Press Release

IACHR Wraps Up 168th Session in Dominican Republic

May 11, 2018

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Santo Domingo - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 168th session in Sanbto Domingo, at the invitation of the State of Dominican Republic, from May 3 to 11, 2018. Holding sessions outside its headquarters allows the IACHR to bring its mechanisms for the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights closer to victims and peoples under its competence, broadens the institution’s public presence in the region, and promotes democratization of access to the inter-American human rights system. The IACHR expresses its appreciation to the Dominican State for the invitation to hold this session in the country and for the financial and logistical cooperation it provided to make it possible to hold all the scheduled activities. The Commission thanks civil society organizations and the Dominican people for their collaboration and hospitality.

The session opened on May 3rd in an official ceremony with the participation of the plenary of the Commission, State authorities, representatives of civil society, and diplomats.

In the city of Santo Domingo, the IACHR examined and made decisions on requests for precautionary measures, and reviewed and approved two resolutions, one on the efficiency in the processing of precautionary measures and another on the electoral process in Venezuela. In addition, it reviewed a first cycle of measures related to the strengthening of the system of petitions and cases and informed in a press release the launching of new actions to solve the challenge of the procedural backlog. In this period the IACHR approved 29 Admissibility Reports and seven Merits Reports. The Commission held 8 working meetings were held on implementation of precautionary measures of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela; 9 working meetings on friendly settlements referred to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala; 4 working meetings to follow-up on the recommendations of Merits Reports referred to Brazil, Chile and Colombia. It also launched the Updated Report on the Impact of its Friendly Settlement Procedure.

The IACHR also held a meeting with the Coalition of Organizations that engage with the inter-American human rights system and another with inter-American civil society organizations in which it received troubling information on various human rights situations in the Americas. In addition, Commissioners held 25 bilateral meetings and 22 additional encounters with different civil society organizations from around the region.

As usual in all periods of sessions, the IACHR met with civil society organizations from the Dominican Republic on May 9. The IACHR regrets that towards the end of the meeting, a group of persons made it impossible for the event to continue. The IACHR listens to all persons and groups who wish to put forward information. However, the Commission will not tolerate threats nor expressions that incite hatred and discrimination based on race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, appearance or any other such grounds. The Commission and the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression stress that promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression must be combined with efforts to fight intolerance, discrimination, hate speech and incitations to violence, particularly through the promotion of a proactive discourse to encourage social inclusion and to ensure that persons and groups who have historically been in a situation of vulnerability may effectively exercise their rights.

Thirty hearings were held during this session, on Argentina, Bahamas, Brasil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela, along with regional hearings. The IACHR thanks the States and civil society for their participation in the hearings, working meetings, and public events that took place during this session. The Inter-American Commission emphasizes that it is important for the States to participate in all the hearings, in good faith and with sufficient substantive information on hand, in order to make constructive progress toward solutions to human rights problems in the region. The inter-American human rights system is strengthened with the active participation of the State, victims of human rights violations and their representatives, and civil society organizations.

The IACHR deeply regrets the absence of representatives of the State of Nicaragua in the hearings to which it had been convened. The absence of delegations from the State prevents or severely hampers the IACHR’s work. The hearings are an essential mechanism through which to receive information and fulfill the mandate given to it by the States themselves, to protect, promote, and defend human rights in the region. The IACHR strongly urges the Member States to attend the sessions and hearings to which they are convened, in fulfillment of their international human rights obligations.

The IACHR takes note of the warnings of potential reprisals raised during various hearings and working meetings, referred to several countries, by civil society representatives who expressed fear about the consequences they could face upon returning to their country. The IACHR strongly condemns any type of impediment imposed on anyone’s ability to exercise the right to use the mechanisms available through the inter-American system for the protection of human rights, and any type of action to retaliate for or stigmatize the participation or activities of individuals or organizations that engage the bodies of the inter-American human rights system in the exercise of their rights under the Convention. In the terms of Article 63 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure establishes, the IACHR urges the States to take protective measures to ensure the safety of every person who participated in activities during the session or who uses any of the mechanisms available to everyone in the Americas.

In fulfillment of its mandate to promote human rights in the region, and in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the IACHR held a promotional event: “A look to the impact of the inter-American system of human rights,” on May 9, 2018 in Santo Domingo. The event, in the format of a roundtable, was held with the participation of the President, Margarette May Macaulay; the First Vice-President, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño; the Second Vice-President, Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva; Commissioners Francisco Eguiguren Praeli, Joel Hernández García, Comisionadas Flávia Piovesan and Antonia Urrejola Noguera. The IACHR thanks the interested persons and organizations that attended the event.

The 169th Period of Sessions will be held in Boulder, Colorado, from September 29 to October 5, 2018. The system to request hearings and working meetings for these sessions will be available from June 28 until July 12, 2018 and can refer to the human rights situation of all countries in America.

The IACHR will soon publish an annex to this press release.

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.

No. 104/18