Empowering human rights defenders

Inter-American Court issues verdict on emblematic Palace of Justice case.

Colombia has been found responsible for serious violations of human rights committed during the siege and capture of the Palace of  Justice – headquarters for Colombia’s Supreme Court and Council of State -, on November 6 and 7, 1985.

Due to the fact that the State has only managed to identify one of the disappeared victims, the Court required the State to conduct all actions necessary to locate the remains of the victims immediately.

Thu, 12/11/2014

Washington D.C., 11 de December, 2014.- Colombia has been found responsible for serious violations of human rights committed during the siege and capture of the Palace of  Justice – headquarters for Colombia’s Supreme Court and Council of State -, on November 6 and 7, 1985.

In a ruling made public yesterday, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (Inter-American Court), stated that the event constituted a "pre-announced siege" and that the Army had prior intelligence information about the imminent takeover of the Palace by the M-19 guerrilla group. In spite of this prior knowledge, two days before the siege, security for judges and staff who worked at the courthouse was withdrawn, leaving nearly 250 people unprotected.

In its decision, the Inter-American Court determined that Colombia is responsible for the forced disappearance of a member of the M-19, seven cafeteria workers operating at the headquarters of the Palace, and two visitors. Additionally, the Court determined that two people were deprived of their right to life. Similarly, the Inter-American Court considered proven the fact that four people left the courthouse alive: three of them were illegally detained and tortured by members of the military and one of them was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. In the case of the Assistant Judge Carlos Horacio Urán, the Court concluded that he exited the courthouse alive, was tortured and extra-judicially executed by members of the security forces, and then his lifeless body was returned to the Palace.

The Court ruled in favor of the victims of the case and their families, who fought against the "pact of silence" and impunity that surrounded the facts of the Palace of Justice for nearly 30 years.

For Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL, "This decision provides an answer to the victims and Colombian society, which for three decades have demanded to know the truth of what happened at the Palace of Justice." However, she adds that, "The complete truth will be ensured only through the implementation of this decision by Colombian institutions: investigating all of the guilty, finding the remains of the victims still missing, and clarifying what happened on November 6 and 7, 1985 ."

To date there are only two firm sentences for some of the disappearances. One is against General (r) Arias Cabrales for the disappearance of five victims and another against Colonel (r) Plazas Vega for the disappearance of Irma Franco and Carlos Augusto Rodríguez Vera. Both are serving their respective sentences of 35 and 30 years of imprisonment in military installations. However, an appeal on the case of Colonel (r) Plazas Vega is currently pending. It is expected that the Supreme Court will issue a decision in the coming days.

Considering the limited justice achieved with regards to the case of the missing persons and the existing impunity experienced by the other victims, the IA Court ordered Colombia to conduct a thorough investigation and to punish those responsible.

This ruling is of great relevance to the current Colombian context, where several projects to expand military jurisdiction are pending. Within the ruling, the Court reiterated that military jurisdiction lacks the competency to investigate cases of serious violations of human rights.

Due to the fact that the State has only managed to identify one of the disappeared victims, the Court required the State to conduct all actions necessary to locate the remains of the victims immediately.

"For years, my daughters and I lived deceived by the Colombian State, which made us believe that my husband had died in the crossfire," said Ana Maria Bidegain, widow of Assistant Judge Carlos Horacio Urán. "We now know that he was executed and we will not cease until the Colombian justice system prosecutes all perpetrators. We will also not cease to support those who, overcoming fear and pain, demand that truth is a prior and essential step towards seeking justice and achieving peace.”

Link to the sentence (Spanish only): goo.gl/D8JUH1

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.

Summaries of Jurisprudence: Gender-based Violence. 2nd Edition Updated

CEJIL presents a new title to its collection of Summaries of Jurisprudence, this time dedicated to Gender Violence.

This publication includes a selection of texts of decisions from international human rights organs related to the protection of women victims of violence. The compilation provides a solid body of jurisprudence that allows one to obtain a broad panorama of the reality of women in a variety of contexts, revealing the indisputable relevance of gender violence in the world, even further than the advances in regulation material.

We hope that this will be a useful tool that contributes to the defense of human rights and the eradication of one of the most tolerated and silenced human rights violations as such is the violence exercised against women.


Type of publication:Compilation of jurisprudence
Full version available in:
Year: 2011
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Summaries of Jurisprudence: Health and Reproductive Rights

CEJIL is delighted to present a new book to its collection of Tools for the Protection of Human Rights: Summaries of Jurisprudence, this time dedicated to Health and Reproductive Rights.

The human rights protection bodies recognize the access to medical care, including reproductive health, as a basic right. Nonetheless, the decisions included in this volume illustrate some of the grave deficiencies in the effective enjoyment of these rights, directly affecting women’s right to choose regarding maternity, accessing health information, or to be respected in their autonomy and privacy, among others.

These pages compile decisions and judgments that constitute more relevant jurisprudence in relation to health and reproductive rights. We hope that this book will be a useful tool that contributes to the defense of those rights.


Type of publication:Compilation of jurisprudence
Full version available in:
Year: 2012
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International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

Thu, 05/17/2012 (All day)
Globally
Globally

World Press Freedom Day

Thu, 05/03/2012 (All day)
Globally
Globally

Human rights in the Inter-American System. Compilation of instruments. 2011 Edition.


Type of publication:Compilation of law
Full version available in:
Year: 2011
Partial download options in:

Spanish


English

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Human rights in the Inter-American system. Compilation of instruments. 2009 edition.

Los Derechos Humanos en el Sistema Interamericano. Compilación de Instrumentos.

El Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL) se complace en presentar la sexta edición actualizada de su publicación Derechos Humanos en el Sistema Interamericano: Compilación de Instrumentos.

Desde la primera versión de este compendio de normativa interamericana sobre protección y defensa de los derechos humanos –editada en 1997- CEJIL se ha propuesto con esta compilación tornar más accesible a distintos públicos el conocimiento del derecho internacional de los derechos humanos desarrollado en el continente americano, así como el uso de las herramientas que el sistema interamericano (SI) pone a disposición de víctimas y defensores de derechos humanos.

La obra recopila las Declaraciones, Tratados, Protocolos y Principios que conforman la normativa fundamental del derecho internacional de los derechos humanos en el ámbito interamericano, complementándola con aquellos textos que reglamentan la composición y funcionamiento de la Comisión y Corte Interamericana (Estatutos y Reglamentos).

Esta sexta edición actualizada incluye las últimas modificaciones a los Reglamentos de la Comisión y la Corte introducidas en 2009, que afectan a aspectos centrales del Sistema como son las reglas aplicables a la fase de admisibilidad de peticiones, las medidas cautelares de protección, el papel de las víctimas en el litigio ante la Corte Interamericana, o cuestiones de representación legal, entre otras.

Adicionalmente, en esta nueva edición presentamos un cuadro que cumple con la intención de ofrecer de forma ilustrativa un panorama completo acerca del estado de ratificaciones de los instrumentos del sistema interamericano de derechos humanos. A su vez, la forma en que se expone la información permite tener una mirada abarcadora e integral acerca del grado de involucramiento de los Estados miembros de la OEA en el SI.


Type of publication:Compilation of law
Full version available in:
Year: 2009
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