María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is pleased to announce that during 2016, it approved eight friendly settlement agreements, which were signed between petitioners and the States of Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
The friendly settlement processes are based on the dialogue between the parties, with the good offices of the Commission, and it represents a non-contentious way to bring cases and petitions to a close. In this way, every matter is resolved through measures that correspond to the interests and needs of both parties, grounded in the respect for human rights established in the American Convention on Human Rights, the American Declaration, and other applicable instruments. In 2016, the commission approved the followings reports of friendly settlement agreements:
On April 14, 2016, the IACHR issued two reports in which it approved friendly settlement agreements involving Mexico. Firstly, in the matter of Ananías Laparra Martínez, P-1171-09, related to violations of criminal due process and the sentencing of the victim to 28 years of prison based on a confession obtained under torture. The IACHR takes note of the steps undertaken by the Mexican State to comply with the said agreement, including reviewing the victim’s conviction and removing his criminal record. The second friendly settlement agreement was approved in Case 12.847, Vicenta Sánchez Valdivieso, in which the petitioner reported violations of civil due process over the failure to implement a decision in a labor matter, and in which steps were also taken to comply with the commitments related to financial compensation and social rehabilitation.
On October 7, 2016, the IACHR approved a friendly settlement agreement in Case 11.538, Herson Javier Caro, Colombia, regarding the extrajudicial execution of a 15-year-old adolescent by members of law enforcement. The friendly settlement agreement signed between the parties includes measures related to justice, satisfaction, and reparation. Given that the parties asked for the friendly settlement agreement to be approved prior to being fully implemented, the IACHR urges the Colombian State to proceed with the prompt implementation of the agreement.
In another matter, on October 25, 2016, the IACHR approved a friendly settlement report in Case 12.848, Mrs. N of Panama. In that case, the State provided financial compensation to a victim of human rights violations that had caused serious consequences to her health and quality of life; it also provided her with the resources needed to access an appropriate medical treatment and medication. The IACHR recognizes the Panamanian State for its full compliance with the commitments it had made in the agreement.
On November 30, 2016, the IACHR approved two friendly settlement reports on matters involving Colombia. The first one, Case 12.541, refers to the torture, forced disappearance, and execution of Omar Zúñiga Vásquez and the torture suffered by his mother, Amira Vásquez de Zúñiga, at the hands of State’s agents. With regard to this agreement, which is in the process of being fulfilled, the IACHR takes note of the steps the Colombian State has taken by recognizing its responsibility for what happened and turning over Omar Zúñiga’s remains to his family, 24 years after the fact, and providing psychosocial support as part of the agreed-upon remedy.
Another friendly settlement report involving Colombia was related to Case 11.007, Massacre of Trujillo, regarding a series of violent incidents that took place in that town in the Cauca Valley, between 1988 and 1991, and included cases of torture, executions, forced disappearances, and threats. In the framework of the friendly settlement, the State recognized its responsibility for what happened, both in 1993 and in 2016, in relation to new victims. The IACHR takes note of the reparation measures for the family members of the victims of the violent events in Trujillo, that seek to help repair the social fabric of the community. The State also created a legal framework to provide access to a remedy for the victims of human rights violations; committed to widen the criminal investigation, in which two perpetrators have already been convicted; established a special investigative group; paid compensation to a group of victims and family members; and built and turned over housing units, which are in the process of being deeded.
Finally, on November 30, 2016, the IACHR approved two friendly settlement reports involving Peru, in the matters of P-288-08, Jesús Salvador Ferreyra González, and P-13339-07, Tito Guido Gallegos Gallegos. These cases had to do with the violation of due process to the detriment of two judges who were subjected to arbitrary review processes and were not ratified in their positions in the judiciary. The parties asked the IACHR to issue the report approving the friendly settlement agreements as a legal basis for their implementation. The IACHR therefore takes this opportunity to urge the Peruvian State to promptly comply with the agreements.
The IACHR will continue to facilitate dialogue between the parties and monitor the implementation of the commitments established in the above mentioned friendly settlement agreements, until full compliance is reached.
In this regard, in 2016, the IACHR facilitated a total of 47 spaces of dialogue between the parties. In fact, it facilitated 36 working meetings on matters in different stages of friendly settlement negotiations and follow up. Additionally, the IACHR also facilitated the dialogue between the parties aimed to give impetus to the compliance with the recommendations issued by the IACHR, through 11 working meetings of this sort. Specifically, the IACHR held working meetings on matters involving Argentina (5), Bolivia (3), Chile (7), Colombia (8), Costa Rica (3), Ecuador (2), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (1), Honduras (2), Mexico (2), Panama (2), Paraguay (7), and Peru (2). The IACHR believes that by facilitating these opportunities, it enables the parties to come together to strengthen, through dialogue, the consensus-building process for friendly settlement and the implementation of IACHR decisions.
The Commission salutes the States and the petitioners who expressed their willingness to go down the path of dialogue facilitated by the IACHR. It notes that in 2016, the parties signed nine friendly settlement agreements in petitions and cases involving Colombia (4), Chile (2), Mexico (1), and Peru (2). In that regard, Commissioner James Cavallaro, President of the IACHR, stated the following: “I call upon the users of the individual case system to use friendly settlements. This mechanism has been employed in cases related to different countries and has been shown to be effective for providing adequate reparation to victims of human rights violations and their families, with effects that can transcend to the greater community.”
The IACHR has placed a priority on promoting this mechanism for alternative dispute resolution in response to requests made by States and by civil society of the region during the strengthening process that ended in 2013. To this end, the IACHR also held two workshops in 2016 to train State officials on practical and procedural aspects of the friendly settlement mechanism. The workshops took place on August 17, 2016, in Paraguay and December 1, 2016, in Panama.
For more information on the friendly settlement procedure, visit the website.
A principal, autonomous body of the 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.