Press Release

IACHR Presents Performance Report and Results Relating to Friendly Settlements for the First Eight Months of 2018

September 20, 2018

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Washington, DC – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) wishes to announce that so far this year it has facilitated the negotiations procedure for friendly settlements on 118 cases, 54 of which are at the admissibility stage and 64 of which are at the merits stage. Pursuant to Article 49 of the American Convention on Human Rights, the IACHR also followed up on 79 cases for its 2018 Annual Report. Partial compliance has been achieved in 77 of these cases, while compliance is pending on two others. The IACHR also commends the parties in question for passing two reports on Colombia’s Friendly Settlements (Case 12.941, Nicolasa and family members, and Petition 799-06, Isidoro Ramírez Ciro and others), both of which were published on August 23, 2018.

Over the first eight months of 2018, the IACHR facilitated 26 working meetings in which states, petitioners, and injured parties took part. These addressed meetings addressed matters that are at the negotiation or follow-up stages for friendly settlement agreements. The meetings were held during IACHR periods of sessions and as part of working visits to Chile, Honduras, Bolivia, and Mexico, which were conducted specifically to foster negotiations. Eight portfolio meetings were also held with the following states: Argentina (2), Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador (2), Mexico, and Paraguay. Finally, around ten videoconferences were held with one or both parties and five press releases were issued.

On April 23, 2018, the IACHR took part in a consultation forum in Oaxaca, Mexico, to draft a protocol on measures to protect indigenous leaders and human rights defenders. This forum was part of the process for negotiating a friendly settlement for Petition 1014-06, Antonio Jacinto López, which many people were involved in and which was widely reported on.

On July 20, 2018, the IACHR signed the state of Costa Rica’s first friendly settlement, which was in connection with Case 12.942, Emilia Morales Campos. This case concerns the state’s responsibility regarding the processing of an application for a family housing bond to purchase a house and then make improvements to a property that Ms. Morales Campos was given by private individuals. The state of Costa Rica would have prevented her from accessing the resources she needed to enjoy this benefit for more than 25 years, and which would have enabled her to remedy the precarious conditions in which she and her daughter and, in recent years, her granddaughter, have been living. Since November 2016, when the friendly settlement procedure began, the state has financed the rent of the temporary housing that they now live in. Following the signing of this first friendly settlement agreement, the state has undertaken to provide the petitioner and her family with decent permanent housing.

At the end of the first half of the year, the IACHR requested information from states with the aim of including this in Chapter II of the 2018 Annual Report. These requests were made using a new methodology that includes specific questions, when the matter warrants it, on compliance with any clauses of the Friendly Settlement Agreement that the IACHR stated had not been fully complied with in its 2017 Annual Report. The 79 letters sent to the states include two annexes, the first of which sets out the follow-up methodology and explains how the information that states provide should be presented to enable the Commission to fully assess overall compliance with friendly settlement agreements and also to assess each of the clauses. The second annex includes a copy of the published friendly settlement agreement, and the clauses on which information is required are highlighted. The same procedure was used to issue petitioners with requests for information.

Related outreach activities have included the IACHR’s launch of the updated edition of its Report on the Impact of the Friendly Settlement Procedure on May 10, 2018, which took place at the 168th period of sessions in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Two related events took place in June 2018: a training workshop on the friendly settlement mechanism for students at the University of Milan, Italy, and a seminar on International Disputes between States and Individuals, which was attended by state representatives, human rights experts from civil society, and experts on international arbitration and mediation. Another trading session was held on September 3, 2018, in Mexico City, as part of the Fix Zamudio Diploma. Finally, steps were taken toward organizing the first seminar with the Caribbean Community (Caricom) on friendly settlements and following up on recommendations, which will be held in October.

“The IACHR has prioritized the friendly settlement procedure because it is an important part of the Petition and Individual Case System, and is a mechanism for settling disputes peacefully and consensually,” said the IACHR president, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay.

“The IACHR thus acknowledges the efforts made by both states and petitioners to resolve cases before the system through the friendly settlement mechanism. It will continue to follow up on the agreements reached by the parties with a view to ensuring that all undertakings agreed on are fully implemented,” said Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão.

More information on the friendly settlement procedure is available here.

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. 206/18