Press Release

IACHR Issues Digest of Admissibility Decisions

March 30, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced the publication of its Digest of Admissibility Decisions, which systematizes, for the first time, the main criteria that the IACHR currently follows for this part of the petition process. It issued the publication as part of its plan to increase transparency and democratize knowledge of the inter-American system (IASHR).

Since its founding in 1959, the IACHR has evolved from an informal communications system to a regulated system that strictly observes the principles of the adversarial system and parties’ right to defense. In 1965, when the IACHR Statute was reformed, its competence to receive and process complaints or petitions in individual cases was expressly established. In 1987, the IACHR expressly included an analysis of admissibility in a resolution for the first time, and on March 5, 1996, it issued its first separate admissibility report.

In the more than thirty years that have passed since then, there has been a steady and significant increase in the number of petitions presented before the IACHR. In 1998, the IACHR reported that it had received over 500 petitions, which set a new record. In 2003, it received over 1,000 petitions for the first time, and this number reached 3,034 in 2019. The number of admissibility reports issued has also increased significantly since the IACHR began to implement its Strategic Plan 2017–2021. In 2016 (the year before the Strategic Plan was implemented), it approved 45 admissibility reports, a number that increased to 120 in 2017, 133 in 2018, and 145 in 2019 (122 of which contained decisions of admissibility and 23 decisions of inadmissibility).

The Digest of Admissibility Reports has been adopted as part of the special program to reduce procedural backlog and is the outcome of a process of systematization of the IACHR’s admissibility decisions over the last twenty years, with a particular focus on the decisions that have been adopted over the last two years. The main objective of the digest is to present a compendium of the IACHR’s decisions on matters relating to admissibility and competence, which it mainly issues through its admissibility reports, although the document does also refer to IACHR Merits Reports and even some IA Court rulings. The digest is extremely useful as it systematizes the criteria that the IACHR has adopted, making its decisions more predictable and facilitating access to the IASHR petition and case system.

“We hope that this landmark document will prove useful in strengthening the predictability and legal certainty of the IACHR’s decisions,” said the president of the IAHCR, Commissioner Joel Hernández. “We are working hard to increase the transparency and legal certainty of the IASHR. Systematizing the IACHR’s admissibility criteria is a fundamental step toward democratizing access to the IASHR and making this universal, which will facilitate the work of victims and their representatives and that of states’ legal defense teams. The digest will also enable countries’ judiciaries to make consultations regarding implementing inter-American standards within their national legal systems,” the president concluded.

The IACHR emphasized that this is a systematized compilation of the admissibility criteria that the IACHR has followed thus far. However, despite the imperative of legal consistency and certainty, each case entails its own particularities, and the IACHR can modify its decisions. As a consequence, this document is not binding for future decisions that the IACHR may adopt.

The full document is available here.

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. 065/20