Press Release

IACHR Presents Report on Internal Displacement in Central America’s Northern Triangle Countries

August 20, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - Today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) launched a report entitled “Internal Displacement in the Northern Triangle of Central America: Public Policy Guidelines.” In the report, the IACHR provides background information, defines the rights of internally displaced people, and examines a series of Inter-American standards on the issue. One innovative aspect of the report is that it includes guidelines for public policymaking with a human rights approach to address the issue of internal displacement. These guidelines were developed based on Inter-American standards around states’ obligations to prevent human rights violations, protect people from these, provide victims with humanitarian assistance, and guarantee they are able to return to their places of origin.

The IACHR acknowledges that internal displacement is a complex issue caused by multiple factors. In recent years, the IACHR has identified large numbers of displaced people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras through information received by different mechanisms as part of its human rights monitoring work. Specifically, the IACHR has become aware of a gradual increase in internal human mobility due to the high levels of violence that these countries are experiencing, partly because of the decline in socioeconomic conditions and security. Likewise, the IACHR has also been observing the rise of forced evictions of indigenous and peasant communities, leading to their internal displacement, which is having a devastating impact on these groups’ rights. 

The purpose of this report is to provide a practical tool for government officials who are responsible for compliance with human rights obligations and for social organizations working to promote and protect the rights of internally displaced people, who are demanding that states adopt measures and policies to respond effectively to this troubling situation.

The report contains specific recommendations that are addressed to the different state administrative sectors so that they can implement them as measures to strengthen the protection afforded by the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights and the Universal Human Rights System. The specific measures include guaranteeing a budget to sustain institutional setups and training all staff on the promotion and protection of human rights and their role as public servants.

The report also contains recommendations designed to ensure that civil society and internally displaced people take part throughout the process of designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating policies to ensure they are put into practice in a way that is comprehensive, participatory, and inclusive. This recommendation extends to the different levels of government involved in designing and drafting public policies that aim to prevent forced internal displacement and protect the rights of internally displaced people.

The report also highlights the importance of including a gender and diversity perspective when responding to internal displacement. Specifically, the IACHR has found that due to discrimination, forced internal displacement has a disproportionate impact on women, girls, and the LGBTI population and other people and groups who have historically borne the brunt of discrimination.

To mark the publication of this report, the president of the IACHR, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, urged public institutions in the Northern Triangle countries “to work together on the issue of internal displacement to provide joint, coordinated responses to protect and assist people before, during, and after displacement.” Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva, the rapporteur on the rights of migrants and displaced people, stressed the importance of “states taking a comprehensive approach to this human rights problem as part of their role as guarantors. This implies adopting effective measures that range from the official recognition of forced internal displacement to measures to prevent the causes of this and to respond to internally displaced people’s need for protection.” Executive secretary Paulo Abrão stressed that “the IACHR wishes to reiterate its willingness to support state initiatives through its technical cooperation mechanism so as to help implement the public policy guidelines with a human rights focus that are recommended in this report.”

This report comes with a practical guide that contains public policy-making guidelines on internal displacement, which seek to guide states’ actions and provide civil society and displaced people with the tools they need to demand action from the state and to support, influence, and monitor this.

The report is part of the Regional Human Rights and Democracy Project, which is being implemented in partnership with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). The project seeks to strengthen knowledge of the Inter-American Human Rights System and its standards among key local stakeholders who are involved in protecting and defending human rights in the states of the Northern Triangle of Central America.

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. 204/19