Press Release

IACHR Concludes 169th Period of Sessions in Boulder, Colorado

October 5, 2018

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Boulder, Colorado - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 169th Period of Sessions between September 30 and October 5, 2018, in Boulder, Colorado, at the invitation of the University of Colorado. Holding the sessions at a venue other than its headquarters is a way for the IACHR to bring its mechanisms for defending, protecting, and promoting human rights closer to the victims and people it serves, raise the organization’s public profile in the region, and further democratize access to the Inter-American Human Rights System. The IACHR wishes to thank the University of Colorado for the invitation to hold the sessions on its campus and for helping to make all the scheduled activities a reality. Collaboration with academic institutions is one of the programs that form part of the IACHR’s Strategic Plan, and holding this period of sessions at the University of Colorado Law School reinforced this.

At the event, the IACHR held 37 public hearings on Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, the United States (including a hearing on Puerto Rico), and Venezuela, and various regional hearings. Videos of the hearings are available, as are high-definition photos, which are licensed for download and use by interested parties.

As part of the IACHR’s collaboration with the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and to follow up on the joint declaration signed in 2014, the OHCHR special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes, and consequences and a member of the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council took part in two of the hearings.

The IACHR wishes to thank member states and civil society for taking part in the hearings, working meetings, and public events that were held as part of these sessions. The IACHR stresses the importance of member states participating in hearings in good faith and with sufficient background information, as this helps them move toward constructive solutions to the human rights problems that the region is facing. The Inter-American Human Rights System is strengthened by the active involvement of states, victims of human rights violations and their representatives, and civil society organizations.

The IACHR deeply regrets the absence of the state of Nicaragua from the hearings it was summoned to take part in. The absence of state delegations seriously hinders or prevents the IACHR from going about its work. Hearings are an indispensable way for the IACHR to receive information that enables it to fulfill the mandate given to it by OAS member states, namely to protect, promote, and defend human rights in the region. The IACHR urges member states to attend the sessions and hearings that they are invited to.
The IACHR debated and passed 15 merits reports on cases and presented two publications. It also confirmed that it has passed 81 admissibility reports in 2018.

It held 31 working meetings on precautionary measures and the monitoring of recommendations, cases, and friendly settlements being reached in connection with 15 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Paraguay, the United States, and Venezuela: 10 of these were on precautionary measures; 8 on friendly settlements; 6 on monitoring recommendations; 5 on thematic cases; and 1 on a case being processed. It also held 13 bilateral meetings with civil society organizations and 5 bilateral meetings with states from the region. As at all its periods of sessions, the IACHR welcomed more than 50 civil society organizations that attended.

At the session, the IACHR reviewed and debated a large number of petitions for precautionary measures and passed six resolutions granting these. The IACHR has passed a total of 70 precautionary measures so far in 2018, more than have ever been passed in the same period in any other year in its history. The 10 working meetings on the implementation of precautionary measures were in relation to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. These included the measure on the Special Follow-Up Team (ESE) that was created to monitor precautionary measures 309-18 and 310-18 on the kidnapping and murder of the team of journalists from El Comercio newspaper on the border between Colombia and Ecuador, and the measure on the Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Ayotzinapa (MESA), which was created as part of precautionary measure 409-14 on the disappearance of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos rural school. The mechanism monitors compliance with the precautionary measure and the GIEI’s recommendations regarding progress on the investigation, the search for the missing students, comprehensive support for victims and their relatives, and structural measures to ensure nonrepetition. The Mexican state, the representatives present, and the IACHR evaluated the areas where significant progress had been made with a view to drafting the final report on the mechanism, which is scheduled for presentation in November 2018, and the transition to working with the new government.

The IACHR also held eight working meetings on matters relating to friendly settlement procedures at different stages of negotiation and implementation, involving Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Specifically, the IACHR facilitated dialogue between the parties to petitions 12.191, María Mamérita Mestanza Chávez; 12.797, Natividad de Jesús Ramírez and others; 11.706, Yanomami Indigenous People of Haximú; 11.426, Marcela Alejandra Porco; 13.050, Q’oq’ob Community of Santa María Nebaj Municipality; 12.532, inmates at the Mendoza Penitentiary; and 12.699, Pedro Antonio Centurión. At these meetings, the IACHR facilitated the creation of potential work plans between parties and helped identify interests and possible points of agreement to further the negotiation and implementation of friendly settlement agreements. The IACHR values parties’ desire to make progress on negotiating friendly settlement agreements that will enable victims to obtain comprehensive redress for the human rights violations perpetrated in relation to these events.

The IACHR held five working meetings on Brazil with five different stakeholders in preparation for the in loco visit planned for November 3–15, 2018. The IACHR has assessed and passed the agenda for this visit.
In addition, the IACHR held a meeting with over 50 civil society organizations from within the Americas and beyond, at which it received worrying information on different human rights situations throughout the region. In particular, the IACHR wishes to draw attention to the widespread involvement of civil society organizations from different countries, which helped build a broad overview of the human rights situation in the region.

The event included the official presentation of the Report on children and adolescents in the United States’ adult criminal justice system. The report discusses the large numbers of children being tried within the criminal justice system and the conditions in which they are being held at adult prisons. The IACHR particularly appreciates the presence of the US state and two young people who fell victim to being prosecuted as adults and imprisoned with adults while they were still children. Photos of the presentation are available here.

During this period of sessions, the IACHR was also able to find out more about the progress being made on the Inter-American System for Monitoring Recommendations of the IACHR (SIMORE) that was developed in cooperation with the state of Paraguay following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2017. SIMORE is an online tool that systematizes and organizes the recommendations made by the IACHR through its various mechanisms and allows these to be monitored so as to strengthen the follow-up and supervision process.

The IACHR’s Special Follow-Up Team on the investigation into the deaths of journalists Javier Ortega, Paul Rivas, and Efraín Segarra held working meetings that were attended by the victims’ relatives, their legal representatives, and the states of Ecuador and Colombia.

The IACHR also held a working meeting on the Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Ayotzinapa (MESA) at which it was agreed that an official visit would take place in November 2018 to present the final report on the investigation.

The IACHR also hosted the second meeting of the Platform of Independent International and Regional Mechanisms on Violence against Women and Women’s Rights which was launched by the OHCHR special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes, and consequences in March 2018. The rapporteur and the president of the IACHR met with the president of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the president and executive secretary of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), the president of the Follow-Up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention, and with the expert member of the United Nations Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. The meeting focused on sharing information around the activities these mechanisms are undertaking to address current challenges to women’s rights, so as to better coordinate their efforts and mandates to eradicate all threats to these rights.

On October 3, 2018, staff from the secretariat held a training workshop for Paraguayan government officials on the friendly settlement procedure.

The IACHR acknowledges the information it received from civil society representatives at hearings and working meetings expressing their fear over the potential repercussions or consequences they may face when returning to their countries. The IACHR strongly condemns any impediment to a person exercising their right to use the mechanisms of the Inter-American Human Rights System and any type of retaliation or stigmatization by the state in response to a person or organization taking part in or calling on any of the bodies that form part of the inter-American system in the course of exercising their conventional rights. In the terms to article 63 of the IACHR Regulations, the IACHR urges states to adopt protective measures to guarantee the safety of all people who have taken part in the period of sessions or who use any of the tools available to the entire population of the Americas.

The IACHR concluded the 169th Period of Sessions by evaluating the overall outlook for the human rights situation in all countries in the region, especially Nicaragua and Venezuela. It repeated its request to carry out an in loco visit to Venezuela. The IACHR held an informational meeting with the Permanent Council Working Group on Nicaragua at which it stressed the importance of the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI).

The 170th Period of Sessions will be held at the IACHR headquarters in Washington, DC, on December 1–7, 2018. The system for requesting hearings and working meetings at these sessions was available on the IACHR website between August 30 and September 25.

The IACHR will publish an annex to this press release shortly.

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. 220/18