The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) carried out, from February 5 to 8, a historic on-site visit to monitor the human rights situation in Venezuela. The visit, which was initially scheduled to take place between February 4 and 7 in the cities of Caracas and Maracaibo, was carried out in the city of Cúcuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, after the refusal by the Venezuelan authorities of the entry from the IACHR to the country.
The IACHR mission was chaired by the Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, and by the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, Commissioner Julissa Mantilla Falcón. The delegation also had the participation of the Executive Secretary, Paulo Abrão, and specialists from the Executive Secretariat.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded its on-site visit to El Salvador from December 2 to 4, which aimed to observe on the ground the human rights situation in the country, in particular, issues related to citizen security and the situation of persons deprived of liberty; memory, truth, justice, and access to justice; the situation of the rights of women and LGBTI persons; and the situation of migrants, displaced persons and economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Additionally, as transversal axes, it paid attention to freedom of expression, the situation of human rights defenders and justice operators, and other groups at particular risk.
The visiting delegation was made up of the President of the IACHR, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, the First Vice President, Joel Hernández, the Second Vice President, Antonia Urrejola; Commissioners Flavia Piovesan and Margaret May Macaulay - Country Rapporteur for El Salvador - and Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas. The delegation was also made up of the Executive Secretary, Paulo Abrão, and technical staff of the Executive Secretariat.
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 IACHR carried out an on site visit to Mexico from September 28 to October 2. The Commission has been able to confirm on the ground the serious human rights crisis Mexico is experiencing, which is characterized by a situation of extreme insecurity and violence; serious human rights violations, especially forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture; critical levels of impunity; and inadequate and insufficient attention to victims and their families. The effect of the violence and violations of fundamental rights is especially serious and disproportionate for people living in poverty, migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced persons, women, children, adolescents, human rights defenders, journalists, indigenous peoples, and gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans persons (LGBT), among others. Violence against families of victims, human rights defenders and journalists is carried out with the aim of silencing complaints and calls for truth and justice, and perpetuating impunity for gross human rights violations. Violence and intimidation seeks to silence the voices that Mexico most needs.
The Inter-American Commission confirmed the profound gap between the legislative and judicial framework, and the daily reality that millions of people in the country experience. Again and again, throughout the country, the Commission heard from victims that the process of justice is a "simulation." Consequently, at the conclusion of its visit, the Commission expressed it is necessary to address the structural causes of the lack of access to justice in Mexico, such as the infiltration by groups of organized crime in many police bodies, especially at the municipal level, as well as in agencies of the justice system. It is fundamental to strengthen and consolidate judicial independence in Mexico.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a visit to the southern border of the United States of America, from September 29 to October 2, 2014. The delegation was headed by Commissioner Felipe González Morales, Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants and the Country Rapporteur for the United States, and Commissioner Rosa María Ortiz, Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child.
The purpose of this visit was to monitor the human rights situation of unaccompanied children and families who have crossed the southern border of the United States, with respect of their apprehension, immigration detention over long periods of time, immigration procedures as well as deportations and removals. During the visit, the IACHR delegation visited Hidalgo, McAllen, Harlingen, Karnes City and San Antonio. The Commission held meetings with state authorities, civil society organizations, victims of human rights violations and consulates of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted an on-site visit to the Dominican Republic on December 2-5, 2013, in response to an invitation by the State. The purpose of the visit was to observe the situation related to the rights to nationality, identity, and equal protection without discrimination, along with other related rights and issues. The Commission carried out this visit to oversee compliance with the international commitments made freely by the State of the Dominican Republic in exercise of its sovereignty.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) carried out an onsite visit to Colombia December 3 -7, 2012, in response to an invitation from the State, in order to observe the human rights situation in the country. The delegation was composed of the Chair, José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez; the First Vice-Chair, Tracy Robinson; the Second Vice-Chair, Felipe González; and Commissioners Rosa María Ortiz and Rose-Marie Antoine, as well as Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza L., Assistant Executive Secretary Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, and staff of the Executive Secretariat. During the visit, various IAHCR delegations visited Bogotá (D.C.), Quibdó (Chocó), Medellín (Antioquia), and Popayán (Cauca), where they met with authorities of the State, civil society organizations, victims of human rights violations, and representatives of international agencies.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a visit to Mexico from July 25 to August 2, 2011, in order to observe the situation of human rights of migrants and others in the context of human mobility in Mexico. The delegation was headed by Commissioner Felipe González Morales, Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, and made up by the then Executive Secretary of the Commission, Santiago A. Canton; the specialist lawyer of the Rapporteurship, Alvaro Botero Navarro, and the Director of Press and Communications of the IACHR, María Isabel Rivero. The delegation visited Mexico City; Oaxaca and Ixtepec, in the state of Oaxaca; Tapachula and Ciudad Hidalgo, in the state of Chiapas; Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, in the state of Veracruz; and Reynosa and San Fernando in the state of Tamaulipas. The Rapporteur met with authorities, civil society and international agencies.
During the visit, the delegation observed the serious perils that migrants, both foreign and Mexican nationals, face in their travels through Mexico. During their travels, migrants fall victim to murder, disappearance, abduction and rape. Foreign immigrants are also victims of discrimination. Testimonies of migrants who were kidnapped and escaped, witnesses of killings of dozens of people during his captivity, migrants who were kidnapped along with several hundred people, were received, among others. The Rapporteurship heard testimony from mothers who are searching for their missing children and from wives, brothers and sisters who are looking for their loved ones. It also heard corroborating testimony about the existence of kidnappings for extortion, for sexual exploitation and for human trafficking. In general, the persons who provided this testimony to the Commission said that they had not reported these cases to the authorities for fear of reprisals on the part of organized crime or agents of the state.
After the visit, the Commission published the report "Human rights of migrants and others in the context of human mobility in Mexico"
On July 24 to 29, 2009, Commissioner Felipe González, in his capacity as Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, along with two attorneys from the Executive Secretariat, made a visit to detention centers in the U.S. states of Arizona and Texas. During the visit, the IACHR’s delegation visited two shelters for unaccompanied minors, a family detention center, and three adult detention centers. The delegation also met with representatives of civil society organizations that work with migration issues in the United States. The purpose of the visit was to gather information from detention officials, detainees, and representatives of civil society organizations regarding the enforcement of immigration rules, detention conditions, and due process issues in the United States. This information will be incorporated in the report that the IACHR is currently preparing on the subject.
At the end of the visit, the Rapporteur concluded that in spite of certain recent adjustments to the immigrant detention system in the United States, many of the men, women, and children at the centers he visited were being held in unacceptable conditions and that in many cases, their right to due process has been violated. The Rapporteur’s office has issued its preliminary observations on the visit, identifying areas of concern in the policies and practices of the United States regarding the enforcement of rules, detention conditions, and due process.
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.
At the invitation of the Government of the United Mexican States, a delegation of the Commission consisting of President and Rapporteur on Migrant Workers and their Families Juan E. Mendez, Secretariat staff attorney Mario Lopez, and Rapporteurship staff attorneys Andreas Feldmann and Helena Olea, conducted a working visit to that country from July 24 to August 1, 2002. The purposes of the visit were to hold a number of working meetings on follow up and friendly settlement of individual cases, to undertake promotional activities, and to examine the situation of the rights of migrant workers and their families in Mexico. In this regard, the Rapporteurship delegation visited numerous locations pertinent to migrant workers including the Ixtapalapa migrant center in the Federal District and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua on the northern border of Mexico.
During the 22 to 24 July 2002, the Special Rapporteur for migrant workers and members of their families and his team carried out a visit to the State of Costa Rica, at the request expresses of the Costa Rican Government with the aim of making a report of the situation facing migrant workers and their families in that country.
In response to the invitation of the Government of Guatemala, the Special Rapporteur team led by Juan e. Méndez visited Guatemala between 19 and 24 March 2002.
Two members of the Rapporteurship’s team visited Costa Rica from November 19 through 21, 2001, with the objective of gathering information on the situation of migrant workers in Costa Rica as well as background material with respect to the implementation of the agreement on the assisted return of extra-regional migrants. This agreement is an intergovernmental initiative designed to expedite the return of undocumented migrants who are not from Central America, and would be implemented by the International Organization for Migration.
The Rapporteurship of Migrant Workers prepared a draft report concerning this visit, which was transmitted to the Government of Costa Rica on March 15, 2002, with a request that the latter present its observations and comments within 30 days. On April 15, 2002, that Government presented its observations on the draft report. These observations will be carefully studied and assessed by the Rapporteurship.
At the invitation of the Government of the United States, the IACHR made an on-site visit to the state of California from July 6 to 9, in order to observe the processes of immigration and asylum in the region.
At the invitation of the Federal Government of Canada, the Commission visited that country from October 20 to 22, 1997. The purpose of its visit was to observe the process of determining how a person is granted refugee status in Canada and the remedies that that country offers to those who request it. During their visit, the Commission members visited Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.