IACHR presents resolution on policy on the prioritization of petitions and cases

December 29, 2023

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Washington, D.C.- On December 20, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 04/2023, which approves the Policy on the Prioritization of Petitions and Cases to provide greater predictability and transparency regarding issues that require special attention in the petition system.

This policy focuses on protecting the victims of the most serious and urgent human rights violations, and on addressing those issues that have a particular impact on the inter-American system. A cross-cutting gender and intersectional approach will be used to implement it.

In its 2023–2027 Strategic Plan, the IACHR decided to formulate a policy to improve how it manages petitions and cases in order to address matters that require urgent decisions in a more timely manner. To this end, it held the Cycle of Events: Reflections and Experiences for Timely Justice at the IACHR, a rigorous study of comparative perspectives at the national and international levels on the current situation, challenges, and best practices in access to justice.

This prioritization will help achieve the objective of improving access to the Inter-American Court, with a focus on particularly vulnerable people and groups that have been historically subject to discrimination, as well as people in need of special protection.

The resolution also promises to improve the IACHR's performance through a more careful allocation of its resources, while at the same time making processes more transparent and opening spaces for dialogue with civil society organizations, victims, and States in order to respond better to petitions and cases. The strategy will be subject to periodic review to keep it up to date.

The approved strategy is based on criteria that will enable the IACHR to build a portfolio of priority cases made up of those requiring urgent attention, those that address structural situations or problems that have an impact on the enjoyment of human rights, those that allow for the development of inter-American public order, and those that deal with serious human rights violations.

The IACHR will continue to examine cases that are not part of this priority portfolio in chronological order and to implement measures to address the backlog of cases through various strategies and in accordance with its Strategic Plan. Among other things, the Executive Secretariat is working to review and implement new working methods and is exploring the use of technological tools that could help make information more accessible and the resolution of cases more efficient.

These measures will be complemented by the restructuring of the Deputy Executive Secretariat for Petitions and Cases, which will strengthen its capacity to provide assistance. Following these adjustments, starting next year there will be three coordinating offices to follow up on cases at the merits stage before they reach the Inter-American Court.

The drafting of this policy took into account the practice of the IACHR based on its current regulatory framework, comparative learning, and consultation with States, victims, civil society, experts, and users of the system. The IACHR is grateful to the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School for conducting the study of prioritization experiences and hosting the expert consultation, which included participants from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) of Colombia, the Working Methods Committee of the European Court of Human Rights, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and other qualified voices from the inter-American system, academia, and civil society.

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. 326/23

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