Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty
Commissioner Edgar Stuardo Ralón Orellana was elected by the General Assembly of the OAS during its 49th Regular Period of Sessions, on June 28, 2019, for a four-year term from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2023. He is a constitutional lawyer for Guatemala. He has been professionally active for 20 years and, as a legal expert, has specialized in constitutional law. He has combined university teaching and litigation and is an authority on constitutional matters in his native country. The defense of safeguards for individual rights like the right to life, civil liberties, and political rights stands out in his human rights career. He is a citizen of Guatemala.
2018 - 2020
Commissioner Joel Hernández García was re-elected in the 51st Regular Period of Sessions of the OAS General Assembly, on November 12, 2021, for four years, from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2025. His first term as Commissioner was elected on June 21, 2017, by the General Assembly of the OAS, for a period of four years that began on January 1, 2018, and ends on December 31, 2021. He holds a law degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma of Mexico and a master's degree in international law from the New York University School of Law. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and was a member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee during 2015-2018.
He is President of the Mexican branch of the International Law Association. In the foreign service of Mexico, he rose to the rank of ambassador and served in several positions. From 2011 to 2013, he served as Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS. In that capacity, he chaired the working group to strengthen the IAHRS. He has been a guest professor in the fields of international law and international organizations in various academic institutions. He is a citizen of Mexico.
Commissioner Joel Hernández García submitted his resignation from the IACHR on August 3, 2023
2014 - 2017
Commissioner James L. Cavallaro is a citizen of the United States. He was elected during the 43rd regular session of the OAS General Assembly in June 2013 for the prescribed four-year term, which began on January 1, 2014. In the 154th Period of Sessions in March 2015, he was elected First Vice-Chair. He became President on January 1, 2016, after former Commissioner Rose Marie Belle Antoine –who was the President- finished on December 31, 2015, the period for which she had been elected. James L. Cavallaro is a lawyer with an undergraduate degree from Harvard College, as well as a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD in Human Rights and Development of the Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain. Currently, James L. Cavallaro is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Founding Director of both the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford and the Stanford Human Rights Center. Previously, he was a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard. He founded the Brazil-based Global Justice Center and served as Director of the Brazil offices of Human Rights Watch and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). He is the author of dozens of articles, books, and other publications on human rights and the inter-American human rights system.
2010 - 2013
Rodrigo Escobar Gil, a citizen of Colombia, was in office as a Commissioner from January 2010 to December 2014, during that period he was also the Rapporteur for the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the IACHR. Mr. Escobar is an attorney graduated from the Universidad Javeriana and has a doctorate degree from the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid; he was also a Justice of the Constitutional Court of Colombia from 2001 to 2009, being its Chairman from February 2007 to February 2008. During its term as a Rapporteur of Persons Deprived of Liberty, Commissioner Escobar conducted several visits to States Members of the OAS, promotional activities, and prompted the publication of the Report on the Human Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, the Report on the Situation of Persons Deprived of Liberty in Honduras, and the Report on the Use of Pretrial Detention in the Americas. During the term of Commissioner Escobar the Rapporteurship was institutionally strengthened, consolidating itself regionally and internationally as one of the main reference in the field.
2004 - 2009
Florentin Meléndez, citizen of El Salvador, was Commissioners from January 2004 to December 2009, and during the same period he was Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas. As such, he prepared the Declaration of Principles on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty, which was approved by the IACHR in March 2008. During his tenure as Rapporteur, he visited jails, penitentiaries, police holding cells and other detention centers in several countries in the region. Former Commissioner Meléndez has a doctorate in international human rights law and a Master’s in human rights at the Complutense University of Madrid and a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from the National University of El Salvador. He lectures and holds seminars on human rights, international law, and constitutional law and has been a guest lecturer at several universities in the Americas. In the course of his professional career, former Rapporteur Meléndez has worked at the United Nations and in public and private institutions in his country on human rights-related subjects. He is currently a magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador.