Press Release

IACHR Presents Annual Report

March 22, 2018

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9000

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is to present its Annual Report for 2017 today. The presentation will take place before the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The Annual Report provides users of the Inter-American System of Human Rights with accessible, complete, and relevant information regarding the IACHR’s work and resources. The report seeks to promote compliance with the decisions it contains, ensure access to victims, monitor the human rights situation in the region, and report on the IACHR’s actions over the year.

The report contains an introduction and six chapters. The introduction highlights the measures adopted by member states in 2017 to promote and protect human rights in accordance with their international obligations. Chapter I provides an overview of the IACHR’s activities during the year, including the approval of the Strategic Plan for 2017–2021 and the reorganization of the Executive Secretariat. It also describes some positive initiatives put forward by member states that help address human rights challenges. These are examples of future actions that contribute to the protection of human rights. Chapter I also confirms that one of the IACHR’s priorities is to continue strengthening its communication and coordination strategy with other regional and universal bodies. One example of this the launch of the Joint Action Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas.

Chapter II focuses on the management of the system for petitions, cases, and precautionary measures, emphasizing the IACHR’s current efforts to reduce and eliminate procedural backlog. Chapter III is all about the activities of the thematic and country rapporteurships and promotion and training activities.

Chapter IV.A presents an overview of the human rights situation in the region in 2017. It focuses on individuals, groups, communities, and issues that the IACHR is paying particular attention to. It analyses the main trends, problems, challenges, advances, and good practices relating to human rights through the lens of the Cross-Cutting Issues and the Priority Issues set out in the Strategic Plan 2017–2021. These pertain to matters such as democratic institutions, security and violence, the judicial independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and access to justice. They also cover developments concerning the rights of indigenous peoples, women, migrants, children, people deprived of their liberty, people of African descent, human rights defenders, LGBTI people, people with disabilities, and the elderly in the Americas in 2017. The chapter includes an analysis of trends and priority issues relating to the right to justice, reparation, memory and truth, freedom of expression, and economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights.

The outlook in the region is one of alarming setbacks to the protection of human rights, as is reflected in Chapter IV.A. These have been observed in several areas, especially in relation to the protection of children, indigenous peoples, migrants, and refugees. This section also reflects the IACHR’s main human rights concerns throughout the year, as manifested through the press releases it has published condemning acts of violence and human rights violations and urging states to protect and guarantee the full enjoyment of these rights. The report also acknowledges the progress states have made in these areas. Some of these press releases were drafted in collaboration with the IA Court and other international organizations and their specialist representatives. The chapter also lists the precautionary measures granted throughout the year to protect indigenous people and communities, children, people deprived of their liberty, journalists, witnesses in criminal investigations, government officials, human rights defenders, political opposition leaders, and people with illnesses who are not receiving appropriate medical care.
In Chapter IV.B, the IACHR analyzes the human rights situation in two countries that it felt deserved special monitoring in 2017: Venezuela and Cuba. This section was drafted in line with the specific criteria and methodology set out in the IACHR Rules of Procedure. It draws on a wide range of sources and is broken down into two country-specific reports. The drafts for these reports are sent to the states in question to give them a chance to respond and provide additional information, which the IACHR takes into consideration before publication.

In relation to Venezuela, Chapter IV.B contains an executive summary of the country report entitled “Democratic Institutions, the Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Venezuela,” which is divided into the four main issues that are the IACHR’s core concerns regarding the country. The human rights of Venezuela’s inhabitants continue to be systematically limited by the serious weakening of democratic institutions, the alarming increase in the repression of social protest and freedom of expression, violence and citizen insecurity, and the grave political, economic, and social crisis the country is experiencing. There were also serious restrictions that have affected the right to social protest and freedom of expression. Shortages of food, medicine, and medical treatments and supplies have led to alarming rates of poverty and extreme poverty.

In Cuba, ongoing restrictions to political rights, freedom of association, freedom of expression and the spread of ideas, and restrictions to freedom of movement all continue to systematically limit the human rights of the country’s inhabitants. Cuba provides only minimal judicial guarantees and protection, a situation which particularly affects human rights defenders and dissidents, social and political leaders, independent journalists. Other serious concerns include discrimination and violence against LGBTI people and the exclusion of people of African descent, women, and other vulnerable groups.

Chapter V contains a follow-up to the recommendations made by the IACHR in its country reports on Colombia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

In response to monitoring work in Colombia, the IACHR noted complexities that relate to the violence of the armed conflict in the country and acknowledged the efforts the state has made in relation to victims’ rights and the creation of a regulatory framework and institutional structure needed to implement the Peace Agreement.

The monitoring work in Mexico identified significant advances in constitutional and legislative matters in recent years. However, there are ongoing challenges relating to violence and insecurity, as is evidenced by the high numbers of disappearances, homicides, and allegations of torture in the country. In view of this, the IACHR observed that the challenge facing the Mexican state is to close the gap between its regulatory framework and respect for human rights in practice.

Following up on its recommendations to the Dominican Republic, the IACHR acknowledges the importance of the measures the state has implemented to provide a solution to the serious predicament of thousands of people who are not effectively enjoying their right to nationality and the effects this has on their enjoyment of their human rights. It also recognizes the practical importance of the procedure for the re-acquisition of nationality that derives from Law 169-14, although there are challenges around the swift, effective implementation of this by all authorities, which leads to barriers to ensuring that all people can effectively enjoy the rights that nationality brings. The report describes the Working Group established to maintain a permanent dialogue between the state and the IACHR around the acquisition of nationality and migration, policies to combat all forms of discrimination, and policies on women’s rights and gender equality.

Chapter VI includes information on the IACHR’s structure and personnel, staff training, financial resources and its use of its budget, resource mobilization, and project management, among other areas.

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. 056/18