IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a working visit to Colombia over the period May 15–19, 2023, to hold various activities linked to the friendly settlement mechanism and to compliance with merits reports. The IACHR delegation was led by Commissioner Joel Hernández, the Commission's Rapporteur for Colombia.
On May 16, five working meetings were held concerning compliance with merits reports issued in keeping with Article 50 of the American Convention. Commissioner Hernández also took part in the signing of two compliance agreements. The information gathered by the delegation will enable further monitoring of these cases, which will support the decision on whether these agreements are published or the relevant cases are taken to the Inter-American Court.
On May 17, a discussion was held to address the friendly settlement mechanism and its transformative impact, with the headline "Friendly settlements in Colombia: One step closer to victims", which featured the participation of 19 panelists and moderators, including Commissioner Joel Hernández, the IACHR's Assistant Executive Secretary for the Petition and Case System Jorge H. Meza, experts from civil society, State officials, and academics, all of whom shared their impressions about progress made, pending challenges, and good practices concerning friendly settlements.
As part of the discussion, the booklet "Friendly settlements in Colombia: A mechanism for reconciliation"—produced by Colombia's National Legal Defense Agency to report on the friendly settlement procedure and its achievements in the country—was launched and distributed through a QR code during the event.
Likewise, the meeting also served to foster compliance with friendly settlement agreements in cases 12,490—Asmeth Yamith Salazar and 14,003—Maria Regina Ocampo, through the realization of two events where the State acknowledged its international responsibility for the relevant rights violations.
On May 18, Commissioner Hernández and the technical staff of the IACHR Executive Secretariat's Friendly Settlement Department took part in events to sign friendly settlement agreements and to acknowledge responsibility for rights violations in cases 14,906—Eladia Méndez Bautista; 13,711—Levis Elcener Centeno Cuero and Family; 13,971—Merardo Iván Vahos Arcila and Family; and 14,887—Blanca Ruth Sánchez de Franco and Family. The IACHR delegation also took part in working meetings where two further friendly settlement agreements were signed, in cases 13,973—Zoilo de Jesús Rojas Ortiz and 14,808—Diego Felipe Becerra Lizarazo and Family.
Later, the booklet on friendly settlements and their transformative impact on Colombia was further distributed during the Seventh State Official Training Workshop Concerning the Procedural Aspects of Friendly Settlements. This workshop was led by the technical staff of the IACHR Executive Secretariat's Friendly Settlement and Monitoring Department, for State officials from various institutions involved in negotiating and implementing friendly settlement agreements. The workshop sought to make participants more considerate in their work with victims of human rights violations and to support interinstitutional cooperation that effectively enables comprehensive reparation.
The Commission thanks Colombia's National Legal Defense Agency for articulating this visit and for providing the logistics required to hold events in the context of this working visit. The IACHR further thanks the Universidad Externado de Colombia for hosting the IACHR delegation and helping to promote the friendly settlement mechanism, and also for bringing the work of the Commission closer to university students.
The IACHR welcomes and values the Colombian State's efforts to develop a policy to promote the search for friendly settlements, compliance with friendly settlement agreements, and resolutions in matters handled by the individual petition and case system. The IACHR notes the State's efforts to get closer to victims and their representatives respectfully and in a considerate manner, to enable a joint search for comprehensive reparation measures.
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.