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OAS Permanent Council Discussed the Death Penalty in the Americas and Received Joint Haiti-Dominican Republic Declaration

  January 15, 2014

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today debated the death penalty in the Americas and received a joint statement from Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the issue of migration between the two countries, during a regular meeting held at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington, DC.

The Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS, Emilio Rabasa, reported that his mission called for the inclusion of the issue of the death penalty on the agenda because for his country the matter, "from the perspective of promoting and protecting human rights, should be listed as a priority issue on the agenda of our Organization, its highest political authorities and its bodies and specialized mechanisms." Ambassador Rabasa said that "a group of delegations of member states, including Mexico, and observer missions to the OAS, have promoted and accompanied several initiatives on the abolition of the death penalty in the Americas or a moratorium on its application prior to its repeal."

The Mexican representative called for abolishing the death penalty in the region, and indicated that in recent years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published the report "The Death Penalty in the Inter-American Human Rights System: From Restriction to Abolition.” . In addition, he recalled that the OAS hosted a Policy Roundtable on the subject, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, the IACHR convened a hearing public entitled "the Death Penalty in the Americas," and the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Enrique Castillo, read a statement on the issue during the General Assembly of the OAS in Antigua Guatemala, on behalf of a group of countries interested in the subject.

Numerous permanent Council representatives took the floor to explain the different positions of their countries on the death penalty, ranging from absolute opposition to those who consider the death penalty as the result of a democratic process and a debate that in many cases remains open. The Permanent Council took note of the discussion.

In another agenda item, Flavio Medina, Alternate Representative of the Dominican Republic to the OAS, read a joint statement from the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic on migration between countries. The Declaration emphasizes that a joint meeting on the subject held on January 7, representatives from both countries had a "frank, constructive and enlightening" dialogue about the situation created by the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic on September 23 on the legal status of immigrants and their descendants in the country.

For his part, the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS Duly Brutus, added that participants in the meeting also discussed the political cooperation between countries in the areas of agriculture, customs, combating organized crime and drug trafficking. Ambassador Brutus quoted the words of the Foreign Minister of Haiti, Pierre- Richard Casimir, on the subject, who expressed concern that the plan will not resolve the issue of Dominicans of Haitian descent affected by the decision of the Dominican Constitutional Court. "We pledge to continue to ensure compliance with human rights, which represents a constant struggle for the countries of the region," quoted the Permanent Representative of Haiti.

Presiding over the Council for the first time, the Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic, Pedro Vergés, pledged to support the deliberations over the Strategic Vision of the OAS and increase the "understanding between groups or blocks of countries participating in the Organization."

In the first item on the agenda, the Council welcomed the new Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the OAS, Elisa Ruiz Diaz. "I come to offer my most sincere cooperation to continue to build consensus on all issues on the agenda," said Ambassador Ruiz Diaz," and in particular the challenge of the new Strategic Vision of the OAS," she said . "Defining the Strategic Vision is a brilliant opportunity we must not miss," said the Permanent Representative of Paraguay, who recalled that her country will host the next OAS General Assembly in June.

In addition, the Council bid farewell to the Permanent Representative of Guatemala, Jose Rodrigo Vielmann, who was called by the government to serve as Deputy Foreign Minister. The Chair of the Council, Ambassador Vergés said that "while we regret your departure, we are glad to know that President Otto Perez Molina has called you to serve as Deputy Foreign Minister, from which important position you will play a vital role for your country."

In his parting address, Ambassador Vielmann highlighted the role that served his country in the debate on the World Drug Problem in the Americas, which was the central theme of the 43rd OAS General Assembly of the, held last June in Antigua Guatemala, and recalled that the issue will be debated at an Special General Assembly this year.

The Deputy Secretary General of the OAS, and the delegations of Haiti (on behalf of CARICOM), Nicaragua (on behalf of SICA), Venezuela (on behalf of ALADI), Mexico, the United States, Canada and Colombia took the floor during the farewell to Ambassador Vielmann.

The Permanent Council will continue tomorrow at 10:00 ET (15:00 GMT) with the agenda from today's meeting, which was suspended due to time constraints.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-012/14