Empowering human rights defenders

Nine years later, women who denounced use of sexual torture in San Salvador Atenco await the IACHR’s final report

Nearly a decade after the acts of suppression that took place between May 3rd and 4th, 2006 in San Salvador Atenco,  11 survivors of sexual torture who presented their case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urge for a prompt decision in their case and reject the actions of the Mexican State to delay, block or interfere with its processing.

Mon, 05/04/2015

Complainants reject the State’s attempts to delay the international report and demand an end to the practice of sexual torture in Mexico

Mexico City, May 4th, 2015.- Nearly a decade after the acts of suppression that took place between May 3rd and 4th, 2006 in San Salvador Atenco,  11 survivors of sexual torture who presented their case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urge for a prompt decision in their case and reject the actions of the Mexican State to delay, block or interfere with its processing.

Since the submission of the petition to the IACHR in 2008, these survivors expressed on several occasions—including at a public hearing before the IACHR in March 2013 – their wishes that those responsible are punished, which would make reconciliation unlikely.

In spite of this, the Mexican State insists on conducting insufficient actions without the consent of the complainants. For example, a “damage reparations” fund created on their behalf; an act which is not only offensive to the petitioners, but also places them in a situation of insecurity.

Even with accusations of torture and cover-up brought up against various State agents involved in the events, no penalty has been imposed; no public official at the federal level has responded to these violations, nor have they been stripped of responsibilities within the chain of command. Nine years later, the case remains in a state of impunity.

Within this context, the survivors, all of whom are women, reiterate their confidence in the IACHR’s ability to resolve their case and to urge this international body to issue the final report as quickly as possible. The publication of the report will constitute a means of redress for the women who, for years, have fought for truth and justice regarding the events that took place during and after the acts repression that affected their rights.

Finally, these women reaffirm their commitment in the fight against the use of sexual torture in Mexico as a technique to demobilize, suppress and frame people, among other purposes. They hope that their case will set a precedent in the advancement towards the eradication of this abhorrent practice toward Mexican women.

Ensuring Transparent and Independent Elections in the Inter-American System

In a move to support and strengthen human rights in the Americas, a panel of five independent experts will monitor the forthcoming election of new members to the region’s human rights commission and court.

The panel seeks to increase the transparency and visibility of the elections process, while offering an independent assessment of the 11 candidates standing for the eight open seats. It will also offer recommendations for how both national-level nominations and the election process itself can be improved, in the interest of strengthening the system overall.

Wed, 04/29/2015

In a move to support and strengthen human rights in the Americas, a panel of five independent experts will monitor the forthcoming election of new members to the region’s human rights commission and court.

 

The Independent Panel for the Election of Inter-American Commissioners and Judges has been established in advance of this June’s election of four new commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and four judges to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

 

State members of the Organization of American States (OAS) will fill the eight positions—more than half of all total seats—at their 45th General Assembly, to be held in Washington DC from June 15-16. The outcome will affect both the composition and identity of the Commission and the Court for years to come.

 

The Panel is composed of five renowned jurists from the human rights community— Marion Bethel (Bahamas), Belisário dos Santos Jr. (Brazil), Cecilia Medina (Chile), Juan Méndez (Argentina), and Naomi-Roht Arriaza (United States).

It seeks to increase the transparency and visibility of the elections process, while offering an independent assessment of the 11 candidates standing for the eight open seats. It will also offer recommendations for how both national-level nominations and the election process itself can be improved, in the interest of strengthening the system overall.

 

Established as an independent entity, the Panel was convened by the Open Society Justice Initiative with the support of a wide range of NGOs, universities, and bar associations throughout the region (see current list of supporters below). While these organizations have diverse opinions about the individual candidates and the selection process that may differ from the Panel’s final assessment, they are committed to strengthening the Inter-American human rights system through the principle of fair and transparent elections.

 

The initiative is modeled on a similar, successful initiative focused on ensuring transparence and independence in the election of judges to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Pioneered by the Coalition for the ICC, the establishment of an Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections in 2010 helped fill a significant gap in the elections process by providing competent, fair, and independent assessment of all nominees. The work of the Panel eventually led, in 2012, to the establishment of a formal Advisory Committee on Nominations for the ICC.

 

The new independent Inter-American Panel will deliver its final report to the OAS Secretary General and the Permanent Council, as well as the general public, at the end of May.

Endorsing organizations

Argentina

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Palermo

Bahamas

The Bahamas Crisis Center

 

Bolivia

Comunidad de Derechos Humanos

Oficina Jurídica de la Mujer

Brasil

Justiça Global

Chile

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Diego Portales

Corporación Humanas - Chile

Observatorio Ciudadano de Chile

Colombia

Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR)

Corporación Humanas - Colombia

De Justicia

Costa Rica

Asociación Costarricense de la Judicatura

Centro de investigación y Promoción para América Central de Derechos Humanos (CIPACDH)

Centro Internacional para los Derechos Humanos de los Migrantes (CIDEHUM)

Defensa de Niñas y Niños - Internacional (DNI)

 

Ecuador

Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos

Corporación Humanas – Ecuador

 

El Salvador

Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugenésico

Colectiva de Mujeres para el desarrollo Local

Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente de El Salvador (GMIES)

Red Salvadoreña de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos

 

Guatemala

Asociación para el Estudio y Promoción de la Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)

Fundación Myrna Mack

Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres (GGM)

Red de la No Violencia contra las mujeres (REDNOVI)

Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA)

Honduras

Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia (AJD)

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)

Equipo de Reflexión Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-SJ)

Jamaica

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC)

México

Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CEDEHM)

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez AC (Centro Prodh)

Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (CADHAC)

Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)

Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho

FUNDAR Centro de Análisis e Investigación

Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE)

Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas UNAM (IIJ-UNAM)

 

Nicaragua

Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)

Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua

IPAS Centroamérica

Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres (MAM)

 

Panamá

Alianza Ciudadana Pro Justicia

Perú

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH)

Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL)

 

Puerto Rico

Instituto Caribeño de Derechos Humanos (ICADH)

 

República Dominicana

Participación Ciudadana

Colectiva Mujer y Salud

 

United States

Center for Human Rights, American University Washington College of Law

The Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute

Santa Clara University, School of Law, International Human Rights Clinic

Uruguay

Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR),

Venezuela

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la  Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB)

Comité de Familiares de Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC)

Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA)

 

Regional

Amnistía Internacional

Articulación Regional Feminista por los derechos humanos y la justicia de género

Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA)

Asociadas por lo Justo (JASS-Mesoamérica)

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

Coalición Centro América Democrática (CAD)

Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)

Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI)

Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Democracia

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

IACHR demands explanations from El Salvador over Beatriz case

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) - an entity of the Organization of American States-, gave the Salvadoran State a deadline of three months to provide a report about the case of Beatriz. The Commission gave priority to the processing of this case, taking into account the serious consequences to women’s rights resulting from Salvadoran legislation which criminalizes all types of abortion.

Wed, 04/08/2015

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) - an entity of the Organization of American States-, gave the Salvadoran State a deadline of three months to provide a report about the case of Beatriz. The Commission gave priority to the processing of this case, taking into account the serious consequences to women’s rights resulting from Salvadoran legislation which criminalizes all types of abortion.

Following the international complaint presented before the IACHR by different civil society groups in 2013, the Commission requested information from the State. The suit against El Salvador is based on human rights violations which Beatriz was subjected to upon the denial of a therapeutic abortion necessary to save her life.

This young Salvadoran woman, who suffers from a serious chronic illness, became pregnant toward the end of 2012. Doctors recommended the use of a therapeutic abortion because her health and survival were at risk and also because the fetus had congenital anomalies incompatible with life.

However, doctors in the public health system did not terminate her pregnancy for fear of being subjected to criminal sanctions. The Constitutional Court did not provide a timely or effective response in order to protect Beatriz’s rights. It was only under the protection of measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights that a cesarean section was performed in the 26th week of pregnancy.

Motivated by the damage caused to Beatriz, The Feminist Collective for Local Development of El Salvador, the Citizens’ Association for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethical and Eugenic Abortion of El Salvador, Ipas Central America and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), filed a complaint against El Salvador before the IACHR in November 2013.

This action aims to ensure that other women do not have to face the suffering that Beatriz endured when her life was at risk. These organizations are asking the Salvadoran authorities to repair the damage suffered by Beatriz, and to change domestic legislation to fully guarantee women the right to health, personal integrity, reproductive rights and the right to effective judicial protection.

Currently, El Salvador is one of the seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in which abortion is absolutely prohibited by law. This means that there are no exceptions, even in cases where the woman's life would be threatened or where the pregnancy is result of rape.

According to data from Citizens’ Association for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethical and Eugenic Abortion of El Salvador, between 2000 and 2011, 129 women have been prosecuted in El Salvador for the crimes of abortion or aggravated homicide, with sentences ranging between two and forty years in prison.

Human rights violations, situation of impunity in Guerrero exposed before IACHR

Human rights groups presented today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about the serious human rights violations committed in the State of Guerrero during the dirty war and how these violations reverberate in the present.

Fri, 03/20/2015

Washington, D.C., March 20th, 2015.- Human rights groups presented today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about the serious human rights violations committed in the State of Guerrero during the dirty war and how these violations reverberate in the present.

The hearing was based on the conclusions and recommendations found in the Truth Commission of the State of Guerrero’s (COMVERDAD) final report, which was published on October 2014.

The report provided evidence on widespread and systematic tactics— including repression and lack of guarantees to due process—employed during the dirty war that seized the State from 1969 to 1979 which resulted in serious human rights violations.

However, according to petitioning organizations CEJIL, COMVERDAD and el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña "Tlachinollan", these patterns of repression and human rights violation used nearly 40 years ago still persist today.

In 2011, the State Commission on Human Rights recorded 52 complaints of torture, 41 of cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment and 275 injuries. "It is particularly serious that the state of Guerrero continues to experience human rights violation.  Torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions remain, as in the past, widespread practices used by state," said Viviana Krsticevic , Executive Director of CEJIL .

Petitioners demonstrated how enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial executions are still committed in the state of Guerrero. The most significant cases include the murders of two students of the Normal Rural School "Raúl Isidro Burgos" in December 2011; and even more pointedly, the events of September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, when 43 students from the same institution were forcibly disappeared by members of the police and the criminal organization, Guerreros Unidos.

Regarding the criminalization and harassment of human rights defenders, presenting organizations stressed that more than 14 community leaders have been prosecuted for kidnapping and robbery, four of which have been sent to maximum security prisons. From 2010 to date, 13 community leaders have been killed. Thus far, none of those involved have been prosecuted or sentenced.

The petitioners requested attending members of the State to observe the recommendations of the COMVERDAD report; manage, print and circulate the document; and submit the report as teaching material in Guerrero’s schools. The IACHR was asked to conduct a visit to Mexico this year, in order to evaluate the human rights situation in the country and Guerrero.

CEJIL presents new position paper on the selection processes for members of the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights

Through this document, CEJIL shares its reflections on the selection processes for members of the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights and compiles a series of proposals to improve current selection mechanisms at a national and international level in the hope that these reflections and proposals will promote fruitful debates between States, political bodies within the OAS, the Commission and the Court, civil society and other interested parties.

Thu, 03/19/2015

Through this document, CEJIL shares its reflections on the selection processes for members of the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights and compiles a series of proposals to improve current selection mechanisms at a national and international level in the hope that these reflections and proposals will promote fruitful debates between States, political bodies within the OAS, the Commission and the Court, civil society and other interested parties. Download the publication here.

Linda Loaiza, venezuelan victim of sexual violence, presents her testimony before the IACHR

Linda Loaiza López Soto shared her testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) yesterday about the sexual violence she was subjected to 14 years ago and how her rights were violated due to gender stereotypes and irregularities present in Venezuela’s judicial system that led to her re-victimization.

Wed, 03/18/2015

Washington, D.C., March 18th, 2015.- Linda Loaiza López Soto shared her testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) yesterday about the sexual violence she was subjected to 14 years ago and how her rights were violated due to gender stereotypes and irregularities present in Venezuela’s judicial system that led to her re-victimization.

When she was just 18 years old Loaiza was held captive in 2001 for three months during which time she was sexually abused, beaten, and threatened. Finally, on July 19, Loaiza managed to escape.

“Even though I informed the medical personnel and police that rescued me that I had been a victim of sexual abuse, I was denied access to the necessary medical tests required to show that there was evidence of rape. These tests were conducted a week after my rescue, when there was no longer an opportunity to obtain evidence," said Loaiza.

Loaiza’s case highlights the institutional violence and re- victimization process that many women face by women living in Venezuela who are victims of gender-based and sexual violence. According to the Public Ministry’s 2014 Annual Report, there were 70.763 complaints of violence against women. Yet, only 0.7 % have been tried.

"This case underscores the judicial inefficiencies that arise from discrimination and gender stereotypes entrenched in criminal proceedings in Venezuela," said Francisco Quintana, one of the victim’s representatives and Program Director for the Andean, North America and Caribbean Region for the Center of Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

"There is a pending judicial debt in Linda’s case and in the case of thousands Venezuelan women who are victimized and attacked when they try to raise their voices. These crimes are not isolated and kept in a pattern of impunity," said Liliana Ortega of COFAVIC.

Additionally, the hearing was an opportunity for the victim and petitioners to denounce the challenges faced in trying cases of violence against women in Venezuela, where impunity seems to be the order of the day. According to a report by the UN Committee on gender discrimination issued in 2014, violence against women and girls "is widespread and on the rise."

In the end, the victim requested the Commission to issue a decision on her case; to submit her case as Venezuela’s first gender violence case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; to ensure that the State complies with the fulfilling the right to truth, justice, and integral reparations; and guarantees to non-repetition to prevent similar crimes from ever being committed in the future.

Position Paper No. 10-The Selection Process of the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights: Reflections on necessary reforms

Selection of members of the IACHR and I-A Court

Through this document, CEJIL shares its reflections on the selection processes for members of the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights and compiles a series of proposals to improve current selection mechanisms at a national and international level in the hope that these reflections and proposals will promote fruitful debates between States, political bodies within the OAS, the Commission and the Court, civil society and other interested parties.


Type of publication:Position paper
Full version available in:
Year: 2014
Your opinion is very important and let us keep up to date ours tools. If you had the chance to use this publication please complete the evaluation form. Thanks in advance.

CEJIL regrets reaction to serious human rights situation from Mexican authorities

Last Saturday, the identification of the remains of Alexander Mora Venancio—one of the 43 students who had been disappeared on September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero—were confirmed and made public.

The Mexican state must continue to investigate his extrajudicial execution, prosecute and punish all those responsible, and use all means at its disposal to locate the other young students who are still missing.

Tue, 12/09/2014

The organization calls for consensus building with ample participation from victims and civil society

Last Saturday, the identification of the remains of Alexander Mora Venancio—one of the 43 students who had been disappeared on September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero—were confirmed and made public. The Mexican state must continue to investigate his extrajudicial execution, prosecute and punish all those responsible, and use all means at its disposal to locate the other young students who are still missing.

Unfortunately, this event that has shocked Mexico and the whole world is not isolated incident. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, in October 2014 there were over 23,000 registered missing persons. This figure started to increase since 2007, and doubled since 2009 in large part due to the so-called "war on drugs".

While this situation is not new, different governments have been unable to take effective measures to fulfill their obligations to either prevent and investigate disappearances, nor have they made significant efforts to locate missing persons, which is vital to ensuring the rights of victims to truth, justice and reparation.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I-A Court) has heard numerous cases involving such practices and concluded that enforced disappearance "constitutes a multiple violation of rights protected by the American Convention and places the victim in a state of complete helplessness, being particularly serious when it is part of a systematic pattern or practice applied or tolerated by the state."

By analyzing various cases, including the Rosendo Radilla vs. Mexico case, the I-A Court ordered for the creation of measures for non-repetition, such as adequate criminalization of enforced disappearance, training and lifelong learning for different authorities (military, police, prosecutors, etc.), the creation of commissions for tracing and exhumation programs, development of research and investigation protocols and creating genetic information systems, among others.

In light of these standards, it is preoccupying that the Mexican State has not submitted a proposal addressing in a comprehensive and timely manner the serious situation faced by the country. It is particularly worrying that the views of victims and organizations that have historically worked this issue have not been taken into account.

Moreover, it is incomprehensible that in times of great tension—such as those currently faced by Mexican society—coupled with legitimate claims against violence and impunity, the response of the authorities is to restrict social protest through the approval of constitutional reforms. In this regard, it is worth reminding the State that the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) deemed  the right to demonstrate publicly as an essential element of freedom of expression. For sectors of the population that have been traditionally discriminated, this is the only mechanism available against institutional agendas that do not favor their participation or before serious barriers to more traditional forms of mass communication.

CEJIL respectfully calls on the authorities to reconsider the proposals so far submitted, in order to make a plan of action that is previously agreed with the victims and the numerous civil society organizations working on human rights in Mexico.

The now recognized execution of Alexander Mora Venancio and the disappearance of the other 42 students is an opportunity to rethink human rights policy and to reach a consensus to deal comprehensively with the enormous challenges the State is facing to strengthen its institutional framework and fully guarantee the rights of all people in Mexico.

CEJIL's Executive Director Announces Regional Network Fighting Against Statelessness at UNHCR Event

On Tuesday November 18th, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) launched the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness at the UNHCR event “Out from the Shadows: Ending Statelessness in the Americas.” You can read CEJIL Executive Director Viviana Krsticevic's speech by clicking the More Information link below. You can also visit the Network's website at www.americasns.org.

Wed, 11/19/2014

 

YouExcellency, Commissioner Guterres
Esteemed panelists, State representatives, international agencies, civil society colleagues, ladies, gentlemen, and children
At the Center for Justice and International Law, we are grateful to have been invited by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
We have learned in the last 15 years from our first-hand experience in the Dominican Republic accompanying children and families in the international litigation process, that people who lack a nationality are susceptible to increased marginalization, discrimination and insecurity.
It is heartbreaking that the people we represent, and millions more like them, are told that they simply do not exist.
As stateless people, they are denied their most basic rights: many cannot register the birth of their own children, marry, receive medical care, get a job, open a bank account, travel outside the country, go to school, or feel safe.
Although situations of statelessness are uncommon in the Americas, they affect over two hundred thousand people. The numbers are not as high as in other regions, but we acknowledge that “One stateless person is too many”.
In our continent, many situations merit closer examination because they can affect access to the right to nationality. They include birth registration, gender discriminatory provisions of citizenship laws, discriminatory practices in the determination of nationality, and the status of children born to parents lacking valid identity documents, among others.
Commissioner Guterres, we admire your commitment towards stateless people around the world. Your presence in our hemisphere sends a strong message on the importance of tackling this issue through a comprehensive and well-structured plan.
Your determination gives us hope that we have arrived at a turning point where we will be able to eradicate statelessness around the world.
In the Americas, we are in a unique position to address the challenges that lay in front of us in the next decade. The commitment to respect a “right to nationality for all” was enshrined in the foundational instruments for the protection of human rights in the Americas. Both the 1948 American Declaration (on the Rights and Duties of Man) and the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights create a comprehensive framework for the protection of the right to a nationality.
Additionally, most countries in the region offer a generous and combined application of the principles of ius soli and jus sanguinis for the acquisition of nationality, allowing to acquire nationality through soil or blood, thus diminishing significantly the risk of statelessness.
Our regional multilateral institution, the Organization of American States, and its human rights bodies, have taken steps to address statelessness in the region. The General Assembly of the OAS has called on Member States to ratify (or adhere to) the UN Conventions on statelessness , and to adjust their national policies.
We also have a clear example of the role regional human rights bodies can play. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has analyzed the right to nationality in two advisory opinions and several cases. The Commission has addressed the issue since the 70s.
Moreover, there have been important steps taken in some countries of the region in the last few years. Argentina has ratified the 1961 Convention. Suriname recently modified its law eliminating gender discrimination in access to citizenship, Mexico adopted a national procedure for determining the status of stateless persons. Uruguay is currently considering a bill to achieve this goal in the short term. Other countries may follow soon.
With this framework in mind, a group of civil society organizations, academic initiatives, and individuals have come together to join the Global Action Plan of the UNHCR in order to eradicate and prevent statelessness in the following 10 years.
It is with great pleasure that today I formally announce the launch of the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness. I would like to offer special thanks to the Open Society Foundation for their support, to Dilcia Yean, Violeta Bosico, and the other children and families that we represent, and to the tireless human rights defender Sonia Pierre, for inspiring so much of our actions throughout the years.
Through this platform we will work hand in hand with UNHCR in order to raise awareness of this issue, identify risks, support stateless people, cooperate with states, and exchange information with our sister organizations around the world.
We firmly believe, that nationality is the door that opens up the right to have rights.
We believe that together we can change realities. We embrace the shared vision of a world where everybody has a nationality.
Like you, Commissioner Guterres, we insist that it is time to end the injustice of statelessness. You can count on every member of the Americas Network to help make this possible.
Thank you

Your Excellency, Commissioner Guterres

Esteemed panelists, State representatives, international agencies, civil society colleagues, ladies, gentlemen, and children

At the Center for Justice and International Law, we are grateful to have been invited by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

We have learned in the last 15 years from our first-hand experience in the Dominican Republic accompanying children and families in the international litigation process, that people who lack a nationality are susceptible to increased marginalization, discrimination and insecurity.

It is heartbreaking that the people we represent, and millions more like them, are told that they simply do not exist.

As stateless people, they are denied their most basic rights: many cannot register the birth of their own children, marry, receive medical care, get a job, open a bank account, travel outside the country, go to school, or feel safe.

Although situations of statelessness are uncommon in the Americas, they affect over two hundred thousand people. The numbers are not as high as in other regions, but we acknowledge that “One stateless person is too many”.

In our continent, many situations merit closer examination because they can affect access to the right to nationality. They include birth registration, gender discriminatory provisions of citizenship laws, discriminatory practices in the determination of nationality, and the status of children born to parents lacking valid identity documents, among others.

Commissioner Guterres, we admire your commitment towards stateless people around the world. Your presence in our hemisphere sends a strong message on the importance of tackling this issue through a comprehensive and well-structured plan.

Your determination gives us hope that we have arrived at a turning point where we will be able to eradicate statelessness around the world.

In the Americas, we are in a unique position to address the challenges that lay in front of us in the next decade. The commitment to respect a “right to nationality for all” was enshrined in the foundational instruments for the protection of human rights in the Americas. Both the 1948 American Declaration (on the Rights and Duties of Man) and the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights create a comprehensive framework for the protection of the right to a nationality.

Additionally, most countries in the region offer a generous and combined application of the principles of ius soli and jus sanguinis for the acquisition of nationality, allowing to acquire nationality through soil or blood, thus diminishing significantly the risk of statelessness.

Our regional multilateral institution, the Organization of American States, and its human rights bodies, have taken steps to address statelessness in the region. The General Assembly of the OAS has called on Member States to ratify (or adhere to) the UN Conventions on statelessness , and to adjust their national policies.

We also have a clear example of the role regional human rights bodies can play. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has analyzed the right to nationality in two advisory opinions and several cases. The Commission has addressed the issue since the 70s.

Moreover, there have been important steps taken in some countries of the region in the last few years. Argentina has ratified the 1961 Convention. Suriname recently modified its law eliminating gender discrimination in access to citizenship, Mexico adopted a national procedure for determining the status of stateless persons. Uruguay is currently considering a bill to achieve this goal in the short term. Other countries may follow soon.

With this framework in mind, a group of civil society organizations, academic initiatives, and individuals have come together to join the Global Action Plan of the UNHCR in order to eradicate and prevent statelessness in the following 10 years.

It is with great pleasure that today I formally announce the launch of the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness. I would like to offer special thanks to the Open Society Foundation for their support, to Dilcia Yean, Violeta Bosico, and the other children and families that we represent, and to the tireless human rights defender Sonia Pierre, for inspiring so much of our actions throughout the years.

Through this platform we will work hand in hand with UNHCR in order to raise awareness of this issue, identify risks, support stateless people, cooperate with states, and exchange information with our sister organizations around the world.

We firmly believe, that nationality is the door that opens up the right to have rights.

We believe that together we can change realities. We embrace the shared vision of a world where everybody has a nationality.

Like you, Commissioner Guterres, we insist that it is time to end the injustice of statelessness. You can count on every member of the Americas Network to help make this possible.

Thank you.

CEJIL’s Executive Director will speak on behalf of the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness at UNHCR Event

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) will launch the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness at the UNHCR event “Out from the Shadows: Ending Statelessness in the Americas” on Tuesday evening.

Fri, 11/14/2014

What: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): “Out from the Shadows: Ending Statelessness in the Americas”

When: Tuesday November 18, 2014
6:00 to 8:30 pm

Where: The Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Ave.  NW, 8th floor
Washington, D.C.

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) will launch the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness at the UNHCR event “Out from the Shadows: Ending Statelessness in the Americas” on Tuesday evening.

The event marks the launch of the UNHCR-led global campaign to end statelessness in 10 years. Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director for CEJIL will present at the event on behalf of the network, an advocacy platform of 30 organizations whose main objective is to raise awareness and exchange information to guarantee the right to nationality across the region.

“The Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness is a network of civil society organizations, academic initiatives, and individual experts committed to address statelessness in the Americas. We believe that all human beings have a right to a nationality and that those who lack nationality altogether – stateless persons – are entitled to adequate protection,” said Krsticevic, “With the input and expertise of dozens of organizations working on the issue of statelessness across the hemisphere, we believe the network will play a key role in helping the UNHCR achieve its goals in the Americas.”

According to the UNHCR, statelessness affected up to at least 10 million people by the end of 2013. In the Americas, a number of situations exist that merit closer examination where specific individuals or groups are either stateless or at risk of statelessness. These situations include gender discriminatory provisions of citizenship laws, discriminatory practices, disputed or undetermined nationality, the status of children who are not lawfully residing in the country or born to parents lacking valid identity documents, among others. The network will work to craft strategic tools needed to address potential situations of statelessness and identify actual cases of the phenomenon throughout the region.

The event and network’s unveiling comes on the heels of a ruling issued to the public on October 23, 2014 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). The ruling found that the Dominican Republic violated the human rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent, many of whom were children, through a process of discrimination, mass expulsions and arbitrary deprivation of nationality. Known as Expelled Dominican and Haitian Persons vs. The Dominican Republic, the case was litigated by CEJIL in partnership with local organizations and addressed domestic jurisprudence and laws that left over 200,000 people in a situation of statelessness.

Syndicate content