragraph 144; and Valle-Jaramillo and et al. v. Colombia Case. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 27, 2008. Series C No. 192, paragraph 101.
 I/A Court H.R., Barrios Altos v. Peru Case. Judgment of March 14, 2001. Series C No. 75, paragraph 41; Almonacid-Arellano et al. v. Chile Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of September 26, 2006. Series C No. 154, paragraph 112; and Ituango Massacres v. Colombia Case. Judgment of July 1, 2006. Series C No. 148, paragraph 402.
 I/A Court H.R., Almonacid-Arellano et al. v. Chile Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of September 26, 2006. Series C No. 154 paragraph 111.
 I/A Court H.R., Almonacid-Arellano et al. v. Chile Case. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of September 26, 2006. Series C No. 154, paragraph 119.
 Article 1 of the Convention of Belém do Pará.
 In its Judgment in the Case of Gonzalez et al., the Court determined that the acts of violence at issue formed the context of the murder of women committed in Juarez City, Mexico, that had been addressed in reports issued by the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the IACHR, CEDAW, Amnesty International and in acknowledgements of the State itself before international organs in the sense that many bore the hallmarks of gender-related violence. I/A Court H.R., González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico Case. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205.
 I/A Court H.R., González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico Case. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205, paragraph 293.
 IACHR, Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence in the Americas, OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc. 68, 20 January 2007.
 I/A Court H.R., González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico Case. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205, paragraph 400.
 I/A Court H.R., González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico Case. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205, paragraph 402.
 I/A Court H.R., González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico Case. Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of November 16, 2009. Series C No. 205, paragraph 258.
 United Nations “Violence against women in the family Report of Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences”, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1995/85, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1999/68, 10 March 1999, paragraph 25.
 IACHR, Press Release 18/06 of May 17, 2006; Press Release 39/06 of October 31, 2006, and Press Release 36/07, of July 20, 2007.
 IACHR, Annual Report 2003, Chapter IV, paragraph 34.
 "A Human Rights Based Approach To Development Cooperation. Towards a Common Understanding Among UN Agencies" available at http:www.undg.org/archive_docs/3069-Common_understanding_of_a_rights-based_approach.doc.
Garretón, Roberto, "La perspectiva de los derechos humanos en el
diseño y ejecución de las políticas públicas" in El enfoque de los
derechos humanos en las políticas públicas, Comisión Andina de
 Jiménez Benítez, William G., “El enfoque de los derechos humanos y las políticas públicas” available at http://www.usergioarboleda.edu.co/civilizar/revista12/enfoque_DDHH.pdf.
 "On the other hand, the studies on the rights-based approach and public policies come to the following conclusions: human rights are the ethical foundation for formulation and execution of public policy. Human rights are the object of public policy to the extent that these policies seek the materialization, protection or defense of socially relevant situations that imply a violation or infringement of human rights." Jiménez Benítez, William, G. “El enfoque de los derechos humanos y las políticas públicas” available at http://www.usergioarboleda.edu.co/civilizar/revista12/enfoque_DDHH.pdf.
 IACHR, Press Release No. 16/07 “IACHR Calls upon States to Reflect on the Importance of Public Security and Respect for Human Rights”, Washington, D.C., March 15, 2007.
 Faroppa Fontana, Juan “La gestión de la seguridad ciudadana con enfoque de derechos humanos”, in Derechos Humanos en el Uruguay - Informe 2007, Servicio Paz y Justicia, Montevideo, 2007, pp. 58-60.
 "Commitment to Public Security in the Americas" approved at the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas,” Mexico, October 7 and 8, 2008, OEA/Ser.K/XLIX.1.MISPA/doc. 7/08 rev. 3, October 8, 2008, paragraphs 6 and 9.
 I/A Court H.R., Advisory Opinion OC-6/86 of 9 May 1986, Series A No.6: “(...)The "laws" referred to in Article 30 are, therefore, normative acts directed towards the general welfare, passed by a democratically elected legislature and promulgated by the Executive Branch. This meaning is fully consistent with the general context of the Convention, in line with the philosophy of the inter-American system. Only formal law, as the Court understands that term, can restrict the enjoyment and exercise of the rights recognized by the Convention (...) That the word "laws" in Article 30 of the Convention means a general legal norm tied to the general welfare, passed by democratically elected legislative bodies established by the Constitution, and formulated according to the procedures set forth by the constitutions of the States Parties for that purpose.”
 This eventuality was already anticipated in one of history’s first declarations of human rights, the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen” of 1789, Article 4 of which provided that “[l]iberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights.”
 "Any lawful limitation or restriction in favour of the whole community –consequently, the protection of the public interest- should be above the individual interest; the measure of the public interest should define the extent of the restriction of freedom, so that the legality of the restriction should be limited by the importance of the interest of the community […] Limitations or restrictions imposed on the basis of promoting the “general welfare in a democratic society" are provided for in the Universal Declaration, Article 29, paragraph 2; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 4] are particularly relevant to the right to own property, protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [Article 17]. “Freedom of the Individual Under Law: a Study on the Individual's Duties to the Community and the Limitations on Human Rights and Freedoms under Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Erica-Irene A. Daes, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Human Rights Study Series No. 3, Geneva and New York, United Nations, 1990, paragraphs 257 and 258, p. 124.
 IACHR, Report on Terrorism and Human Rights, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.116.Doc. 5 rev. 1 corr., October 22, 2002, paragraphs 50 to 57.
 United Nations, "Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century", Tenth United Nations Conference on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, A/Conf.187/4/Rev.3. April 15, 2000.
 "The concept of crime prevention has taken on a much narrower meaning, to refer only to non-punitive measures. Today, therefore, crime prevention means any measure aimed at attacking the causal factors of crime, including opportunity." United Nations, "The Impact of Organised Criminal Activities Upon Society at Large: Report of the Secretary General", E/CN.15/1993/3, paragraphs 4 and 5.
 "Estimates are that every dollar spent on preventing violence saves up to six dollars in the cost of controlling and suppressing crime and dealing with its consequences." Buvinic, Mayra “Un balance de la violencia en América Latina: los costos y las acciones para la prevención” in Pensamiento Iberoamericano, Nueva Epoca, No. 0, Fundación Carolina, Madrid, 2007, p. 47.
 "Commitment to Public Security in the Americas" approved at the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas,” Mexico, October 7 and 8, 2008, paragraphs 7 and 8. OEA/Ser.K/XLIX 1 MISPA/doc.7/08 rev. 3, October 8, 2008. In their second meeting, States reaffirmed the importance of continuing with the adoption of policies, programs and steps toward prevention of crime, violence and insecurity while protecting young people and vulnerable groups at risk. See MISPA II doc. 8/09 rev. 2, November 5, 2009.
 See Dammert, Lucía, Perspectivas y dilemas de la seguridad ciudadana en América Latina, FLACSO Ecuador, 2007, pp. 25-44. On this subject, see also the Report of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children, United Nations, General Assembly, A/61/29, August 20, 2006. Available at http://www.unicef.org/violencestudy.
 United Nations, General Assembly, Resolution 40/34 of November 29, 1985.
 IACHR, Report No. 42/00,Case 11.103, Pedro Peredo Valderrama (Mexico), April 13, 2000.
 I/A Court H.R., The “Panel Blanca” v. Guatemala Case (Paniagua Morales et al). Judgment of March 8, 1998. Series C No. 37, paragraph 173.
 I/A Court H.R., Velásquez Rodríguez v. Honduras Case. Judgment of July 29, 1988. Series C No. 4, paragraph 166.
 IACHR, Statement by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Application and Scope of the Justice and Peace Law in Colombia, OEA/Ser/L/V/II.125- Doc. 15, 1 August 2006, paragraph 50.
 United Nations, General Assembly, Resolution 60/147, December 16, 2005.
 IACHR, Statement by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Application and Scope of the Justice and Peace Law in Colombia, OEA/Ser/L/V/II.125- Doc. 15, 1 August 2006, paragraph 35.
 IACHR, Report No. 25/09, Sebastião Camargo Filho (Brazil), paragraph 81; Report No. 54/01, Case 12.051, Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes (Brazil), 16 April 2001, paragraph 56.
 See IACHR Report No. 26/09, Case 12.440, Wallace de Almeida (Brazil), paragraph 146.
 See IACHR Report No. 26/09, Case 12.440, Wallace de Almeida (Brazil), paragraphs 147 and 148.
 I/A Court H.R., “Juridical Condition and Human Rights of the Child” Advisory Opinion OC-17/02 of 28 August 2002, paragraphs 137 and 136. In this opinion, which concerns the care of children and adolescents, the Court ruled that “the State must resort to institutions with adequate staff, appropriate facilities, suitable means, and proven experience in such tasks.” The Inter-American Court has indicated that “(…) no discrimination exists if the difference in treatment has a legitimate purpose and if it does not lead to situations which are contrary to justice, to reason or to the nature of things. It follows that there would be no discrimination in differences in treatment of individuals by a state when the classifications selected are based on substantial factual differences and there exists a reasonable relationship of proportionality between these differences and the aims of the legal rule under review. These aims may not be unjust or unreasonable, that is, they may not be arbitrary, capricious, despotic or in conflict with the essential oneness and dignity of humankind.” I/A Court H.R., Proposed Amendments of the Naturalization Provisions of the Constitution of Costa Rica, Advisory Opinion OC 4/84 of 19 January 1984, Series A No. 4, paragraph 57.
 IACHR, Press Release 20/04, September 18, 2004, “The IACHR Special Rapporteur Evaluates the Effectiveness of the Right of Women In Guatemala to Live Free from Violence and Discrimination.” See IACHR, Justice and social inclusion: The challenges of democracy in Guatemala, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.118 Doc. 5 rev. 1, 29 December 2003, [available in Spanish only], Chapter III, paragraph 112. See also IACHR, Report 1/98 (Case 11543 - Rolando Hernández Hernández), Mexico, May 5, 1998, paragraph 37.
 Curbet, Jaime “La prevención de la inseguridad ciudadana”, in II Foro Iberoamericano sobre seguridad ciudadana, violencia y políticas públicas en el ámbito local, Barcelona, Spain, 2008. Available at http:www.segib.org.
 Carrión, Fernando, citing Frigo, Edgardo, in “Seguridad privada: ¿ha mejorado la seguridad ciudadana?” Revista Ciudad Segura No. 19, FLACSO, Ecuador, 2007.
 IACHR, Justice and social inclusion: The challenges of democracy in Guatemala [only in Spanish], 2003, paragraph 110. See also Resolution 10/11 of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, 42nd session, March 26, 2009, on the “Working Group on the use of mercenaries to violate human Rights and obstruct the right of peoples to self-determination.” In this resolution, the Human Rights Council calls the working Group to make a consultation on the content and scope of a draft Convention on private firms offering military assistance, advice and services, linked to security and related model legislation and other legal instruments.
 United Nations, First Regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Impact of the Activities of Private Military and Security Companies in the Enjoyment of Human Rights: Regulation and Monitoring (December 17 to 18, 2007). UN General Assembly “Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development”, Report of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries as a Means of Violating Human Rights and Impeding the Exercise of the Right of Peoples to Self-determination, A/HRC/7/7/Add.5, March 5, 2008.
Álvarez, Alejandro, El estado de la seguridad en América Latina: una
aproximación a la evaluación situacional e institucional de la
seguridad ciudadana en la region, United Nations Development Programme
- SURF LAC, 2006, Available at
Saín, Marcelo Fabián “Seguridad, delito y crimen organizado. Los
desafíos de la modernización del sistema de seguridad policial en la
región sudamericana” in El desarrollo local en América Latina.
Logros y desafíos para la cooperación europea, José Luis Rhi-Sausi,
Editor, RECAL/CESPI/Nueva Sociedad, Caracas, 2004,
 “A basic function of government is to maintain peace and security within the borders of the State. As police are one of the means by which Governments fulfill this function, a law enforcement agency is a significant organ in the governance of a State (…) International legal obligations are translated into national legal obligations by the constitutional and legal arrangements of States. In this way, human rights are protected by domestic law. However, effective protection of human rights engages almost the entire range of government activity, including the activities of law- making, resource allocation, formulation of policies and practices, and the establishment of structures and systems throughout the machinery of government and within ancillary governmental organizations and agencies.” Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/ Centre for Human Rights Human Rights and Law Enforcement: A Manual on Human Rights Training for the Police, Professional Training Series No. 5, New York and Geneva, 1997, paragraphs 879 and 881.
 IACHR, Annual Report 2006, Chapter IV, paragraph 208.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.118, doc. 4 rev. 2, 29 December 2003, Chapter III: ”State Security: The Armed Forces and the Police,” paragraph 294.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.100, Doc. 7 rev. 1, September 24, 1998, Chapter V, paragraph 392.
 United Nations, Eighth United Nations Conference on Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, held in Havana (Cuba), August 27 to September 7, 1990, Consideranda 1 and 3.
 I/A Court H.R., Myrna Mack Chang v. Guatemala Case. Judgment of November 25, 2003. Series C No. 101, paragraph 284.
 IACHR, Report on Terrorism and Human Rights, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.116, Doc. 5 rev. 1 corr., 22 October 2002, paragraph 338.
 I/A Court H.R., Juridical Condition and Rights of the Undocumented Migrants. Advisory Opinion OC-18/03 of 17 September 2003, Series A No.18, paragraph 101.
 Press Release 20/04 of September 18, 2004. “The IACHR Special Rapporteur Evaluates the Effectiveness of the Right of Women In Guatemala to Live Free from Violence and Discrimination.”
 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/ Centre for Human Rights Human Rights and Law Enforcement: A Manual on Human Rights Training for the Police, Professional Training Series No. 5, New York and Geneva, 1997, paragraphs 747 to 754.
 IACHR, Justice and social inclusion: The challenges of democracy in Guatemala, paragraph 112.
 United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. Approved by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 34/169 of December 17, 1979.
 IACHR, Report No. 1/98, Case 11543, Rolando Hernández (Mexico), May 5, 1998, paragraph 37. “In addition, the statement made by the petitioners, not controverted by the State, that the parents of Atanasio and Rolando made statements to the competent authorities, without an interpreter, which was essential as they speak only the Otomí language, constitutes not only a violation of the judicial guarantees provided for in Article 8 of the American Convention, but it also represents a clear irregularity in the process, as they were unaware of the contents of the statement they signed before the Prosecutor’s Office.”
 I/A Court H.R., The Juridical Condition and Rights of Undocumented Migrants. Advisory Opinion, OC 18/03 of 17 September 2003, Series A No. 18, paragraph 85.
 United Nations, General Assembly Resolution 44/25 of November 20, 1989. The Convention entered into force on September 2, 1990. Specifically, the Convention on the Rights of the Child spells out guiding principles of interpretation, design of social policies, and verification of the manner in which States observe and respect each one of the protected rights. These guiding principles are: non-discrimination (Article 2); best interests of the child (Article 3); survival and development (Article 6), and participation (Article 12).
 Cillero Bruñol, Miguel “Infancia, Autonomía y Derechos: una cuestión de principios” in Derecho a tener derecho, Volume 4, UNICEF, IIN, Fundación A. Senna, p. 31.
 I/A Court H.R., “Juvenile Reeducation Institute” v. Paraguay Case. Judgment of September 2, 2004. Series C No. 112, paragraph 147 et seq.
 I/A Court H.R., Juridical Condition and Human Rights of the Child. Advisory Opinion OC-17/02 of August 28, 2002, Series A No. 17I, paragraph 137.
 "Perhaps it is easier to understand now that any diminishment of the degree of discretionary authority is directly proportional to the real instances of democracy in action. History and experience tell us that there is no single example that illustrates that discretionary authority (command over any type of subjective condition) has functioned effectively (as it should, if it is living up to its claims) to serve the weakest and most vulnerable sectors." García-Méndez, Emilio Infancia, ley y democracia en América Latina, Temis-Depalma, Santafe de Bogotá-Buenos Aires, 1999, p. 28. See also on this point General Comment No. 5 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 34th Session, 19 September to 3 October 2003: “General Measures of Implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, Articles 4 and 42, and paragraph 6 of Article 44, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CRC.GC.2003.5.En.
 International Organization for Migration (IOM), Los estándares internacionales en materia de derechos humanos y las políticas migratorias, report prepared in partnership with the Human Rights Center of the Universidad de Lanús (Argentina), Seventh South American Conference on Migration, Caracas, 2007, available at http://www.acnur.org/biblioteca/pdf/5577.pdf.
 I/A Court H.R., Juridical Condition and Rights of Undocumented Migrants. Advisory Opinion OC-18/03 of 17 September, 2003, Series A No. 18, paragraph 112.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, Chapter V, paragraph 391.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, paragraph 39.
 Domínguez Vial, Andrés Policía y Derechos Humanos, Policía de Investigaciones de Chile/IIDH, Santiago, 1996.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, Chapter V, paragraph 390.
 IACHR, Justice and social inclusion: The challenges of democracy in Guatemala, [available in Spanish only], paragraph 93.
 I/A Court H.R., Advisory Opinion OC 6/86 of 9 May 1986, Series A No. 6.
 Barcelona Llop, Javier Policía y Constitución, Tecnos S.A., Madrid, 1997. “In a democratic State, where it is assumed “that the legal system is based on the premise that rights and liberties are paramount, it is clear that law enforcement should, in the final analysis, see itself as protecting a normative system in which the essential point of reference are rights and freedoms (…) Police are not only bound to protect those rights and freedoms, but must also assume that everything they do is to be imbued with respect for those rights and freedoms. In other words, the system of rights and freedoms is the norm to which all police conduct must necessarily adhere.”
 I/A Court H.R., Juridical Condition and Rights of Undocumented Migrants. Advisory Opinion OC-18/03 of 17 September, 2003, Series A No. 18, paragraph 79, citing the Human Rights Committee, General Comment 3, Article 2 Implementation at the national level (Thirteenth session, 1981), Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1 at 4 (1994), paragraphs 1 and 2.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, paragraph 392.
 IACHR, Justice and social inclusion: The challenges of democracy in Guatemala, [available in Spanish only], paragraph 113.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela, paragraph 272.
 I/A Court H.R., Montero Aranguren et al. (Detention Center of Catia) v. Venezuela Case. Judgment of July 5, 2006. Series C No. 150, paragraph 78.
 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Mexico, paragraph 403.
 IACHR, Press Release 8/03, March 29, 2003
 Ramírez Ocampo, Augusto, Seguridad ciudadana y derechos humanos, Andean Commission of Jurists, Lima, 1999. On the same issue, High Commissioner Louise Arbour issued the following statement at the end of her mission to Mexico on 8 February 2008: “during my visit, I have seen and heard that the situation of human rights at the national level raises persistent concerns in a number of areas. Foremost amongst the issues brought to my attention has been the question of the use of the military to engage in law enforcement activities. I emphasize that it is the primary obligation of the State to protect and defend life and physical security. In a situation of serious challenges to the State's authority from heavily armed organized criminals and severe deficiencies in law enforcement agencies, including widespread corruption, I acknowledge the dilemma faced by the authorities in discharging their responsibility to protect. However, recourse to the military remains problematic, as it is fundamentally unsuited – in training, philosophy, equipment and outlook - to perform civilian law enforcement functions. The focus must be on devoting urgently the necessary resources for reinforcing civilian agencies that work with integrity and professionalism. In the meantime, civilian courts should have jurisdiction over the acts of military personnel performing law enforcement functions, and effective remedies must be available for human rights violations perpetrated by military personnel.” Available at http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/A2804F56E452D130C12573EC0057685B?opendocument.