Press Release

Panama Will Host the Ordinary Period of Sessions of the IACHR

September 29, 2016

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is pleased to announce that Panama has offered financing and hosting the Ordinary Period of Sessions of the second semester of 2016, which had been suspended due to a lack of funds. The Ordinary Period of Sessions will take place from November 29, 2016, to December 7, 2016, in Panama City.

“We are deeply grateful to Panama for the financial support given in response to the crisis and the offer of hosting the Period of Sessions,” said the IACHR President, Commissioner James Cavallaro. “The opportunity to hold the period of sessions of the second semester of this year is priceless. This gesture is a very clear demonstration of Panama’s commitment with the Inter-American System of Human Rights, and constitutes a recognition to the work carried out by the Commission for the defense and guarantee of human rights in the region,” he added.

In the Period of Sessions to be held in Panama, the IACHR will analyze and approve reports on cases, which allows to make progress in the processing of petitions regarding violations of human rights that are currently pending.  Working meetings will be held to follow up on the measures taken by the State in the context of precautionary measures currently in force and also to seek progress with friendly settlements. Public Hearings will also be held concerning human rights situations, as well as meetings with human rights organizations of the region and representatives of the Member States. During internal sessions, the IACHR will debate topics related to its next quinquennial Strategic Plan, analyze the contents of the Annual Report 2016, study the impact of the measures adopted in order to reduce the procedural backlog, amongst other issues.

“It is a very important effort that Panama made to make possible this Period of Sessions, and we recognize it as such,” the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, said.

The Vice-president, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, added: “Thanks to this effort and to Panama’s compromise, we will be able to listen to victims of violations of human rights, we will be able to get involved in their cases and provide answers, and to reunite with hundreds of human rights organizations and representatives of civil society of the region, amongst many other essential activities”.
The Periods of Sessions of the IACHR have become a forum which gathers hundreds of human right’s defenders form the region, civil society organization’s representatives – which in the last period of sessions were more than 300 organizations – as well as delegations from Member States constituted by high human rights officials, amongst others. This will be the first time that an ordinary period of sessions of the IACHR is held outside its headquarters.

“Panama enables us today to reschedule the period of sessions we have had suspended since May,” said Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, Rapporteur for Panama and Thematic Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. “Thanks to Panama, we will be able to have that direct contact that we have in every ordinary period of sessions with hundreds of defenders of human rights in the region. This contact is essential for receiving first-hand information regarding what is going on in the countries we have the mandate to monitor. They provide us with updated information, they participate in working meeting and hearings, and they provide us with suggestions to improve our work. And certainly, the sessions are also a forum of exchange with the States, which also participate very actively,” he added.

The public hearings will take place during the mornings of December 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7, 2016, and working meetings during the afternoon of December 2 and 5. The deadline to request hearings and working meetings through our online system is at midnight on October 10, 2016. The IACHR hopes to organize at least 30 public hearings during this period of sessions. Hearing regarding any OAS Member country may be organized, since this is an ordinary period of sessions.

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.

No. 144/16