Press Release

IACHR Special Session in Argentina Comes to a Close

May 27, 2017

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Buenos Aires — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 162nd special session in Buenos Aires on May 22-27, 2017, at the invitation of the Argentine State. The IACHR thanks the State for its invitation and for the support it provided for these sessions, and appreciates the hospitality of the Argentine people.

The 162nd special session began with an opening ceremony that included the participation of the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli; the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Argentina’s Viceminister of Foreign Affairs, Pedro Villagra Delgado; and the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, Germán Garavano. More than 100 invited guests attended the event, including representatives of Argentina’s three branches of government, autonomous State agencies, former Commissioners, former Executive Secretaries and Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, a former judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, societal leaders and other civil society representatives, academics, authorities of international organizations, and representatives of the accredited diplomatic corps in Argentina.

The Commissioners and the delegation of the IACHR Executive Secretariat made a guided visit to the Place of Remembrance, at the site that was once the Escuela Mecánica de la Armada [Naval School of Mechanics] during the Argentine civil-military dictatorship. The IACHR commends the Argentine State for having reclaimed this site and conserved it as a place to keep alive the memory of the crimes against humanity committed there. It also commends all the individuals and organizations that work day after day not only to keep the memory of those crimes alive but also to advance toward justice: judicial punishment for all those responsible for these grave violations, and reparation for surviving victims and relatives of all victims of the dictatorship.

During this session, the IACHR examined draft thematic reports, analyzed requests for precautionary measures, and reviewed and approved reports on petitions and cases: 21 reports on admissibility, four on the merits and one decision to publish, among other tasks.  This press release is accompanied by an annex with the details of the activities of the IACHR in Buenos Aires.

The IACHR also held 18 public hearings on human rights situations in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, and two regional hearings on the Southern Cone. The Inter-American Commission emphasizes that it is important for the States to participate in all the hearings, in good faith and with sufficient substantive information available, in order to make constructive progress toward solutions to human rights problems in the region. The inter-American human rights system is strengthened with the active participation of the State, the victim and his or her representatives, and civil society organizations. In this sense, the Commission regrets that the State of Uruguay did not participate in two of the three hearings to which it had been convened, one on judicial independence and the other on justice operators and human rights defenders in the transitional justice process in that country.

During the hearings, the IACHR received very troubling information regarding certain human rights situations, such as the structural discrimination that continues to affect many population groups in the Americas. The human rights situation of women; trans persons and other groups of people who suffer exclusion and stigma based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, real or perceived, or based on bodily diversity; children and adolescents; human rights defenders and other justice operators; indigenous peoples; migrants and others in the context of human mobility; people of African descent; persons deprived of liberty; and people living in poverty were some of the issues addressed in the hearings. The Commission also received extremely valuable information on the progress and challenges in the Southern Cone regarding the respect for and protection of the right to freedom of expression, particularly the media democratization process; economic, social, and cultural rights; and the persistent obstacles to the effective exercise of the right to truth, justice, and reparation for the gross human rights violations of the past. Other important subjects covered were the challenges that still exist to ensure judicial independence, and the outcry for greater civil society participation in the appointment of judges to higher courts. The IACHR once again received important information regarding the impact on the enjoyment of human rights caused by the implementation of public anti-drug policies that prioritize repression and incarceration over prevention and education, as well as the obstacles that continue to impede an effective exercise of sexual and reproductive rights.

Also during the session, pursuant to its Strategic Plan 2017-2021, the IACHR decided to create three new thematic units: the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Unit on Memory, Truth and Justice; and the Unit on the Rights of Older Persons. The Commission also proceeded to make some changes to the distribution of its thematic rapporteurships and country rapporteurships, as announced in Press Release 66/17.

In addition, during this session the IACHR selected the finalists in the competition for the position of Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (ESCER), as the IACHR announced in Press Release 65/17; this opened the period of public comment on the candidacies. The IACHR hopes to complete the selection process in July 2017, in the framework of its 163rd session, which will take place in Lima, Peru.

During the 162nd session, a seminar on the IACHR was held May 23-24 at the School of Law of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). The massive attendance and participation of students, academics, human rights defenders, and the general public is a sign of the enormous interest of Argentine society in expanding its understanding of inter-American human rights standards, something the Inter-American Commission considers healthy in a democratic society.

Prior to the session, on May 19, the IACHR held the Fifth National Seminar on the Friendly Settlement Mechanism in Argentina. The IACHR also participated in the fourth session of the Working Group to analyze national reports under the Protocol of San Salvador, and in a public conference on migration and human rights. In the context of the session, the IACHR signed cooperation agreements with the Criminal Public Defender’s Office of Chile; the Supreme Court of Mendoza, Argentina; and the Public Defender’s Office of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

The IACHR will hold three additional sessions this year. The 163rd special session will take place in Lima, Peru, July 3-7; the 164th special session will take place in Mexico City, September 4-8; and the 165th regular session will be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, October 23-November 1, 2017.

The President of the IACHR is Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, the First Vice-President is Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, and the Second Vice-President is Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño. In addition to this board of officers, the other members of the IACHR are Commissioners José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Paulo Vannuchi, James L. Cavallaro, and Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva. The Executive Secretary of the Commission is Paulo Abrão and the Assistant Executive Secretary is Elizabeth Abi-Mershed. The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is Edison Lanza.

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 the respect for and defense of 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.


* This is a corrected version of the press release originally issued. The correction was made on June 20, 2017.

No. 070/17