IACHR Regrets Decision of Venezuela to Denounce the American Convention on Human Rights
September 12, 2012
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been informed that Venezuela presented to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) a notice of denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights, dated September 6, 2012.
The Commission observes that, when the denunciation of the Convention enters into effect one year from the date of the presentation of the letter, Venezuela, as a Member State of the OAS, will continue to be subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction and be bound by the obligations established in the OAS Charter and the American Declaration, to which Venezuela has been a State Party since 1948. In addition, any cases of human rights violations that take place until the date that the denunciation enters into force may be analyzed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court), in accordance with article 78.2 of the American Convention.
Nonetheless, it is of deepest concern to the Inter-American Commission that, from the date that the denunciation enters into force, the Inter-American Court will not be able to analyze violations of human rights that may occur in Venezuela. This means that if the State completes the procedure it has begun, the inhabitants of Venezuela will be stripped of a mechanism to protect their human rights, will be left more vulnerable to abuses, and they will have fewer resources available to defend themselves.
In creating the OAS in 1948, the States enshrined as an objective of the Organization “the consolidation on this continent, within the framework of democratic institutions, of a system of individual liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.” In this spirit, the States created the inter-American system of human rights with the mandate to supervise the respect and guarantee of the human rights of all persons in the region. The member States and the political organs of the OAS constitute the collective guarantors of this system. Taking this into consideration, the IACHR calls on the State of Venezuela to reconsider its decision to denounce the American Convention.
In the event that the procedure is completed and the denunciation of the Convention enters into force one year from now, the Commission will continue to process petitions and requests for precautionary measures related to Venezuela, as well as supervise the situation of human rights in the country, based on Article 106 of the OAS Charter and the American Declaration.
Furthermore, the Commission observes that in the most recent OAS General Assembly, held last June in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the Member States ratified their intention to advance the universalization of the inter-American human rights system, through the signature and ratification of the inter-American human rights instruments by all OAS Member States. The Inter-American Commission agrees with the Member States that the universalization of the system is a priority objective. The decision of Venezuela to denounce the American Convention represents a backwards step in the path towards this important goal.
In the General Assembly in Cochabamba, the Member States also welcomed the report of the Special Working Group to Reflect on the Workings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a View to Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System. The document highlights the need to achieve the ratification of the American Convention on Human Rights and other inter-American instruments of human rights by the countries that have not yet done so. The denunciation of the Convention by Venezuela constitutes a serious regression in the effort to strengthen the inter-American system of human rights.
The American Convention entered into force in 1978. At present, 24 of the 35 OAS Member States have ratified the Convention.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.