Annex to Press Release 165/21 on the 180th Period of Sessions
1) BO: Situation of the human rights of LGBTI persons in Bolivia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
The organizations who requested the hearing said that the measures adopted in Bolivia against the pandemic had lacked an intersectional focus that took into consideration human rights and diversity, and had therefore led to cases of discrimination against LGBTI persons. These organizations presented the results of an investigation including testimonies and cases of medication shortages for individuals living with HIV, an abundance of messages that stigmatized and pathologized LGBTI persons, violations of the rights of trans persons who engaged in sex work, and discrimination against LBT women and against LGBTI persons who were older, indigenous, or belonged to peasant communities. The State's representatives noted varied progress to protect the human rights of LGBTI persons and stated their commitment to integrating a diversity perspective into the measures adopted during the pandemic. The Commission stressed the importance of the principle of equality and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and on gender identity and expression. The Commission further commended the State for its good disposition—shown by its participation in the hearing—and for recent progress toward ensuring recognition of the human rights of LGBTI persons in Bolivia. The Commission also called for compliance with the recommendations made in various IACHR resolutions concerning human rights and the pandemic, including Resolution 01/2020.
2) BO: Memory, truth, and justice in Bolivia: the work of the Truth Commission
The organizations who requested the hearing and survivors of the dictatorship denounced violence against the victims who have been protesting for nine years before the Justice Ministry to demand memory, truth, and justice. These organizations also noted a failure to comply with Act 2640/2004, which granted redress to victims of the 1964 dictatorship, and pointed to later measures that restricted access to these reparations. The organizations who requested the hearing highlighted the impact on victims of the passage of time and of the pandemic and complained about the poor performance and results of the Truth Commission (CdV) to date. These organizations further complained that the CdV's final report was not public. The State noted the actions it had adopted concerning rights violations in the context of authoritarian governments. In particular, it provided information about the efforts of the CdV and about the declassification of military archives. The State also committed to adopting further policies regarding memory, truth, and justice developed with the input of victims. The IACHR expressed its solidarity with victims and inquired about the justice and redress measures that had been adopted. The IACHR further stressed the need to make CdV findings public, as an essential aspect of this institution's impact.
3) HO: Sexual and reproductive rights in Honduras
The organizations who requested the hearing said that recent reform of the constitution had led to a complete ban on abortion and increased the number of Congress votes needed for further changes on this matter. These organizations noted that the reform had been adopted in a single swift Congress session, without the participation of civil society organizations. According to the organizations who requested the hearing, the reform was passed in a context with high rates of sexual violence and with a ban on emergency contraception, which had led to an increase in the number of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. These organizations noted an increase in the criminalization and stigmatization of women, even in cases of obstetric emergencies. The State said that legislative progress had been made concerning a ban on child marriage and efforts to promote responsible fatherhood, prevent unwanted pregnancies, and provide comprehensive sex education. The State further stressed its cooperation with international human rights organizations and women's organizations to improve the protection of rights. The IACHR expressed its concern both about the process that had led to the adoption of this reform and about the reform's content and goals, because they have a disproportionate impact on the rights of women. The IACHR called on the State to foster internal dialogue among the three branches of government to ensure compliance with the country's international commitments and protect the exercise of the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls in a context of equality.
4) TT: Situation of the human rights of migrant persons and individuals who are deprived of liberty in Trinidad and Tobago
The organizations who requested the hearing informed the IACHR of various efforts allegedly made by the State of Trinidad and Tobago to protect the human rights of migrant persons. However, these organizations noted that the State still considered the arrival of undocumented migrant persons illegal and therefore provided for the months-long detentions of these individuals in appalling conditions. These organizations further said that migrant women and girls were more vulnerable to human trafficking. The State of Trinidad and Tobago did not attend the hearing. The Commission said it was disappointed that the State had not taken part in the hearing. The IACHR noted that it would follow up on the situation through its monitoring mechanisms and expressed a specific concern about the allegations made concerning human trafficking and the exploitation of women and girls in the country. In particular, the Commission called on the State to take into consideration the resolutions issued to protect these groups in the context of the pandemic, especially Resolutions 01/2020 and 01/2021.
5) CH: Situation of freedom of expression among social communications specialists in Chile
The organizations who requested the hearing described various instances of alleged interference by the State with the exercise of freedom of the press in Chile. In particular, these organizations alleged official pressure on the news outlet La Red for publishing interviews and features that were allegedly uncomfortable for the government; public statements issued by the Armed Forces against a satire produced by the channel La Red on cases of fraud in the Army; and alleged phone tapping and surveillance of journalists in Chile by military intelligence personnel. The State stressed its commitment to its human rights obligations. The State further noted that Chile's legal framework protected the right to freedom of expression in the media and that the authorities had no intention to interfere with this but sought to enforce media autonomy instead. The IACHR stressed that the right to freedom of expression is essential for democratic societies and that the relevant inter-American standards require that the authorities tolerate higher levels of criticism and scrutiny based on the nature of their roles. The Commission further stressed its availability to provide technical support for the State and offered to organize a visit to Chile by its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression.
6) CH: Case 14,483—Gabriela Andrea Amigo Amigo, Claudia Andrea Amigo Bravo, and Claudia Margarita Calderón Esquivel, Chile
This case involves the authorities' alleged refusal to recognize adolescent girl Gabriela Amigo as the daughter of Claudia Calderón, because the two belong to a family with lesbian mothers. The Commission heard the testimony of the alleged victims, as well as allegations from both parties concerning the matter's admissibility and merits. The petitioning party noted that the three women were suffering discrimination—because Chilean law would allow the daughter to be formally recognized if this were a heterosexual couple—and that Claudia Calderón had not been recognized as Gabriela Amigo's parent simply because she was a woman and a lesbian. The petitioning party presented the judicial measures that had been taken and alleged that no domestic legal measures were available within Chile for these women to obtain parental recognition. The State said this petition was inadmissible because it stemmed from an inappropriate remedy that made it impossible for the country's courts to make a decision on the matter. The State further mentioned the Marriage Equality bill, which would enable a path for adoption. The IACHR stressed the need to prioritize the child's best interests in such cases and will address this case in the relevant merits report.
7) CB: Patterns in the persecution of human rights defenders and situation of women human rights defenders in Cuba
The organizations who requested the hearing noted the existence of new patterns for persecution and violation of the human rights of rights defenders. In particular, these organizations alleged the following: (i) use of healthcare facilities to detain and isolate defenders and to subject them to unwanted treatment; (ii) arbitrary confiscation of humanitarian aid and hurdles for the assistential work of activists and civil society organizations; and (iii) unwarranted enforcement of regulations linked to COVID-19 prevention to impose fines and conduct arbitrary arrests. The organizations who requested the hearing further noted the differential impact of harassment and intimidation on women defenders, including threats targeting their children. The IACHR is disappointed that the Cuban State did not take part in the hearing. The Commission stressed its profound concern about the increase in human rights violations against rights defenders and the need to expose new persecution patterns, as well as their differential impact on women defenders. The Commission further stressed its commitment to supporting civil society organizations in Cuba.
8) AR: Case 13,541—Mirta Elizabeth Canelo Castaño and family, Argentina
This case involves allegations of ill-treatment, lack of medical care, and death in State custody in 2006 concerning Mirta Canelo Castaño, who was in solitary confinement at the time in the custody of the Buenos Aires Province Prison Services. The hearing sought to hear the allegations made by both parties about the merits of the matter and any potential redress. The petitioning party again rejected the suicide hypothesis that was adopted in this investigation and stressed that the events that led to Canelo Castaño's death remained unclear. The petitioning party said that there had been contradictions in statements, probes, and evidence in criminal proceedings and noted that prison authorities had failed to provide the psychiatric care the alleged victim needed. The petitioning party further said that Canelo Castaño's family had suffered cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment—including forced nudity—when visiting her in detention. The State said it would seek a friendly settlement that included an admission of responsibility in this case. The State noted it had complied with a court ruling that provided for financial compensation for the alleged victim's daughter and said the investigation in this case had provided an adequate, convincing explanation of these events. The IACHR will address this case in the relevant merits report.
9) US: Situation of the human rights of migrants and detention facilities in the United States
The organizations who requested the hearing informed the IACHR of persistent human rights violations in detention facilities for migrants and other individuals in human mobility contexts. These organizations alleged instances of sexual abuse; gynecological treatment without consent (including forced sterilization); and poor protection against the COVID-19 virus. The State further expressed its commitment to continued work to ensure safe and orderly migration. The State also said that it was making progress in investigations of allegations of human rights violations in detention facilities for migrants and other individuals in human mobility contexts, and in efforts to improve opportunities for the affected individuals to request protection, as well as to prevent the deportation of individuals who are at risk. The Commission noted the measures reportedly adopted by the State to protect migrants and other individuals in human mobility contexts. The IACHR stressed the need to provide comprehensive redress to victims of human rights violations, whatever their nationality.
10) GT: Case 12,920—Spencer Friend Montehermoso and Walter Panezzo, Guatemala
This case involves alleged violations of Spencer Friend's right to life and Walter Panezzo's right to personal integrity due to shots fired by Guatemalan Navy officers to stop the boat in which both Ecuadorian citizens were travelling, as well as the subsequent failure to investigate these events. The hearing sought to hear the allegations made by both parties about the merits of the matter and any potential redress. The petitioning party alleged that the State was responsible for its officers' disproportionate, unreasonable, and abusive use of force. The petitioning party further alleged a violation of the rights to a fair trial and to judicial protection, given the impunity that shrouded these events. The State said that the military raid in question had been conducted with full respect for both Guatemala's domestic regulations and the relevant international standards. The State said that its officers had complied with the rule of law and that these events had involved no human rights violations. The IACHR will address this case in the relevant merits report.
11) CO: Case 13,163—Carlos Arturo Ibarra Bernal and others, Colombia
This case involves the State's alleged responsibility for the forced disappearance of Carlos Augusto Ibarra Bernal and six other officers linked to the Technical Investigations Department at the Office of Colombia's Attorney General by members of the paramilitary Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) in the Verdecia area, in the Cesar department, on March 9, 2002. The hearing sought to hear statements from the mother and wife of two of the alleged victims, as well as the parties' verbal allegations concerning the matter's admissibility and merits. The petitioning party said the Colombian State had not fulfilled its duty to prevent and investigate these events and to punish the people responsible for them. The petitioning party further noted that no diligent or adequate searches for the missing individuals had been conducted. The wife of one of the alleged victims said they had received neither support nor reparations from the State and noted that it was essential to find these missing persons and to know the truth about what happened to them. "21 years of uncertainty amount to a slow death," she said. The State said it was sorry about events in this case and expressed its solidarity. However, it also deemed the petition inadmissible, because domestic remedies had allegedly not been exhausted and because the case did not entail a rights violation caused by a forced disappearance, since the involvement or consent of officers of the State in these events had not been proved. Representatives of the State said it had acted with due diligence in efforts to investigate these events and punish the people responsible for them. The IACHR will declare whether this case is admissible and may eventually address its merits in a report.
12) CO: PM-51-15—Wayuu indigenous people settled in the La Guajira department, Colombia
The organizations who requested the hearing reported on the general situation in the humanitarian crisis that was allegedly affecting beneficiaries, amid drinking water shortages, food insecurity, and a lack of adequate medical care. This situation had allegedly caused the preventable deaths of several beneficiaries. These organizations said that the action that had been taken in line with these precautionary measures had unfortunately not been agreed with them and that the actions of the State lacked a culturally appropriate focus. The State said it had created an intersectoral committee that allegedly enabled comprehensive work to comply with the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR and with court ruling T-302-2017, especially concerning access to water, food security, and healthcare. The State reported on the action it had taken to conduct consultations and to implement public policies to reduce mortality and child malnutrition, among other measures taken for all the Wayuu people, including beneficiaries of these precautionary measures. The Commission acknowledged the various actions adopted by the State and valued State efforts to address the situation of the Wayuu people. The IACHR further stressed the importance of dialogue and of agreeing with beneficiaries' representatives on any action that needed to be taken, noting that this was a sensitive issue involving basic needs. The IACHR thanked the parties for the information they had provided and expressed its willingness to take part in meetings between them, and to consider a potential visit to the relevant territories to promote the implementation of these precautionary measures.
13) GU: Human rights situation of women in Guatemala
The organizations who requested the hearing alleged instances of criminalization of women rights defenders, as well as instances of persecution, slander, surveillance, and control against the media and against independent journalists. These organizations further told the IACHR about actions that amounted to weakening the institutions in charge of protecting the rights of women and girls and noted their concern about regressive public policies on this matter. The State reported on a set of measures it had adopted to protect women and girls. In particular, the State highlighted the development of comprehensive assistance protocols for women who are victims of violence and efforts to strengthen the institutions in charge of protecting these women's rights. The State further noted that it would provide further details after the hearing. The Commission asked the Guatemalan State for information on any action or measures adopted to ensure the participation of women in the design of public policies, as well as official data on violence against women in the country.
14) ES: General situation of human rights in El Salvador
This was an ex-officio hearing that the Commission convened of its own accord. The organizations who took part in the hearing said that the actions of the executive and legislative branches of government had seriously affected democratic institutions and judicial independence in El Salvador in recent months. These organizations alleged that the removals of members of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court and of the country's attorney general had violated checks and balances and impacted individual rights to judicial protection and to a fair trial. The organizations who took part in the hearing further expressed their concern about the militaristic approach taken in citizen security policies, about the recent rise in the numbers of murders of women and of disappearances of individuals, and about a lack of access to information concerning the Territorial Control Plan. These organizations described an adverse scenario for the defense of human rights and the exercise of journalism. Finally, these organizations requested a visit by the IACHR Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Justice Operators and the IACHR's Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. The IACHR was disappointed that the State of Nicaragua had failed to take part in the hearing and noted the report it submitted instead. The Commission further said that it had been closely monitoring these matters and was close to completing a country report. The IACHR inquired about additional issues including gender-based violence and the situation of individuals who were deprived of liberty. The IACHR stressed that the independence of the various branches of government and the availability of platforms for dialogue are essential for democracies.
15) NI: Situation of political rights in the ongoing electoral process in Nicaragua
The organization who requested the hearing provided the IACHR with data concerning an unwarranted restriction of civil and political rights in the ongoing electoral process in Nicaragua, following the adoption and enforcement of laws that violate the American Convention. Restrictions include harassment, surveillance, and threats against individuals who are identified as opposition activists and arrests and criminalization of individuals who are presidential candidates, social and political leaders, and human rights defenders. This organization also noted that the electoral reforms that have been adopted this year will further restrict political rights and the chance to hold free and fair elections in the country. The Commission expressed its disappointment with the State of Nicaragua's absence from the hearing and stressed its concern about increased repression ahead of this year's elections. The IACHR urged the State to ensure the restoration of human rights in Nicaragua. The Commission further urged the State not to retaliate against the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH, by its Spanish acronym) for its involvement in the hearing and for its work in defense of human rights.
16) RE: Use of remote hearings in criminal justice proceedings in the Americas, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
The organizations who requested the hearing informed the IACHR of their concern about the use of remote hearings in criminal justice proceedings in the Americas, implemented in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, these organizations argued that the widespread use of remote hearings had led to an increase in the application of pretrial detention, violations of due process, and rollbacks in the fight against torture. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that States must respect the legality principle, the rule of law, and due process guarantees even in states of emergency. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted the need to take all detainees before a judge, without delay, to identify potential instances of torture. The Commission noted the disproportionate impact of remote hearings on individuals who are deprived of liberty and who are particularly at risk. The IACHR noted its Resolution 01/2020 and stressed States' obligation to refrain from cancelling adequate judicial proceedings aimed at ensuring the full exercise of rights and liberties, including restrictions of individual freedom in the context of a pandemic.
17) VE: Situation of the right to health of children and adolescents in Venezuela
At this hearing, children and adolescents with chronic diseases provided information about the deterioration of Venezuela's healthcare system, including the general cancellation of bone marrow transplants and various forms of kidney and liver treatment. Venezuela's permanent representatives before the OAS, appointed by the country's National Assembly, commended the children and adolescents who took part in the hearing for their courage, and said these minors' situation was being made worse by the country's structural crisis. The IACHR expressed its solidarity with the individuals who requested the hearing and stressed how important it is for States to pursue the best interests of children and adolescents. The IACHR further stressed its commitment to defending and promoting human rights in Venezuela, despite the State's refusal to comply with its international obligations.
18) BR: Situation of human rights in Brazil in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
The organizations who requested the hearing described the situation of human rights in Brazil during the pandemic, focusing on economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights, freedom of expression, access to information, and the situation of vulnerable groups. These organizations noted that, during the pandemic, social spending had been cut and the provision of public services had been restricted. The organizations who requested the hearing further noted the increase in the number of people living in poverty and the differential impact of the pandemic on women, children and adolescents, indigenous peoples, and individuals who are Afro-descendant or Quilombolas. The State reported on the main measures it had adopted to contain the pandemic and protect human rights, including priority assistance to vulnerable groups, emergency subsidies in programs like Bolsa Família, and strengthened services to file complaints. The Commission expressed its solidarity with individuals affected by COVID-19 and stressed how important it is for any measures adopted in the pandemic to involve adequate federal coordination. The IACHR also stressed that any such measures must ensure access to information and assistance for vulnerable groups—including women and children and adolescents—as well as free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples and Quilombola communities.
19) BR: PM-563-20—Yanomami people and Ye'kwana people; PM-679-20—Munduruku people; and PM-754-20—Guajajara e Awá people, concerning Brazil
Beneficiaries' representatives alleged an increase in the risks faced by the three indigenous peoples covered by these precautionary measures, given the ongoing presence of intruders on their land. Intruders entail increased risks of infection with pathogens like COVID-19 and of pollution with mercury used in illegal mining. Special Indigenous Healthcare Districts have insufficient capacity to address these problems. Beneficiaries' representatives spoke of an escalation of violence and denounced the persecution of indigenous leaders who complained of this situation. The State noted that, while challenges remained for the implementation of precautionary measures, police raids had been conducted to fight illegal mining on indigenous land and other procedures had been implemented to protect the relevant territories, including a reopening of Bases for Ethnic-Environmental Protection and campaigns to apply vaccines against COVID-19 in indigenous territories. The IACHR expressed its concern about the increase in violence due to the presence of unauthorized individuals in indigenous territories and called on the State to step up its efforts to address the problem. The IACHR further stressed the importance of taking measures to foster dialogue between the parties and the creation of platforms that facilitate dialogue to support the implementation of these precautionary measures.
20) MX: Protecting the human rights of individuals in human mobility contexts in Mexico
The organizations who requested the hearing complained to the IACHR that the militarization of migration policy and border management in the north and south of Mexico was allegedly leading to summary deportations that did not ensure due process; to the emergence of barriers for access to protection mechanisms; and to detentions of individuals in human mobility contexts. The State reported that it was working to ensure orderly, safe, and regular migration and to strengthen its asylum system. This involved taking measures to ensure safe procedures for entry and for full integration into the State; records of new requests for protection and for resolutions of open proceedings; and the provision of alternative forms of accommodation for individuals in human mobility contexts. The IACHR expressed its concern about allegations of violations to the human rights of individuals in human mobility contexts in Mexico. The Commission also stressed the need to integrate an intersectional approach into the protection of vulnerable individuals and groups.
21) MX: Protecting the human rights of rights defenders and communications professionals in Mexico
The organizations who requested the hearing denounced a worsening of public statements issued by authorities at different levels of government to delegitimize the work of human rights defenders and journalists. These organizations noted that stigmatizing discourse multiplies violence against these groups and also has differential impacts on women who are rights defenders or journalists. The Mexican State expressed its commitment to respecting and protecting freedom of expression. The State reported on the measures it had taken to increase the budget of the relevant protection mechanism, ensure that this mechanism integrates defenders and journalists, and improve coordination between federal and local authorities to ensure effective protection. The IACHR noted the importance of developing comprehensive, participatory public policies to foster and recognize the work of rights defenders and journalists and also to integrate in it intersectional and gender perspectives.