Press Release

IACHR Presents its Annual Report

May 7, 2015

A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today presents its 2014 Annual Report, which offers all users of the inter-American human rights system accessible, comprehensive, and relevant information concerning the Commission’s work and resources. The publication of this report seeks to promote compliance with the Commission’s decisions, ensure accessibility to victims, give an accounting of the petition and case system, and report on the human rights situation in the region.

The report has six chapters. The first gives a general overview of the Commission’s activities during the year. Chapter II provides an accounting of how cases, petitions, and precautionary measures have been handled, through a new system of interactive graphs. Besides displaying general information for the entire region, this system makes it possible to select a country or group of countries to access information concerning petitions, cases, and precautionary measures and to do year-to-year comparisons.

Chapter III covers the activities of the Rapporteurships. It provides detailed information concerning the ongoing work carried out by the seven members of the Commission who serve as Rapporteurs. It also covers the thematic and country reports approved in 2014 and information on all the promotional activities carried out by the IACHR.

Chapter IV.A provides an overview of the human rights situation in the hemisphere in 2014, derived from the Commission’s monitoring work. In this context, the IACHR highlights four issues of concern: citizen insecurity, discrimination on the basis of nationality, discrimination on the basis of ethnic and racial origin, and the situation of migrants. In this section there is an analysis of some key aspects concerning the level of compliance by States with the recommendations of the IACHR and decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This section also includes a list of all the press releases and requests for information sent to the Member States, which are critical tools the Commission uses as part of its monitoring mandate.

Chapter IV.B includes special reports the Commission considers necessary regarding the human rights situation in the Member States, and in the Annual Report for 2014 analyzes the situation in Cuba and Venezuela. This section has been prepared in accordance with the specific criteria and methodology laid out in detail in the IACHR Rules of Procedure. These reports are based on publicly available information and are sent to the States in question so that they have an opportunity to respond and provide additional information. Through its new Rules, the Commission has refined the methodologies to monitor the situation in the countries of the region. In accordance to these rules, Chapter IV.B could not have included Honduras, since the IACHR carried out an onsite visit to that country in December 2014 and a Country Report is currently under preparation.

With regard to Cuba, the Inter-American Commission maintains that restrictions on political rights, freedom of association, freedom of expression and dissemination of ideas, the lack of elections, the lack of an independent judiciary, and restrictions on freedom of movement over decades have come to shape a permanent and systematic situation of violation of the human rights of the inhabitants of Cuba. Over the course of 2014, the information available suggests that the general human rights situation has not changed. The above-mentioned human rights situations persist, along with severe repression and restrictions on human rights defenders. The IACHR also received information concerning discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities in Cuba. In this chapter, the IACHR welcomes the restoration of diplomatic relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States, while reiterating its concern about the negative impact that the economic and trade embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba has on the human rights of the Cuban population. It also notes that the embargo does not release the State of its international obligations established in the American Declaration.

With regard to Venezuela, the Commission concluded that throughout 2014 the exercise and enjoyment of human rights was affected by legal and administrative restrictions, as a result of changes in the law in recent years. The Commission also notes that the judiciary’s lack of independence and autonomy from the country’s political power is one of the weakest points of democracy in Venezuela. The IACHR points to acts of violence against journalists and the media, statements by high-level state officials that have the effect of delegitimizing the work of human rights defenders, and the use of the State’s punitive powers to criminalize human rights defenders and peaceful protest and to criminally prosecute political dissidents. Furthermore, the high levels of impunity recorded in Venezuela, the serious situations of citizen insecurity, and violence in prisons are also elements that the Commission has found to violate the exercise of Venezuelans’ human rights to life and physical integrity, among other rights. In February, 2014, the Commission expressed deep concern over acts of violence that took place in the context of public protests, as well as the situation of the right to peaceful protest, freedom of association and freedom of expression. The Annual Report includes information about the violent deaths and the detentions that took place in the contexts of demonstrations, as well as complaints made at the national and international levels on alleged acts of torture against detained persons. In addition, it includes serious complaints received about violations of the right to life, humane treatment and personal liberty by armed groups of civilians against the demonstrators.  

Chapter V contains a follow-up of recommendations issued by the IACHR in its Country Reports on Jamaica and Colombia. In the section on Jamaica, the IACHR recognizes that the State has made some notable efforts to address human rights issues, but the Commission continues to observe deficits and pending challenges in the implementation of the recommendations made to the State in the 2012 report. The Inter-American Commission thus continues to closely follow issues of citizen security, violence at the hands of members of the security forces, and the measures in place to provide accountability. The IACHR remains concerned about allegations of reported persecution against members of civil society organizations in relation to their work defending human rights, the recent retrofitting of police lock-ups and temporary holding facilities to house juveniles, and the continued acts of violence and discrimination toward vulnerable groups, including LGBTI persons and persons living with HIV.

The Chapter V section on Colombia follows up on the recommendations of the IACHR in its “Truth, Justice and Reparations: Fourth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Colombia”, published in 2013. The IACHR reiterates to the Colombian State the need to continue applying efforts to achieve compliance with the recommendations of the report that was adopted after the 2012 on-site visit, and also to strengthen and consolidate advances being made. In this regard, the Commission recognizes that the State continues to implement important human rights public policies to face the complex reality of the conflict, as well as to provide measures for the attention of victims of violations, and for the protection of persons at risk, along with the significant investment in human and financial resources for these areas.  The Commission recognizes the importance of the peace negotiations underway, and of peace as a necessary element of respect for human rights. The IACHR reaffirms its commitment to cooperate with the Colombian State in its search for solutions to the problems and challenges identified, and to continue providing assistance within the scope of its mandate in the process of implementation and follow-up of the measures applied by the State as part of its goal to effectively confront the obstacles faced by victims of human rights in Colombia, and to comply with its International obligations.

Chapter VI lays out the challenges the Commission faces in terms of human and financial resources. It includes information related to the work carried out by the Executive Secretariat, in consultation with the Commission, to design a new structure to better address, in an equitable manner beneficial to all States and stakeholders, the current challenges, particularly the backlog of cases being processed. The restructuring was approved during the 153rd regular session of the IACHR, and administrative procedures to implement it are currently underway, including the necessary steps involving the OAS General Secretariat.

During 2014, the Commission continued to monitor the situation on Criminal Justice and Race in the region. The IACHR considers this topic to be of the utmost importance and approved an initiative to work on a thematic report.

The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the OAS, and derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS in a personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 045/15