Press Release

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims: IACHR Presents a New Website Section for the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Memory, Truth, and Justice

March 24, 2021

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Washington, D.C.- On the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) wishes to pay tribute to all victims and their families. It also wishes to announce the launch of a new section on its website focusing on the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Memory, Truth, and Justice.

Throughout its history, the IACHR has acted in response to the lack of clarification, investigation, prosecution, and sanction of gross human rights violations and international crimes committed during dictatorships and internal armed conflicts but also in democratic contexts. The recognition of the right to truth and the development of the contents of this right have emerged as responses for victims and their families seeking to ascertain the truth regarding the events that gave rise to these violations and the identities of those who perpetrated them. They constitute the inalienable right of society as a whole to know the truth of events surrounding past human rights violations, the reasons for these events, and the circumstances in which they occurred in order to prevent them from happening again.

The IACHR has noted the progress that has been made in the region in recent decades regarding the establishment, dissemination, and preservation of the historical truth via extrajudicial mechanisms such as Truth Commissions and the implementation of memory-related initiatives. However, through its monitoring work, it has observed an increase in discourses that deny, relativize, or legitimize the grave violations and international crimes that have been perpetrated, which is an offense to the memory of victims and is an insult to their families’ struggles. The IACHR has also expressed its concern over situations in which it has observed obstacles to accessing archives that are relevant to the quest for truth, justice, reparation, and the nonrepetition of gross human rights violations. It has also repeatedly condemned attacks on sites of memory, calling on States to implement the Principles of Public Policies on Memory in the Americas.

In light of the circumstances and to commemorate the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, the IACHR is launching a section on its website for the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Memory, Truth, and Justice. This was created in 2019 as a Thematic Unit and made into a rapporteurship in 2019 with the aim of strengthening, promoting, and systematizing the work of the IACHR in this particular area. As part of this undertaking, the new web section contains a repository of information on the IACHR’s actions regarding processes of memory, truth, and justice, as well as the rights of victims and their families, with a particular emphasis on contexts of transitional justice, to raise the profile of these processes and contribute to the promotion and defense of the human rights of victims, their families, and society as a whole. The IACHR is also in the final stages of preparing a compendium that systematizes the standards it has developed on truth, justice, and reparation in contexts of transitional justice.

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. 070/21