Press Release

IACHR condemns mass shootings and all discourse or form of hate, racism and intolerance in the United States of America

August 6, 2019

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns the mass shootings that took place recently in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee and resulted in at least 34 fatal victims and more than 50 injured persons. The IACHR expresses its solidarity with the victims of these serious events and joins their pain in these very difficult moments.

The IACHR is concerned that mass shootings have been frequent in the past months, leaving the population in a state of vulnerability. In this regard, the massacre in El Paso is of very high concern. According to public information, the attacker wrote a "manifesto" directed against migration and the Hispanic population of the United States. This fact is unconscionable. This would constitute an attack on a population based on its place of origin, in the midst of a national debate on migration in the United States.

The IACHR expresses concern about expressions that stigmatize migrants and other minorities and condemns all crimes motivated by hatred, racism, xenophobia or intolerance. In addition, it reiterates its call on authorities to abstain from public speech that can lead to violence and calls upon the general population to reject any expression that violates human dignity. Hate crimes or speeches based on doctrines of superiority related to social and human differences are morally and legally forbidden, socially unjust, dangerous and contrary to international and Inter-American human rights norms and standards.

The IACHR reiterates that it is the fundamental duty of States to implement well-articulated legislative, political and institutional measures to protect and guarantee the rights to non-discrimination and equality. History shows tragic examples of acts of discrimination that have evolved into crimes occurred by the exacerbation of hatred against certain groups. Therefore, every democratic society must adopt necessary measures to prevent and punish these acts, especially in a regional context with increasing discriminatory public discourses.

Over recent years, the IACHR has strongly condemned numerous mass shootings in the United States and has repeatedly urged the government to adopt effective gun control legislation to prevent and substantially reduce gun-related violence. Many public venues have become the center of this form of violence, including schools, concert venues and places of worship, and little has changed in terms of civilian access to firearms. These latest tragedies again call attention to the urgent need for the adoption of measures that constitute effective gun control policies, along with other measures directed to prevent hate speech in the United States.

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. 193/19