Empowering human rights defenders

Honduras accepts its international responsibility and agrees to redress the violations against Carlos Escaleras and his family

Honduras agreed to comply with the recommendations made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as a result of human rights violations committed against environmentalist Carlos Mejia Escaleras and his family. The agreement to comply with the recommendations was signed yesterday before members of the Escaleras family and representatives of the victim, including lawyers from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Reflection, Research and Communication Team of Honduras (ERIC-SJ as it is known in Spanish).

Fri, 08/28/2015

San Jose, August 28, 2015.-Honduras agreed to comply with the recommendations made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as a result of human rights violations committed against environmentalist Carlos Mejia Escaleras and his family. The agreement to comply with the recommendations was signed yesterday before members of the Escaleras family and representatives of the victim, including lawyers from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Reflection, Research and Communication Team of Honduras (ERIC-SJ as it is known in Spanish).

In July 2014, the IACHR established that Honduras was responsible for the violation of Carlos Escaleras’ right to life, freedom of association and political rights; as well as the violation of the rights to the personal integrity, judicial guarantees and judicial protection of his mother, wife, sons and brothers. Consequently, the Inter-American Commission recommended that the State redress such human rights violations, and defend the work of Carlos Escaleras.

To comply with the recommendations of the IACHR, the State undertook to develop, and disseminate - through national radio and television networks - a documentary about the environmental problems in Honduras and the work of Carlos Escaleras as an activist. In addition, the State will change the name of the "Botaderos Mountain National Park" to "Carlos Escaleras Mejia" and will remodel Tocoa’s town square, which will be renamed the "Carlos Alfonso Escaleras Mejia Plaza" and will include a bust in his honor. To inaugurate the refurbishment of the plaza, there will be a public act of recognition of the State’s international responsibility, that include the presence of the highest national authorities.

The Commission also established that the State must carry out a judicial inquiry to establish the circumstances that resulted in the death of Carlos Escaleras and must pursue disciplinary action against those officials who contributed to the denial of justice and impunity surrounding these acts. The State has also been ordered to take action to reduce the risks faced by human rights defenders, including environmentalists and conservationists, by developing protocols for investigation that combat the pattern of impunity in cases of human rights defenders being threatened or killed.

In this regard, Honduras agreed to continue investigations into the case and approve a protocol for investigating crimes against human rights defenders. In addition, the State will allow the effective participation of human rights defenders and civil society in the design and adoption of regulations and protocols to be developed for the implementation of the recently adopted "Law of Protection for Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators, and Justice Workers".

CEJIL and ERIC-SJ urge the State of Honduras to fulfill each of the commitments that it has agreed to in good faith in order to redress the violations committed against Carlos Escaleras and his family. Compliance with these obligations will confirm whether there is a real commitment from the authorities with regard to international law and the situation of risk faced by human rights defenders in the country.

The parties agreed that the IACHR will assess compliance with all provisions of the agreement, in twelve months, at which time the State, CEJIL and ERIC-SJ must submit information on the implementation of each of the commitments. The Commission will evaluate this documentation and determine - eventually – if the case will be submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Carlos Escaleras Mejia was a prominent environmental rights defender in the communities of Aguán. He was killed on October 18, 1997.

Dominican Republic must comply with its obligations on nationality and migration

CEJIL calls on the Dominican Republic to comply with its obligations as a member of the international community and member state of many international human rights instruments, and guarantee the right to nationality of all Dominicans of Haitian descent without discrimination, as well as the rights of migrants and their families who live in vulnerable situations due to their inability to obtain documentation or legal status.

Tue, 07/28/2015

Washington D.C., July 29th, 2015-- The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) calls on the Dominican Republic to comply with its obligations as a member of the international community and member state of many international human rights instruments, and guarantee the right to nationality of all Dominicans of Haitian descent without discrimination, as well as the rights of migrants and their families who live in vulnerable situations due to their inability to obtain documentation or legal status.

Both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (I-A Court and  IACHR, respectively) have repeatedly ruled on these obligations, as have various bodies of the United Nations (UN). In the struggle for the eradication and prevention of statelessness the breach dates back to the decision issued by the Inter-American Court on the case of Yean and Bosico which was litigated by CEJIL in 2005.

The current situation in the Dominican Republic is the result of the implementation of two interrelated legal frameworks regarding nationality and immigration regulation.

The first response involved the adoption of Law 169-14, which tried to provide a solution to the retroactive denationalization of thousands of people born in the country of foreign descent, the majority Haitian, caused by Constitutional Court ruling 168-13. Law 169-14 allowed for some of those affected to request documentation through a process that ended this past February.

 

On June 26th, 2015, the Central Electoral Board published a list which identified 55,000 people who previously had Dominican documents and which the government agreed to recognize as nationals. The State must ensure quick and effective delivery of this documentation, without administrative barriers or discrimination in order for these people to enjoy the numerous rights linked to nationality. According to the information available to date, only 376 documents from the list have been printed. The total number of people who were excluded from this process, even those who held Dominican papers, is uncertain. Additionally, those who are not included on the list but belong in the same category should also have their nationality guaranteed.

 

Unlike the aforementioned group, individuals who were born in the country but never had Dominican documents were obligated to declare themselves as foreigners in order navigate through a naturalization process. However, actions which involve forcing a national to naturalize were condemned by the Inter-American Court in 2014. Due to a limited inscription time-frame and added complexities involving the necessary requisites, only 8,775 Dominicans were able to sign up. However, according to numbers published by diverse international bodies, the number of people in this category could be between 45,000 to 150, 000 people.

 

The second response was the National Foreigner Regularization Plan (PNRE) intended for people with irregular migratory status. This plan, which closed on June 17th, set ambiguous registration requirements that did not take into consideration specific economics and bureaucratic barriers that affected the target population, including the prohibitive costs associated with extensive notarization of documents and certifications. As a result, more than 288,000 people registered. According to the information published by the Ministry of Interior and the Police, only 7,956 documents have been given to date, or only 2.7% of the applicants. In addition, since the end of PNRE, thousands of people have opted to leave the country. It is crucial that the authorities ensure that the naturalization process is implemented without discrimination or delays because of the consequences this situation has on the enjoyment of fundamental rights.

 

In the past months, more than 36,000 people have decided to leave the country for Haiti. The tone of the debate emanating from public figures and senior government officials in the Dominican Republic, the precarious conditions for the reception of such a large number of people, and the lack of processes in order to guarantee the rights of these people raises questions about the voluntary nature of these repatriations and the effects it has on those who do have the right to reside in the Dominican Republic.

 

On a closer analysis, one of the principle obstacles in understanding the dimensions of this problem is the absence of concrete numbers of Dominicans and foreigners that are vulnerable due to a lack of documentation. Additionally, one of the failings in the implementation of the two frameworks has been the lack of an adequate availability of information and education so that recipients can have effective access to their rights. According to reports, numerous people were left behind due to a lack of knowledge, short timelines, or to procedural complexities. Moreover, we identify the submission of a national to a process of naturalization, however brief it is, as a fundamental problem.

 

We call on the Dominican authorities to guarantee the right to the nationality of Dominicans and Dominicans arbitrarily deprived of their nationality; to respect human rights when carrying out their immigration policy; and to publish updated and accurate information on those people affected by both plans. We also urge the Haitian government to submit the documents to those who require proof of their ancestry with the country in order to regularize their situation.  We urge the Dominican government to abide by the judgments of the Inter-American Court through a full recognition of the institutional, cultural, and economic challenges that hinder access to identity documents to all persons who were born in the country.

Link to background information.

Summaries of Jurisprudence: Indigenous Peoples

Summaries of Jurisprudence: Indigenous Peoples

CEJIL is proud to present a new addition to the series Tools for the Protection of Human Rights: Summaries of Jurisprudence. The focus of the present publication is the rights of indigenous peoples.

For several reasons, many indigenous peoples in different parts of the world have experienced the violent and systematic violation of their rights. Among them are a lack of recognition and respect for their culture and customs, and other, various discriminatory practices.

This publication identifies key decisions and progress on the rights of indigenous peoples in regional and international courts of human rights protection. We hope to contribute to the publication and wide-spread availability of the subject's standards produced by major international organizations among those working on this important issue and  facilitate their access and understanding to foster a better defense and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.


Type of publication:Compilation of jurisprudence
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 & APRODEH reiterate their condemnation against the 1997 MRTA-led takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence

APRODEH and CEJIL, both co-petitioners in the case before the Inter-American Court, reiterate their rejection and condemnation of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)-led takeover of the Japanese ambassador’s residence that occurred between December 17, 1996 and April 22, 1997.

Tue, 06/23/2015

Washington, D.C. and Lima, June 17, 2015 .- In light of the upcoming publication of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ (Inter-American Court) decision in the case of Eduardo Cruz Sánchez and others vs. Peru, the state of Peru has repeatedly lobbed accusations against the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) of conducting a campaign of persecution against the Chavín de Huántar commando unit—responsible for the hostage rescue operation that took place in the residence of the Japanese ambassador in 1997—and claimed that no extrajudicial executions ever took place.

 

APRODEH and CEJIL have always pointed out that they have never persecuted the Chavín de Huántar commando unit. Moreover, the decision to submit the whole unit to a judicial process within the Military Justice System was made by the permanent committee of the Supreme Council of Military Justice which then proceeded to indict them under the code of justice in June 2002. It is also necessary to point out that the attorney at the time is now President of the Military Code of Justice Police Brigadier EP Juan Pablo Ramos Espinoza.

 

APRODEH and CEJIL, both co-petitioners in the case before the Inter-American Court, reiterate their rejection and condemnation of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)-led takeover of the Japanese ambassador’s residence that occurred between December 17, 1996 and April 22, 1997. As a result of this international crime, hundreds of guests at the birthday celebration of the Japanese Emperor Akihito were taken hostage. However, the resulting execution of three members of the MRTA who had surrendered and were found under the control of military agents does not constitute as an appropriate means to sanction this crime.

 

According to the coinciding testimonies of three direct witnesses, two members of the National Police of Peru, and one Japanese diplomat, Eduardo Cruz Sánchez (alias “Tito”) was alive at the end of the special ops mission. This extrajudicial execution, as well as the obligation to investigate it, has been established in the Peruvian jurisdictional bodies. After a third oral trial in October 2012, the Third Criminal Chamber issued a sentence signaling that: “after an analysis, it reaches the conclusion that Eduardo Cruz Sánchez, was detained alive by two policemen from the surveillance mission of house N1, located behind the residence of the Japanese ambassador, and after being subdued by those police members was turned in on orders of the accused Jesús Zamudio Aliaga, a person dressed as a member of the commando unit who returned Cruz Sánchez to the interior of the residence and later was found dead with a single bullet”.

 

The execution of Cruz Sánchez has been demonstrated in the national criminal processes, so much so that despite counting on the faculties to appeal the decision, the attorney of the Minister of Defense at the time and is now the Minister of Justice, Gustavo Adrianzén, opted to not question this conclusion.

 

Likewise, on July 24, 2013 the Transitory Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court issued a resolution that establishes that an extrajudicial execution did in fact occur in the case of Eduardo Cruz Sánchez and an investigation to identify the culprits of this violation should be undertaken.

During the public audience celebrated in Costa Rica on February 3rd and 4th of 2014, the judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights strongly urged the Peruvian State to clarify its position. On the one hand, they denied the extrajudicial executions, yet on the other, through the Public Ministry and the Judicial Power, accepted responsibility in one of the three cases.

 

Finally, the State should adopt legislative, judicial, administrative, and any other necessary measures in order to effectively guarantee that the facts as they occurred in the present case are not repeated again. Peru must carry out an effective investigation in to the claims of extrajudicial executions.

 

The litigation of this case before the Inter-American Court, despite what has been published in several sources, is about the victims’ families’ interest in receiving compensation. They request the fulfillment of several steps, including an official sanctioning of the human rights violations committed against these three victims. For APRODEH and CEJIL, this case exemplifies the general duty that all authorities have to guarantee and respect the consecrated rights in the Political Constitution of Peru and in the diverse international instruments of which Peru is party to.

CEJIL & APRODEH highlight arrest of soldier after his warrant for serious human rights violations was issued 11 years ago

CEJIL and the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Perú  (APRODEH) applaud the news of the capture of Major José Luis Chávez Velásquez (a) Centauro, who was captured on May 22, 2015 by the police in Lima, Peru for his implication in the disappearance of seven Huancapi residents in 1991.

Fri, 06/12/2015

Washington, D.C., Lima, June 6, 2015.- The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Perú  (APRODEH) applaud the news of the capture of Major José Luis Chávez Velásquez (a) Centauro, who was captured on May 22, 2015 by the police in Lima, Peru for his implication in the disappearance of seven Huancapi residents in 1991.

“After almost 11 years of the arrest warrant being issued and 24 years of evidence, at last the people that have been accused of serious human rights violations are going to appear in court”, said Gloria Cano of APRODEH.

The Huancapi case is one of 165 serious human rights violations cases heard by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), as part of an agreement established in 2001 by the Peruvian State and picked up in a Joint Press Release in which the Peruvian state recognizes its international responsibility for human rights violations and promises to repay the victims and their families and to carry out investigations intended to identify and sanction those who are responsible, as well as to take steps so these violations will not occur again.

In 2004, an arrest warrant was issued against then-lieutenant Chávez Velásquez who topped a list of 20 accused military personnel with outstanding arrest warrants for human rights violations committed during Peru’s internal armed conflict. Despite the  warrant, Chávez Velásquez lived freely in a military barrack and continued his duties. In 2010 he was promoted to the position of Major by the Armed Forces in the 31th infantry brigade. Moreover, the authorities of the Joint Command of the Armed Forced and the Ministry of Defense denied the judicial police in 2013 entry to the military base where he worked, saying that they had no obligation to place him under the provision of the law and causing the delay for the start of the oral trial.

On October 29, 2014 and March 21, 2015 the IACHR established working groups in which CEJIL, APRODEH and the Commission of Human Rights (COMISEDH) denounced the Peruvian state’s failure to comply with various commitments assumed in the 2001 Joint Press Release, including the failure to comply with the arrest warrant against Chávez Velásquez.

“The arrest is a positive step for justice and we hope to see the fulfillment of the commitments made by the State in 2001, among them the capture of other active or retired functionaries of the public forces that have been prosecuted for serious human rights violations”, said Vivian Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL.

In April 19, 1991 Zenón Huamaní Chuchón, Eleuterio Fernández Quispe, Napoleón Quispe Ortega, Onofredo Huamaní Quispe, Luis Amaru Quispe, Julio Arotoma Cacñahuaray, who were all registered as candidates for the United Left Party for the municipal elections in Huancapi, Ayacucho, and Honorata Oré Huilcahuari (wife of Julio Arotoma) were detained by a military patrol lead at the time by Sub-lieutenant Chávez Velásquez. The six were transferred to a local military base and since then their whereabouts are still unknown.

Civil society organizations express concern over OAS silence in wake of petitions for dialogue with candidates

Civil society organizations members of the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas, deeply lament the silence and lack of formal response by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), to the requests we made during the months of March, April, and May of 2015 where they asked the Permanent Council to convene dialogues  between both organizations from civil society and the members of the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IASHR) with the candidates of the Inter-American Court and Commission of Human Rights.

Mon, 06/08/2015

 

We, the undersigned organizations, as members of the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas, deeply lament the silence and lack of formal response by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), to the requests we made during the months of March, April, and May of 2015[1]. In these requests we asked the Permanent Council to convene at one of the many dialogue spaces between both organizations from civil society and the members of the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IASHR) with the candidates of the Inter-American Court and Commission of Human Rights.

Although the request for formal dialogue was discussed in Permanent Council’s two public sessions and one private session without the presence of civil society and the general public, at the moment we still have not received a formal and concrete response. Given the closeness of the General Assembly of the OAS in which the reference elections will be occurring, we infer that the lack of any response regarding our list of demands implies its refusal.

With its silence and implicit refusal, the OAS has diverged from the steady path it has taken in the last several years, dedicated to incorporating more transparent practices in the selection process before civil society, the press, and academia among others. This is clearly worrying as the selection process for members of human rights bodies directly affects the rights of those who inhabit the continent, from heads of states to individuals. It is for this reason that the selection of members should be subject to wide scrutiny from members, victims, national protection bodies, the press, and academia among other relevant actors.

Formal dialogue with candidates would allow the aforementioned actors and the public in general to learn about the candidates’ stances and proposals while being able to evaluate their independence, suitability, and ability to represent, all of which are indispensable in achieving the effective protection of human rights. Additionally, these actors and the public would be able to comment on the collective balance that these bodies demand in order to guarantee diversity, gender parity, representation, judicial specialization to mention several criteria.

It surprises us that on this occasion the OAS has not granted formal dialogues from candidates in front of the IASHR and civil society, even though open forums in the Permanent Council have been held in the past. On May 1, 2013 a session was held in which the candidates for the Inter-American Commission at the time responded to various questions posed by organizations from civil society and delegations from member states. More recently, these meetings have been held for the selection of the Secretary General and the Under-Secretary General.

It is worrying that institutionally the OAS moves away from the practices described and let pass a valuable opportunity to engender transparency, participation, and legitimacy that should govern the selection process of the members of its human rights bodies.

We announce that we are attentive to the observations made by the Panel of Independent Experts about the Election of Inter-American Commissioners and Judges, created as a result of an initiative from civil society to give greater transparency to selection processes.

In addition, we would like to thank all the candidates of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights that presented themselves at the dialogue supported by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), member of the Coalition, in Panama City, Pana during the 7th Summit of the Americas. This dialogue allowed a fruitful and productive interchange of key topics for the protection of human rights in the Americas. Their participation demonstrated that candidates are not the ones who fear or mistrust public opinion.

We hope to count on the attendance of all the candidates of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to a forum that will be backed by civil society in the frame of the General Assembly of the OAS in Washington DC.

 


[1] The first letter was dated March 13, the second was dated April 15, and the third May 8 of 2015.

 

 

Signing organizations

Argentina
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales

Bolivia
Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer

Chile
Centro Regional por los Derechos Humanos y la justicia de Género: Corporación Humanas Chile

 

Colombia
Consultorio Jurídico Internacional de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Santo Tomás de Bogotá
Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES)
Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos (GIDH)

 

Costa Rica

Alianza por tus Derechos

Defensa de Niñas y Niños- Internacional (DNI)
Centro Internacional para los Derechos Humanos de los Migrantes (CIDEHUM)

 

Ecuador

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
Terra Mater

 

 

El Salvador

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

Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local

Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente de El Salvador (GMIES)

 

Guatemala

Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH)

Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP)

Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres (GGM)

Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres (REDNOVI)

Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)

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

 

Honduras
Centro de derechos de Mujeres (CDM)

Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús (ERIC-SJ)

Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla

 

México

Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos
Asistencia Legal  por los Derechos Humanos A.C. (ASILEGAL)
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña "Tlachinollan"
Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh)

 

Nicaragua
Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)
Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres (MAM)

 

Perú

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)
Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (PROMSEX)
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad (IIDS)
Paz y Esperanza

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

Venezuela
Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de Caracas

Regionales
Asociadas por lo Justo (JASS - Just Associates)
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Coalición de Organizaciones LGBTI con trabajo en la OEA
Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights - Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional)

 

 

 

 

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.

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