The purpose of general public hearings is to receive information on human rights situations in connection with specific topics or issues in particular countries or in the region in general, and to issue recommendations regarding respect for and enjoyment of human rights.
The Commissioner presiding over the hearing allocates times for each party to address those present and notifies them of this at the start of the hearing. As a rule, the party that requested the hearing (civil society or the State) is given the floor first. At ex officio hearings, the civil society party is given the floor first.
Each party is given the same amount of time to address those present. The person presiding over the hearing decides whether to grant additional time for parties to complete their presentations, in which case the same amount of time will always be granted to both parties.
During hearings on specific countries, each delegation (State and civil society) is initially granted 20 minutes.
During thematic or general regional hearings, each delegation (State and civil society) is initially granted 30 minutes.
Article 66 (4) of the Rules of Procedure establishes that the IACHR may summon other interested parties to participate in hearings and shall notify the main parties of this and of any changes in how time will be distributed.
Members of the press and the general public may attend the public hearings without having to register beforehand. OAS security staff will register people when they come into the building. This process can take time, so we recommend that you arrive sufficiently early to be able to register before the hearing you are interested in begins.
Cell phones must be turned off or silenced before you enter a hearing room. Please keep your voices down when you have conversations in the hallways outside the hearing rooms. When you enter a hearing room, please step away from the doors and take a seat if one is available, to allow for ease of movement in the room. This will help ensure that the 15-minute period between the end of one hearing and the beginning of the next will be sufficient, so the Commission can adhere to its schedule. If you arrive after a hearing has started, please enter quietly so as not to interrupt the proceedings.
Both the petitioners and the State have the right to ask that a hearing be private. This may even be done at the beginning of the hearing, since the rules of procedure do not specify the time frame for such a request. When a hearing is private, there is no webcast and no available audio or video recording, and neither the public nor the press is allowed to enter.
The public hearings of the Commission are transmitted live via the IACHR website. Media outlets, organizations, and institutions that would like to rebroadcast the hearings are authorized to do so, giving credit to the OAS.
When interpretation services are available, the hearing is broadcast live on several channels, in different languages. One channel, sometimes called “original audio channel,” always broadcasts the “floor” language—the direct voices of those who are speaking (not the interpretation into any language). Anyone listening to this channel may hear different languages throughout the hearing, as participants may speak in any of the official languages of the OAS (Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese). Often one channel broadcasts in Spanish and another in English; sometimes an additional channel is used when there is interpretation into French or Portuguese. After the hearings, the videos are made available only with the “floor” audio.
External websites are authorized to embed the live broadcast into their own sites.
The public hearings will be covered on the IACHR’s social media platforms. Daily schedules of activities and highlights of the public hearings can be found on Facebook. The Twitter account (@IACHRPress) enables users to read real-time information presented in the hearings and receive alerts when multimedia material is available for each hearing (photo galleries on Flickr, video on YouTube). If you would like to participate in the conversation about the public hearings along with participants, the public, and the press, you can do so using the hashtag #CIDHAudiencias.
If you would like a high-quality copy of the video of a public hearing, please bring an external hard disk, USB memory, or flash drive with a minimum 8-gigabyte capacity. (Space needs increase if copies of more hearings are needed.) After the hearing ends, you may approach the live-broadcast table in the room where the hearing took place. There you can ask for the video to be copied onto the memory device you provide. The copy can be made at that time, though if there are pending requests there may be a wait. Keep in mind that the audio in the videos will be that of the “floor” channel; in other words, you will hear the voices of the participants in whatever language they were speaking. We do not have audio or video recordings in which the interpretation into another language can be heard.
The videos of the hearings will be available for later viewing on demand. You can access them via the IACHR YouTube, the IACHR multimedia page, the search system to find hearings by topic or session, or by using the advanced search tool. Keep in mind that the audio in the videos will be that of the “floor” channel; in other words, you will hear the voices of the participants in whatever language they were speaking. We do not have audio or video recordings in which the interpretation into another language can be heard.
The IACHR offers photos of the public hearings through its Flickr page, the IACHR hearings page, and the multimedia page. Members of the media and any other interested parties are authorized to reproduce them, as all the photos are offered on Flickr under a “creative commons” license. We ask that you provide the appropriate photo credit, which appears in the caption of each photo.
Members of the public, as well as professional and news photographers, are authorized to take photos. However, please be careful not to interfere with the normal hearing proceedings and not to hamper the work of the technical staff. We especially ask you to be aware of the video cameras that are broadcasting the proceedings live, so that you do not obstruct their line of sight.
Audio recordings of all public hearings will be available on the IACHR website the same day of the hearing. Radio stations, websites, and any other interested parties are authorized to use them, with credit given to the OAS. Keep in mind that the only audio recordings available are those of the “floor” channel; in other words, you will hear the voices of the hearing participants in whatever language they were speaking. We do not have audio or video recordings in which the interpretation into another language can be heard.
Members of the press do not have to obtain prior accreditation to cover the public hearings. However, they need to register with OAS security staff to be able to enter the building. Journalists are allowed in the hearings and may use recording devices and laptops, as long as this does not interfere with the normal proceedings. Cell phones must be turned off or silenced upon entering the hearing room. A press room is available during the hearings; it is located on the 8th floor, next to the Rubén Darío Room, in the OAS General Secretariat Building, where the IACHR has its headquarters.
Wi-Fi service is available at the OAS. The password changes from time to time, but signs are posted in every hearing room and in the press room providing the current password.
TV stations and other interested individuals or institutions may film the hearings, as long as the filming does not interrupt or obstruct the proceedings. Camera operators must bring any equipment they need, including XLR cables that are several yards long to connect to the audio console. Wireless microphones are recommended.
Camera operators are asked to be careful not to interfere with the hearing proceedings and not to hamper the work of the technical staff in the hearing room. We especially ask you to be aware of the video cameras that are broadcasting the proceedings live, so that you do not obstruct their line of sight.
The IACHR does not provide minutes or transcripts of the hearings.
IACHR Press and Communication
+1 (202) 370-9001
Hearings shall be public. When warranted by exceptional circumstances, the Commission, at its own initiative or at the request of an interested party, may hold private hearings and shall decide who may attend them. This decision pertains exclusively to the Commission, which shall notify the parties in this regard prior to the beginning of the hearing, either orally or in writing. Even in these cases, the minutes shall be prepared in the terms set forth in Article 70 of these Rules of Procedure.
Article 68 of the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights