Litigation in the Inter-American System

CEJIL condemns twelve years of human rights violations in Guantanamo

Due to persistent, flagrant violations of international law, 155 men remain detained today

Washington, DC, Saturday, January 11, 2014.- Today, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) joined a multitude of civil society organizations and peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., in demanding the immediate closure of the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo, in compliance with its human rights obligations.

“Since we first obtained precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission in 2002, Guantanamo has become a symbol of grave breaches of international law in the fight against terrorism,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law. “Justice delayed is justice denied, and the United States has delayed twelve years too long in finally fulfilling its international obligations.”

Sat, 01/11/2014

Manifestación Guantánamo DC 11-01-2014Washington, DC, Saturday, January 11, 2014.- Today, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) joined a multitude of civil society organizations and peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., in demanding the immediate closure of the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo, in compliance with its human rights obligations.

“Since we first obtained precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission in 2002, Guantanamo has become a symbol of grave breaches of international law in the fight against terrorism,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law. “Justice delayed is justice denied, and the United States has delayed twelve years too long in finally fulfilling its international obligations.”

As 155 men remain arbitrarily detained and Guantanamo begins its 13th year of operations, the United States still has not complied with its duty under human rights law to determine the legal basis for the men’s detention by a competent tribunal and try or release all detainees in accordance with international law; to investigate, prosecute and punish all instances of torture and ill-treatment; and to refrain from sending detainees to countries where they may be at risk of torture.

The United States government’s repeated failure to comply with these obligations was evidenced in resolutions in 2006 and 2011 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), among other international human rights bodies, finding that the State had caused irreparable harm to the detainees, and ordering the detention center’s immediate closure.

On May 1, 2013, as a mass hunger strike threatened the lives and well-being of the detainees, the IACHR issued a Joint Declaration together with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on countering terrorism, the UN Special Rapporteur on health, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, emphatically reiterating the need to “adopt concrete measures to end the indefinite detention of persons; provide for their release or prosecution, in accordance with due process and the principles and standards of international human rights law; allow for independent monitoring by international human rights bodies; and close the detention center at the Guantánamo Naval Base".

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International human rights bodies condemn forcible transfer of Djamel Ameziane from Guantanamo to Algeria

Ameziane is the first detainee in the history of Guantanamo protected by an international human rights body

Washington, DC, Thursday, December 19, 2013.- This Thursday the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemned the forcible transfer of Djamel Ameziane from Guantanamo to Algeria in contravention of precautionary measuresordered on his behalf.

The Center for Justice and International Law represents Ameziane, the first Guantanamo detainee whose case was admitted before an international human rights body.

Thu, 12/19/2013
Aniversario de GuantánamoWashington, DC, Thursday, December 19, 2013.- This Thursday the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemned the forcible transfer of Djamel Ameziane from Guantanamo to Algeria in contravention of precautionary measuresordered on his behalf.

The Center for Justice and International Law represents Ameziane, the first Guantanamo detainee whose case was admitted before an international human rights body.

“In 2008, when we first requested international protection for Djamel Ameziane, the Commission issued precautionary measures that prohibit his transfer to Algeria, where he could face torture or persecution,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). “After our clients forcible transfer, today the Inter-American Commission has made it clear that the United States must be held accountable for this flagrant violation of international law.”

On December 5, 2013, the United States government had anounced that it forcibly transferred Djamel Ameziane from Guantanamo to the Algerian government, this despite his well-founded fear of persecution or torture in his native country.

Since 2008, when CEJIL requested international protection for Djamel, the Inter-American Commission had ordered the State not to return him to Algeria through precautionary measures -- an international injunction – ordered in his favor. The United States government has deliberately violated this order.

CEJIL, together with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), were able to present his petition five years ago and, in 2012, Djamel Ameziane was the first Guantanamo detainee whose case was accepted by an international human rights body.

The IACHR emphasized, in its press release: “The forced transfer of Djamel Ameziane to Algeria is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits transfers and deportations of individuals to countries where they may run the risk of being tortured. Moreover, with this transfer the United States disregarded precautionary measures 211/08 and 259/02 of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

In a joint statement, the United Nations special rapporteurs on torture and counter-terrorism expressed Deep concern that “the life of Mr. Ameziane could be in danger in Algeria” and decried the United States’ violation of its non-refoulement obligations – not to return people to places where their lives or enjoyment of human rights could be threatened.

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CEJIL condemns Djamel Ameziane’s forced transfer from Guantánamo to Algeria

Washington, DC, Thursday, December 5, 2013.- Today the United States Government announced that it has transferred Djamel Ameziane from Guantánamo to Algeria despite his well-founded fear of persecution or torture in his home country, in direct contravention of precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

“Since 2008, the Inter-American Commission has ordered the State not to send him to Algeria, where he risks torture or persecution,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). “The United States Government’s forcible transfer of Djamel Ameziane to Algeria is a blatant breach of international law, for which the State must be held accountable.”

Thu, 12/05/2013

Djamel Ameziane fue transferido a Argelia de Guantánamo según anunció el Gobierno de Estados UnidosWashington, DC, Thursday, December 5, 2013.- Today the United States Government announced that it has transferred Djamel Ameziane from Guantánamo to Algeria despite his well-founded fear of persecution or torture in his home country, in direct contravention of precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

“Since 2008, the Inter-American Commission has ordered the State not to send him to Algeria, where he risks torture or persecution,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). “The United States Government’s forcible transfer of Djamel Ameziane to Algeria is a blatant breach of international law, for which the State must be held accountable.”

CEJIL and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), brought Djamel Ameziane’s case to the IACHR in 2008. In 2008, the IACHR issued precautionary measures – still in force – prohibiting the United States from sending Mr. Ameziane to Algeria. In 2012, Djamel’s petition was declared admissible by the IACHR, making it the leading international case on the Guantánamo detention center.

Djamel Ameziane is a college graduate fluent in multiple languages, who fled Algeria in the early 1990s to escape the civil war. Fearing persecution based on his minority, Berber ethnicity, he sought refuge outside Algeria, living legally in Vienna, Austria and Montreal, Canada. When he was ultimately denied permanent refuge, and fearing torture or persecution in Algeria, he fled to Afghanistan in 2001. After the U.S. invasion, he fled toward Pakistan but was captured and sold by Pakistanis to U.S. forces, who sent him to Guantánamo in February 2002. Despite the fact that no charges were made against him, and that the United States military admitted in 2008 that his detention no longer served any purpose, he was arbitrarily detained in Guantánamo for nearly 12 years without charge or trial.

“This forcible transfer only compounds the years of suffering and injustice that Djamel Ameziane has already faced in Guantánamo,” said Viviana Krsticevic.

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Organizations denounce El Salvador for the human rights violations committed against Beatriz

San Salvador, Monday, December 2, 2013. Last Friday various organizations presented an international denunciation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the State of El Salvador for the human rights violations suffered by Beatriz.

Beatriz, a 23 year old Salvadoran, who suffers from systematic lupus erythematous exacerbated by lupus nephritis and rheumatoid arthritis, became pregnant at the end of 2012. Through medical exams, the fetus was diagnosed with anencephaly.

Wed, 12/04/2013

La demanda internacional contra el Estado de El Salvador presentada a la CIDH buscará dar reparaciones a BeatrizSan Salvador, Monday, December 2, 2013. Last Friday various organizations presented an international denunciation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the State of El Salvador for the human rights violations suffered by Beatriz.

Beatriz, a 23 year old Salvadoran, who suffers from systematic lupus erythematous exacerbated by lupus nephritis and rheumatoid arthritis, became pregnant at the end of 2012. Through medical exams, the fetus was diagnosed with anencephaly.

This past March, due to Beatriz’s health condition, the treating physicians in the public health system recommended to interrupt the pregnancy since her health was at risk. However, the doctors did not perform the procedure in fear of being criminally punished. This prolonged the pregnancy to the 26th week of pregnancy. This caused an unnecessary increase of suffering and risks to Beatriz’s health and life.

No public authority in the country ruled in favor of Beatriz’s rights. Only under the provisional measures of protection granted by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IA Court) did the Minister of Health proceed to perform a cesarean on June 3rd. The clinical prognosis of the inviability of the fetus outside the womb was confirmed when the fetus died as a new born just five hours after the medical intervention.

El Salvador is one of the seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where abortion is absolutely prohibited without exceptions for extreme circumstances of risk to the health or life of the woman, inviability of the fetus, or pregnancy as a consequence of rape.

Beatriz’s story reflects the consequences of absolute penalty of abortion and the institutional violence that is exercised against the life of Salvadoran girls, young adults, and women. According to data collected by the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugenésico between January of 2000 and March of 2011, a total of 129 women have been prosecuted in El Salvador for crimes of abortion or aggravated homicide. The penalties range between two and forty years in prison; currently, at least thirty women are deprived of liberty for these causes, the majority of which had suffered miscarriages for a variety of obstetric complications.

In relation to the legal restrictions placed on abortion, Dr. Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, affirmed in his 2011 report, “that the creation or the maintenance of criminal laws that criminalize abortion creates and perpetuates the conditions of unsafe, inappropriate, and risky abortions and can result in the violations of the obligations of the States in respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the right to health.”

In the experience lived by Beatriz, the petitioning organizations sustain that the State of El Salvador is responsible for multiple human rights violations suffered by Beatriz, which are found to be protected by the American Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, and Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women.

The objective of this denunciation is to integrally repair the damages suffered by Beatriz and to order the Salvadoran State to modify its internal regulations to full guarantee women, among other rights, the right to health, personal liberty, reproductive rights and the right to effective judicial protection.

As part of the demand the organizations have launched the campaign, “Yo apoyo la demanda de Beatriz, porque me importa salvar la vida de las mujeres” (“I support Beatriz’s demand because it is important to me to save the life of women”). The campaign will be shared through several media outlets starting today and will continue until December 10th, the International Day of Human Rights. We are calling on the general public to express support for Beatriz by sharing the logo and the campaign slogan and by sending messages in reference to the issue.

The petitioning organizations before the IACHR include La Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local de El Salvador, la Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugenésico de El Salvador, IPAS Central America and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

Mexico acknowledges international responsibility for the 15 year arbitrary imprisonment of two people

San José, Monday 18 November, 2013. This Monday, the Mexican State recognized its international responsibility for the illegal detention and torture of Juan García Cruz and Santiago Sánchez Silvestre, as well as for their subsequent convictions in two irregular processes which used confessions extracted under torture. Furthermore, the State accepted its responsibility for the failure to investigate allegations of torture.

This recognition of responsibility is consequence of a dialogue process which began in August of the present year, and concluded this Monday with the signing of a Friendly Settlement.

 

Mon, 11/18/2013

San José, Monday 18 November, 2013. This Monday, the Mexican State recognized its international responsibility for the illegal detention and torture of Juan García Cruz and Santiago Sánchez Silvestre, as well as for their subsequent convictions in two irregular processes which used confessions extracted under torture. Furthermore, the State accepted its responsibility for the failure to investigate allegations of torture.

This recognition of responsibility is consequence of a dialogue process which began in August of the present year, and concluded this Monday with the signing of a Friendly Settlement. As part of this agreement, the Mexican authorities are committed to providing integral reparations for the damage caused to the victims, as well as investigating the events surrounding the acts of torture suffered.

Juan García Cruz and Santiago Sánchez Silvestre were arbitrarily detained on June 6, 1997 by State agents. Both suffered physical and psychological torture in the facilities of Mexico City’s police force. They were subjected to torture with the objective of extracting confessions, which would implicate them in crimes which they had not committed.

On the basis of these confessions, they were tried and sentenced to three years for possession of firearms and 40 years for, inter alia, the crimes of homicide. Despite the authorities receiving reports of the torture suffered by these two men, the allegations were never investigated.

The case was denounced before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2000, and was sent to the Inter-American Court in 2013. However, on April 18, the victims were released following the declaration of a domestic court that their confessions had been obtained under torture, and that the trial was plagued with irregularities. In total, Juan and Santiago spent 15 years in prison.

In the agreement signed today, the Mexican State acknowledges its responsibility for the violation of the rights to personal liberty, to humane treatment, to a fair trial, and to judicial protection, rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, the State recognized the violation of various articles of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Sanction Torture.

The organizations Servicios Legales e Investigación y Estudios Jurídicos (SLIEJ), Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (AJDH), and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) applaud the Mexican authorities for their willingness to recognize the human rights violations committed against Juan and Santiago. Similarly, they celebrate the commitment the State assumed to provide reparations for damage caused, and to avoid the repetition of events of this nature being repeated in Mexico.

For more information:

Daniela Araya

Communications Officer

CEJIL

daraya@cejil.org
(506) 2280-7473 / 506 8820-8588

 

San José, Monday 18 November, 2013. This Monday, the Mexican State recognized its international responsibility for the illegal detention and torture of Juan García Cruz and Santiago Sánchez Silvestre, as well as for their subsequent convictions in two irregular processes which used confessions extracted under torture. Furthermore, the State accepted its responsibility for the failure to investigate allegations of torture.

This recognition of responsibility is consequence of a dialogue process which began in August of the present year, and concluded this Monday with the signing of a Friendly Settlement. As part of this agreement, the Mexican authorities are committed to providing integral reparations for the damage caused to the victims, as well as investigating the events surrounding the acts of torture suffered.

Juan García Cruz and Santiago Sánchez Silvestre were arbitrarily detained on June 6, 1997 by State agents. Both suffered physical and psychological torture in the facilities of Mexico City’s police force. They were subjected to torture with the objective of extracting confessions, which would implicate them in crimes which they had not committed.

On the basis of these confessions, they were tried and sentenced to three years for possession of firearms and 40 years for, inter alia, the crimes of homicide. Despite the authorities receiving reports of the torture suffered by these two men, the allegations were never investigated.

The case was denounced before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2000, and was sent to the Inter-American Court in 2013. However, on April 18, the victims were released following the declaration of a domestic court that their confessions had been obtained under torture, and that the trial was plagued with irregularities. In total, Juan and Santiago spent 15 years in prison.

In the agreement signed today, the Mexican State acknowledges its responsibility for the violation of the rights to personal liberty, to humane treatment, to a fair trial, and to judicial protection, rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, the State recognized the violation of various articles of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Sanction Torture.

The organizations Servicios Legales e Investigación y Estudios Jurídicos (SLIEJ), Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (AJDH), and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) applaud the Mexican authorities for their willingness to recognize the human rights violations committed against Juan and Santiago. Similarly, they celebrate the commitment the State assumed to provide reparations for damage caused, and to avoid events of this nature being repeated in Mexico.

 

For more information:

Daniela Araya

Communications Officer

CEJIL

daraya@cejil.org

(506) 2280-7473 / 506 8820-8588

CEJIL files complaint before the IACHR regarding violence against women in the Americas

Of the 25 States with the highest rate of femicide/feminicide in the world, 14 are regional nations

Washington DC, October 28, 2013 – The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM), the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Development, and Democracy (PIDHDD), the Red de Mujeres Afrolatinoamericanas, Afrocaribeñas y de la Diáspora, Coordinadora del Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas and the Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional de Femicidio de México denounced violence against women in a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  Particular emphasis was placed on femicide, one of the gravest expressions of violence against women. Femicide/feminicide is considered to be the assassination of a woman for her gender.

Tue, 10/29/2013

Washington DC, October 28, 2013 – The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM), the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Development, and Democracy (PIDHDD), the Red de Mujeres Afrolatinoamericanas, Afrocaribeñas y de la Diáspora, Coordinadora del Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas and the Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional de Femicidio de México denounced violence against women in a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  Particular emphasis was placed on femicide, one of the gravest expressions of violence against women. Femicide/feminicide is considered to be the assassination of a woman for her gender.

According to the United Nations Report on the Regulation of the crime of Feminicide/Femicide in Latin America and the Caribbean, of the 25 States with the highest rates of murder in the world, 14 are from the region. Those with the highest rates are El Salvador, Jamaica, and Guatemala.

In spite of this alarming reality, to date regional States have not adopted measures effective for addressing this problem. Only 10 of the region’s nations have included femicide/feminicide as a criminal offense (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, and Panama). Furthermore, some of the adopted regulations present flaws; in their concept of femicide/feminicide, they exclude acts that should be considered as such, and others result in a definition that is too broad for effective application.

Guadalupe Ramos from CLADEM indicated that, “a separate criminal classification for femicide/feminicide is necessary as the criminal classification of homicide makes invisible the causes and the characteristics of the murder of women. In making them visible by means of a specific criminal offense, it is possible to identify the special necessities for the protection of women as well as the public policies that must be adopted by the State to do so.”

Furthermore, no effective public policy exists in the region that addresses, in an integral manner, the femicide/feminicide problem. CEJIL’s Gisela De León added that: “the criminal response should be accompanied by policies aimed at tackling causes of femicide/feminicide. This will only be achieved when reliable data is available that correlates with the magnitude, characteristics, and origins of the problem.”

The petitioners drew the attention of the IACHR to the severity of this problem, with the objective of ensuring that the Commission continues to contribute to the fight against violence against women, particularly in light of the anniversary of the Belém Do Pará Convention next year.  The petitioners asserted that the present challenge is to ensure the transition from the legislation to the adoption of effective public policies which can put an end this pandemic. This is a process where the Commission’s contribution is key.

Daniela Araya

Communications Officer

Tel: +506 22807473

E-mail: daraya@cejil.org

Victims of the counter-siege of Colombia’s Palace of Justice appear before the IA Court

The subject of the hearing will be the violations committed against the 12 forcibly disappeared, 4 tortured, and the victim of extrajudicial execution

Brasilia, Monday November 11, 2013 – This Tuesday, in a public hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), el Colectivo de Abogados José Alvéar Restrepo (CCAJAR), the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, and the attorneys Jorge Molano and Germán Romero, will defend the victims of grave human rights violations perpetrated by the Colombian Armed Forces during the operation to recapture the Palace of Justice.

Tue, 11/12/2013

Audiencia ante la Corte IDH iniciará este martes 12 de noviembre

Brasilia, Monday November 11, 2013 – This Tuesday, in a public hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), el Colectivo de Abogados José Alvéar Restrepo (CCAJAR), the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, and the attorneys Jorge Molano and Germán Romero, will defend the victims of grave human rights violations perpetrated by the Colombian Armed Forces during the operation to recapture the Palace of Justice.

The hearing will take place on Tuesday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 13 in the Superior Labor Court in Brasilia, Brazil, with live transmission via the link http://www.corteidh.or.cr/

The aforementioned organizations will represent the families of Carlos Augusto Rodríguez Vera, Cristina del Pilar Guarín Cortés, David Suspes Celis, Luz Mary Portela León, Bernardo Beltrán Hernández, Héctor Jaime Beltrán Fuentes, Gloria Estela Lizarazo, Ana Rosa Castiblanco, Gloria Anzola de Lanao, Lucy Amparo Oviedo, Norma Constanza Esguerra, and that of the M19 Guerrilla Irma Franco Pineda. Equally, they will represent the four victims of arbitrary detention and torture; Yolanda Santodomingo Albericci, Eduardo Matson Ospino, Orlando Quijano and José Vicente Rubiano Galvis. Finally, they will address the forced disappearance and subsequent extrajudicial execution of the Auxiliary Magistrate to the Council of the State, Carlos Horacio Urán.

During the hearing a victim of torture, the brother of one of the disappeared, and the wife of an executed magistrate will give testimony. Additionally, evidence will be presented before the Court by a diverse group of international experts.

The present case relates to the events which occurred on November 6 and 7, 1985, during the siege of the Palace of Justice in Bogota, Colombia, by the guerilla group M-19 and the subsequent counter-siege carried out by the Army. These events led to the forced disappearance of 12 people, four of whom were tortured, and the disappearance and subsequent extrajudicial execution of a magistrate by the Armed Forces.

Following 28 years of waiting, the case was elevated to the highest instance of human rights protection on the continent. The objective of its presentation before the IA Court is to identify the whereabouts of the disappeared, and similarly establish the responsibility of the Colombian State for these human rights violations. The State will carry out a partial recognition of responsibility, which will be responded to during the hearing by the victims and their families.

In the course of the following year, the Court will issue a sentence on the case.

 

For more information:


Daniela Araya                                                                        Ana Paula Barreto Da Silva

Communications Office                                                              Contact in Brasil

(506) 2280-7473 / 506 8820-8588                                             (61) 8120-0839

daraya@cejil.org imprensacejil@cejil.org

 

International complaint against the Guatemalan State for rejection of justice in genocide case

Washington, D.C., November 6, 2013. Today, November 6, a complaint was filed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) by victims who survived the genocide in Guatemala, alongside various social organizations. The complaint denounces the Guatemalan State for the impunity which continues to surround grave human rights violations committed against the Ixil indigenous population, and bases its argument on the violation of the American Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights treaties.

Wed, 11/06/2013

Conferencia de Prensa: Petición de Genocidio contra el Estado de Guatemala

Washington, D.C., November 6, 2013. Today, November 6, a complaint was filed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) by victims who survived the genocide in Guatemala, alongside various social organizations. The complaint denounces the Guatemalan State for the impunity which continues to surround grave human rights violations committed against the Ixil indigenous population, and bases its argument on the violation of the American Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights treaties.

The petitioning organizations assert that the Guatemalan State has failed to comply with its obligation to guarantee victims their right to justice, since for more than 30 years, none of those responsible for the violations suffered by thousands of victims have been tried.

The responsibility of the State is necessary, particularly given that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has established that “impunity fosters chronic recidivism of human rights violations and total defenselessness of victims and their relatives”.

In relation to the genocide of the ethnic group Maya Ixil, more than 60 massacres and attacks carried out by members of the Guatemalan army were denounced. These events left approximately 1771 mortal victims, as well as numerous victims of forced disappearance, sexual violence, torture and forced displacement.

Furthermore, with regards to the trial of ex Generals Efraín Ríos Montt and Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, the deficiencies and irregularities of the resolutions emitted by the authorities during the criminal process were similarly denounced. Amongst the noted issues were: the lack of access to the archives in the Ministry of Defense; the judicial authorities’ tolerance of the abuse of the recourse of legal protection and the arbitrary nature of the rulings on provisional legal protection; the excessive duration of the criminal process; the attacks on judicial independence, and the lack of protection for participants in the process.

In particular, the irregularities which characterized the resolution passed on May 20, 2013 by three members of the Constitutional Court were highlighted. Following this resolution, the process being carried out against the aforementioned military members was annulled.

In light of the above, the petitioners felt it necessary to turn to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in the hope that the regional human rights system will accelerate the petition’s process and ensure the international protection of the victims in the briefest time period possible. As such, we request an admissibility decision of the Commission on the present complaint.

The right to resort to international justice systems is consecrated in international treaties and the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala. As such, we turn to Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights with the objective of ensuring that the State complies with its international obligations on human rights. While impunity continues to exist in Guatemala, neither respect for human rights nor a full democracy can be ensured.

 

For the right to a fair country!

 

Asociación para la Justicia y Reconciliación - AJR

Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos – CALDH

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

Bufete Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos - BDH

Dominican Republic denies discrimination and collective expulsions before the Inter-American Court

Mexico City and Santo Domingo, October 9, 2013 – This Wednesday the public hearing on the case Benito Tide Méndez and others before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concluded. This case addresses the arbitrary detention and subsequent expulsion of 27 people, the majority of whom are Dominican nationals, and 12 of whom were children at the time of their expulsion.

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women, MUDHA), Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés (Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons, GARR), and Columbia Law School Human Rights Law Clinic acted as representatives for the victims before the Inter-American Tribunal.  The hearing was held in Mexico City, during the Inter-American Court’s 48th Period of Ordinary Sessions.

Wed, 10/09/2013

Audiencia ante la Corte IDH en la ciudad de México sobre el caso Benito Tide Méndez y otros

Mexico City and Santo Domingo, October 9, 2013 – This Wednesday the public hearing on the case Benito Tide Méndez and others before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concluded. This case addresses the arbitrary detention and subsequent expulsion of 27 people, the majority of whom are Dominican nationals, and 12 of whom were children at the time of their expulsion.

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women, MUDHA), Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés (Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons, GARR), and Columbia Law School Human Rights Law Clinic acted as representatives for the victims before the Inter-American Tribunal.  The hearing was held in Mexico City, during the Inter-American Court’s 48th Period of Ordinary Sessions.

The representing organizations highlighted the pattern of mass expulsions and the denationalization policy directed at Dominicans of Haitian descent with parents holding an irregular status in the country, showing the Tribunal that the events of the present case did not occur in isolation.

Francisco Quintana, CEJIL’s Program Director for the Andean, North America and Caribbean Region, mentioned that, “the hearing allowed us to demonstrate the racial discrimination in the treatment of the afro-descendant population, particularly of Haitians and those of Haitian descent.” Quintana further added that it is regrettable that the Dominican State did not respect the right to defense; “in the hearing, the government representative presented evidence in an inappropriate moment and manipulated the statement of the only witness.”

“Surprisingly, in order to deny racial discrimination, the Dominican State employed elements of nationalism and xenophobia” noted Cristiana Luis Francisca, President of MUDHA.  She added that, “the debate will not in end with this hearing; our organizations will continue looking for justice at both the internal level and before international bodies.”

“The State’s arguments were inconsistent and contradictory in denying the existence of a pattern of collective expulsions, which occurred not only during the period in which the events of this case took place, but are currently being perpetuated”, remarked Paola García Rey from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Law Clinic.

Likewise, Lisane André of GARR added that, “the repatriations in 1991 gave birth to our work, in a moment when expulsions reached highs of 35 thousand people.  We hope that as a result of this case, as the discussed human rights standards are applied and collective expulsions cease, we will be able to put aside this strong aspect of our work.”

At the close of the hearing the organizations asked that the Court issue a judgment which ensures integral reparation to the victims.  In light of the behavior of the State during the hearing, the organizations representing the victims feel that particular importance must be placed on the recognition of international responsibility and the realization of public apology for the events in the case.

After the hearing, the organizations and the Dominican State must present their final written arguments within a month, respectively.  A decision is expected from the Inter-American Court by the beginning of the next year.

The hearing was transmitted live and can be accessed on the Inter-American Court’s website www.corteidh.or.cr.

Dominican Republic must answer to charges of racial discrimination, collective expulsions and arbitrary deprivation of nationality

Mexico City, D.F., October 7, 2013 – On October 8, 2013, in the Library of the Citadel in Mexico City, a public hearing on the case Benito Tide Méndez et al v. Dominican Republic will begin. This cases addresses the collective expulsion of six family groups between 1999 and 2000.

The case deals with the structural racial discrimination which exists on the island. This discrimination manifests itself in terms of the exclusion and restriction of the rights of the Dominican population of Haitian ancestry, the group to which the majority of victims in the present case pertain.

Mon, 10/07/2013

 República Dominicana deberá responder sobre sobre discriminación racial, expulsiones masivas y privación arbitraria de nacionalidad

Mexico City, D.F., October 7, 2013 – On October 8, 2013, in the Library of the Citadel in Mexico City, a public hearing on the case Benito Tide Méndez et al v. Dominican Republic will begin. This cases addresses the collective expulsion of six family groups between 1999 and 2000.

The case deals with the structural racial discrimination which exists on the island. This discrimination manifests itself in terms of the exclusion and restriction of the rights of the Dominican population of Haitian ancestry, the group to which the majority of victims in the present case pertain.

One of the consequences of this phenomenon, which will be specifically addressed in the hearing, is the collective expulsion of afro descendents without the implementation of the necessary measures to ensure due process on immigration, on the basis that their skin color determines their status as foreigners.

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women, MUDHA), Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés (Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons, GARR), and Columbia Law School Human Rights Law Clinic, New York will act as the representatives of the victims before the Inter-American Court in this public hearing.

Francisco Quintana, CEJIL’s Program Director for the Andean, North America and Caribbean Region, stated that: “the negation of racial discrimination constitutes the greatest obstacle to the seeking of an effective solution to the problems that the affected population suffers. This issue is extremely serious; we are talking about structural discrimination which has impacted, as well as in terms of expulsions, on the restriction of the recognition of fundamental rights such as nationality”.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination analyzed this phenomenon and concluded in its March 2013 report on the nation that structural discrimination directly affects the afro descendent population, submitting them to clear exclusion and a restriction of their fundamental rights and opportunities for development.

The international organism requested various measures for the implementation of public policies which recognize and identify the statistics of existing racial discrimination, adjusting migratory policies and impeding the denationalization of people whose situations could lead them to a condition of statelessness.

“We hope that the Inter-American Court takes on board the diverse analysis and pronouncements made by the Committee, as well as by the Committee on the Rights of Children and the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in relation to the Dominican State”, added Paola García Rey, consultant for the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Colombia.

Cristiana Luis Francisca, President of Mudha, pointed out that “once again we have had to turn to the Inter-American System of Human Rights. The Dominican State has not left us any other alternative, as the frequent violation of rights continues to be a national reality. Equally, there is a lack of open and respectful dialogue between human rights and the authorities and organizations. Today, we are before the Inter-American Court, and if it is necessary, we will resort to the United Nations”.

During the hearing before the Inter-American Court on October 8, the judges will hear declarations presented by the representative organizations. Amongst them are the testimony of one of the Dominican victims expelled alongside with his family in 2000; the testimonies of two experts in migration policy and the correct application of international law standards on this issue; and an expert on racial discrimination in America and Africa.

The organizations request that in its decision on the case, the Inter-American Court grants integral reparations to the victims, including a public apology for the events in the name of the State. Furthermore, they request that it establishes the measures that the Dominican State must adopt in order to avoid the repetition of events. Recognizing the existing problem of racial discrimination is the first step necessary for the reversal of the patterns of exclusion and xenophobia within the nation.

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