Media Center

Press Release


  June 7, 2005

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – The President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Clare K. Roberts, said today that despite some positive advances over the past year, there have been “serious threats and setbacks to the protection of human rights, the rule of law, and the consolidating and strengthening of democracy in the hemisphere.”

“These obstacles have grown out of an environment characterized by deteriorating economic and social conditions in various countries, corruption in the public and private spheres, increases in crime and citizen insecurity, and the marginalization of sectors of our societies through social exclusion and discrimination,” Roberts said, as he presented the Commission’s 2004 annual report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Roberts called attention to various situations of concern to the Commission, including the unrest and “deterioration of democracy” in Bolivia and the recent events that led to the resignation of President Lucio Gutiérrez of Ecuador. Haiti continues to suffer “a grave political and economic crisis” under its transitional government, and in Cuba, “there has been no significant change in the systematic repression against dissidents, human rights defenders and independent journalists,” Roberts said.

The Commission President also expressed concern about the impact of Colombia’s internal armed conflict on the civilian population and in particular, on indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent communities and displaced persons. “The Commission is particularly concerned about the attacks and threats against human rights defenders,” he said.

“Regarding the demobilization of paramilitary groups, this process has moved forward despite complaints on the violation of the agreed cessation of hostilities and the lack of an appropriate legal framework clarifying the conditions under which those responsible for the commission of crimes are to demobilize,” Roberts said. “While the support of the international community is an asset to the demobilization process, such support ought to be reassessed to ensure that the three key aspects of truth, justice and reparations for the victims of the conflict are at the core of this effort,” he added.

Roberts, who was accompanied by the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton, urged the member states to strengthen the inter-American system for human rights protections through universal participation in its instruments and mechanisms. He also stressed the importance of compliance with the decisions of the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and urged states to become “collective guarantors of the system.”

Another challenges for the human rights system is the urgent problem of limited financial resources, the Commission President said. “We cannot continue to operate without an increase in funding,” he stated.

Reference: E-117/05