Press Release

IACHR Presents Performance Report and Results Relating to Friendly Settlements for the First Half of 2019

July 22, 2019

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Washington D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announces that in the first half of 2019, it implemented different initiatives to promote negotiations and compliance with friendly settlement agreements, as well as activities to promote the friendly settlement mechanism as an alternative to litigation for reaching solutions for petitions and cases that are processed by the IACHR as part of the comprehensive reparation of victims of human rights violations.

In this regard, in the first six months of 2019, the IACHR facilitated 39 working meetings on different matters being negotiated and monitored as part of the implementation of friendly settlement agreements. These included both in-person and online meetings, as part of the IACHR’s drive to adopt new methodologies to foster the signing of agreements and compliance with these. In a similar vein, 50 bilateral and tripartite video conferences were held and attended by petitioners, States, IACHR commissioners, and facilitators from the Friendly Settlement Section (FSS). During these meetings, alternative dispute resolution methods were implemented, which was a major step forward in opening permanent, fluid channels of dialogue for managing cases through the friendly settlement mechanism.

The FSS held six planning meetings with representatives from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay to follow up on the roadmaps the parties created together during the negotiations and to identify areas where there is an opportunity for progress to be made on the different stages of friendly settlement processes.

The new methodologies that have been implemented include work to publicize agreements that have been signed and to ensure compliance with them. To this end, the IACHR has issued 17 press releases over the course of 2019. The data on total compliance with friendly settlement agreements has now been fully systematized, including on those that are no longer being monitored, so as to demonstrate the individual and structural impact that friendly settlement agreements have had to date. This information will be published shortly on the IACHR website.

As a result of IACHR facilitation and the will of States and petitioners to make progress using channels other than litigation, seven friendly settlement agreements have been signed. On January 21, April 3, and June 12 and 28, 2019, friendly settlement agreements were signed for cases 12.961 A, Bolívar Salgado Welban and others, 12.961 C, Marcial Coello Medina and others, and 12.961 D, Jorge Enrique Valladares Argueñal and others, concerning Honduras. These cases referred to the arbitrary dismissal of more than 350 police officers in the country. On May 23 and June 21, 2019, friendly settlement agreements were also signed in cases 13.017 A and C, Relatives of Victims of the Military Dictatorship, in relation to the serious human rights violations that occurred in Panama between October 1968 and December 1989. Finally, the parties subscribed on June 4, 2019, a FSA in case 12.934, Patients of the Psychiatric Hospital of Panama. The IACHR deems these seven friendly settlement agreements to be emblematic due to their nature, the type of violations they seek to redress, and the number of beneficiaries involved.

Over the course of the year, the FSS handled 33 cases, including six approvals, the closing of 14 negotiations at the parties’ request, and the archiving of 13 cases due to inactivity or at the request of the petitioning party. The IACHR decided to approve the following friendly settlement agreements that were reached and published in 2019: 11.990 A, Oscar Orlando Bueno Bonnet and Another, concerning Colombia; 12.190, José Luis Tapia and Others, concerning Chile; 12.942, Emilia Morales Campos, concerning Costa Rica; 13.408, Alberto Patishtán Gámez and P-1014-06, Antonio Jacinto López; and Case 13.017 C, Relatives of Victims of the Military Dictatorship in Panama. It should be noted that of the six friendly settlement agreements that were approved, the three concerning Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico, respectively, achieved full compliance at the time of their publication. This is a significant demonstration of states’ willingness to implement the measures included in friendly settlement processes and to build trust on the basis of compliance with the agreements. It is important to point out that during the same period in 2018; just two friendly settlement agreements were reached. It is estimated that the number of agreements approved and published by the end of July 2019 will have reached levels that have not been seen since 2001.

The IACHR has also played a part in implementing friendly settlement agreements in 2019. In this regard, Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva made two working visits to Argentina in the first half of 2019. During the first visit, which took place from April 3 to 8, Commissioner Vargas Silva presided over the official unveiling of a plaque relating to the implementation of the friendly settlement agreement for Case 12.854, Report No. 36/17, Ricardo Javier Kaplun, which took place at the 14B Neighborhood Police Station in Buenos Aires and was attended by high-ranking state authorities and the victim’s relatives. After this event, and in keeping with clause 3 of this agreement, which relates to measures of non-repetition, the parties and Commissioner Vargas Silva toured several different districts to verify whether detention facilities complied with human rights standards and included appropriate security cameras, as stipulated in the friendly settlement agreement.

During a second working visit which took place between June 3 and 5, 2019, Commissioner Vargas Silva met with provincial authorities in Mendoza and the relatives of people who have been deprived of their liberty in order to gather information on their predicament. Commissioner Vargas Silva visited the Almafuerte and San Felipe penitentiary complexes as part of PM-35-14 and Case 12.532 (Penitentiaries of Mendoza) to verify the implementation of the IACHR’s decisions regarding the friendly settlement agreement and precautionary measure in question, and held working meetings on these matters that were attended by representatives and the state authorities involved in implementing them.

On May 27, 2019, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, in her capacity as president of the IACHR, and Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, in her capacity as IACHR rapporteur for Uruguay, took part in the Seminar on the Impacts of the IACHR Friendly Settlement Procedure on Developing Uruguay’s Regulatory Framework, which was held in Montevideo. This event was part of compliance with the friendly settlement agreement signed in response to petition 1224-07, David Rabinovich, concerning Uruguay.

In the process of drafting its 2018 Annual Report, the IACHR found that progress had been made on implementing 106 measures: full compliance was achieved on 69 reparation measures; substantial partial compliance on 20 reparation measures; and partial compliance on 17 reparation measures. The IACHR observed a considerable increase in total compliance with reparation measures, as compared to the 16 clauses with which full compliance was declared in 2017. In addition, the IACHR assessed the following six friendly settlement agreements and declared that these had been fully complied with: Case 12.710, Report No. 102/14, Marcos Gilberto Chaves and Sandra Chaves, Argentina; Case 12.475, Report No. 97/05, Alfredo Díaz Bustos, Bolivia; Case 12.769, Report No. 65/14, Irineo Martínez Torres y Candelario, Mexico; Petition 288-08, Report No. 69/16, Jesús Salvador Ferreyra González, Peru; Petition 1339-07, Report No. 70/16, Tito Guido Gallegos Gallegos, Peru, and Case 12.383, Report No. 137/17, Néstor Alejandro Albornoz Eyzaguirre, Peru.

In the second half of 2019, the IACHR will continue to facilitate negotiations on the 102 cases that are currently being negotiated through the friendly settlement procedure, 35 of which are at the admissibility stage and 67 of which are at the merits stage. To this end, the negotiation processes were analyzed in detail and strategies were designed to help them move forward. Friendly settlement agreements have already been signed for 43 of these processes, and the FSS will continue to monitor and promote these until they have been passed and fully complied with or until the process has been closed, in those cases in which the parties do not wish to continue implementing them. In the same vein, spaces for dialogue will continue to be implemented to enable new friendly settlement agreements to be reached on the 59 remaining issues. The IACHR is also moving ahead with the periodic monitoring of 73 agreements that have already been published, the implementation of which is being supervised through the Annual Report. The IACHR has already begun to gather information for this process.

The IACHR will also continue to adopt new methodologies to streamline negotiation processes and increase compliance levels with friendly settlement agreements, along with the number of new matters that enter the friendly settlement process through a pilot project.

Finally, the Commission takes the opportunity to invite the users of the petition system and individual cases before the IACHR, both States and petitioners or victims, to avail them of the friendly settlement procedure as it is an effective mechanism for the comprehensive reparation of the victims' rights.

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. 179/19