IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C.—Between July 10 and 21, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 187th Period of Sessions in a hybrid format from Washington, DC. During the Period of Sessions, 19 public hearings were held on human rights issues in the Americas and OAS Member States, along with internal sessions on issues that are key to the IACHR’s institutional mandate.
At the hearings, the IACHR received information from States and civil society on gender-based violence in Belize, indigenous peoples in Argentina and Canada, the use of facial recognition technology and parental alienation law in Brazil, and LGBTI people deprived of their freedom in Venezuela. Citizen security in Haiti and the state of emergency in El Salvador were also addressed. Four hearings were held on cases pending before the IACHR: Case 14.293, Otilia Inés Lux García de Coti v. Guatemala; Case 13.955, Gabriel Alejandro Vasco Toapanta v. Ecuador; Case 13.599 Ariel Osvaldo Mollar v. Argentina; and Case 14.736 of 37 people with disabilities detained at Casa Esperanza v. Mexico.
At the regional hearings, the IACHR highlighted the importance of addressing the causes of forced displacement, human trafficking, and human mobility by committing to cooperation and sharing responsibility among States, paying particular attention to obtaining official statistical data. It also recognized the work of female relatives of people who are deprived of their freedom, especially the provision of care and emotional responsibility.
The IACHR also highlighted the relationship between strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) and the absence of judicial independence. It underlined the importance of bringing informal employment into the public debate, specifically in how it affects people’s possibilities of living a life of dignity. It also noted that data collection is essential if States are to eradicate obstetric violence against vulnerable women, such as those with disabilities, people of African descent, indigenous women, young or adolescent women, and transgender people in the region.
During the second week of the 187th Period of Sessions, the IACHR met with 27 States from the Americas and approved nine reports. It also selected Javier Palummo as the new Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights and forwarded its decision to the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, who expressed his agreement with the appointment.
The IACHR held a high-level dialogue with the Caribbean Court of Justice, where it discussed the main obstacles to preventing cases of violence and discrimination against vulnerable groups, such as women and LGBTI people. Likewise, it held a technical meeting with civil society organizations and networks from the region on early warning methodologies around risks and how democratic institutions may be affected, as well as preventive actions.
A presentation was also made on the main findings of the report Women Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, which was launched in June 2023. The presentation highlighted the importance of States incorporating gender perspective and intersectional approaches in criminal, penitentiary and social reintegration policies, and the application of alternative measures to imprisonment.
The Forum "Access to Inter-American Justice" was another noteworthy activity, that took place in compliance with the commitments set forth in the Strategic Plan 2023-2027. It represented the first event in the cycle of reflections and experiences for timely justice at the IACHR. Representatives of international organizations, civil society and academia participated in this space, as well as national bodies with experience in case processing.
The Secretary General, Luis Almagro, the President of the Commission, Margarette May Macaulay, and the Executive Secretary, Tania Reneaum, participated in the opening, while the first and second vice-presidents of the Commission acted as moderators in the panels. Among the speakers were Judges of the European Court of Human Rights, a Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Prosecutor of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court, the head of the Human Rights Treaty Branch of OHCHR and the Magistrate of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) of Colombia, as well as other relevant legal figures.
The IACHR wishes to thank the States and civil society organizations for taking part in the 187th session. It noted that according to Article 63 of its Rules of Procedure, States must guarantee the safety of all those who take part in the Period of Sessions and may not take reprisals against them or their family members in response to their statements or the opinions they provide the IACHR.
This press release is accompanied by an annex (available in Spanish) containing summaries of the public hearings held during this Period of Sessions. Videos of the hearings are available on the IACHR YouTube channel, and photos can be found on its Flickr account.
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.