Annex: Public Hearings of the 168 Period of Sessions

May 11, 2018

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Annex to Press Release 104/18: IACHR Wraps Up 168th Session in Dominican Republic

Washington, D.C.— The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held its 168th session in Santo Domingo, at the invitation of the State of the Dominican Republic, from May 3 to 11, 2018. This annex to Press Release 104/18: “IACHR Wraps Up 168th Session in Dominican Republic” contains summaries of the hearings held and the list of approved admissibility reports.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Situation of Older Persons in Mexico

The organizations who requested the hearing mentioned the socio-demographic conditions of Mexico’s older adults and the problems they face to access justice. Those organizations highlighted that this sector of the population suffers clear discrimination and job insecurity. They alleged that there are no policies focused on healthy aging, no effective intercultural and inclusive care systems and no patient involvement in decision-making. Regarding access to education, they noted that 73.3% of all illiterate adults are women. Those organizations also said that the legal system fails to effectively enforce the law regarding the rights of older adults. The State acknowledged the importance of focusing its efforts on improving the independence and participation of older adults as subjects of rights, and noted that actions are being taken towards accession to the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons.

Situation of defenders of victims of torture in Mexico

The organizations who requested the hearing presented information on the general context of torture in Mexico, as well as on the growing tendency to criminalize victims of torture and the organizations supporting their cases. In particularly, they denounced statements by certain civil society organizations close to the government, who accuse the defenders of victims of torture of being criminals and seeking money in their demands for reparations for victims. The Mexican State acknowledged the efforts of human rights defenders and highlighted statements to that effect recently issued by the Federal Government in various public forums. Further, the State announced plans for a protocol to investigate crimes against defenders. The IACHR requested more information about any progress made concerning the investigation of crimes of torture, particularly regarding the implementation of the Istanbul Protocol and the provision of training for investigating officers.

Case 12,853 - Lilia García Andrade, Mexico

On May 7, 2018, a merits hearing was held for Case 12,853 – Lilia Alejandra García Andrade, with regard to the United Mexican States. At the hearing, the petitioning party, including the alleged victim’s mother, presented its arguments regarding the State’s international responsibility for the disappearance, violence, rape and murder perpetrated in February 2001 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, against Lilia Alejandra García, who was 17 at the time. The petitioning party further put forward its claims about the impunity that is affecting the case. The Mexican State expressed its respect for the suffering of Lilia Alejandra’s mother, Norma Esther Andrade, and its solidarity with her; acknowledged its responsibility for failing to fulfil its obligation to prevent what happened and to adequately investigate those events; and stressed its willingness to seek a friendly settlement. Finally, the Commission also acknowledged Norma Esther Andrade’s struggle, in her search for truth, justice, reparation and measures to prevent such events from happening again. The IACHR asked questions to both parties. The case remains in the merits stage, pending a report by the Commission in accordance with Article 50 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Human rights and the designation of Honduras’ attorney general

The organizations who requested the hearing spoke about the institutional context in which a new attorney general is set to be designated. According to those organizations, Honduras is fighting a battle against impunity and corruption and investigations have for the first time been launched on iconic corruption cases involving high officials of the State. Those organizations expressed their concern over irregularities and barriers in access to timely information on the various stages of the designation process, as well as over the lack of adequate mechanisms to enable civil society to get involved. Representatives of the State noted that an observer protocol has been approved, so that civil society can make suggestions and comments on the process. Further, the State said that the creation of a nominating board, whose rules of procedure have recently been approved, will ensure that the chosen attorney general is competent and fit for the job. The IACHR expressed its concern over the irregularities denounced by civil society and welcomed the creation of an observer protocol.

Human rights situation of indigenous communities affected by oil spills in Cuninico and Vista Alegre, Peru

Civil society organizations denounced the violation of the human right to water of members of indigenous communities in Cuninico (in the Marañón River basin) and Vista Alegre (in the Tigre River basin), which have been seriously affected by repeated oil spills from the North-Peruvian pipeline and by the insufficient actions taken by both the State and the State-owned company Petroperú. Besides impacting their physical livelihoods, that also affects their right to culture, given the major cultural importance of water in Amazonia. The Peruvian State reported on the comprehensive intercultural healthcare campaigns it has been carrying out in the region. The Commission acknowledged the State’s efforts, but noted that further measures were required to respond to the situation, since the right to water is an extremely relevant right whose effective enjoyment impacts many other rights. The IACHR asked the State to report on preventive measures implemented by the State to prevent further oil spills, on moves to guarantee the provision of water that is fit for human consumption, and on measures to reduce and mitigate environmental pollution.

Allegations of human rights violations and criminalization of defenders in the context of extractive industries in Nicaragua

At the request of the organizations who called for the hearing, a moment of silence was observed for the people killed in the serious violence that took place in Nicaragua in recent weeks. The organizations who requested the hearing addressed patterns to violate human rights and criminalize the work of human rights defenders in the context of extractive industries, as well as the actions taken by the State to repress protests. Those organizations noted that, in several parts of the country, mining and other[vs1]  extractive projects were carried out without the required prior consultation of the affected communities, which allegedly led to the beginning of several criminalization proceedings against environmental defenders who oppose such projects. Both the organizations who requested the hearing and the IACHR said they were sorry the State’s representatives failed to attend. In particular, the Commission expressed its concern over the information it heard and requested further details about actions undertaken to ensure accountability in the countries of origin of the firms involved.

Complaints about homicides of Afro-descendant adolescents in Brazil

The organizations who requested the hearing presented information about the murders of Afro-descendant children and adolescents in actions involving police in Brazil, which they described as a structural problem. Organizations at the hearing showed a video about the context of adolescent murders in Brazil, along with the testimony of relatives of the victims. According to information submitted by those organizations, there were 5,134 homicides in Ceará in 2017, and 981 involved victims aged 10-19. The State highlighted the implementation of a program to protect adolescents and the fact that the program’s budget was expanded for 2017. The IACHR thanked attendees for their contributions and acknowledged the State’s efforts. The Commission also requested further information about ongoing investigations and proceedings against members of the security forces and about the existence of protocols concerning the treatment of children and adolescents.

Allegations of human rights violations in the context of the federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The organizations who requested the hearing noted that military forces have constantly been deployed for law enforcement tasks in Brazil, particularly in the state of Rio de Janeiro. They highlighted the racist nature of the federal intervention that was authorized through Decree 9288, since it is extremely violent and targets the favelas (slums), whose residents are predominantly Afro-Brazilian. The intervention has increased violence and led to serious human rights violations subject to military criminal justice. The State stressed that the federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro is constitutional. The State further noted that the intervention seeks to restore the operational capacity of public security institutions and the prison system and to reduce crime rates, and said that it is already delivering positive results. The State added that Brazil’s military criminal justice is integrated in the country’s judiciary, and therefore offers all basic legal guarantees. The Commission repeated what it already said in the March 2018press release where it expressed, along with the OHCHR, its concern over the federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro.

The duty to protect human rights defenders in the context of the murders of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes in Brazil

The organizations who requested the hearing said that Marielle Franco’s murder happened in the context of a wider increase in murders of human rights defenders and of a criminalization of social protests in Brazil. Those organizations noted the need to formulate policies to halt this course of events and to strengthen the national protection program, which they believe currently has many shortcomings. The State acknowledged the importance of defenders’ work to build democratic societies, highlighted the legacy of defender Marielle Franco, and stressed its commitment to diligently investigating her death. Regarding the national protection program, the State said it is making progress to sign various agreements, so that its implementation in four states can be extended over the course of 2018. The Commission asked the Brazilian State for information on concrete progress in the investigation of this case, as well as on the alleged inefficiency of the national program to protect human rights defenders.

Situation of LGBTI persons deprived of their liberty in the Americas

The organizations who requested the hearing said that detention centers follow hetero-cis-normative patterns and fail to take sufficient action to effectively ensure health and sanitary services, a family life and friendly relationships for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Those organizations spoke about forms of discrimination affecting, in particular, LGBTI persons deprived of their liberty. They expressed concern over the level of violence against transgender women, perpetrated by both officers and other persons deprived of their liberty. They presented information concerning the pathologization by States of non-normative sexual orientations and gender identities. The organizations who attended the hearing asked the IACHR to take measures to acknowledge and enforce the rights of LGBTI persons deprived of their liberty. The IACHR expressed its commitment to fully and comprehensively supporting the right of LGBTI persons deprived of their liberty to freely develop their personalities.

Special monitoring mechanism for events in Ayotzinapa, Mexico

The organizations who requested the hearing and the families of the victims expressed their concern over the Mexican State’s rejection of the report drafted by the UN’s Human Rights Office. They further reported on the leak to the media of information contributed by the United States concerning the case of Guerreros Unidos in Chicago, on the lack of evidence in criminal proceedings against alleged perpetrators, and on non-compliance with agreements about assisting victims. The State put forward information about the procedural steps taken, which include a request for more information sent to US authorities regarding the Chicago case, on-site searches, State attention to suspects who have complained of alleged torture, and political and institutional openness to assist victims. The IACHR expressed its support for the report drafted by the UN’s Human Rights Office and for the work done by that office’s representative in Mexico. The Commission also requested more information about progress made to investigate leaks to the media and spying using the Pegasus software, among other issues.

Judicial independence in Ecuador

The organizations who requested the hearing said that the number of judges in the National Court has been reduced and that judge renewal may not have followed Inter-American selection standards. Further, those organizations expressed their concern over the “inexcusable error” argument, which allows a judge to be administratively dismissed based on a mistake in the application of the law. That exposes the work of Ecuadorian judges to political interference, and more than 160 judges have been dismissed, according to these organizations. The organizations who requested the hearing argue that the State has a duty to guarantee that judges can do their work and to investigate and punish all violations of their rights. The State noted that it is returning to IACHR hearings to reinforce Inter-American standards in Ecuador and said that a referendum is being held to build up ties with civil society. The IACHR highlighted the importance of guaranteeing the independence of judges in the Americas and expressed an interest in conducting an in-loco visit to Ecuador.

Allegations of human rights violations in the context of evictions in Guatemala

The people who requested the hearing said that the number of forced evictions has been rising faster, to consolidate a systematic eviction pattern that is also leading to the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in Guatemala. They further noted that forced displacements and internal displacements mainly affect members of indigenous peoples, peasants, people who live in poverty, women, children and older adults. They also said that evictions are mainly taking place in the regions of Alta Verapaz, Izabal, Petén and Guatemala. They further noted that the Laguna Larga community, a beneficiary of precautionary measures at the request of the IACHR, is currently in the camp to which its members were displaced after being evicted from their territory, and that they remain in rather precarious conditions because they are yet to receive from the government any means that enable their dignified subsistence or their return to their territory. The people who requested the hearing therefore demanded the community’s immediate return to the land from which they were evicted, along with a visit by the IACHR. The Guatemalan State argued that it is currently working to resettle displaced communities and exploring the options for the Laguna Larga community’s return to their land. The State noted that evictions are a complex problem and that it has the support of the Mexican government to find solutions. The IACHR said that assisting evicted and internally displaced communities must be an urgent task for the State, and it urged the State to take immediate action. The IACHR also offered the Guatemalan State technical assistance to design responses that respect human rights in such scenarios.

Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health for Women in Argentina

The organizations who took part in the hearing highlighted that the debate in Congress about the decriminalization of abortion is a historic opportunity to ensure the fundamental rights of women in Argentina. Although voluntarily terminating a pregnancy is legal in the country under certain circumstances, women face serious obstacles to access such a practice on equal, non-discriminatory terms. Those organizations and the State’s representatives informed the IACHR about public policy in Argentina on this issue, and also about the progress that has been made and about pending challenges. The Commission stressed States’ obligation to carry out a detailed review of any normative framework that may have discriminatory effects on women’s exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights. The IACHR further asked the State to remind legislators of the international standards on this issue, in order to inform the ongoing debate in Congress.

Case 13,073, Cardinal Oscar Moncur and daughters, Bahamas

On May 9, 2018, a hearing was held on Case 13,073, Cardinal Oscar Moncur and daughters, with regard to the State of the Bahamas. The petitioning party alleges several violations of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, as a result of the failure to enforce a court ruling that provides for child support to be paid to Mr. Moncur’s daughters by their mother. The petitioning party further alleges violations of that instrument as a consequence of regulations that discriminate fathers who have custody of their children. It also alleges a restriction of Mr. Moncur’s freedom of expression in the context of these proceedings. The alleged victim, Mr. Moncur, testified at the hearing and was questioned by both the petitioning party and the State’s representatives. The petitioning party and the State further presented their allegations about the merits of the case. Finally, the Commission asked both parties questions. The case remains with the IACHR, pending a combined decision on its admissibility and merits.

Measures to preserve evidence in forced disappearance cases in Colombia

The organizations who requested the hearing noted that the department of Antioquia[vs1]  is one of the areas with the greatest number of forced disappearance victims. Those organizations highlighted the lack of an integrated information system and a strategy to investigate forced disappearances. They asked the State to protect burial sites next to the Hidroituango Hydroelectric Project, on the banks of the Cauca River. Those organizations fear an imminent danger that the bodies that have been buried in the area will be covered with water, reducing the chances of finding, exhuming and identifying them and handing them over to the victims’ families. Those organizations asked for the adoption of a participatory search plan, to ensure adequate, respectful procedures to retrieve and identify such bodies. The State noted that it had been diligent in terms of finding missing persons in the area and reported that 159 bodies had been retrieved since 2014. Of those, 84 have since been identified and 30 are in the process of being identified, the State said, adding that only 1% of the respective area is to be flooded. The IACHR noted the State’s obligation to investigate events and to locate and identify any bodies and hand them over to the victims’ families. It also stressed the importance of victim involvement in any actions to search for missing persons. The Commission further noted the importance of getting to the end of the search in the area that is set to be flooded. It also acknowledged measures taken by the State and requested from the State information about the universe of missing persons and about the extent of the search plan implemented by the State in Antioquia.

Investigation and punishment for human rights violations committed by civilian third parties in Colombia

The organizations who took part in the hearing believed that, given that the Constitutional Court has made it voluntary, in violation of the Peace Agreement, for civilian third parties (people who did not belong to armed groups) to appear before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, it is difficult to believe that such civilians will appear before that jurisdiction, unless they are obligated to contribute truth and information. Those organizations highlighted that Colombia’s ordinary justice system has been proved inefficient when investigating human rights violations committed by civilian third parties. They note that making it voluntary for them to appear before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace violates the rights to judicial guarantees and to judicial protection established by the American Convention on Human Rights. The State noted that it has one of the most sophisticated transitional justice systems available, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and explained that such a system is set to be applied to civilian third parties based on the nature of their involvement and on any punishable conduct they may have engaged in. The State further noted that making it voluntary for civilian third parties to appear before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace does not lead to impunity, because any events they may have been involved in remain subject to ordinary justice. The IACHR acknowledged the State’s efforts to reach the Peace Agreement and expressed concern over the slow pace, the delays and the hurdles in ordinary justice concerning investigations of the liability of civilian third parties with regard to human rights violations.

Human rights and monitoring the Colombian Peace Agreement

The organizations that took part in the hearing reported factors that endanger the implementation of the Peace Agreement, including paramilitary groups whose existence the State persistently denies. Those organizations addressed the disproportionate rise in murders of social leaders. While they acknowledged that the State’s priority policy has led to the arrests of several perpetrators, they believe no progress has been made towards identifying the common patterns in such crimes or their systematic nature. Those organizations noted that extraditing persons who need to be tried under the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, like Jesús Santrich, may affect victims’ rights. The State said that, 18 months after the Peace Agreement was signed, its consequences for people’s rights are already apparent. The State further praised the Cooperation Agreement it signed with the General Secretariat of the OAS, for the IACHR to support the effective implementation of the Peace Agreement. The IACHR expressed its specific concern over the situation of human rights and environmental defenders.

Impact of extraordinary measures on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty in El Salvador

The people who requested the hearing expressed their concern over the serious human rights violations that have happened since 2016, in connection with the adoption of extraordinary measures in six Salvadoran prisons. They highlighted the 440% increase in the incidence of tuberculosis, and the resulting deaths. They further warned about El Salvador’s failure to comply with calls from international organizations for an end to such extraordinary measures. The State noted that such extraordinary measures have reduced crime and mentioned several actions taken to enforce the rights of persons deprived of their liberty, particularly by reducing overcrowding. The Commission stressed its concern over the application of extraordinary measures and called for an end to such measures. The IACHR further highlighted the importance of not using pretrial detention as a means to solve law and order problems and recommended ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, in order to ensure independent monitoring in all detention centers.

Women’s human rights situation in the context of the criminalization of drugs in the Americas

The women who requested the hearing noted that resorting to incarceration as a response in the fight against drugs has disproportionately impacted women and has made drug-related crimes their main cause of imprisonment. They further expressed their concern over the drug-court model, which looks at a health issue from the perspective of the criminal justice system and which, with its criminalization logic, allegedly violates participants’ rights. The women who requested the hearing spoke about the ineffectiveness of social integration programs and its impact on women’s lives after prison. The IACHR stressed its position regarding the decriminalization of drug consumption and of the possession of drugs for personal use. The Commission further acknowledged that, while drug courts may be positive as an alternative to incarceration, it is important that international organizations issue recommendations from a health perspective when assessing such courts. The IACHR noted that this issue is a priority for its Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty.

Due Diligence, Prevention and Access to Justice for Human Rights Violations by Private Companies in the Americas

The regional hearing focused on issues of interest and concrete cases about the duty of due diligence and the effects on human rights in the context of business activities. Participants highlighted States’ obligation to ensure that companies develop and implement corporate due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and remain accountable for the impact of their activities—including their supply chain—on human rights. Participants stressed the need to design and apply participatory regulatory frameworks that ensure due diligence and incorporate minimum levels and standards on transparency and access to information, consultation and prior, free and informed consent, and identifying and punishing corruption between companies and State authorities, among others. The IACHR highlighted this issue’s importance for the hemisphere in terms of prevention and accountability, and it stressed the context surrounding the activities of transnational corporations, given the impact they can have on human rights

Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples in the Context of the Peace Agreement in Colombia

The organizations who took part in the hearing reported on the serious human rights violations suffered by indigenous peoples in Colombia. They said that those peoples risk physical and cultural extermination due to events that stem from the armed conflict and the situation that followed the Peace Agreements, from forced displacement and from the imposition of huge projects. Representatives of the Embera people in Choco, the Siona people in Putumayo and the Arhuaco people in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta reported an increase in violence in their territories following the Peace Agreements, threats and murders of indigenous leaders, the presence of anti-personnel landmines, the recruitment of young people, forced displacements and the resulting loss of territory. They also mentioned the constant launch of huge mining and oil-and-gas projects that fail to respect indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consultations and consent. The organizations who requested the hearing filed 13 requests before the IACHR, including one for follow-up of the ethnic chapter in the Peace Agreements. The State provided information about moves to increase political participation among indigenous peoples, to open up dialogue with indigenous authorities, to launch public policies in favor of indigenous peoples and to adopt collective protection measures and support self-protection. The Commission asked several questions and stressed its willingness to support the implementation of the Peace Agreements and their ethnic chapter.

Human rights situation of persons with disabilities in Venezuela

The State reported on measures adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, such as expanding legal protection, creating specialized agencies, implementing minimum quotas for persons with disabilities in access to university education and employment, and health and social protection measures, including welfare payments. Civil society highlighted the absence of up-to-date, accessible statistics on the social situation of persons with disabilities. They expressed their concern over the State’s failure to implement the special law concerning persons with disabilities, over the lack of real access to education and employment, over the high unemployment rates within that group, and over non-compliance with employment quotas in the public sector, among other issues. They highlighted the differentiated impact of the food and healthcare crisis. The IACHR acknowledged the active participation of the State and of civil society, expressed its willingness to contribute to promoting constructive dialogue and highlighted the need to conduct a visit to the country to verify conditions on site.

The election process and its impact on the general human rights situation in Venezuela

The organizations who requested the hearing denounced systematic actions aimed at weakening political pluralism and the freedom to choose in Venezuela. They further denounced a policy to persecute dissidents and they described, in particular, persecution patterns focused on political disqualification that have affected the opposition’s main parties and leaders. Those organizations noted that the election scheduled for May 20 is happening in a context of media affected by a restrictive regulatory framework and official media issuing propaganda in favor of the government. They indicated that not all candidates accept the observers who have been invited to monitor the election process. The State’s representative said that Venezuela’s election system is considered one of the best in the world. Further, he noted that the system has improved substantially with the creation of new voting centers and the implementation of electronic voting with security mechanisms. Regarding the voting in May, he said that the election schedule has been respected and that the necessary audits are being conducted. The IACHR stressed that representative democracy is the appropriate mechanism for political life in our countries and that it is essential to hold elections that ensure certain safeguards regarding, among others, impartiality, transparency and political pluralism. The IACHR inquired about the independence of election authorities, about access to information on the election and about young voters who have not been able to register to cast their ballots, among other issues.

Freedom of Religion and the Secular State in Latin America

Civil society organizations that took part in the hearing stressed the fundamental importance of strengthening the clear separation between the State’s duty to protect the human rights of people under its jurisdiction and the existence and influence of religious groups. In particular, those organizations expressed their concern over what they perceive as the encroachment and the institutional presence of fundamentalist groups, which they think hampers the protection of human rights. Further, organizations who took part in the hearing addressed conceptual issues regarding the secular State. They identified some which they see as impacting sexual and reproductive rights as well as the rights of Afro-descendant and LGBTI persons, and they mentioned disparities in the practices and normative contexts of secular States in the region. In that sense, they called upon the IACHR to work towards strengthening institutions from a secular perspective, and they asked the Commission to draft clear standards on religious freedom, freedom of expression and the protection of the right to equality and non-discrimination for the exercise of all human rights. The IACHR said it will monitor the situation and follow up on it, and also expressed its willingness to give States technical assistance if needed.

Control of Public Spending, Fiscal Policies and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Guarantees in Latin America

The organizations who requested the hearing denounced that fiscal policy in Latin America has had little impact in terms of reducing economic inequality and noted that, in some countries, it has even worsened the situation of the very poor. They put forward examples from Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Brazil and indicated that, in general, countries in the region have fiscal policies that are not very transparent or participatory and tend to be mainly regressive and inequitable, which leads to a low level of enjoyment of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, particularly for the poorest, most excluded sectors of the population. They also spoke about precedent of court decisions in the hemisphere on fiscal policy disputes, alternatives to fiscal trends in the region and an urgent need to align decisions regarding taxes, budgets and public spending with the principles of human rights. Finally, they highlighted the role and responsibility of the IACHR and other human rights institutions to assess and monitor decisions on fiscal policy, with a view to enforcing and protecting economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.

Sexual and Reproductive Rights Situation of Women and Girls with Disabilities in the Americas

The organizations who took part in the hearing highlighted the prevalence of discrimination against women, girls and female adolescents with disabilities with regard to the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights. Those women continue to face physical challenges and hurdles in terms of communication and attitudes in their access to healthcare services, which can have serious effects on their integrity and wellbeing. Based on the information the Commission has had access to, when women with disabilities are deprived of their legal capacity, they are prevented from making decisions on their own bodies and may thus be subjected to practices including abortions and sterilizations without their consent. The Commission highlighted the seriousness of this problem and the profoundly negative impact such practices have on the sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities. Further, the Commission stressed the obligation of all States to reconcile their normative frameworks with international standards on this issue.

Reports of Human Rights Violations in the Military Justice System in Venezuela

The people who requested the hearing denounced that the executive manipulates the judiciary in military courts. They spoke about the use of military justice as a tool for political persecution and said that civilians are being tried in this special jurisdiction, and they denounced a manipulation of types of criminal conduct as an intimidating mechanism. Further, they noted that, in Venezuela, there are 249 political prisoners and 796 people who are being tried by military courts. The people who requested the hearing expressed their concern over the case of legislator Gilber Caro. The State stressed that the jurisdiction of military courts does not stem from the suspects, but rather from the nature of their alleged offenses. The State further noted that Venezuela’s military justice system is the only such system in Latin America that offers a public defense mechanism. The IACHR said that the issue that was discussed at the hearing has already been settled in the Inter-American system. The Commission stressed that the Inter-American legal order has clearly stated that civilians must not be tried in military courts in times of peace, and said this is not subject to debate. The IACHR restated its concern about the tasks to control demonstrations that have been assigned to the armed forces.

Reports of Harassment Against Human Rights Defenders, Journalists and the Media in Venezuela

The organizations who requested the hearing spoke about violations of freedom of speech, about the failure to adapt the “Anti-Hate Law” to international freedom of expression standards and about the inhibiting effects of that law’s application. They further denounced the harassment, criminalization and public discrediting of journalists and human rights defenders by the authorities and by pro-government media, as well as the persecution of public officials who complain about the situation in the country. The State said that this law has a legitimate purpose in accordance with international standards, and its representatives put forward cases that allegedly showed instances of intolerance and violence. The IACHR expressed several concerns, both regarding the persecution of journalists and about the vague and ambiguous formulation of hate crimes. The Special Rapporteur mentioned, among others, the lack of paper for the written press and his concern about the revocation of frequencies for the operation of independent media, as well as the absence of guarantees in processes to grant and/or renew such frequencies.

Human Rights Situation of Venezuelans in the Context of Human Mobility in the Americas

A coalition of civil society organizations informed the IACHR about the situation regarding the massive influx of Venezuelan migrants and refugees to multiple countries in the region and in particular about the main human rights obstacles they face in countries of transit and destination, such as access to health care; child malnutrition; access to documentation for regularization and access to economic, social and cultural rights, especially passports and apostilles issued by Venezuela; the lack of recognition of Venezuelan persons as refugees; the vulnerable situation of indigenous peoples who have had to be forcibly displaced; the treatment of this situation as a national security problem; discrimination; trafficking and smuggling of persons mainly for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced prostitution and labour; among others. In turn, the organizations also highlighted good practices in the responses being given by various countries in the region to these events, such as special and temporary permits to stay in Colombia, Peru and Brazil; Mercosur visas in Argentina and Uruguay; and recognition as refugees with the Cartagena Declaration in Mexico, among others. Finally, the organizations requested the IACHR to continue to urge States to provide a regional response based on shared responsibility and a human rights approach. The IACHR expressed its commitment to provide technical assistance to the States and to encourage them to be aware of and implement the recommendations of its Resolution 2/18 on Forced Migration of Venezuelan Persons.

The following admissibility reports were approved during the 168th session:

  1. Report No. 31/18, Petition 163-08, José Luis González y José Alberto Ramírez, Argentina
  2. Report No. 32/18, Petition 355-08, Alberto Miguel Andrada y Jorge Osvaldo Álvarez, Argentina
  3. Report No. 33/18, Petition 377-08, Amanda Graciela Encaje, Argentina
  4. Report No. 34/18, Petition 1018-07, Guillermo Juan Tiscornia y Familia, Argentina
  5. Report No.35/18, Petition 31-07, Yasmín Eriksen Fernández Acuña, Chile
  6. Report No. 36/18, Petition 837-07,  Comunidad Huilliche "Pepiukelen", Chile
  7. Report No. 37/18, Petition 1571-07,  Patricio Germán García, Chile
  8. Report No. 38/18, Petition 140-09, María G. y familia, Colombia
  9. Report No. 39/18, Petition 196-07, José Ricardo Parra Hurtado, Félix Alberto Páez Suárez y familias, Colombia
  10. Report No. 40/18, Petition 607-07, Nelson Enrique Giraldo Ramírez y familia, Colombia
  11. Report No. 41/18, Petition 644-08, Regina Betancur de Liska, Colombia
  12. Report No. 42/18, Petition 663-07, Familias desplazadas de la Hacienda Bellacruz, Colombia
  13. Report No. 43/18, Petition 705-07, Neri Luz Martínez Padilla e hijas, Colombia
  14. Report No. 44/18, Petition 840-07, Masacre de Pijiguay, Colombia
  15. Report No. 45/18, Petition 1494-07, John Jairo Restrepo, Colombia
  16. Report No. 46/18, Petition 1638-12, Raiza Isabel Salazar (Analizar Art. 4 en fondo), Colombia
  17. Report No. 47/18, Petition 975-07, Jasper McDonald Hamilton, Costa Rica
  18. Report No. 48/18, Petition 148-07, María Isabel Morán Bajaña, Ecuador
  19. Report No. 49/18, Petition 1542-07, Juan Espinosa Romero, Ecuador
  20. Report No. 50/18, Petition 931-07, Edgar Alfredo Valdez López, Guatemala
  21. Report No. 51/18, Petition 1779-12, Kaqhikuel Maya Indigenous People of Sumpango in Sacatepéquez; Achi Maya People of San Miguel Chicaj, Baja Verapaz; Mam Maya People of Cajola, Quetzaltenango; and Todos Santos in Cuchumatán, Guatemala
  22. Report No. 52/18, Petition 253-10, Alejandro Fernando Aguilera Mendieta and others, México
  23. Report No. 53/18, Petition 1348-08, Antonio López Cantú, México
  24. Report No. 54/18, Petition 64-08, Lita Natalia Sánchez Castillo, Perú
  25. Report No. 55/18, Petition 354-08, Carlos Alberto Moyano Dietrich, Perú
  26. Report No. 56/18, Petition 835-08, Blanca Imelda Arriaga Céspedes, Perú
  27. Report No. 57/18, Petition 969-07, Karen Mañuca Quiroz Cabanillas, Perú
  28. Report No. 58/18, Petition 1434-08, Rómulo Rubén Palma Rodríguez, Perú
  29. Report No. 59/18, Petition 871-08, Tatiana Marisa Barría Mardones y B.B.A.B., Chile

No. 104A/18