Press Release

IACHR Urges the States to Guarantee the Security and Integrity of Persons that Participated in the IACHR Sessions

November 8, 2012

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the States to guarantee the integrity of all persons that participated in hearings and working meetings held by the IACHR in the context of its 146th Period of Sessions. Moreover, the Commission calls on the States to adopt all necessary measures so that these persons may continue to develop with security their work in defense of human rights.

The Inter-American Commission values the participation of representatives of member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), victims, petitioners, and representatives of civil society in hearings and working meetings. This participation constitutes an important contribution to strengthening efforts to protect the human rights of the people of the region.

However, the Inter-American Commission condemns the threats, reprisals, and actions to discredit against some of the persons that have come to the hearings and working meetings of the IACHR in recent periods of sessions, on the part of both private individuals and, in some cases, high-level State officials.

The Commission considers absolutely unacceptable any type of action a State might undertake that is motivated by the participation or actions of individuals or organizations that come before inter-American human rights bodies, in the exercise of their rights under the Convention. The Inter-American Commission condemns these acts and reminds the States that Article 63 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure establishes that the States "shall grant the necessary guarantees to all the persons who attend a hearing or who in the course of a hearing provide information, testimony or evidence of any type to the Commission," and that the States "may not prosecute the witnesses or experts, or carry out reprisals against them or their family members because of their statements or expert opinions given before the Commission."

The IACHR expresses its deep concern on the possibility that this type of reprisals continue, and urge the States to adopt all necessary actions to prevent this from happening again. In this respect, it is relevant to take into account the Joint Statement issued on March 14, 2012, by the Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders of the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, and the IACHR. In the declaration, the Rapporteurs expressed their grave concern over acts of reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperatie with the UN and /or the regional human rights systems. The declaration says: “the UN and the regional human rights systems depende entirely on free and safe cooperation from civil society for its effective functioning,” and adds that “the reprisals have to cease immediately and credible investigations into pending cases of reprisals have to be carried out.”

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 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. 131/12