Press Release

IACHR Presents its 2012 Annual Report

April 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today presented its Annual Report for 2012. The Chair of the IACHR, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, made the presentation to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The report has four chapters. Chapter I refers to the legacy the IACHR has brought to the inter-American community of States and their peoples, and discusses the new human rights demands on the regional agenda and the Commission’s important contribution with respect to those new demands. Chapter II includes an overview of the Commission’s background and legal basis, along with a description of its most important activities in 2012. Chapter III contains the Commission’s decisions concerning allegations of human rights violations in the OAS Member States. This chapter also includes statistics on the Commission’s various tasks; summaries of the precautionary measures it adopted, modified, or expanded in 2012; and a follow-up to recommendations the Commission has made in decisions it has published since the year 2000. Chapter IV contains a specific analysis of the human rights situation in those OAS Member States the Commission has identified as needing particular attention: Cuba, Honduras, and Venezuela.

In 2012, the IACHR received 1,936 new individual petitions and accepted 137 petitions for processing. The Commission received 448 requests for precautionary measures and granted 35. It published 42 reports on admissibility, 17 on petitions found to be inadmissible, 8 on friendly settlements, 42 archive reports, and approved 15 reports on merits. Lastly, it submitted 12 cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

In his remarks to present the report, the IACHR Chair said that the inter-American system’s effectiveness as a supranational mechanism for protecting human rights presupposes that the Member States comply fully and effectively with the decisions of the Court and the Commission. “While important progress has been made in the implementation of the recommendations of the IACHR and in compliance with the decisions of the Court, a level of progress that would guarantee the efficacy of the system’s decisions has yet to be reached,” the Commission Chair said.

Orozco Henríquez also indicated that the 2012 Annual Report represents, to a certain degree, the end of a cycle, since it is the last such report that will have been prepared under the guidelines of the Commission’s current Rules of Procedure. These guidelines will change substantially on August 1, 2013, when the reform of the Commission’s rules, policies, and practices will take effect, as a result of the strengthening and reform process carried out by the Permanent Council and the IACHR in 2012 and 2013.

Now that these reforms have been approved, an implementation phase begins. “All the resources and efforts that had been devoted to that process have returned to the work of defending and promoting human rights, which is the essence of our mandate,” the IACHR Chair said, reiterating the Commission’s ongoing willingness to engage in dialogue. “We are very aware that we face important challenges,” he added. Along these lines, Orozco Henríquez indicated that one challenge that must be “addressed soon is the complete ratification of all inter-American human rights instruments.”

The reforms to be implemented include a complete restructuring of the Annual Report so as to offer information that is more useful and accessible, increase transparency, and improve its accountability mechanisms. In terms of precautionary measures, the Commission will promote legal certainly by publishing the grounds on which it bases its decision. “We must ensure that issuing the decisions is a value added for the system and under no circumstances an obstacle to the efficiency and efficacy of the measures,” the Chair stated. With respect to the system of individual petitions, the Commission’s reforms are designed to make the criteria that apply to them clearer and more predictable.

Orozco Henríquez explained that the reforms will require a significant increase in financial resources. He said the Inter-American Commission hopes that the “willingness expressed by the Member States” at the General Assembly of March 22 of this year, when they reaffirmed their commitment to bring about full funding for the inter-American human rights system through the OAS Regular Fund, becomes “a reality.”

The Commission trusts that the Member States’ commitment to strengthen the inter-American human rights system in general and the Commission’s work in particular will be reflected in the allocation of additional resources for its operations, in the ratification of all inter-American human rights instruments, and, most especially, in compliance with the recommendations and decisions made by the bodies that make up the human rights system.

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 matter. 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.

No. 24/13