Press Release

IACHR reports balance report and results of its work during the first semester of 2018

September 7, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), within the framework of Program 4 of its Strategic Plan, aimed at increasing the transparency and accountability of its work to the international human rights community, presents its Partial Report with a balance of the main results of its work during the first semester of 2018. The IACHR emphasizes that the first semester has demonstrated progress in the public presence and relevance of the IACHR in the region, with more working visits to the countries and an on-site visit to Honduras; an increase in the visibility of human rights through a large number of public communications, campaigns and public consultations. Likewise, important achievements include the creation of the MESENI and GIEI for Nicaragua, the Special Follow-Up Team for Ecuador and Colombia, the installation of the Working Group for Follow-Up on Recommendations with the Dominican Republic, and the creation of new systems to follow up on recommendations. The IACHR has made progress in expanding spaces for civil society participation in its activities and has published two innovative resolutions on corruption and human rights; and the situation of Venezuelan migrants. Within the framework of its priority action to strengthen the System of Cases and Petitions and reduce the procedural backlog, the following stand out: unprecedented numbers of approved admissibility and merits reports, cases sent to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), and precautionary measures granted, in a single semester. These are some of the important advances that, along with others, are presented below.

During the first semester, the IACHR carried out activities that significantly increased the visibility of serious human rights situations in member countries. With respect to Nicaragua, where from April 18, 2018, a serious situation of human rights violations arose within the framework of social protests, the IACHR proceeded to create, on May 3, 2018, an Integrated Coordination and Response Room (SACROI, by its acronym in Spanish) in order to give special attention to the situation in that country. In addition, the IACHR conducted a working visit to Nicaragua from May 17 to 21 in order to observe on the ground the human rights situation in the country, document the facts, and issue the first recommendations to the State. The preliminary observations were published and disseminated; on June 21, the Final Report on the visit was published: Grave Human Rights Violations in the Context of Social Protests in Nicaragua. In order to follow up on the recommendations included both in the preliminary observations and in the final report, the IACHR announced on May 24, 2018 the installation of the Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI, by its acronym in Spanish); it works to collect and systematize the testimonies of victims of human rights violations and to record all the facts in the context of the crisis the country is going through, among other tasks. In addition, on May 30, 2018, the IACHR announced that the State of Nicaragua agreed to create an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its acronym in Spanish) to assist and support investigations into the violent acts that occurred in the country, which was installed on July 2, 2018. Since the beginning of the crisis in Nicaragua, the IACHR has issued 24 press releases and adopted 17 Resolutions of Precautionary Measures to protect 81 people in that country, and in some cases also their families. All the work carried out by the IACHR within this framework was compiled into a page created for this purpose, which is available on the IACHR's Web site. The IACHR authorities have offered dozens of interviews to national and international media and dozens of messages have been published on institutional social networks in order to leave a record of the situation.

In addition, on March 27, 2018, the IACHR published the report "Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala.” The preparation of this report is based on the observation made during the in loco visit that took place from July 31 to August 4, 2017, as well as other visits by the IACHR and its thematic rapporteurs, on the monitoring that the Commission carries out in fulfillment of its mandate and through the use of the various mechanisms at its disposal, such as hearings, processing of precautionary measures, petitions and cases.

On the other hand, the IACHR conducted an on-site visit to Honduras from July 30 to August 3, 2018, and published a press release and the preliminary observations of the visit. The objective of this visit was to observe the human rights situation in the country on the ground. The IACHR collected testimonies from victims of human rights violations and their families. The IACHR visited various regions, including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Tela, Puerto Lempira, Bajo Aguán; and visited various state institutions, including detention centers and military bases. The IACHR disseminated the conclusions of its visit and the 25 recommendations made to the State of Honduras through a press conference held in Tegucigalpa on the last day of the visit.

Also during the first half of the year, the IACHR made other working visits to countries in the region. The working visits to Colombia were aimed at observing the human rights situation of ethnic communities one year after the implementation of the Peace Agreement. At a meeting held in Bogotá on March 3, 2018, the role of the IACHR in monitoring the implementation of the Peace Accord was discussed. At another meeting, which also took place on May 18 in the Colombian capital, the IACHR gathered information from the Ethnic Commission of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). Finally, a third working visit to Colombia took place from 26 to 28 June, during which meetings were held with the institutions included in the Peace Agreement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mayor's Office of Bogotá, and promotional activities were carried out. At the beginning of April 2018, a protocolary and working visit was also made to Honduras. The purpose of the visit was to get to know the authorities and make preparations for the visit to the country, which took place two months later. On this occasion, working meetings were held on precautionary measures and friendly solutions.

The country visits were designed and implemented following the strategy of prioritizing a series of issues and populations based on the cross-cutting themes adopted by the IACHR in its Strategic Plan 2017-2021, as well as the intersectional perspective of its entire work agenda. After the structural integration of the monitoring sections, progress was made in a process of standardization and harmonization of work flows, processes and instruments, as well as the elaboration of protocols. At the end of the first half of 2018, the IACHR had standardized protocols of action and harmonized flows for working visits, letters requesting information, thematic reports, and promotional activities.

This integration and coordination of the human rights monitoring function carried out by the IACHR in compliance with its mandate is expressed in the products produced, such as reports, press releases, letters requesting information from States, memorandums, and hearings. During the first half of the year, progress was also made in establishing the area's protocols for action, constructing the year's action plans, and putting into operation the new thematic units created in 2017: Memory, Truth, and Justice; Elderly Persons; and Disability. In relation to the Thematic Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, during the first semester of the year a professional specialized in the subject was available to support the Unit. The Unit also held a public consultation on June 22, 2018 in Lima, with the support of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). Seventy people, including people with disabilities, activists, non-governmental organizations, experts, academics and authorities from 17 OAS Member States participated in the event. They worked together to identify the most pressing challenges faced by people with disabilities in the region, as well as to design proposals for the lines of work to be implemented by the Commission through its thematic unit. On 26 July 2018, the IACHR's Unit on the Rights of Older Persons and the Mercosur Institute for Public Policy and Human Rights (IPPDH, by its acronym in Spanish) carried out activities aimed at strengthening knowledge of the human rights situation of older persons in the region and promoting the universalization of the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Older Persons. The IACHR and the IPPDH jointly organized the panel on "Good Practices and Challenges in Public Policy on the Human Rights of Older Persons.” Finally, the IACHR and the IPPDH jointly launched the photographic exhibition "Living with Dignity," which represents an effort to make visible the right of older people to live free from all forms of discrimination and violence, and which was available in the OAS main building until August 6, 2018.

Achievements in relation to efforts to overcome fragmentation and duplication of efforts in monitoring human rights situations, as well as the definition of action strategies for the integrated and articulated use of the various mechanisms available to the IACHR, resulted in an increase in the use of certain tools. There was an increase in the production of letters requesting information from States and in the issuance of press releases, compared to the same period last year. The IACHR issued 48 letters requesting information from States in the region. Eight of these letters were prepared pursuant to Article 18 of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man; and 40 pursuant to Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression prepared eight of these letters, two of them in conjunction with the United Nations Special Rapporteur, and most of them dealt with legislative processes on initiatives for the regulation of official advertising, on the responsibility of intermediaries, laws against hatred, or laws against terrorist acts. In addition, two of the letters were prepared by the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.

With respect to the press releases issued in the first half of the year, in the last two years the IACHR has been able to broaden its position in favor of human rights in the region through this mechanism. In the first half of the year, of the 168 press releases issued by the IACHR, 130 were related to the monitoring of the human rights situation in the region, in relation to countries and thematic priorities of the IACHR, technical cooperation and progress in the region, as well as follow-up of recommendations. Through this mechanism, the Commission has addressed issues such as: forced evictions and internal displacement, migration policies that result in the separation of children and their families, military interventions in matters of citizen security and public order, sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls, rights of LGBTI persons and the elderly, racial discrimination, the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, the right to freedom of expression and economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, among others. The press releases issued during the first semester have covered all the issues defined as priorities by the IACHR in its Strategic Plan. During the period under review, 16 of the press releases issued were in conjunction with the United Nations and other regional organizations. Through letters requesting information from States and press releases, as well as public hearings, the IACHR addressed the human rights situation in 26 countries of the region, either as a general situation or on certain issues and specific population groups in the country.

In the first half of the year, 58 public hearings were held, between the 167th Session held in Colombia and the 168th Session held in the Dominican Republic, giving visibility to a significant number of human rights situations. The holding of itinerant sessions in various countries of the region is a valuable tool for increasing the IACHR's presence in the region, democratizing access to the Inter-American Human Rights System, and bringing human rights issues closer to the populations of those countries. With the broad participation of victims, civil society, academia, and representation of States through their high authorities, in addition to the live transmission through the IACHR's Web site and the subsequent dissemination of the videos, the public hearings constitute a platform through which regional, sub-regional, and national human rights issues are made visible. During this semester, for the first time, the live broadcast was made available through the IACHR's institutional accounts on social networks, so that the hearings held in Colombia had an additional digital reach of 2.7 million, and those in the Dominican Republic, 2.1 million. Some of these hearings covered unpublished topics such as religious freedom and the secular state, the electoral process and its impact on human rights, the criminalization of drugs, and fundamental issues such as harassment of human rights defenders, companies and human rights, sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls, among others. In an effort to ensure universal accessibility to the Inter-American System, the Commission facilitated sign language interpretation at several public hearings.

Also during the first half of the year, the IACHR adopted and published two innovative resolutions linked to issues of great importance in the region because of their impact on human rights. With Resolution 1/18, the IACHR for the first time analyzes how corruption affects human rights as a whole and the right to development, weakens governance and democratic institutions, fosters impunity, undermines the rule of law, and exacerbates inequality. The efforts of the IACHR, with the support of its Special Rapporteurs, were subsequently reflected in the Lima Commitment, the document agreed upon by the Heads of State and Government of the OAS Member States during the VIII Summit of the Americas held in Peru in April 2018. By virtue of this commitment, the states committed themselves to addressing systemic corruption by strengthening democratic governance, transparency, access to information, whistleblower protection, and human rights, including freedom of expression; promoting transparency in the financing of political organizations and electoral campaigns.

For its part, Resolution 2/18 addresses the causes of the massive forced migration of Venezuelans to various countries in the region and around the world; the risks they face in the absence of legal, regular, and safe channels to migrate; and the multiple obstacles to obtaining international protection, in addition to discrimination, threats to their lives and personal integrity, sexual and gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation, human trafficking, the disappearance of migrants and refugees once they arrive in the receiving country; and obstacles in access to humanitarian assistance. Through that resolution, the IACHR urged OAS member states to implement a series of actions to respond to the serious and complex crisis represented by the forced migration of Venezuelans to other countries, in accordance with the international obligation of states to respect and guarantee the human rights of all persons under their jurisdiction.

In terms of the petitions and cases system, the continued relevance and legitimacy of the IACHR and the Inter-American Human Rights System, as well as the persistence of serious human rights situations in the region, continues to push up the number of petitions received year after year. In 2017, 2,508 petitions were received; between January 1 and July 31, 2018, 1,466 new petitions were registered. In order to meet this demand and to continue working on the implementation of the special program to reduce the procedural backlog until July 31, 2018, the IACHR has conducted an initial study of 52% of the petitions received in 2017. With this, the Commission plans that by the end of the year, it will have carried out a first evaluation of 100% of the petitions received in the immediately preceding calendar year and give continuity to the measures implemented to overcome the procedural backlog in the initial study stage, which is being implemented for the second consecutive year. There are currently 4,460 petitions in the initial study stage, pending a decision on whether they comply with the requirements to be processed. Of this total, 7 were received by 2010, 972 between 2011 and 2015, 572 in 2016, 1,443 in 2017 and 1,466 in 2018. Also, between January 1 and July 31, 2018, the IACHR adopted 67 reports on admissibility (63 on admissibility and 4 on inadmissibility) and 15 reports on the merits. As of July 31, 2018, there were 1,602 petitions at the admissibility stage and 981 at the merits stage, for a total of 2,583 petitions and cases pending. Since the focus of work in the last two years was on reducing the number of Petitions in the initial study stage, it is noted that the procedural delay was moved to the next stages: admissibility and merits. In 2018 the focus is on increasing the number of petitions at the admissibility stage and cases at the merits stage. These are key steps that reflect the IACHR's commitment to the petitions and cases system. In addition, the initiatives and results that have been achieved demonstrate the real and concrete possibility of implementing more and better measures to provide a timely response to people who turn to the inter-American system. During this semester, the IACHR updated the statistical data corresponding to 2017 of its system of petitions and cases in an interactive and comparative table. As for the work before the Inter-American Court, during the same period the IACHR has referred 12 contentious cases to the IACHR and has fulfilled its conventional role of appearing and acting before the Court in 8 public hearings of contentious cases and in 3 hearings to supervise compliance with the sentence.

The IACHR continued to implement the program to expand the use of friendly settlements within the framework of its petitions and case system. In the first half of the year, the IACHR facilitated the procedure for the negotiation of friendly solutions in 120 cases, of which 55 are in the admissibility stage and 65 are in the merits stage. Of this total, 41 have friendly settlement agreements between the parties, which are in the process of being implemented. During this period, the IACHR facilitated 20 working meetings with the participation of States, petitioners, and victims on issues at various stages of negotiation or implementation of friendly settlement agreements. The meetings were held within the framework of the sessions of the IACHR, as well as during a working visit to Chile and another to Honduras, carried out specifically to further the negotiations. In addition, seven portfolio meetings were held with representatives of the following States: Argentina (2), Colombia, Ecuador (2), Mexico, and Paraguay. With respect to the 137 matters that have Friendly Settlement Agreements, as established in Article 49 of the American Convention, the IACHR followed up on 80 matters, of which 77 have a partial level of compliance and 3 are pending compliance. At the end of this semester, requests for information were made to the States using a new methodology that includes specific questions, when the matter warrants it, on compliance with the recommendations or clauses of the Friendly Settlement Agreement that were not declared fully complied with by the IACHR in its 2017 Annual Report. The first annex establishes the methodology for the follow-up, which explains how the information should be presented so that the Commission can comprehensively evaluate compliance with recommendations and Friendly Solution Agreements and also for each of the specific clauses. In the second annex, it includes a copy of the published friendly settlement agreement highlighting the clauses on which information is required. On the other hand, the IACHR participated in April 2018 in a consultation forum for the elaboration of a protocol on protection measures for indigenous leaders and human rights defenders in Oaxaca, Mexico; this forum was part of the process of negotiating a friendly settlement agreement on a specific case. In July 2018, the IACHR also participated, as an honorary witness, in the signing of the first friendly settlement agreement of the State of Costa Rica. On May 10, 2018, the IACHR launched the updated edition of its Report on the Impact of the Friendly Solution Procedure, within the framework of its 168th session, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In addition, in June 2018, a training workshop on the friendly settlement mechanism was held for students at the University of Milan, Italy, and a seminar held in mid-June on International Disputes between States and Individuals in which representatives of States, civil society specializing in human rights, and specialists in international arbitration and mediation participated.

During the first semester of 2018, the IACHR managed to maintain its timely response in the area of precautionary measures, in a scenario of continuity in the high number of applications received. By July 31, 2018, more than 930 requests for precautionary measures were received, which represents 89.7% of the requests received during the whole of 2017 (1,037 requests). This is the highest ever number of requests for precautionary measures received by the IACHR during this period of the year. Fifty-six resolutions have been issued: 49 decisions to graft, 5 to lift, 1 on extension, and 1 on follow-up. This represents the largest number of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR since the reform of Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure in 2013. All the requests received to date have been analyzed and classified based on the most serious and urgent indications. By July 2018, the legal evaluation of 90% of the total number of applications received during the first half of the year was completed in real time, in accordance with the requirements established in Article 25 of the Regulations. The Commission held 18 working meetings on precautionary measures in force during its sessions in order to identify and resolve difficulties in their implementation.

During this period, precautionary measures were adopted that developed new standards or novel themes. With regard to the harassment suffered in various settings, including in schools, as a result of the rape of an indigenous girl, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to the girl and her family (MC 1014-17) in May 2018, ordering the adoption of culturally appropriate measures with a gender perspective and considering her best interests in order to guarantee the girl's right to education and to be able to study in a safe environment. In relation to evictions and internal displacement, the IACHR has granted precautionary measures to displaced and evicted persons from the Laguna Larga Community (MC 412/17) in September 2017, to indigenous families from the Community Chaab´il Ch´och' (MC 860/17) in January 2018, to the Maya Q'eqchi Community "Nueva Semuy Chacchilla" (MC 872-17) in February 2018 and to the Maya Q'ueqchi Community "La Cumbre Sa'kuxhá" (MC 43/18) in June 2018. Through these measures and its Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, the IACHR has pronounced for the first time on internal displacement caused by forced evictions and established standards in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in order to prevent displacement; protect and provide assistance during displacement; provide and facilitate humanitarian assistance; and facilitate safe return, reintegration, resettlement, and rehabilitation or fair compensation.

The IACHR adopted some institutional measures to strengthen the capacity to manage precautionary measures. During its 168th Period of Sessions, on May 10, 2018, the IACHR adopted Resolution 3/2018 with the objective of guaranteeing the efficiency of the mechanism of precautionary measures and favoring greater speed in decision-making. This resolution makes it possible to concentrate efforts on the analysis of the issues of people who are at risk and who need a precautionary measure to safeguard their rights. Through that resolution, the Commission made transparent some of the issues or claims that it has historically and consistently considered not to be susceptible of being analyzed through the mechanism of precautionary measures, in view of the fact that their analysis requires a thorough examination of the allegations presented with the obligations established in the American Declaration or Convention, which is characteristic of the system of petitions and cases. This strengthens the methodology for the initial study of the requests received, guaranteeing more predictability about the scope of the mechanism and favoring the taking of decisions in relation to such types of matters. Likewise, in order to have updated information from the petitioners and to expedite the analysis of the requests received, the IACHR decided to deactivate the requests in which information was requested from the petitioners and, once the deadline established in the communication has expired, there had been no response from the petitioners. Likewise, it was decided to deactivate requests where no information has been requested from the State and there is no updated information from the applicants within a period of more than 6 months from the last information submitted. From the date of the Resolution, the inactive matters are periodically verified – every three months – in order to be deactivated. If a case has been deactivated and additional information has been submitted, the information submitted will be processed registering it as a new request for precautionary measures, taking into account the current risk situation.

In relation to Precautionary Measure 309/18, Javier Ortega Reyes, Paúl Rivas Bravo and Efraín Segarra Abril, Colombia and Ecuador, after evaluating the proposal of the State of Ecuador, in a press release dated May 11, 2018, the IACHR announced its decision to form a monitoring team with special and differentiated attention within the framework of MC 309-18, granted to protect the life and integrity of members of the Trade Journalism Team, who were kidnapped by a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in the border area of Colombia and Ecuador and assassinated in April of this year. According to the IACHR, "the special monitoring team will be dedicated to accompany the families of the victims and provide technical support for the investigations carried out by the national authorities and institutions.” To date, two working meetings have been organized, one in Washington, DC and the other in Quito in July, to set up the special follow-up team.

With regard to Precautionary Measure 409/14 - Students from the rural school "Raúl Isidro Burgos, during the first semester of 2018 the IACHR approved a second period of work for the Follow-up Mechanism on the Ayotzinapa matter (MESA, by its acronym in Spanish), which presented a balance report containing the follow-up to the recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its acronym in Spanish) and the aforementioned precautionary measure. The Balance Report notes the progress that the Mexican authorities have made in legislation on forced disappearance and torture, as well as in the medical care of Aldo Gutierrez and Edgar Vargas, two of the students injured in the Ayotzinapa case. Regarding structural measures, the Commission appreciates that the State adopted the General Law of Forced Disappearance and the General Law of Torture. It also highlights the pending 11 lines of criminal investigation, in which the MESA has recommended key elements to deepen the investigation of the case. So far, during 2018 there has been an official visit and a technical visit, 2 public hearings and 2 working meetings within the context of the IACHR sessions in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. The presence of the Mechanism in the field through its official visits provided opportunities for dialogue among all parties involved, particularly with family members, which facilitated the exchange of information. These meetings were respectful, frank and open spaces for discussion. The IACHR also recognizes and appreciates that in response to the Mechanism's proposals, the Mexican State initiated suggested steps in order to advance the investigations. During this period, the IACHR made progress in the implementation of the Section on Follow-Up of Recommendations, with the ultimate goal of stimulating the effectiveness of the Inter-American Human Rights System. Work has been done on the development and improvement of methodologies to follow up on the recommendations of the IACHR, and the number of actions has increased with a view to building consensual routes for compliance with those recommendations. The Section is responsible for monitoring compliance with the recommendations established in the cases with published Merits Reports, and within this framework, it carried out follow-up actions on the files of 100 cases at this stage. Five working meetings were held during the sessions of the first semester; three portfolio meetings with the representatives of the States of Argentina, Ecuador, and Mexico, and various meetings with petitioners. During the period covered by this balance report, 100 letters were sent to States requesting information on compliance with the recommendations of the published Merits Reports. On the basis of the response received, the letters will be forwarded to the petitioners to receive their inputs, and with the responses of both of them, the chapter of the annual report on follow-up to recommendations will be prepared. Likewise, the information on the recommendations made by the IACHR in those 100 published Merits Reports was systematized as a comparative study on the evolution of the concepts of reparations measures by the Commission. The Section has also worked on the systematization of information, including a base of recommendations included in the IACHR's Thematic Reports and published Merits Reports. Two Thematic Studies were also prepared on the implementation of recommendations in published Merits Reports: one relating to the 34 cases on the death penalty and another relating to the 12 cases in which the rights to life or integrity of women and girls have been affected. The Commission is also collaborating with the project for the preparation of IACHR jurisprudence sheets on Merits Reports and Friendly Settlements, in which it is working with the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (IDEHPUCP).

Also in the area of follow-up to recommendations, the IACHR has made a fundamental commitment to the consolidation and creation of Special Mechanisms, such as the Follow-up Mechanism on the Ayotzinapa Affair (MESA, by its acronym in English) - adopted in relation to Mexico; the Follow-up Working Group on the Implementation of Human Rights Policies in the Dominican Republic; and the Special Follow-up Mechanism on Nicaragua (MESENI, by its acronym in English). The Special Follow-Up Mechanisms facilitate a more holistic analysis of the IACHR's decisions and recommendations, provide a public presentation of the case or situation, provide a systematic and periodic follow-up to the issue/country, all of which results in a more in-depth and focused follow-up by the IACHR, and with better monitoring of the results.

During this period, progress was also made with respect to the Working Group on the Implementation of Public Policies on Human Rights in the Dominican Republic, created to follow up on recommendations and commitments regarding the acquisition of nationality, migration, policies to combat all forms of discrimination, and policies on women's rights and gender equality. The first meeting of the Working Group took place on July 24 and 25, 2018, at the IACHR headquarters in Washington, D.C. As part of this Working Group, a working meeting was held between representatives of the State and civil society on migration, women, gender, equality and discrimination, and nationality. The IACHR prepared a preliminary questionnaire and sent it to the State and to civil society in order to obtain updated information on the human rights situation and the implementation of public policies related to the issues of concern to the Mesa. This first meeting of the Working Group has been an important space to continue working together to follow up on the recommendations of the IACHR and update information regarding the implementation of human rights policies. The Working Group will meet once again at the end of the year in Santo Domingo, without prejudice to the will expressed by both the State and civil society to hold internal meetings in the Dominican Republic. The Working Group is an opportunity to advance toward the implementation of human rights policies in the Dominican Republic and constitutes a complementary tool in the IACHR's strategy, in accordance with its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan.

In the first months of 2018, the IACHR continued to carry out activities as part of the preparation of other thematic and country reports. On March 21, 2018, the IACHR held a consultation of experts in Mexico City to prepare a report on Due Process and Judicial Protection in Procedures for the Recognition of the Status of Refugees, Complementary Protection, and Statelessness, in the presence of representatives of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), civil society organizations, and scholars. Related to the same report, the IACHR published a consultation questionnaire addressed to States, civil society, and other non-state actors. From June 18 to 20, 2018, the Inter-American Commission participated in a meeting on the Report on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Pan-Amazonia, in Quito, Ecuador. As part of the preparation of the thematic report on Violence and discrimination against women, girls and adolescents: Challenges and good practices, the Rapporteurs on the Rights of Women and on the Rights of the Child held two consultations with experts in Bogotá, Colombia, and Lima, Peru. As part of the preparation of this report, the IACHR also published a consultation questionnaire addressed to member states, civil society, and non-state actors. During this semester, a regional consultation was held for the Report on "Internal Displacement in the Northern Triangle: Guidelines for the Formulation of Public Policies," which took place on February 22, 2018, in Guatemala City. The consultation sought to identify the main causes and impacts of internal displacement in each of these three countries; to identify the obstacles and challenges faced by States in the areas of action (institutional, normative, public management, etc.) for the protection of the rights of internally displaced persons; to identify good practices in terms of institutional schemes, regulations and public policies; and to reflect on the existing capacities and opportunities in the States of the region to advance an agenda of work for the promotion and protection of the rights of the internally displaced population.

The IACHR has been able to consolidate its actions in training, promotion, and campaigns to promote human rights thinking and culture in the region, improving the understanding of the IACHR's mandate and the Inter-American human rights standards by users of the IACHR. Approximately 282 people received training in the different courses and workshops held or sponsored by the IACHR in the first semester of 2018. The IACHR also continued to disseminate the standards and promote a culture of human rights through digital media. The IACHR's Web site exceeded 2 million visits in the period analyzed, and publications on social networks reached approximately 46 million impressions in the first semester, with 10 million hits on the IACHR's official Facebook account and 36 million through the institutional Twitter account. During this period, the IACHR carried out a digital campaign on poverty and human rights that had a total reach of almost 5 million, including visits to the interactive microsite.

During this semester, the Commission has continued to strengthen collaboration with Central America through the Project on Democracy and Human Rights in the Northern Triangle, particularly with respect to standards relating to forced displacement. Within the framework of this project, carried out in association with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and aimed at strengthening public institutions with a human rights focus in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, training courses were held during this period for State officials from the three countries. Three training and capacity-building workshops were held for officials of human rights offices (national human rights protection systems) of the three mentioned countries, on the use of the mechanisms of the Inter-American Human Rights System, as well as inter-American norms and standards. These trainings took place in El Salvador on 16 and 17 April, with 30 participants; in Honduras on 19 and 20 April, with 34 participants; and in Guatemala on 23 and 24 April, with 28 participants. In addition, three other technical assistance and capacity-building workshops were held for public officials on human rights norms and standards for persons and migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, displaced persons and other persons in the context of human mobility. These conferences took place in Honduras on 26 and 27 April, with 33 participants; in El Salvador on 16 and 17 May, with 20 participants; and in Guatemala on 23 and 24 May, with 12 participants. As part of this program, on February 22, 2018, the IACHR held a regional consultation in Guatemala City on internal displacement. Based on these inputs, the IACHR prepared and approved the Report on "Internal Displacement in the Northern Triangle. Guidelines for the formulation of public policies". In addition, on July 27 and 28, 2018, the first Regional Forum was held in Honduras: "Exchange of experiences on international standards and good practices related to internal displacement, protection of human rights defenders and LGTBI populations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.” The Forum, in which approximately 200 people participated, including representatives of different state institutions, members of civil society, academia and the general public, had the objective of exchanging reflections, experiences and information on the human rights situation of LGBTI people and communities; human rights defenders and on different aspects related to human mobility and internal displacement in the countries of the Northern Triangle. In addition, in July 2018, the IACHR held four training sessions for civil society, students and social movements on the mechanisms of the IACHR and the standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System in Managua, Nicaragua, as part of the activities carried out by MESENI. A total of 108 people were trained in these activities. The IACHR also held a workshop on the Inter-American Human Rights System between June 11 and 15 for 17 students of the master's degree in human rights at the Milano-Bicocca University. In addition, on June 27, 2018, the International Course on Public Policies in Human Rights, which the IACHR will hold during the second semester of 2018 and part of 2019 in partnership with the Institute of Public Policies in Human Rights (IPPDH) of MERCOSUR, was launched. The course is aimed at 100 participants, with quotas for public officials responsible for the design, direction, execution and evaluation of public policies, members of social organizations and movements, academics and society in general.

The IACHR has also continued its joint work and coordination with other regional human rights mechanisms, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Follow-up Mechanism to the Convention of Belém do Pará (MESCVI), the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, among others. Likewise, in May 2018, the IACHR participated in the Ninth General Assembly of the Global Movement for Democracy held in Dakar, Senegal, Building Strategic Partnerships for Democratic Renewal. Within the framework of the OAS, the IACHR participated in a meeting convened by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) on "Human Rights Challenges in Drug Treatment Courts," which took place on April 17, 2018, to discuss advances and challenges in the area of drug courts.

Within the framework of the agreement signed between the IACHR and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the creation of the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, on March 1, 2018, the first meeting of focal points of the joint mechanism was held in Bogotá, with the presence of focal points from the IACHR and the Offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Central America, South America, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. The offices of the OHCHR and the IACHR agreed to deepen joint actions to advance the effective implementation of the Joint Actions Mechanism to contribute to the protection of human rights defenders in the Americas. Progress was also made in consolidating the mechanism of joint actions with specific proposals for action by 2018 along five priority lines: joint studies, monitoring and protection, advocacy, promotion and technical assistance. In order to achieve these actions, it was agreed to periodically exchange information between the two bodies for joint analysis of issues and situations of special concern, as well as actions to achieve the effective and timely protection of human rights defenders at risk. A draft Diagnosis of the situation of human rights defenders in the Americas (2012-2017) was also presented as an input for joint actions to be developed. During the first semester, the IACHR and the OHCHR carried out a series of joint actions such as: the issuance of joint pronouncements on situations of mutual concern, joint participation in monitoring and promotional activities, and an increase in the exchange of information and analysis on the human rights situation of human rights defenders in the region, including relevant information on precautionary measures.

On 14 May 2018, the Rapporteurship on Human Rights Defenders, together with the OHCHR office in Honduras, jointly held a seminar on standards for the protection of human rights defenders in Tegucigalpa. Two joint communiqués were published, one on threats against human rights defenders in the post-electoral context in Honduras; and another on murders of indigenous and peasant defenders in Guatemala. Several joint meetings have also been held in order to organize a regional conference in October in Panama. Between July 23 and 24, the IACHR participated in the second inter-mechanism meeting held in New York. Between July 27 and 28, the IACHR participated jointly with representatives of OHCHR-Honduras in a forum organized by PADF on standards for the protection of human rights defenders.

Also in the period covered by this report, the Second Trilateral Dialogue between the IACHR, the African Commission and UN human rights experts on sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual characteristics was held, from 26 to 28 March 2018, at the IACHR headquarters. The members of the Inter-American Commission and its Special Rapporteurs were joined by five members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and nine United Nations human rights experts for a three-day dialogue on standards, best practices, challenges, and the identification of possible areas of collaboration among the systems. The meeting had three general objectives: to share best practices and challenges, to identify areas of collaboration, and to reaffirm the commitment of United Nations human rights experts and inter-American and African regional human rights systems to the eradication of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The experts present agreed that working to ensure that all people enjoy a life free from such violence and discrimination must remain a priority.

In addition, the IACHR is developing the Inter-American Monitoring System of Recommendations of the IACHR (Inter-American SIMORE), which will have the information base of all the recommendations made by the IACHR, through its different mechanisms, to the OAS Member States. The relevance of this system has been recognized by the Organization of American States (OAS) itself. In June 2018, the OAS General Assembly approved a resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights that recognizes the IACHR's efforts to implement a digital system to follow up on recommendations within the framework of its Strategic Plan 2017-2021, and urges it to continue developing its capacities to follow up on its recommendations (AG/DOC.5641/18). The Inter-American SIMORE is based on the tool developed by Paraguay to systematize the international human rights recommendations made to the country and provides public access to information on the actions taken by the State to comply with and implement them. The system contains a specific tool for civil society participation. This year, the IACHR hopes to create a public database of IACHR recommendations in the Inter-American SIMORE. During this semester, progress was made in training the IACHR team and in verifying the technical conditions for the installation of the system. The Workshop to present the System's tools and train the IACHR focal points took place from June 25 to 27, 2018, in Washington, D.C., and was attended by more than 50 people, including the participation of ten missions of the Member States to the OAS in the presentation of the system. On that occasion, the State of Paraguay submitted the system's source code to the IACHR. As part of the implementation of the plan, a "Comparative Study Document of Information Indexing Models - Recommendation Tracking Systems" was prepared in order to prepare the proposal for the indexing base of the recommendations in SIMORE.

In relation to the construction of an academic network specialized in the inter-American system and the signing of agreements with academic research centers on the Inter-American Human Rights System, during the first semester of 2018 the IACHR signed 4 agreements with universities in the region: Catholic University of Peru; Brown University; National University of Córdoba; and the University of Los Angeles. For its part, it is negotiating another 15 agreements with universities in the countries of the region. Within the framework of these agreements, progress is being made in expanding the Scholarship Program and the Associate Personnel Program, as well as in training, promotion, and academic research activities.

Along these lines, another of the priorities of the IACHR has been the negotiation of Institutional Agreements that allow for the receipt of scholarships or associated personnel from institutions, universities, and other entities. During the first semester of 2018, one person was received as associate personnel who rendered their services in REDESCA. It is also expected that at least 4 people will be admitted during the second semester of 2018. Similarly, during the first half of 2018, eight inter-institutional cooperation agreements were signed with Save the Children and REDLAMYC; with the Institute for Social Responsibility and Human Rights; with the Catholic University of Peru; with the Labor Public Prosecutor's Office of Brazil; with Brown University; with the National University of Córdoba, with the International Land Coalition; and with the University of Los Angeles.

Within the framework of the public policies program with a focus on human rights, concrete progress was made during this period in the structuring of the Section for Technical Cooperation and Public Policies on Human Rights. Progress was made both in the drafting of instruments and inputs for those involved in the formulation of public policies and in the consolidation of links to provide technical assistance and support the institutional strengthening strategies of States and to establish cooperation actions with other institutions. Progress has also been made in drafting general guidelines for the formulation of public policies with a human rights focus that can serve as input for officials of the countries of the region. In this connection, a report was prepared containing guidelines for the formulation of public policies on internal displacement, entitled "Internal displacement in the Northern Triangle. Guidelines for the formulation of public policies", to provide a practical tool for the promotion and protection of the rights of internally displaced persons.

On February 22, 2018, the IACHR signed a technical cooperation agreement with Colombia to promote the Inter-American Human Rights System by providing technical assistance to the State in the implementation of the Peace Agreement. In addition, the Technical Unit of the Justice Sector of El Salvador requested technical cooperation from the IACHR to deepen the Judicial Branch's knowledge, reflection, and dialogue on transitional justice processes in that country. Along the same lines, progress was made in the design of technical cooperation work proposals with various Government institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the purpose of which is to support national efforts to promote human rights and to formulate public policies with a human rights focus on various topics of mutual interest, including: the rights of LGBTI people, mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders, support for the implementation of national human rights plans, and mechanisms for social participation.

During this period, the IACHR has also continued to work on improving the use of information and communications technologies in order to increase productivity, reducing costs and staff hours in manual labor. In addition to the implementation of the Inter-American SIMORE mentioned above, the IACHR is working on the creation of an electronic voting system to optimize the work of debate and decision-making in consultations with the IACHR. During this period, automated systems were put online for the automatic collection of digitized information, such as the receipt of requests for hearings and working meetings for the sessions, the call for participation in the public consultation of the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and the calls for interested persons for the scholarships on the rights of LGBTI persons and on international protection and internal displacement. With regard to technological innovations, for the first time all documents relating to the 167th Session were digitized, including hearings and work meetings, internal documents and others, in order to improve the flow of electronic information for the Commissioners, streamlining processes and increasing productivity. In addition, the Comprehensive Digital Restructuring Plan was designed so that the electronic information storage spaces and information systems would be up to date and compatible with the new organizational structure of the IACHR. The document management system (DMS), petition and case management system (PCMS), digital information storage systems, and institutional e-mail boxes for contacting and exchanging information with IACHR users were updated. Work was done on the digital transfer of case portfolios in the various systems to adapt them to the new institutional organization chart. In addition, 208 model letters were updated in the PCMS; two new procedures were created in the system so that petitioners can view non-granting letters in the Portal; and a change was implemented in the main pending view in the DMS system to facilitate a better visualization of pending issues and their related documents, which speeds up the process of reviewing correspondence and instructions within the system.

In relation to the financial sustainability plan, the first part of the regular fund increase was implemented, the increase of which was approved to be made in three years, completing the doubling by 2020. The first third of the increase was carried out starting in 2018, and with these resources several positions previously financed with voluntary donations were created and a competition process called to fill them. The proposal for the Program-Budget for 2019 has been presented to the Permanent Council and includes the second third of the duplication. This proposal will be considered at the Extraordinary General Assembly on financial matters, which is scheduled to take place on October 30, 2018. On the other hand, the Fund Mobilization Committee established by the Executive Secretariat met to define the agenda and mobilization strategy for the Programs of the Strategic Plan and, in particular, for the on-site visit to Honduras. The Committee concluded on the need to make donors accountable by presenting the results of progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan in the first year not only to donors but also to member states. Two sub-regional meetings and a presentation to the Permanent Council were held. We also continued to implement the financial sustainability plan, prospecting for diversification of sources. Progress was made in the creation of a bank of projects under development of the Strategic Plan for the mobilization of funds. Progress has also been made in improving accountability to donors, not only in terms of the results of the strategic plan but also in terms of the content of specific reports on project execution, for which purpose it has been essential to strengthen project follow-up and monitoring. The IACHR has also worked to broaden and diversify its donor base, exploring and approaching other sources such as cooperation channeling organizations and some business foundations.

Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression

The Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression (RELE) designed its Action Plan 2018-2021, which includes inputs received from civil society and regional experts through the various mechanisms, as well as the result of the office's permanent monitoring of the situation of freedom of expression in the region. RELE has maintained a permanent dialogue with the States through individual meetings and in spaces such as the sessions of the IACHR, visits to the countries and in the Council on Juridical and Political Affairs or on the occasion of the preparatory tasks of the General Assembly. The new plan of action includes a renewed thematic agenda that addresses three main dimensions: democratic governance; the defense of civic space; and the challenges to freedom of expression online. Among the specific issues that the office prioritizes in its action plan are the following: the safety of journalists, including women journalists, and the issue of impunity for these crimes; freedom of expression and access to information in electoral periods; the exercise of social protest; access to public information and the national security exception; and the exercise of freedom of expression and the Internet. Under this new plan of action, work is planned in line with the IACHR's Strategic Plan.

In addition, as part of the expert knowledge offered by the Rapporteurship to the IACHR, the Rapporteurship conducted multiple consultations in the framework of the adoption of the Resolution adopted in June 2018 by the OAS General Assembly, in one of whose chapters the member states expressed concern about the dissemination of deliberately false information, through social networks and even during electoral periods and requested from the Special Rapporteurship a practical guide of recommendations to guarantee freedom of expression, and access to information from various sources on the Internet during electoral processes, without undue interference.

With regard to monitoring the situation of freedom of expression, the Special Rapporteur's Office also fulfilled important objectives. It participated in the preliminary visit of the IACHR to Nicaragua in May. Also noteworthy was the publication of the report on the official mission of the Special Rapporteur to Mexico in conjunction with the United Nations Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye; it included a series of recommendations to overcome the crisis of violence against journalists and the issue of impunity, as well as to address other substantive issues for Mexican democracy, such as online surveillance and official advertising.

With regard to other topics, the Special Rapporteurship carried out 4 consultations. With regard to access to public information, the Special Rapporteur held consultations on the national security exception and its application in different countries, in preparation for the thematic report on the right of access to information and national security that RELE is preparing. The second consultation seeks to monitor the status of the recommendations included in the report "Access to information, violence against women and the administration of justice", and will enable RELE to gain knowledge and report on the situation of access to information to combat violence against women in the region. In total, 33 responses were received from States, civil society organizations and individuals. In addition, a closed consultation was held in Bogotá, Colombia, in preparation for the next report of the Special Rapporteurship, "Freedom of Expression and Women Journalists," in which 23 women from throughout the region participated, including representatives of Afro-descendant groups, indigenous people, LGBT, journalists who are victims of violence, among others. Finally, a consultation was launched in May 2018 to receive information in preparation for the Special Rapporteur's official visit to Ecuador which took place at the end of August 2018.

Finally, 27 press releases were published and replicated by different media. Of the total number of press releases, the Office issued 11 to draw attention to events related to the murder or disappearance of journalists in Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, Brazil and the United States. In other communiqués, the Special Rapporteur announced the launch of the above-mentioned consultation processes, the launch of the annual report 2017, the joint report on freedom of expression in Mexico, the online course for judges and justice officials, the multimedia section of the report on "Standards for an open, inclusive and pluralistic Internet", and the Joint Declaration on the Independence and Diversity of the Media in the Digital Age of May 2018.

In 2018, the Special Rapporteurship has made special use of its social networks to disseminate press releases, advocacy and training events, and advanced standards, among other materials and tools. Building on the work done in recent years, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued three judgments so far in 2018 that refer to freedom of expression: Nelson Carvajal Carvajal and family (Colombia), Vladimir Herzog and others (Brazil) and San Miguel Sosa and others (Venezuela). These, together with the Merits Rreport on the case of Vladimiro Roca Antúnez y otros (Cuba) that was published in April 2018, represent the progress made by the IACHR and its Special Rapporteur in adopting relevant jurisprudence for the protection of the exercise of civil and political rights through the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and in identifying the specific obligations of States in relation to investigating with due diligence attacks of premeditated violence against journalists and other new issues. In addition, meetings were held to follow up on case recommendations.

Regarding the petitions system, 5 Admissibility Reports were presented by the Special Rapporteur and approved by the IACHR. In addition, the Special Rapporteurship prepared the respective sections on the right to freedom of expression in three Merits Reports that were later submitted to the IACHR for approval.

The Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression made progress in fulfilling its projects relating to the training of judicial personnel in the inter-American standards of freedom of expression. The Special Rapporteurship, in partnership with UNESCO, trained 2,200 judges in the region in the application of inter-American standards of freedom of expression during this period, through an online course hosted by the University of Austin (Texas), with the participation of Rapporteurs and former Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and the tutorial of a team of experts. This course reached 7,000 judges from the Americas during the current mandate. The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is currently studying the idea of offering the course to other professionals such as academics, journalists and lawyers and to take specialized courses on certain topics such as the Internet or the use of criminal law. In addition, the Special Rapporteurship has organized and/or participated in 10 events to disseminate inter-American standards on freedom of expression in the region and in international forums such as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at the United Nations; the World Press Freedom Day in Ghana; the Summit of the Americas; and the Conference on Internet and Privacy in Brussels. The themes have focused on access to information and the environment, access to information and women, violence against women journalists, Internet and freedom of expression, regulation of official advertising, and challenges to freedom of expression from a regional perspective, and also particularly in Argentina and Venezuela. Around 450 people (60% women) have participated in these promotional events, including members of civil society, academics, students, legislators and justice officials.

Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA)

During the first semester of 2018, the Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) prepared its first work plan and strategic agenda, designing its logo and institutional image, all of which was approved by the plenary of the Commission. On this basis, it prepared proposals for financing projects for its operation and sustainability, making progress in promotion and taking advantage of the opportunities for communication of the mandate. It has also continued to maintain a fruitful agenda of meetings and contacts with civil society, States, other OAS bodies, public institutions, academia, rights holders, intergovernmental organizations and potential donors. At the end of June, the Rapporteur began a three-week working tour of Europe with the aim of seeking strategic alliances and secure sources of funding to strengthen and make the Rapporteur's work sustainable. During this time, the Rapporteur's team has been strengthened thanks to the creation of valuable alliances with public and academic institutions and within the IACHR itself.

REDESCA also carried out important promotional and academic activities in various countries of the region on various topics related to its mandate, such as those carried out with the University of Nuevo León and the University of Monterrey (Mexico), the Workshop on Challenges and Good Practices in National Human Rights Plans on Business and Human Rights, experiences in Colombia, Chile and Mexico, organized with the Colombian Government (Colombia), the presentation on business and human rights made at the request of the CAJP (OAS) or his participation in the Forum "Restoring the Faith in Freedom" organized by the Carter Center (Atlanta, USA).

As part of the monitoring work on DESCA, the participation of REDESCA in the working visit to Nicaragua and the report issued on it documenting serious human rights violations in the context of the social protests that began on 18 April 2018 are highlighted. In particular, it focused on the guarantee of the right to health and the effect on other social rights such as food, education and work, continuing these tasks up to the present in constant coordination with the IACHR's MESENI. More recently, the contribution of the REDESCA is reflected in the work carried out through her participation in the IACHR's visit to Honduras and the contributions to the documents derived from it. It also worked in coordination with the other units of the IACHR in more than a dozen thematic hearings, issued three press releases and a letter requesting information under article 41 of the American Convention.

With regard to the system of petitions and cases, REDESCA participated in 26 draft reports at the admissibility stage, 3 at the substantive stage, 5 resolutions on requests for precautionary measures and 1 hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Finally, the Special Rapporteur prepared the concept note and preliminary index of the report on inter-American standards on business and human rights, holding two regional thematic hearings on the subject so far this year and publishing a questionnaire addressed to OAS member states, civil society and the public interested in submitting their contributions. Its greatest efforts are now focused on processing all the inputs received, as well as on drafting what will be the first thematic report of the IACHR and thus of the inter-American system on the subject.


Based on the progress identified, it can be concluded that, between January and July 2018, the IACHR has verified the positive results of the structural measures implemented in 2017, expanding its response capacity and relevance to the important human rights challenges in the region and fulfilling the objectives proposed for the period in its Strategic Plan 2017-2021. Suggestions and comments can be sent to [email protected].

Finally, the IACHR thanks the Inter-American civil society on human rights, the OAS member and observer states, international and regional organizations, as well as the team of its Executive Secretariat for all the support provided to make progress and reach the achievements presented in this report. It thanks the member states for implementing the first part of the increase in the regular fund, which was approved in 2017 for a three-year period. It also thanks the member countries, observers and donors whose voluntary contributions have been decisive for the scope of the results presented: Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, United States, France, Holland, Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, as well as other organizations such as UNHCR and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF).

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. 198/18