Press Release

IACHR Presents its Annual Report

April 27, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is presenting its 2016 Annual Report today to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Annual Report offers all users of the inter-American human rights system accessible, comprehensive, and relevant information on the Commission’s work and resources. The publication of this report seeks to promote compliance with the Commission’s decisions, ensure access to victims, give an accounting of the petition and case system, and report on the human rights situation in the region.

The report consists of an introduction and six chapters. The introduction highlights steps taken by Member States in 2016 to promote and protect human rights, in keeping with their international obligations. Chapter I offers a general overview of the Commission’s activities during the year. Chapter II reports on the handling of petitions, cases, and precautionary measures.

Chapter III covers the activities of the thematic rapporteurships. It provides detailed information about the ongoing work carried out by the seven members of the Commission in their role as Rapporteurs. It also covers the thematic reports approved in 2016 and information on all the IACHR’s promotional activities.

Chapter IV.A gives an overview of the human rights situation in the hemisphere in 2016, based on the exercise of the Commission’s monitoring authority. This section focuses on individuals, groups, communities, and issues that the IACHR has examined with special interest through its thematic rapporteurships. In this regard, it provides an analysis of major trends, problems, challenges, advances, and good practices related to the human rights of indigenous peoples, women, migrants, children, persons deprived of liberty, people of African descent, human rights defenders, and LGBTI persons in the Americas in 2016. It also includes an analysis of trends and priority issues pertaining to freedom of expression rights and economic, social, and cultural rights.

For its part, Chapter IV.B includes special reports the Commission considers necessary with respect to the human rights situation in Member States. In the 2016 Annual Report, the IACHR analyzes the situation in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. This section was prepared in accordance with the specific criteria and methodology laid out in detail in the Commission’s Rules of Procedure. These reports are based on a broad range of sources according to the methodology set out in the Commission’s Rules. The draft reports are sent to the States in question so that they have an opportunity to respond and provide additional information that the Commission considers prior to publication.

With regard to Cuba, ongoing restrictions to political rights, the right to association, and freedom of expression and dissemination of thought; the lack of independence of the judiciary; and restrictions to freedom of movement continue to systematically limit the human rights of Cuba’s people. Moreover, there has been an increase in severe repression and restrictions on human rights defenders and dissidents, along with discrimination and violence against LGBTI people and exclusion of the Afro-descendant population, which is sub represented in high ranking government positions.

With respect to the Dominican Republic, the persistence of structural racial discrimination against people of Haitian descent, or those perceived as such—a problem that has had a particular impact on the recognition of nationality and on deportations, removals, immigration raids, and collective expulsions—points to the serious challenges the Dominican State faces in terms of racial discrimination. In this regard, the arbitrary deprivation of nationality and the lack of recognition of the juridical personality of the Dominicans of Haitian descent places them at a disadvantage when it comes to the enjoyment of a number of their human rights, as well as making them extremely vulnerable to becoming victims of a host of other human rights violations.

With regard to Venezuela, there are ongoing structural situations that have a negative effect on human rights, and the public security situation has worsened in relation to the right to life and personal integrity. There has also been a deterioration of the rule of law and democratic institutions, and of the right to freedom of expression—including the arbitrary detention and incarceration of members of the opposition and people who publicly express their dissent with the government; repression and undue restrictions to the exercise of the right to protest; and dismissals of public employees and threats that they will lose their jobs if they express political opinions that go against the government. Added to this is a severe worsening of access to economic, social, and cultural rights.

Chapter V follows up on recommendations made by the IACHR in its country reports on Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Chapter VI includes information on the structure and personnel of the IACHR, staff training, financial resources and budget execution, fundraising and project management, and technology advances.

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 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.

No. 053/17