The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made an in loco visit to Brazil from November 5 to 12, 2018. The objective was to observe the human rights situation in Brazil on the ground. The IACHR’s previous in loco visit to Brazil took place in 1995.
The delegation was headed by the president of the IACHR, commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, and comprised the first vice-president, commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño; commissioner Francisco Eguiguren Praeli; commissioner Joel Hernández García; and commissioner Antonia Urrejola Noguera, rapporteur for Brazil. The delegation also included the assistant executive secretary, María Claudia Pulido; the chief of staff of the executive secretary, Marisol Blanchard Vera; the special rapporteur for freedom of expression, Edison Lanza; the special rapporteur for economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights (DESCA), Soledad García Muñoz; and experts from the IACHR’s executive secretariat.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made an on-site visit to Guatemala from July 31 and August 4. The IACHR observed on the ground a serious situation of inequality and discrimination that particularly affects indigenous people; women; displaced persons; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons (LGBTI), Afro-descendant persons, persons with disabilities; persons deprived of liberty; and children and adolescents.
The IACHR verified the persistence of multiple factors that contribute to a situation of structural impunity. In addition, the Commission received information regarding the State's authorization of extractive industry activities and projects and development of natural resources in indigenous peoples' territories, without prior consultation to obtain consent. The IACHR also received information on violence against journalists, as well as on the concentration of media ownership. The Commission drew attention to the particularly vulnerable situation that women in Guatemala continue to face, especially indigenous women. Likewise, the IACHR received with great concern the lack of recognition of Afro identity in the country. In relation to the rights of LGBTI persons, the Commission expressed its concern regarding the draft "Law for the Protection of Life and Family," which seeks to ban teaching about sexual diversity and reaffirms the nature of marriage as a right exclusive to persons of the opposite sex. The IACHR received extensive information on how multiple causes have led to the forced displacement of tens of thousands of people, contributing to the crisis of displaced persons and refugees. As to the situation of persons deprived of liberty, the prison system is mainly characterized by overcrowding, excessive use of pretrial detention, deplorable detention conditions.
The IACHR visited the Casa Para Niños Aleluya; the Juvenile Center for the Deprivation of Liberty for Men (CEJUPLIV “Stage II”), in San José Pinula; the Youth Center for the Deprivation of Liberty for Women (CEJUPLIM- “Gorriones”); the jails located in Basement 1, of the Tower of Courts of the Judicial Organism; the Santa Teresa Preventive Detention Center for Women; the Women's Guidance Center (COF), the Pavón Penal Rehabilitation Farm, and the “Federico Mora” National Mental Health Hospital.
Finally, the IACHR found that, despite the important progress in the fight against corruption and impunity led by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Public Prosecutor's Office, as well as the efforts of some judges-a series of challenges identified by the IACHR in its country report continue to exist today.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made a visit to the communities of Chiriaco, Cuninico, and Puerto Alegría, as well as to three spill areas of the North Peruvian pipeline, with the aim of gathering information on the human rights situation of the communities affected by the spills. in the Peruvian Amazon.
During the visit, the Commission held meetings that included Apus and authorities from dozens of communities, as well as massive community participation, in which it received information from indigenous leaders, human rights defenders, and other members of communities about their situation in the context of the oil spills. The IACHR also received information from senior state authorities, as well as representatives of Petroperú.
In general, the IACHR was informed in the three communities about the persistent presence of oil and other minerals in the rivers and trees that are used as a means of transportation and subsistence. According to the information that the IACHR was able to verify, the communities of Cuninico and Puerto Alegría do not have access to potable water, and therefore, they have developed a rainwater collection system that they consume without any treatment. The indigenous authorities reported that the river water is contaminated and is not suitable for human consumption. The Commission also received information on the impact of the spills on the diet of the inhabitants of the communities because the number of fish would have decreased after the spills, and those fish that have survived would not be suitable for consumption since they would present deformations and a petroleum flavor. As a consequence of the above, there have been effects on the health of the inhabitants of the area, such as colic, diarrhea, skin disorders, allergies, bleeding, and dizziness, as well as high rates of malnutrition. The IACHR also received information on the lack of adequate and comprehensive medical care for these affectations, which were reported as new, for which they do not know of any treatments.
The Rapporteur on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples and Rapporteur for Chile, Commissioner Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, undertook a visit to Chile between November 24 and 26, 2014. The main objective of the visit was to collect information on the general situation of human rights in the country, as well as closely examine the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in this country, in particular in the context of development and investment projects, and concessions for the extraction of natural resources.
During the visit, the Rapporteur was received by the President of the Republic, Michelle Bachelet, among other authorities. The visit also included meetings with civil society organizations, and working meetings related to individual cases to follow up on the compliance of the State in relation to recommendations of the IACHR.
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the IACHR carried out a working visit to Guatemala on August 21-30, 2013. The visit aimed to gather information on the situation of indigenous peoples in Guatemala, with special emphasis on the discrimination and exclusion experienced by indigenous peoples, as well as the situation involving their lands, territories, and natural resources and their right to prior, free, and informed consultation. The delegation was led by the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Commissioner Dinah Shelton.
"We were able to substantiate that racism and discrimination against indigenous peoples persists in Guatemala, but also that the government has initiated several new programs intended to address this situation. Unfortunately, disproportionate rates of poverty, extreme poverty, and child malnutrition, persist among the rural indigenous population" Rapporteur Dinah Shelton said. "It is also of concern that the current licenses for mining and hydroelectric plants were granted without the State having implemented prior, free, and informed consultation with affected indigenous communities, as it is obligated to do under international treaties signed by Guatemala," she added.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights carried out a working visit to Canada on August 6-9, 2013, to look into the disappearances and murders of indigenous women in British Columbia. The delegation was made up of Commissioner Dinah Shelton, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Commissioner Tracy Robinson, First Vice Chair of the IACHR and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women; and staff of the Executive Secretariat. The visit began in Ottawa and continued in British Columbia, specifically in Vancouver and Prince George. The delegation received information and testimony from relatives of indigenous girls and women who have disappeared or have been killed. In Ottawa, the delegation met with federal government authorities and civil society organizations and representatives, including tribal organizations and leaders. In British Columbia, the delegation met with provincial government authorities, representatives of the legislative branch, and civil society organizations and representatives, including tribal organizations, authorities, and leaders.
A delegation of the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR made a visit to Argentina from May 9 to13, 2013. The goal was to prepare a diagnostic on the compliance with the recommendations that the IACHR included in Merits Report 2/12 on the case of the Indigenous Communities members of the Association Lhaka Honhat of Argentina, approved on January 26, 2012. The delegation held meetings in the city of Salta with representatives of the Government of the Salta Province. It also visited the municipality of Santa Victoria del Este, to meet with indigenous leaders of the Lhaka Honhat Association, and to visit the indigenous territory. It also held meetings in Buenos Aires with authorities of the National Government. The parties expressed that the visit enabled an opportunity to open a dialogue and incentivate the compliance of the recommendation by the Argentine State.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights undertook a working visit to the Republic of Suriname between January 23-25, 2013 in order to examine the situation of the rights of women and indigenous peoples. The delegation was composed of Commissioner Dinah Shelton, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Commissioner Tracy Robinson, First Vice-President and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women; and staff from the Executive Secretariat.
During the visit, the delegation held meetings with the highest authorities of the Suriname state, and representatives from civil society organizations dedicated to the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, women and LGBTI persons in the country. Several members of the delegation also traveled to the district of Brokopondo and the village of Brownsweg to visit a Maroon village composed of 8,000 persons. The delegation offered in a workshop attended by approximately fifty government officials on the Inter-American System of Human Rights and an academic event at the Anton de Kom
University, with the participation of law professors and students.
A specialist of the Rapporteurship participated in the in loco visit conducted by the IACHR to Colombia on December 3 to 7, 2012, to collect specific information on the human rights situation of indigenous peopls in the country. During the visit, information was received in the meetings held in Bogota with State authorities, as well as in specific meetings on the situation of indigenous peoples. In addition, considering that the situation of indigenous peoples in the Cauca Department generates special concern to the IACHR and to the Rapporteurship, a subgroup traveled to Popayán, Cauca, where it met with organizatons and indigenous authorities, as well as with regional State authorities.
Kichwa People of Sarayaku, Ecuador's Amazon Region
On April 21, 2012, an IACHR delegation accompanied a visit made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to the territory of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, in Ecuador's Amazon region. The purpose of the visit was to conduct “proceedings aimed at obtaining additional information about the situation of the...victims and places where some of the alleged events took place” in a case before the Inter-American Court. In addition to staff from the Inter-American Commission, other participants in the visit included representatives of the victims and of the State. The delegation heard statements from many members of the Kichwa people, including elders, children, and young people. Through its Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the IACHR reiterated the reasons it had taken the case to the Court—in particular, the right of indigenous peoples to prior consultation that is free and informed.
During the visit, the coordinator for the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Isabel Madariaga, made the following remarks:
The IACHR delegation thanks Sarayaku. The Commission presented this case to the Court because the Ecuadorian State allowed an oil company to carry out activities in the Sarayaku territory without a prior, free, and informed consultation. The State did not obtain consent from the Sarayaku people; rather, the State caused fear and irreparably damaged the Sarayaku territory. Instead of sowing life, it sowed explosives, it sowed death. It militarized the territory, threatened and harassed its people, damaged community communications, and showed disrespect toward the Sarayaku people.
The community had to defend what the State itself did not recognize: its territory. When constitutions and laws talk about the rights of indigenous peoples, when the Court determines that indigenous peoples have the right to live freely in their own territory, we see that this is precisely what Sarayaku is demanding.
The Sarayaku people want to live freely in their own territory, and freedom also means that the people of Sarayaku are the ones who will decide what types of projects will be implemented and who will enter. For Sarayaku, territory is life; they depend on their territory, and that is precisely what the Commission is defending.
Rapporteur Dinah Shelton made a working visit to Guatemala from March 7 to 10, 2012, in order to collect information on the situation of human rights, with special emphasis on the situation of indigenous peoples. To that end, Commissioner Shelton's met representatives of the state, international agencies, civil society, and indigenous peoples. Accompanying her on the visit were the the IACHR coordinator for the Mesoamerica Region and for the Office of the Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Isabel Madariaga; the attorney for the Mesoamerica Region, Fiorella Melzi; and the attorney for the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cristina Blanco.
Between August 1-5, 2011, Dinah Shelton, Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples carried out a working visit to Paraguay to conduct promotional activities, encourage compliance with the decisions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and promote the use of the friendly settlement mechanism to resolve petitions and cases being processed by the IACHR. The delegation also took the opportunity to further its understanding of the human rights situation in Paraguay. To that end, the Commission met with high-level authorities of the various branches of government, as well as with representatives of civil society organizations. The visit also included a significant number of working meetings between parties with regard to petitions and cases pending before the IACHR, in which major progress was made.
On December 14-19, 2010, Rapporteur Dinah Shelton carried out a fact-gathering visit to Panama in connection with the case of the Kuna of Madungandí and Embera of Bayano indigenous communities, and the case of the Ngöbe communities located in the area where the Chan 75 Dam is being built on the Changuinola River. During the visit, the Rapporteur met with government officials and traveled to the various communities involved in these cases. Attorneys Federico Guzmán and Lilly Ching also participated in the visit.
On September 3-7, 2010, Rapporteur Dinah Shelton conducted a working visit to Paraguay to visit indigenous communities that have cases before the inter-American human rights system and to obtain information regarding the general situation of indigenous peoples. The Rapporteur met with State officials and with representatives of indigenous organizations and organizations of human rights defenders. She visited the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa, and Kelyenmagategma indigenous communities of the Enxet-Sanapaná people, in the Chaco region, as well as the Y'aká Marangatú community of the Guaraní Mbya people, in the eastern region of the country. Federico Guzmán, the Office of the Rapporteur's attorney, also participated in the visit.
During a visit to Guatemala on June 7-12, 2009, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, attended working meetings on the implementation of certain precautionary measures, and on the cases of Maurilia Coc Max et al. (Xaman Massacre), Angélica Jerónimo Juárez, and Los Josefinos Massacre, among others. The delegation visited the community of Río Negro and traveled to Pacoxom, Pacux, and Rabinal to talk to relatives and survivors of the massacres suffered by their inhabitants. The IACHR delegation headed by Commissioner Abramovich also included human rights specialists Isabel Madariaga, Karla Quintana, and Fiorella Melzi.
The Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, carried out a visit to Colombia on November 17-21, 2008. In a meeting with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and other indigenous organizations and leaders in the country, the Rapporteur received information on the impact of the armed conflict and other forms of violence on indigenous peoples, as well as on the precariousness of their socioeconomic situation.
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples participated in a working visit to Bolivia on June 9-13, 2008, to gather information on the situation of several communities of the Guaraní indigenous people suffering from conditions of servitude and forced labor analogous to slavery. The communities were located in the departments of Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, and Tarija, in the Bolivian Chaco.
The IACHR delegation was led by Commissioner Víctor Abramovich, in his capacity as Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Commissioner Luz Patricia Mejía, in her capacity as Rapporteur for Bolivia, and also included human rights specialists Débora Benchoam and Anexa Alfred and press director María Isabel Rivero. During the visit, various meetings were held with national and local State officials, nongovernmental organizations, international agencies, civil society, and indigenous organizations in La Paz, Sucre, Camiri, and Santa Cruz. The delegation also visited the community of Itacuatía, located in the Alto Parapetí region of Cordillera province, in the department of Santa Cruz. The information and testimony obtained during the visit confirmed that debt bondage and forced labor were continuing in the Bolivian Chaco, and that the situation of the Guaraní people in this region had worsened since the Commission's last visit in November 2006.
This visit arose as a result of the Memorandum of Commitment signed on March 11, 2008, at IACHR headquarters during the 131st period of sessions between the government of Bolivia, the Guaraní Captains Council of Chuquisaca, and civil society organizations. In the agreement, the State made a commitment to adopt the protection measures needed to safeguard the personal integrity of all the Guaraní families and their leaders and advisers. A commitment was also made to inform the Commission about the measures adopted and the progress made in the process of restoring lands to the Guaraní people.
The delegation observed that the situation of servitude and forced labor in which the Guaraní families live is an extreme manifestation of the discrimination that indigenous peoples and peasant communities have suffered historically and continue to suffer in Bolivia. Based on the material gathered during this visit, the IACHR produced the report Captive Communities: Situation of the Guaraní Indigenous People and Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Bolivian Chaco, approved in December 2009 and published in 2010.
The Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Paolo Carozza, carried out a visit to Paraguay. The delegation also included human rights specialist Isabel Madariaga, press director María Isabel Rivero, and documentation specialist Gloria Hansen. Among the activities that took place, on September 3, 2007, the Rapporteur visited the Xákmok Kásek and Yakye Axa indigenous communities of the Enxet, Sanapaná, and Angaité peoples, in the Paraguayan Chaco.
Commissioner Carozza, accompanied by IACHR Chair Florentín Meléndez, also met with representatives of more than 300 indigenous communities of the Eastern and Western Regions of Paraguay. During the meeting, representatives of 14 indigenous associations explained the serious, urgent situation faced by their communities. They described the encounter as historic, because "for the first time they engaged in direct dialogue [with the IACHR], without intermediaries." In addition, on September 7, 2007, the Office of the Rapporteur met with a series of government officials in charge of policies having to do with indigenous peoples, and held working meetings on petitions and cases whose alleged victims are indigenous communities.
Commissioner Paolo Carozza, Rapporteur for Peru, along with IACHR Executive Secretary Santiago A. Canton and staff members of the Executive Secretariat, carried out a working visit to Lima on December 11-14, 2006. They met with President Alan García and other high-level government officials, as well as with a large number of civil society organizations, organizations of Afro-descendants, and indigenous organizations and communities. The delegation also met with academics and former members of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
Following an invitation by the government, the Commission carried out a visit to the Republic of Bolivia November 12-17, 2006, in order to observe the general human rights situation in that country. The Commission delegation was made up of its Chair, Evelio Fernández Arévalos; its Second Vice-Chair and Rapporteur for Bolivia, Florentín Meléndez; Commissioner Víctor Abramovich; the Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton; human rights specialists Débora Benchoam, Silvia Serrano, and Leonardo Hidaka; and document technician Gloria Hansen.
During its stay in Bolivia, the Commission met with government authorities and held meetings with various segments of civil society. These included representatives of organizations promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of women, the rights of children, and the rights of persons deprived of liberty; representatives of campesino organizations and organizations devoted to strengthening the administration of justice; journalists; and trade union members.
At the end of its visit, the IACHR issued Press Release 46/06 . On June 28, 2007, the IACHR approved the report Access to Justice and Social Inclusion: The Road towards Strengthening Democracy in Bolivia , which was published on August 7, 2007 . In its 2009 Annual Report, the IACHR published a Follow-Up Report in which it analyzes the State’s compliance with the report’s recommendations.
At the invitation of the Mexican government and at the request of several representatives of Mexican civil society, the Inter-American Commission visited Mexico on August 25-31, 2005. The delegation was composed of Commissioner José Zalaquett, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Rapporteur for Mexico, as well as staff of the Executive Secretariat of the Commission.
In Mexico City, the IACHR held meetings with federal authorities, with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, and with representatives of Mexican civil society. Meetings were also held on pending cases and petitions, and a meeting was held with a number of Mexican organizations that work to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples.
On this occasion, the IACHR made its first official visit to the state of Oaxaca. It held meetings with representatives of Oaxacan civil society organizations and with technical staff of a United Nations project to implement recommendations stemming from a UN diagnosis of the human rights situation in Mexico, as well as with authorities, academics, and the State Human Rights Commission. Working meetings were also held in Oaxaca on precautionary measures and cases pending before the IACHR, as well as a meeting with the Secretary General of the Oaxaca state government. The visit gave the Commission valuable information about the problems that have given rise to agrarian, community, and political conflicts in the state of Oaxaca.
The First Vice-Chair of the IACHR and Rapporteur for Guatemala, Susana Villarán, visited Guatemala July 18-21, 2005, at the invitation of the government and at the request of civil society representatives, with financial support from the European Commission. In the course of her visit, the Commissioner met with the highest-level authorities of the State of Guatemala, as well as with victims, relatives of victims, and civil society organizations that safeguard and promote human rights in the country. In this context, working meetings were held on five cases in which important agreements had been reached on friendly settlement, five cases involving follow-up to recommendations, and eight involving precautionary measures.
The Commissioner attended an act of remembrance to publicly commemorate the victims of the Plan de Sánchez massacre. This massacre took place on July 18, 1982, when members of the Guatemalan army and civilian collaborators under the army's direction executed 268 individuals, most of them Maya indigenous people. During the ceremony, Commissioner Villarán welcomed the public recognition of the State's responsibility and the request for forgiveness. She said Guatemala's commitment to the inter-American system had been reinforced, opening the door for healing the community of Plan de Sánchez and taking steps to ensure that these types of human rights violations do not happen again.
During the visit, Commissioner Villarán also presented a document on compensation for victims of human rights violations; followed up on issues of the administration of justice and violence against women; and evaluated the situation of social leaders, indigenous people, justice workers, and human rights defenders. With respect to the administration of justice, Commissioner Villarán took note of information suggesting that there are serious gaps in interagency coordination, which in many cases prevent the institutions from working effectively and in a timely manner. She also indicated that none of the institutions that played a role in the administration of justice had the necessary human and financial resources to properly carry out its mandates.
At the end of her visit, the Commissioner noted with concern the increased level of violence and the persistence of serious shortcomings in the Guatemalan justice system, which heightened the feeling of insecurity among the population. She indicated that this situation was especially acute for indigenous leaders, social leaders, peasants, youth, and justice workers, who have been victims of threats and hostile acts. In this respect, Commissioner Villarám underscored the importance of strengthening institutional support and training in human rights through the adoption of a coordinated security policy by the various actors involved in the administration of justice in the country.
In February 2004, Commissioner Susana Villarán carried out a visit to the Awas Tingni community in Nicaragua. The aim of the visit was to follow up on the implementation of the judgment of the Inter-American Court in the Case of the Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community , which ordered the demarcation and titling of its lands. The delegation met with State officials and with the community's legal representatives and traditional authorities, among others. In December 2008, the government of Nicaragua handed over to the Awas Tingni the property title to 73,000 hectares of its territory, marking a crticial step forward in the resolution of the first case involving indigenous peoples' collective ownership rights that the Commission had taken to the Court.
Commissioner Robert K. Goldman, Rapporteur for Colombia, carried out a working visit to that country on June 17-27, 2003. During the course of his visit, the Commissioner held meetings with national and local officials, including the Vice President of Colombia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Ministers of the Interior and of Justice, the Deputy Minister of Defense, the Attorney General, and the President of the Constitutional Court.
The IACHR delegation traveled to the departments of Antioquia, Córdoba, and Chocó, and took statements from various persons, representatives of the community and representatives of civil society organizations. The main purposes of the visit were to obtain in-depth information on the situation in Comuna 13, in the city of Medellín, and to verify compliance with the precautionary measures granted by the Commission for the indigenous community of Embera Katío and the Afro-Colombian communities of Cararica. During the visit, Commissioner Goldman called attention to the challenges facing the government of Colombia in its efforts to establish peace and demobilize members of illegal armed groups. In this context, he emphasized the State's obligation to refrain from adopting measures that would allow crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law to go unpunished.
Following an invitation by the Guatemalan government, the Commission carried out an onsite visit to the Republic of Guatemala March 24-29, 2003. The IACHR delegation for this visit was composed of its First Vice-Chair, José Zalaquett; its Second Vice-Chair, Clare K. Roberts; Commissioner and Rapporteur for Guatemala Susana Villarán; Commissioners Juan E. Méndez and Julio Prado Vallejo; the IACHR Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton; and staff of the Executive Secretariat.
During its visit, the IACHR met with authorities from the different branches of government and with representatives of civil society. It also received testimony from victims of human rights violations, and a delegation traveled to Nebaj, in the department of Quiché. In addition, the Commission received those who wished to denounce alleged human rights violations or receive information about the workings of the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.
At the end of the visit, the IACHR published its preliminary observations in Press Release 8/03 . On December 29, 2003, the IACHR approved the report Justice and Social Inclusion: The Challenges for Democracy in Guatemala (available only in Spanish), which was presented to President Oscar Berger on March 22, 2004, at the National Palace. In its 2004 Annual Report, the IACHR published a Follow-Up Report on the State’s compliance with the recommendations included in the aforementioned report.
The IACHR carried out an onsite visit to Colombia December 7-13, 2001, at the invitation of the government of President Andrés Pastrana. The delegation was made up of the Chair of the IACHR, Claudio Grossman; the First Vice-Chair, Juan E. Méndez ; the Second Vice-Chair, Marta Altolaguirre; and Commissioners Robert K. Goldman, Hélio Bicudo, Peter Laurie, and Julio Prado Vallejo. It also included the Executive Secretary and Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Santiago A. Canton; human rights specialists Verónica Gómez, Mario López-Garelli, and Ignacio Álvarez; and documentation specialist Gloria Hansen and administrative assistants Gabriela Hageman and Gloria Molina. The IACHR delegation was also accompanied by attorney Débora Benchoam and journalist Victoria Amato, of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
During the visit, the IACHR met with authorities of the three branches of government, including President Andrés Pastrana Arango. It also held meetings with nongovernmental human rights organizations; religious representatives; political leaders; journalists and representatives of media outlets; representatives of associations representing campesinos, ethnic groups, and women; trade union members; and other civil society representatives at the national and local level. The IACHR maintained contact with international bodies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It also received information and testimony on the situation in all regions of the country, especially in Cundinamarca, Antioquia, Magdalena Medio, Arauca, Valle, Cauca, Putumayo, Nariño, Tolima, and Catatumbo. The full Commission met with presidential candidates Luis Eduardo Garzón, Horacio Serpa Uribe, and Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
At the end of its visit, on December 13, 2001, the IACHR issued a press release .
The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples visited the indigenous communities of Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa, as part of an onsite visit the IACHR made to Paraguay on July 28-30, 1999.
Paraguay, July 28-30, 1999 Paraguay, July 28-30, 1999 Paraguay, July 28-30, 1999
A Commission delegation led by the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Carlos Ayala Corao, traveled to the Pozo Colorado district in the department of Presidente Hayes, in the Paraguayan Chaco, to meet with the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa indigenous communities of the Enxet-Lengua people. There, the delegation learned about the deplorable situation being experienced by the members of these communities, who were living alongside the national highway, without any services of any kind, waiting for the appropriate agencies to assign them the lands they needed. The Commission at that time praised the importance of Presidential Decree No. 3789, dated June 23, 1999, which declared a "state of emergency" for these indigenous communities, due to the extreme circumstances in which they were living. However, the Commission was told by members of the indigenous communities that the appropriate agencies had not adopted the effective measures ordered by the Executive Decree to provide immediate medical attention and food to the families that make up these communities.
With regard to the Case of the Yakye Axa Community, on March 17, 2003, the IACHR filed an application with the Inter-American Court, which issued a judgment on the merits of the case on June 17, 2005, and an interpretation of the judgment on February 6, 2006. With regard to the Case of the Sawhoyamaxa Community, the Inter-American Court handed down a judgment on March 29, 2006, and an order monitoring compliance with that judgment on February 8, 2008.
During the 1999 visit, the IACHR also visited the Lamenxay and Riachito (Kayleyphapopyet) indigenous communities, both of which belong to the Enxet-Sanapaná people, in the context of a petition involving claims to rights over their ancestral territories. The petition was lodged by the organization Tierra Viva, with assistance from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). On March 25, 1998, the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement, promoted by the IACHR, under which the State committed to purchase an area of 21,844.44 hectares located in the Pozo Colorado district, department of Presidente Hayes, in the Paraguayan Chaco; hand it over to the aforesaid indigenous communities; and register it with the competent authorities as belonging to these communities. The Paraguayan State had already complied with its commitment to acquire these lands and turn them over to the indigenous communities, but title over the land had not yet been transferred. During the onsite visit, in a meeting with Paraguayan President Luis Angel González Macchi, the Commission was informed that on July 27, 1999, the State had issued title deeds to the land in question in the names of these communities, thus complying with all the commitments it had assumed. On that occasion, in the presence of the IACHR, the President of the Republic presented the title deeds to representatives of the indigenous communities. On September 29, 1999, the IACHR approved its Friendly Settlement Report 90/99 on this case.
The July 1999 visit to Paraguay included the participation of the IACHR Chair, Robert K. Goldman; the First Vice-Chair, Hélio Bicudo; the Second Vice-Chair, Claudio Grossman; Commissioners Carlos Ayala Corao and Álvaro Tirado Mejía; Executive Secretary Jorge E. Taiana and Assistant Executive Secretary David J. Padilla; the IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Santiago A. Canton; and attorneys Ignacio J. Álvarez and Christina M. Cerna.
During the visit, the IACHR met with authorities of the executive branch, including the President of the Republic, Luis Ángel González Macchi; authorities of the judicial and legislative branches; and with different sectors of civil society, such as human rights organizations, representatives of the Church, groups of campesinos and indigenous communities, union leaders, alleged victims of human rights violations, and others. The Commission also visited several prisons and traveled to different regions of the country.
At the end of the visit, the Commission issued Press Release 23/99 . On March 9, 2001, the IACHR approved the Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay . The report’s publication, on March 21, 2001, was announced in Press Release 5/01 . In its 2001 Annual Report, the IACHR published a Follow-Up Report on the State’s compliance with the recommendations in the report.
Based on an invitation from the State, the Commission carried out an onsite visit to Guatemala August 6-11, 1998, to collect firsthand information about the human rights situation. The delegation for this visit was made up of the Chair of the IACHR, Carlos Ayala Corao, and Commissioners Claudio Grossman and Hélio Bicudo. The Commission had technical support from its Executive Secretary, Jorge E. Taiana; its Assistant Executive Secretary, David Padilla; and attorneys Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, Osvaldo Kreimer, and Verónica Gómez.
During its stay in Guatemala, the Commission met with the President of the Republic, Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen; the President of Congress, Rafael Barrio Flores; and other authorities of the Guatemalan legislative branch. The Commission also met with a wide range of representatives of Guatemalan civil society and with individuals who wished to denounce alleged human rights violations or who were seeking information about the regional human rights system.
Following the visit, the IACHR published the Fifth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala , which was approved on
April 6, 2001. In its 2002 Annual Report, the IACHR published a Follow-Up Report on the State’s compliance with the recommendations in that report.
The IACHR delegation that carried out an onsite visit to Colombia in December 1997 was composed of the Chair, John Donaldson; the First Vice-Chair, Carlos Ayala Corao; the Second Vice-Chair, Robert K. Goldman; and Commissioners Claudio Grossman, Oscar L. Fappiano, and Jean Joseph Exumé. Pursuant to the Rules of Procedure, Commissioner Álvaro Tirado Mejía did not participate in the visit due to his Colombian nationality. Commissioner-elect Hélio Bicudo accompanied the Commission as a special adviser. Also participating in the visit were the Executive Secretary, Jorge E. Taiana; the Assistant Executive Secretary, David J. Padilla; and the attorneys and human rights specialists Osvaldo Kreimer, Denise Gilman, and Mario López-Garelli. The Commission had administrative support from Gabriela Hageman, Gloria Hansen, and Martha Keller.
During the course of its visit, the Commission met with the President of Colombia, Ernesto Samper Pizano, and with other high-level political, administrative, legislative, and judicial authorities, as well as with numerous nongovernmental human rights organizations and with leaders of the clergy, political leaders, businesspeople, representatives of the news media, trade union members, and other representatives of civil society. The Commission also met with representatives of international organizations. Delegations of the IACHR visited other regions of Colombia, including Puerto Asis, in the department of Putumayo; Medellín and Uraba, in the department of Antioquia; Villavicencio, in the department of Meta; and the territory of the U’wa indigenous community.
Following the visit, the IACHR published the Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia , which was approved on February 26, 1999.
The IACHR carried out a visit to Guatemala March 4-11, 1994. The delegation was composed of the Second Vice-Chair, Leo Valladares Lanza, Assistant Executive Secretary David Padilla, and human rights specialists Osvaldo Kreimer and Elizabeth Houppert.
The delegation met with national authorities; contacted representatives of the Communities of Peoples in Resistance (CPRs), human rights organizations, and specialized government agencies, including the National Commission for Repatriates, Refugees and Displaced Persons (CEAR) and the National Peace Fund (FONAPAZ); and met with the Human Rights Attorney and the Director of the National Police, among others. The IACHR visited Quiché, where it talked to leaders and other residents of the resettled CPRs in Santiaguito, San Luis, San Francisco, Los Altos, and La Esperanza (Ixcán), and to others in the CPRs in Cabá and Santa Clara (highlands). The Commission also visited nearby settlements in Centro Veracruz (Ixcán) and Asunción del Copán (highlands), as well as farms ("trabajaderos") attached to some of the CPRs, and met with military patrols operating in those areas.
On June 16, 1994, the IACHR approved the Special Report on the Human Rights Situation in the So-Called "Communities of Peoples in Resistance" in Guatemala .
The Commission carried out an observation visit to Guatemala on September 6-10, 1993. The delegation was made up of the Chair of the Commission, Oscar Luján Fappiano; the First Vice-Chair, Michael Reisman; the Second Vice-Chair, Alvaro Tirado Mejía; Commissioners Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Oliver Jackman, and Leo Valladares Lanza; the Executive Secretary, Edith Márquez Rodríguez; the Assistant Executive Secretary, David J. Padilla; and human rights specialist Osvaldo Kreimer, a lawyer from the Secretariat.
The Commission met with President Ramiro de León Carpio and various ministers; the President of the Constitutional Court, Epaminondas González; the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Juan José Rodil Peralta; the Human Rights Prosecutor, Jorge Mario García Laguardia; and the Chair of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH), Jorge Cabrera Ugarte, among other authorities. Meetings were also held with human rights institutions and organizations, and the Commission met with individuals and members of institutions representative of Guatemalan society, religious groups, peasants, indigenous people, refugees, individuals who had been displaced or returned, trade union members, students, and members of the Communities of Peoples in Resistance, among others.
The Commission traveled to the interior of the country, to areas in the departments of El Quiché and Huehuetenango, where it met with members of the so-called Civilian Self-Defense Patrols (PACs), military authorities, and individuals interested in discussing their situation and sharing their thoughts with respect to the human rights situation in the region. In Huehuetenango, the IACHR visited Colotenango and neighboring communities, such as La Cumbre and Granadillos; in El Quiché, it visited Santa Cruz.
The IACHR conducted a visit to Guatemala November 2-6, 1992. The delegation was made up of the Chair, Marco Tulio Bruni Cellis; Commissioners Leo Valladares Lanza, Patrick L. Robinson, and Álvaro Tirado Mejía; the Executive Secretary, Edith Márquez-Rodríguez; the Assistant Executive Secretary, David Padilla; and human rights specialist Jorge Seall Sasiain.
The Inter-American Commission met with President Jorge Serrano Elías and with members of the ministerial Cabinet, as well as with authorities of the Attorney General’s Office, the Supreme Court of Justice, the Congress, and the National Commission for Reconciliation. The IACHR also held hearings with representatives of nongovernmental organizations working for the promotion and defense of human rights, including the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop, Casa Alianza, and others. Meetings were held with representatives of indigenous organizations and union, student, and press organizations. The IACHR also visited the San José Pinula, El Pavón, and El Pavoncito prisons and the Zone 18 Preventive Center, in which it met with those in charge, toured the cellblocks, and heard the testimony of some of those in custody.
On June 1, 1993, the IACHR approved the Fourth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala.
At the end of the Commission's visit to Nicaragua, a delegation headed by Luis Demetrio Tinoco Castro traveled to Honduras for a visit May 7-9, 1982, to Tegucigalpa, Puerto Lempira, and the Nicaraguan Miskito refugee camp located in Mocoró, on the border with Nicaragua. The delegation received statements and testimony from the Nicaraguan Miskito groups that had taken refuge in Honduras.
Onsite Observation of the Situation regarding the Miskito Indigenous People of Nicaragua's Atlantic Region
The IACHR carried out a visit May 3-6, 1982, to learn firsthand about the situation involving new settlements of ethnic minorities along the Atlantic Coast. The delegation was composed of the President of the IACHR, Tom J. Farer, and Commissioners César Sepúlveda and Luis Demetrio Tinoco. During its time in Nicaragua, the Commission visited the “Héroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea” prison in Managua, formerly called the "Zona Franca" prison; the detention center of the Seventh Military Region of Puerto Cabezas, in the department of Zelaya; and the new indigenous settlements of Sahsa and Sumubila.
The IACHR met with members of the Directorate of the Government of National Reconstruction; the National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights; the Permanent Human Rights Commission; the Ministry of the Interior; officials from the Nicaraguan Institute for the Atlantic Coast (INNICA); members of the Supreme Court of Justice and of the Bluefields Court of Appeals; and other civilian and military authorities and individuals, both at the national and departmental level.
Meetings were also held with the head of the Conference of Bishops of Bluefields and with representatives of various religious, humanitarian, and professional institutions in the country. During the visit to the new settlements of Sahsa and Sumubila, interviews were held with members of the indigenous communities.
At the end of its visit, the IACHR gave the Government of National Reconstruction a document with preliminary recommendations it considered urgent to put into practice in order to improve the human rights situation of those ethnic groups. On November 29, 1983, the IACHR approved the Report on the Situation of Human Rights of a Segment of the Nicaraguan Population of Miskito Origin .