Press Release

IACHR Moves to Make Precautionary Measures more Efficient

May 14, 2018

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Santo Domingo - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted, during its 168th Period of Sessions, a Resolution to ensure an efficient precautionary measure mechanism, in order to adequately respond to requests for protection in urgent situations where there is a risk of irreparable damage.

One of the main challenges the IACHR faces is to ensure the continuing efficiency of its precautionary measure mechanism, whose aim is to prevent, through timely intervention, irreparable damage to a given person or group.

As previously announced, the IACHR has adopted several measures to keep managing precautionary measures efficiently. Such measures include the creation of an area that specializes in the management of precautionary measures and several changes in its working protocol, to facilitate and streamline decision-making regarding precautionary measures. Streamlined strategies have also been adopted for queries, to manage requests and granted precautionary measures through portfolios, and to prioritize the assessment of requests that appear to be more urgent. The Commission assesses situations using differentiated risk levels, based on the context or on whether the affected group is particularly vulnerable or suffers historical discrimination.

In this context, the Commission has established that a large number of requests refer to situations that could be fixed using remedies available within the State in question. If assessed, those situations would amount to a statement on the issue’s merits. Strictly speaking, that exceeds the precautionary nature of protection measures, and it is the petition and case system that would be appropriate to deal with such issues.

The Commission has also established that there is a significant number of issues on which the IACHR’s requests for information to the party that requested the precautionary measure does not obtain a timely response or the last information received fails to identify the current danger.

Those aspects have a direct impact on the Commission’s ability to deal efficiently with very serious and urgent situations, where adopting precautionary measures is necessary to prevent irreparable damage.

All this considered, the Commission has decided to adopt Resolution 3/18, to reaffirm its commitment to States and persons in the Americas with a view to ensuring an efficient precautionary measure mechanism. In this resolution, the Commission highlights some of the issues or aspirations that it has historically and consistently assessed and are not in fact eligible for assessment through the precautionary measure mechanism, thus making the scope of the mechanism itself more predictable.

In this sense, the Resolution establishes that, in general, the mechanism for precautionary measures has not been deemed suitable to address those requests that deal strictly with issues or claims such as: i) alleged lack of due process and legal protection in the framework of criminal or civil proceedings (Articles 8 and 25 of the ACHR and Article XVIII of the American Declaration); ii) determination of the compatibility, in abstract terms, of a regulation with the American Convention or other applicable instruments; iii) payment of pecuniary compensations, which include civil, mercantile and pension proceedings; iv) allegedly unjustified dismissals of private or public company officials not elected by popular vote, payment of salaries, determinations on promotions and vacations; v) commercial or civil distraint and evictions which represent no additional situations of risk other than impacts on the right to private property; vi) requests for resources or financial support; vii) strictly administrative proceedings, including the issuance of certificates, expediting proceedings and declaratory resolutions.

“This resolution promotes faster decision-making on requests when there is either up-to-date information or a timely response to the Commission’s requests for information” said IACHR President, Margarette Macaulay. 

The Commission therefore resolved to discontinue the processing of the requests where the State has not been asked to provide information and when there is no updated information from the applicants within a period of more than 6 months, counted from the date of the last communication submitted. The Commission also resolved to discontinue processing requests for precautionary measures in which information has been requested from the applicants and, once the deadline established in the communication has expired, there is no response. The Commission as of the date of the issuance of this resolution will periodically - every three months - proceed to verify the inactive matters and will proceed to their discontinuation of processing.

On his part, Paulo Abrão, Executive Secretary of the IACHR stated: “this resolution will enable the IACHR to focus its efforts on assessing the situation of persons who are in danger and need a precautionary measure to safeguard their rights”.

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 and to defend 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. 107/18