RULES OF PROCEDURE
Article 1. Nature and
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ
of the Organization of
American States whose principal functions are to promote the observance
and defense of human rights and to serve as an advisory body to the
Organization in this area.
The Commission represents all the member states of the
The Commission is composed of seven members elected in their
individual capacity by the General Assembly of the Organization. They shall be persons of high
moral character and recognized competence in the field of human
Article 2. Duration of the Term of
The members of the Commission shall be elected for four years and
may be re-elected only once.
In the event that new members of the Commission have not been
elected to replace those completing their term of office, the latter shall
continue to serve until the new members are elected.
Article 3. Precedence
The members of the Commission shall follow the President and
Vice-Presidents in order of precedence according to their seniority in
office. When there are two or
more members with equal seniority, precedence shall be determined
according to age.
The position of member of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights is incompatible with the exercise of activities which could affect
the independence or impartiality of the member, or the dignity or prestige
of the office.
The Commission, with the affirmative vote of at least five of its
members, shall decide whether a situation of incompatibility exists.
The Commission, prior to taking a decision, shall hear the member
whose activities are claimed to be incompatible.
The decision with respect to the incompatibility, together with all
the background information, shall be sent to the General Assembly, through
the Secretary General of the Organization, for the purposes set forth in
Article 8(3) of the Commission's Statute.
Article 5. Resignation
The resignation of a
member of the Commission shall be submitted to the President of the
Commission in writing. The
President shall immediately notify the Secretary General of the OAS for
the appropriate purposes.
Article 6. Composition and
The Commission shall have as its board of officers a President, a
First Vice-President and a Second Vice-President, who shall perform the
functions set forth in these Rules of Procedure.
Article 7. Elections
Only members present shall participate in the election of each of
the officers referred to in the preceding article.
Elections shall be by secret ballot. However, with the unanimous
consent of the members present, the Commission may decide on another
The affirmative vote of an absolute majority of the members of the
Commission shall be required for election to any of the positions referred
to in Article 6.
Should it be necessary to hold more than one ballot for election to
any of these positions, the
names receiving the lowest number of votes shall be eliminated
Elections shall be held on the first day of the Commission's first
session of the calendar year.
Article 8. Duration of Term of
The term of office of the officers is one year. The term runs from the date of
their election until the elections held the following year for the new
board, pursuant to Article 7, paragraph 5. The members of the
board of officers may be re-elected to their respective positions only
once during each four-year period.
In the event that the term of office of a Commission member
expires, and he or she is President or Vice-President, the provisions of
Article 9, paragraphs 2 and 3 of these Rules of Procedure shall
Article 9. Resignation, Vacancy and
1. If a
member of the board of officers resigns from that position or ceases to be
a member of the Commission, the Commission shall fill the position at the
next period of sessions for the
remainder of the term of office.
The First Vice-President shall serve as President until the
Commission elects a new President under the provisions of paragraph 1 of
In addition, the First Vice-President shall replace the President
if the latter is temporarily unable to perform his or her duties. In the event of the absence or
disability of the First Vice-President, or if that position is vacant, the
Second Vice-President shall serve as President. In the event of the absence or
disability of the Second Vice-President, the member with the greatest
seniority according to Article 3 shall serve as President.
Article 10. Powers of the
powers of the President shall be:
represent the Commission before the other organs of the Organization and
b. to convoke
sessions of the Commission in accordance with the Statute and these Rules
c. to preside
over sessions of the Commission and submit to it for consideration all
matters appearing on the agenda of the work program approved for the
corresponding session; to decide the points of order raised during the
deliberations; and to submit matters to a vote in accordance with the
applicable provisions of these Rules of Procedure;
d. to give the
floor to the members in the order in which they have requested it;
e. to promote
the work of the Commission and oversee compliance with its
f. to present
a written report to the Commission at the beginning of its period of
sessions on what he or she has done during its recesses to carry out the
functions assigned to him or her by the Statute and these Rules of
seek compliance with the decisions of the Commission;
attend the meetings of the General Assembly of the OAS and other
activities related to the promotion and protection of human
to travel to the headquarters of the Commission and remain there
for as long as he or she considers necessary to carry out his or her
to designate special committees, ad hoc committees and
subcommittees composed of several members to carry out any mandate within
his or her area of competence; and,
perform any other functions that may be conferred upon him or her in these
Rules of Procedure or other
tasks entrusted to him or her by the Commission.
2 The President may delegate to one of the Vice-Presidents or to another member of the Commission the powers specified in paragraphs (a), (h) and (k).
Article 11. Composition
The Executive Secretariat of the Commission shall be composed of an
Executive Secretary and at least one Assistant Executive Secretary, with
the professional, technical and administrative staff needed to carry out
Article 12. Powers of the Executive
powers of the Executive Secretary shall be:
direct, plan, and coordinate the work of the Executive Secretariat;
prepare, in consultation with the President, the draft program-budget of
the Commission, which shall be governed by the budgetary provisions in
force for the OAS, and with respect to which he or she shall report to the
prepare the draft work program for each session in consultation with the
advise the President
and members of the Commission in the performance of their duties;
present a written report to the Commission at the beginning of each period
of sessions on the activities of the Secretariat since the preceding
period of sessions, and on any general matters that may be of interest to
the Commission; and,
implement the decisions entrusted to him or her by the Commission or its
The Assistant Executive Secretary shall replace the Executive
Secretary in the event of his or her absence or disability. In the absence or disability of
both, the Executive Secretary or the Assistant Executive Secretary, as the
case may be, shall designate one of the specialists of the Executive
Secretariat as a temporary replacement.
The Executive Secretary, Assistant Executive Secretary and staff of
the Secretariat must observe the strictest discretion in all matters the
Commission considers confidential.
Article 13. Functions of the Executive
Secretariat shall prepare the draft reports, resolutions, studies and any
other work entrusted to it by the Commission or by the President. In addition, it shall receive
and process the
correspondence, petitions and communications addressed to the
Commission. The Executive
Secretariat may also request that interested parties provide any
information it deems relevant, in
accordance with the provisions of these Rules of Procedure.
Article 14. Periods of
The Commission shall hold at least two regular periods of sessions
per year for the duration previously determined by it and as many special
sessions as it deems necessary. Prior to the conclusion of
each period of sessions, the date and place of the next period shall be
The sessions of the Commission shall be held at its
headquarters. However, the
Commission may decide to meet elsewhere, pursuant to the vote of an
absolute majority of its members and with the consent or at the invitation
of the State concerned.
Each period of sessions shall consist of the number of sessions
necessary to carry out its activities. The sessions shall be
confidential, unless the Commission determines otherwise.
Any member who because of illness or for any other serious reason
is unable to attend all or part of any session of the Commission, or to
fulfill any other function, shall notify the Executive Secretary to this
effect as soon as possible.
The Executive Secretary shall so inform the President and ensure
that those reasons appear in the record.
Article 15. Rapporteurships and Working
The Commission may create rapporteurships to better fulfill its functions. The rapporteurs shall be
designated by the vote of an absolute majority of the members of the
Commission and may be Commission members or other persons. The Commission
shall determine the characteristics of the mandate entrusted to each
rapporteurship. The rapporteurs shall periodically present their work
plans to the plenary of the Commission.
The Commission may also create working groups or committees to
prepare its periods of sessions or to carry out special programs or
projects. The Commission
shall constitute working groups as it sees fit.
Article 16. Quorum for
The presence of an absolute majority of the members of the
Commission shall be necessary to constitute a quorum.
Article 17. Discussion and
The sessions shall conform primarily to the Rules of Procedure and
secondarily to the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Procedure of the
Permanent Council of the OAS.
Members of the Commission may not participate in the discussion,
investigation, deliberation or decision of a matter submitted to the
Commission in the following cases:
they are nationals of the State which is the subject of the Commission's
general or specific consideration, or if they were accredited or carrying
out a special mission as diplomatic agents before that State; or,
they have previously participated in any capacity in a decision concerning
the same facts on which the matter is based or have acted as an adviser
to, or representative of any of the parties interested in the
3. If a member
considers that he or she should abstain from participating in the study or
decision of a matter, that
member shall so inform the Commission, which shall decide if the
disqualification is warranted.
member may raise the issue of the
disqualification of another member on the basis of the grounds set
forth in paragraph 2 of this article.
When the Commission is not meeting in regular or special session,
the members may deliberate and decide on matters within their competence
by the means they consider appropriate.
Article 18. Special Quorum to take
The Commission shall decide the following matters by an absolute
majority vote of its members:
election of the board
of officers of the Commission;
interpretation of the application of these Rules of
c. adoption of
a report on the situation of human rights in a specific state; and,
matters where such a majority is required under the provisions of the
American Convention, the Statute or these Rules of Procedure.
In respect of other matters, the vote of the majority of the
members present shall be sufficient.
Article 19. Explanation of
Whether or not members agree with the decision of the majority,
they shall be entitled to present a written explanation of their vote,
which shall be included following the text of that decision.
If the decision concerns the approval of a report or preliminary
report, the explanation of the vote shall be included following the text
of that report or preliminary report.
When the decision does not appear in a separate document, the
explanation of the vote shall be included in the minutes of the meeting,
following the decision in question.
Article 20. Minutes of the
Summary minutes shall be taken of each session. They shall state the day and time
at which it was held, the names of the members present, the matters dealt
with, the decisions taken, and any statement made by a member especially
for inclusion in the minutes.
These minutes are confidential internal working
2. The Executive Secretariat shall distribute copies of the summary minutes of each session to the members of the Commission, who may present their observations to the Secretariat prior to the period of sessions at which those minutes are to be approved. If there has been no objection as of the beginning of that period of sessions, the minutes shall be considered approved.
Article 21. Compensation for Special
Pursuant to the
approval of an absolute majority of its members, the Commission may
entrust any member with the preparation of a special study or other
specific work to be carried out individually outside the sessions. Such work shall be compensated in
accordance with the funds available in the budget. The amount of the fees shall be
set on the basis of the number of days required for the preparation and
drafting of the work.
Article 22. Official
The official languages of the Commission shall be Spanish, French,
English and Portuguese. The
working languages shall be those decided on by the Commission every two
years, in accordance with the languages spoken by its members.
Any member of the Commission may dispense with the interpretation
of debates and preparation of documents in his or her language.
Article 23. Presentation of
Any person or group of persons or nongovernmental entity legally
recognized in one or more of the member states of the OAS may submit
petitions to the Commission, on
their own behalf or on behalf of third persons, concerning alleged
violations of a human right recognized in, as the case may be, the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American
Convention on Human Rights, the Additional Protocol in the Area of
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Protocol to Abolish the Death
Penalty, the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, the
Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, and/or the
Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of
Violence Against Women, in
accordance with their respective provisions, the Statute of the
Commission, and these Rules of Procedure. The petitioner may designate an
attorney or other person to represent him or her before the Commission,
either in the petition itself or in another writing.
Article 24. Consideration Motu Proprio
The Commission may also,
motu proprio, initiate the
processing of a petition which, in its view, meets the necessary
Article 25. Precautionary
In serious and urgent cases, and whenever necessary according to
the information available, the Commission may, on its own initiative or at
the request of a party, request that the State concerned adopt
precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons.
If the Commission is not in session, the President, or, in his or
her absence, one of the Vice-Presidents, shall consult with the other
members, through the Executive Secretariat, on the application of the
provision in the previous paragraph.
If it is not possible to consult within a reasonable period of time
under the circumstances, the President or, where appropriate, one of the
Vice-President shall take the decision on behalf of the Commission and
shall so inform its members.
The Commission may request information from the interested parties
on any matter related to the adoption and observance of the precautionary
The granting of such measures and their adoption by the State shall
not constitute a prejudgment on the merits of a case.
Article 26. Initial Review
Executive Secretariat of the Commission shall be responsible for the study
and initial processing of petitions lodged before the Commission that
fulfill all the requirements set forth in the Statute and in Article 28 of
these Rules of Procedure.
If a petition or communication does not meet the requirements
called for in these Rules of Procedure, the Executive Secretariat may
request that the petitioner or his or her representative satisfy those
that have not been fulfilled.
If the Executive Secretariat has any doubt as to whether the
requirements referred to have been met, it shall consult the
Article 27. Condition for Considering the
The Commission shall consider petitions regarding alleged
violations of the human rights enshrined in the American Convention on
Human Rights and other applicable instruments, with respect to the member
states of the OAS, only when the petitions fulfill the requirements set
forth in those instruments, in the Statute, and in these Rules of
Article 28. Requirements for the Consideration
Petitions addressed to the Commission shall contain the following
name, nationality and signature of the person or persons making the
denunciation; or in cases where the petitioner is a nongovernmental
entity, the name and signature of its legal representative(s);
whether the petitioner wishes that his or her identity be withheld
from the State;
address for receiving correspondence from the Commission and, if
available, a telephone number, facsimile number, and email
account of the act or situation that is denounced, specifying the place
and date of the alleged violations;
possible, the name of the victim and of any public authority who has taken
cognizance of the fact or situation alleged;
State the petitioner considers responsible, by act or omission, for the
violation of any of the human rights recognized in the American Convention
on Human Rights and other applicable instruments, even if no specific
reference is made to the article(s) alleged to have been violated;
compliance with the time period provided for in Article 32 of these
Rules of Procedure;
steps taken to exhaust domestic remedies, or the impossibility of doing so
as provided in Article 31 of these Rules of Procedure; and,
an indication of whether the complaint has been submitted to
another international settlement proceeding as provided in Article 33 of
these Rules of Procedure.
Article 29. Initial
The Commission, acting initially through the Executive Secretariat,
shall receive and carry out the initial processing of the petitions
presented as follows:
shall receive the petition, register it, record the date of receipt on the
petition itself and acknowledge receipt to the petitioner;
the petition does not meet the requirements of these Rules of Procedure,
it may request that the petitioner or his or her representative complete
them in accordance with Article 26(2) of these Rules ;
the petition sets forth distinct facts, or if it refers to more than one
person or to alleged violations not interconnected in time and place, the
claims may be divided and processed separately, so long as all the
requirements of Article 28 of these Rules of Procedure are met;
two or more petitions address similar facts, involve the same persons, or
reveal the same pattern of conduct, they may be joined and processed
the situations provided for in subparagraphs c and d, it shall give
written notification to petitioners.
In serious or urgent cases, the Executive Secretariat shall
immediately notify the Commission.
Article 30. Admissibility
The Commission, through its Executive Secretariat, shall process
the petitions that meet the requirements set forth in Article 28 of these
Rules of Procedure .
For this purpose, it shall forward the relevant parts of the
petition to the State in question. The identity of the petitioner shall
not be revealed without his or her express authorization. The request to the State for
information shall not constitute a prejudgment with regard to any decision
the Commission may adopt on the admissibility of the petition.
The State shall submit its response within two months counted from
the date the request is transmitted. The Executive Secretariat shall
evaluate requests for extensions of this period that are duly
founded. However, it shall
not grant extensions that exceed three months from the date of the first
request for information sent to the State.
In serious or urgent cases, or when it is believed that the life or
personal integrity of a person is in real or imminent danger, the
Commission shall request the promptest reply from the State, using for
this purpose the means it considers most expeditious.
Prior to deciding upon the admissibility of the petition, the
Commission may invite the parties to submit additional observations,
either in writing or in a hearing, as provided for in Chapter VI of these
Rules of Procedure.
Once the observations have been received or the period set has
elapsed with no observations received, the Commission shall verify whether
the grounds for the petition exist or subsist. If it considers that they do not
exist or subsist, it shall order the case archived.
Article 31. Exhaustion of Domestic
In order to decide on the admissibility of a matter, the Commission
shall verify whether the remedies of the domestic legal system have been
pursued and exhausted in accordance with the generally recognized
principles of international law.
provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not apply when:
domestic legislation of the State concerned does not afford due process of
law for protection of the right or rights that have allegedly been
party alleging violation of his or her rights has been denied access to
the remedies under domestic law or has been prevented from exhausting
has been unwarranted delay in rendering a final judgment under the
When the petitioner contends that he or she is unable to prove
compliance with the requirement indicated in this article, it shall be up
to the State concerned to demonstrate to the Commission that the remedies
under domestic law have not been previously exhausted, unless that is
clearly evident from the record.
Article 32. Deadline for the Presentation of
The Commission shall consider those petitions that are lodged
within a period of six-months following the date on which the alleged
victim has been notified of the decision that exhausted the domestic
In those cases in which the exceptions to the requirement of prior
exhaustion of domestic remedies are applicable, the petition shall be
presented within a reasonable period of time, as determined by the
Commission. For this purpose,
the Commission shall consider the date on which the alleged violation of
rights occurred and the circumstances of each case.
Article 33. Duplication of
The Commission shall not consider a petition if its subject
pending settlement pursuant to another procedure before an international
governmental organization of which the State concerned is a member;
essentially duplicates a petition pending or already examined and
settled by the Commission or by another international governmental
organization of which the State concerned is a member.
However, the Commission shall not refrain from considering
petitions referred to in paragraph 1 when:
procedure followed before the other organization is limited to a general
examination of the human rights situation in the State in question and
there has been no decision on the specific facts that are the subject of
the petition before the Commission, or it will not lead to an effective
petitioner before the Commission or a family member is the alleged victim
of the violation denounced and the petitioner before the other
organization is a third party or a nongovernmental entity having no
mandate from the former.
Article 34. Other Grounds for
The Commission shall declare any petition or case inadmissible
does not state facts that tend to establish a violation of the rights
referred to in Article 27 of these Rules of Procedure;
statements of the petitioner or of the State indicate that it is
manifestly groundless or out of order; or,
supervening information or evidence presented to the Commission
reveals that a matter is inadmissible or out of order.
Article 35. Desistance
The petitioner may at any time desist from his or her petition or
case, to which effect he or she must so state in writing to the
Commission. The statement by the petitioner shall be analyzed by the
Commission, which may archive the petition or case if it deems this
appropriate, or continue to process it in the interest of protecting a
Article 36. Working Group on
A working group shall meet prior to each regular session in order
to study the admissibility of petitions and make recommendations to the
plenary of the Commission.
Article 37. Decision on
Once it has considered the positions of the parties, the Commission
shall make a decision on the admissibility of the matter. The reports on admissibility and
inadmissibility shall be public and the Commission shall include them in
its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the OAS.
When an admissibility report is adopted, the petition shall be
registered as a case and the proceedings on the merits shall be
initiated. The adoption of an
admissibility report does not constitute a prejudgment as to the merits of
In exceptional circumstances, and after having requested
information from the parties in keeping with the provisions of Article 30
of these Rules of Procedure, the Commission may open a case but defer its
treatment of admissibility until the debate and decision on the
merits. The case shall be
opened by means of a written communication to both parties.
Article 38. Procedure on the
Upon opening the case, the Commission shall set a period of two
months for the petitioners to submit additional observations on the
merits. The pertinent parts
of those observations shall be transmitted to the State in question so
that it may submit its observations within two months.
Prior to making its decision on the merits of the case, the
Commission shall set a time period for the parties to express whether they
have an interest in initiating the friendly settlement procedure provided
for in Article 41 of these Rules of Procedure. The Commission may also invite the
parties to submit additional observations in writing.
If it deems it necessary in order to advance in its consideration
of the case, the Commission may convene the parties for a hearing, as
provided for in Chapter VI of these Rules of Procedure.
Article 39. Presumption
The facts alleged in the petition, the pertinent parts of which
have been transmitted to the State in question, shall be presumed to be
true if the State has not provided responsive information during the
maximum period set by the Commission under the provisions of Article 38 of
these Rules of Procedure, as long as other evidence does not lead to a
Article 40. On-site
If it deems it necessary and advisable, the Commission may carry
out an on-site investigation for the effective conduct of which it shall
request and the State concerned shall furnish all pertinent facilities.
2. However, in serious and urgent cases, only the presentation of a petition or communication that fulfills all the formal requirements of admissibility shall be necessary in order for the Commission to conduct an on-site investigation with the prior consent of the State in whose territory a violation has allegedly been committed.