IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has concluded the week of public hearings that took place in person as part of its 186th Period of Sessions, which was held at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the United States, in partnership with the Promise Institute for Human Rights. From March 6 to 10, 2023, 18 public hearings were held on various regionwide human rights issues and others that are specific to certain OAS member countries.
Thematic public hearings were held concerning nine countries and focusing on the following issues: women and girls and sexual and reproductive rights in Brazil and Haiti; indigenous peoples in Brazil, Jamaica, and Honduras; forensic searches in Mexico; free movement in Cuba; the movement of Haitians in the United States; the rights of LGBTI persons in El Salvador; and arbitrary deprivation of nationality in Nicaragua. Four regional hearings took place on the following issues: fiscal policies and economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights; threats to the independence of the judiciary; the protection of journalists and human rights defenders; and the right to information regarding victims of forced disappearance.
Three hearings were held on cases pending before the IACHR concerning Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil, respectively; and one hearing was held to follow up on the implementation of precautionary measures granted to people being deprived of their freedom in Venezuela. A meeting was also held with civil society on the human rights situation in the United States. The IACHR was joined by the offices of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RFOE) (RELE) and the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (REDESCA).
The IACHR noted with concern the situation of people deprived of their freedom in Venezuela. In this regard, it received information on torture and cruel treatment, isolation in punishment cells, irregular transfers from one prison to another, the prohibition of visits, and the lack of medical attention for health issues. It was also informed of repressive practices that reveal violations of the right to freedom of movement in Cuba and torture and deplorable conditions to which Nicaraguans being deprived of their freedom were subjected, and who were then sent into exile and stripped of their nationality after being released.
At the regional hearings, the IACHR condemned the high level of violence against human rights defenders and journalists in the region and the absence of regional agreements based on the principle of shared responsibility for safe, orderly migration with a human rights approach. It stressed that countries need to pay particular attention to an ethnic, racial, and gender approach that includes people of African descent and indigenous peoples. It also emphasized that access to information on serious human rights violations, in particular to military archives, is essential to States effectively fulfilling their obligations to investigate forced disappearance and provide justice and reparations for victims.
The IACHR received information regarding attacks on judicial independence in some countries in the region through reforms that seek to weaken the judiciary, threats, and the criminalization of justice workers. It stressed that it is essential for countries to guarantee that clear processes are in place for selecting and appointing those who hold these positions and for removing them from office. He also stressed the need for fiscal policies that comply with international and regional human rights standards and emphasized that countries must move forward with effective programs and policies that guarantee the right of all people to live in a healthy environment.
On the matter of the grave threats to the individual and collective rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, the IACHR noted that the Americas are currently facing the challenge of how to maintain respectful relations with the right to self-determination. It also pointed out that States must adopt measures to overcome the historical racism and structural discrimination that marginalizes indigenous peoples and leaves them in a position of vulnerability. They also need to provide redress for violations and guarantee the protection of their territories and ways of life.
The IACHR also reiterated the importance of protecting the gender identity of LGBTI people through laws and public policies in El Salvador.
It also acknowledged and valued the willingness of the Argentine State to move forward with a friendly settlement process, as was discussed in the hearing regarding case 13.097, "Fatal Victims at the Magdalena Penitentiary vs. Argentina."
At each of the public hearings, the IACHR expressed its solidarity with the victims of human rights violations. It also regretted the absence of the States of Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. It underlined that the active involvement of States, victims of human rights violations and their representatives, and civil society organizations is fundamental to strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights in order to move constructively toward solutions to the human rights problems the region is facing.
As part of the events of the 186th Period of Sessions and International Women's Day, the IACHR made a special call to attend to the gender perspective in each thematic area. It also referred to the need to adopt specific measures to combat gender-based violence, particularly in Haiti, and urged that gender-based violence be addressed as a national emergency. With regard to women searching for their missing loved ones in the region, it stressed the need for States to adopt legislative measures to provide them with comprehensive and effective protection, taking into account their role as human rights defenders.
The IACHR wishes to express its gratitude to the team at the University of California, Los Angeles, United States, for its support and the arrangements it made to hold the public hearings on its campus at the Promise Institute for Human Rights. It also wishes to thank member states and civil society for taking part in the hearings, working meetings, and promotional public events that were held as part of this period of sessions.
It also noted that according to Article 63 of its Rules of Procedure, States have the obligation to adopt protection measures to guarantee the safety of all those who have taken part in the Period of Sessions, and o refrain from taking reprisals against them or their family members because of their statements or the opinions they offer the IACHR.
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.