The 96th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ended today, April 25, 1997. Taking part were its Chairman, Ambassador John S. Donaldson, First Vice Chairman, Professor Carlos Ayala Corao, Second Vice Chairman, Professor Robert K. Goldman and the other members, Doctors Oscar L. Fappiano, Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Jean Joseph Exumé and Dean Claudio Grossman.
The Commission received the Permanent Representative of Canada to the Organization of American States, Ambassador Brian Dickson, who, on behalf of his Government, invited the IACHR to visit Canada in order to observe the procedures applied for granting refugee status and the remedies available to those applying for it. The Commission accepted the invitation of the Honorable Government of Canada.
In the course of this session, the Chairman of the IACHR presented the Annual Report of the Commission to the Committee on Legal and Political Affairs [CHECK!] of the Permanent Council, at the meeting it held on April 24, 1997.
The Commission also approved various reports on the admissibility of individual petitions and on the substantial issues posed by petitioners.
The Commission proceeded to amend Article 71, paragraph 1 of its Regulations, which now reads as follows:
The IACHR agreed to hold the 97th regular session from September 29 to October 17, 1997.
Washington, D.C., April 25, 1997.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will carry out an on-site visit, with the consent of the Government of the Dominican Republic, with the aim of observing the general situation of human rights in that country. The visit will take place from June 16 through June 20, 1997.
The Delegation of the Commission will be made up of its Chairman, Ambassador John S. Donaldson, Dean Claudio Grossman, Amb. Alvaro Tirado Mejia and Dr. Oscar Lujan Fappiano, members of the IACHR. The Commissioners will be assisted during this visit by the Executive Secretary, Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, Dr. Bertha Santoscoy, Specialist in charge of Dominican affairs, by lawyers Denise Gilman and Ibrahim Garcia and Mrs. Rose Marie Briere, interpreter. Mrs. Cecilia Adriazola and Miss Tania Hernandez will act as administrative support personnel.
The IACHR is one of the principal organs of the Organization of American States which is in charge of promoting the observance and defense of human rights in the Hemisphere and to serve as the consultative body in such matters.
The seven members of the Commission are elected in their personal capacity by the General Assembly of the OAS for a four-year term and represent all member states. The powers of the Commission are derived essentially from the OAS Charter and from the American Convention on Human Rights, an international instrument ratified by the Dominican Republic on April 19, 1978.
During its stay in the Dominican Republic, the Delegation will meet with governmental authorities and with different sectors of the population, such as human rights organizations, popular groups, representatives of the Church, labor leaders, etc. The Commission will also visit several penitentiaries and will travel to the countrys interior, with the aim of speaking with all sectors of the country.
The Commissions visit is being made under the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and in keeping with the Commissions governing provisions. Under that legal framework, the governments undertake to provide the Commission with the facilities necessary for accomplishing its mission and, in particular, bind themselves to refrain from reprisals of any kind against any persons or agencies cooperating with the Commission by providing information or testimony.
On completing its mission, the Commission will return to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., where it will begin the study and evaluation of the observations with the aim of preparing a final report.
The Commission is grateful for the cooperation by the Government of the Dominican Republic in preparing this visit and, once again, states it willingness to work with the democratic governments of the Hemisphere in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Santo Domingo, June 4, 1997
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) present in Lima to assist the 23rd regular period of sessions of the General Assembly of the OAS, received additional information through the media and through a personal interview that was carried out at the request of the affected parties, of the situation created by the dismissal, by the Congress of Peru, of three members of the Constitutional Court and the subsequent resignation of the President of that High Tribunal.
The IACHR has noticed that different sectors of Peruvian society have manifested their opinion, pointing out the gravity of these events, due to the negative effect this will have for democracy and the rule of law and, especially, for the independence and impartiality of the judges, which is a fundamental factor for the protection of human rights.
The IACHR and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights have underscored in their declarations (on the basis of Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights), the importance that independent and impartial courts have for the effective functioning of the judicial guarantees for the protection of human rights. Thus, the IACHR in its Annual Report of 1996, has formulated a host of recommendations to all member States of the Organization, among which you have in first place the need to adopt the necessary measures to strengthen the independence and autonomy of judicial organs with the aim of achieving a more effective protection of human rights.
The importance of the Peruvian Constitutional Court for the protection of human rights, as the last and definitive jurisdictional body in matters of constitutional guarantees, especially protection remedies and habeas corpus, and as body that exercises the concentrated control of the constitutionality of the laws, justify the concern of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in view of the recent events.
In view of the importance of the Constitutional Court, the IACHR hopes that its regular functioning begins as soon as possible, guaranteeing due respect for its independence, impartiality and autonomy by the rest of the organs of public institutions, with the aim of achieving its consolidations as the highest interpreter of the Constitution and human rights.
Lima, June 5, 1997
The following members of the Commission participated in the visit: Mr. John S. Donaldson, Chairman of the Commission; Dean Claudio Grossman and Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía. The Commission had the technical support of Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, Executive Secretary, Dr. Bertha Santoscoy, Senior Specialist and in charge of affairs in the Dominican Republic; the lawyers Ibrahim García and Denise Gilman; Rose Marie Briere, interpreter; as well as Mrs. Cecilia Adriazola and Ms. Tania Hernández, secretaries of the IACHR.
The IACHR is the principal body of the Organization of American States entrusted to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the hemisphere and is a consultative body in the field.
As independent experts, the seven members are elected to a four-year term by the General Assembly of the OAS and represent all member states of the Organization. The Commission essentially derives its powers from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The latter instrument was ratified by the Dominican Republic on April 19, 1978.
During the visit, the IACHR met with the President of the Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernández Reyna. The Commission also met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Eduardo Latorre; with the Secretary of State for Police and the Interior, Norge Botello; and the Undersecretaries of State for Labor, Lic. Rosario Graciana and Lic. Washington González; representatives of the National Congress, the National Council of Judges, the Attorney General of the Republic, the Special Prosecutor of the National District, the Commissioner for Reform and Modernization of Justice, the General Director for the Promotion of Women, the Migrations Director, the Director of Prisons, the Director of the Sugar State Council and the Chief of Police.
The Commission also met with representatives of international organizations, such as: UN, UNHCR, UNICEF, and IMO; and with human rights nongovernmental organizations, representatives for the Bar Association, political and labor leaders, representatives of Haitian workers and mass communications media.
During the visit, the IACHR had an extensive schedule in the city of Santo Domingo, traveled to Barahona, where it met with government officials, including the Provincial Governor of Barahona, Dr. Bolívar de Oleo; the District Attorney (Procurador Fiscal), priests and pastors of the Church, the Manager of the Ingenio Barahona, and numerous representatives of civil society in the Barahona Province.
The Commission visited the La Victoria and San Pedro de Macorís jails with the aim of observing the conditions of these detention centers and the situation of the prisoners. The Commission also visited several "bateyes," (sugar mills) to observe the situation of sugar cane cutters.
The agenda carried out by the Commission allowed it to have a broad appreciation of the human rights situation in the country. Said awareness is obviously preliminary, since all the gathered information will be analyzed in detail in its next regular session that will be held in its headquarters in Washington on September of this year.
The Commission wishes to point out that during the visit it had every facility and broad freedoms to meet with all the people it saw fit, as well as travel anywhere in Dominican territory. The Government of the Dominican Republic gave the IACHR full and complete cooperation, which permitted the completion of a broad program of activities.
The Commission wishes to underscore that the invitation made by the Government of President Leonel Fernández Reyna, to carry out this on site visit, demonstrates the importance of the issue of human rights.
The IACHR was able to verify during the visit, the importance that the Dominican government and civil society assign to the full observance of human rights. Numerous issues of great importance for human rights -for instance, the reform of the judiciary- are in the country's agenda and valuable initiatives are being implemented by the government and civil society. Communications media are engaging in a rich debate in which, with full freedom, ideas on the consolidation, expansion and strengthening of institutions and regulations regarding human rights confront each other.
The IACHR recognizes the political will and the spirit of modernization of the government of President Fernández Reyna which has contributed to open up new spaces and has announced new initiatives for the promotion and protection of human rights.
During its visit, the Commission received information on the critical situation of the Judiciary, including the excessive delays of trials, the existence of unwieldy procedures and the lack of trust of the people in the system.
The Commission is cognizant that both the government and vast sectors of civil society are aware of the situation of the judiciary. Thus, the Commission studied the important work being carried out by the Commissioner for the Reform and Modernization of Justice, aimed at establishing a modern and efficient judicial power. Moreover, the Commission witnessed the phase of the process of naming the new members of the Supreme Court.
For the full observance of human rights, it is essential to have a modern, independent and fair judicial system. Article 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights concisely expresses these ideas on due process and the independence of the judicial system. The IACHR will continue to observe the process of the transformation of the judicial system that is currently underway in the Dominican Republic.
The Commission had a fruitful dialogue with the Chief of Police and was informed about the different initiatives aimed at modernizing the institution that include: the suspension of roundups, the right for persons detained to make a telephone call, the suspension of the practice of publicly exhibiting prisoners and a directive to respect the 48 hours required to bring prisoners before competent judicial authorities.
The Commission was impressed positively by the willingness of the Chief of Police to foster measures aimed at the educating personnel in the respect of human rights, including investigation techniques compatible with said rights.
Notwithstanding these initiatives, during visit the IACHR received complaints about police conduct that include irregular detentions, ill treatment, the request for illegal payments, abuse of persons under arrest, arbitrary detention of relatives of suspects to force them to give themselves up, excessive use of force and extra judicial executions. These complaints will be investigated by the IACHR.
The existence of a professional and efficient police corps is essential to achieve a level of security that is a legitimate right of the people. The IACHR considers that said objective is completely compatible with respect for human rights, thus it gives great importance to the progress achieved in the development of the police in the Dominican Republic.
During the visit, the Commission received reports indicating that Dominican prisoners live in extremely difficult conditions, that include: insufficient food, lack of drinking water, inadequate sanitary facilities, crowding, insufficient medical attention, problems regarding bail and release from prison, lack of rehabilitation programs, education and work for inmates, and a lack of separation between adults and minors and persons awaiting trial and those already sentenced.
The Commission appreciates the commitment by the Director of Prisons on the modernization of the system. The Commission was able to verify that constructions were being undertaken in the Dominican prison system, including the building of a new jail and the remodeling of La Victoria, the largest jail in the country. Moreover, there are plans for improving other jails. The Commission thinks that, as part of the modernization process of Dominican jails, it is extremely important to create a Penitentiary School for the training of a civilian corps to serve in the jails and to strengthen civilian control of the jails. The Commission also received information on the initiation of a program for the rehabilitation of jailed drug addicts. The Commissions deems it necessary that the necessary funds be allotted to implement this type of program.
Also during the visit, the Commission was informed that, principally due to judicial delays, the vast majority of Dominican prisoners, 85% according to most recent statistics of the General Directorate of Prisons, is under preventive detention and has not been sentenced. The Commission is cognizant that Dominican authorities are aware of the problem and are making every effort to improve the situation. One example of a first step is the fact that prison population is being decreased by a decision to free prisoners that are under preventive custody more time than had they been found guilty and condemned to the maximum sentence for that crime.
The Commission has also learned of important reforms of laws that are being implemented in the field of women's rights and applauds the progress achieved by the Directorate for the Promotion of Women, particularly Law 24-97 on the rights of women, which reflects a positive political will to advance in that issue.
The Commission also appreciates the important initiatives that are being adopted in said Directorate regarding issues such as domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, legal reforms that are aimed at achieving full equality, and promotion and education activities.
Notwithstanding these advances, there is still a long way to go until the rights of women can be fully protected. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received complaints on the traffic of women for sexual exploitation, lack of adequate actions in cases of domestic violence, wage discrimination and non-compliance with labor laws that protect women.
In interviews with Dominican authorities, the IACHR learned of the wish of the Government to advance in conversations with Haitian authorities to resolve different aspects on the situation of migrant workers and population flows. Notwithstanding the value of these initiatives, that reveal the political will of not using unilateral measures in this complex problem, the IAHCR deems it necessary to point out that there are aspects related to Haitians who have resided for a long time in the Dominican Republic and to Dominican Haitians, for example, that are the responsibility of the Dominican Republic towards people in their territory.
The Commission visited the following sugar complexes: San Joaquín, Culata y Mata los Indios in outskirts of Santo Domingo and Batey No. 5 in the Barahona Province. The Commission was able to verify some progress since current authorities came to power, in electrification and other material initiatives that also include plans for the improvement of roads, schools and sanitation. The IACHR also learned about the implementation of measures to oversee weighing and thus limit abuses.
The IACHR noted, nevertheless, the difficult and unhealthy conditions in which workers and their families live. Much of the housing is inadequate; there is a lack of sanitation, drinking water, and crowding are a very serious problem. Many children show evident problems of malnutrition, and many of them don't go to school in order to help their parents earn a meager income. This creates a tragic cycle that ensures a practically inevitable future of poverty.
The IACHR does not ignore the extreme poverty that affects other sectors of national life. Nevertheless, it must borne in mind that numerous sugar cane cutters work for the State and live in land belonging to it.
The IACHR also received complaints from nongovernmental organizations and from persons about problems regarding the lack of documentation and registration of persons that were born in the Dominican Republic, as well as the existence of impediments and arbitrary bureaucratic behavior in the case of registrations of a legal nature.
In the area of Barahona, the Commission also received complaints about the military requesting money at some of the checkpoints.
The IACHR will investigate the development and progress in this important issue of human rights.
The Commission was able to examine in the Dominican Republic different cases that are being processed, including the case of Narciso Gonzalez. The IACHR is processing these cases according to the pertinent provisions of the American Convention and its Regulations. These legal texts require the Commission to continue its work until the parties responsible are identified and punished for their criminal acts and the victims are compensated.
The IACHR is fully aware of the numerous problems that affect the observance of human rights in the Dominican Republic are not the result of a state policy aimed at violating human rights. Like in the case of many countries, authorities face, to a greater or lesser extent, structural problems, cultural patterns inherited from authoritarian experiences, anachronistic institutions and insufficient resources. In view of the functions entrusted to it by the Charter of the OAS, the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable international legal instruments, the Commission expresses its will to cooperate with Dominican Authorities, within the framework of its competence, in the strengthening of mechanisms to promote and defend human rights in the advance towards their full observance.
The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to the Government of the Dominican Republic, its President, Dr. Leonel Fernández Reyna, the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and the other authorities which cooperated in this visit, as well as nongovernmental organizations and private individuals, who in a frank and objective manner, contributed with their information and documentation to fulfill the objectives of the mission.
The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to the media, who broadly and without limitations, covered the visit and work of the IACHR in the Dominican Republic.
Santo Domingo, June 20, 1997
On June 23, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) received a copy of the article published June 22 in the newspaper Clarin in Buenos Aires, in which there is mention of the preliminary report drafted by the IACHR in the case Juan Carlos Abella and Others, that deals with the matters linked to the events of La Tablada.
The IACHR would like to state on the record that that preliminary report was transmitted exclusively to the Government of Argentina who, according to article 50 of the American Convention on Human Rights and the Regulations of the IACHR, is not authorized to publish. The objective of confidentiality is to give the State the opportunity to study the preliminary conclusions and recommendations, of fact and law, formulated by the IACHR and to adopt the pertinent measures, without the publicity that can lead to the politicization of the matters in the case.
The IACHR deplores the unauthorized publicity of the aforementioned preliminary report and trusts that this type of deplorable incident will not happen again.
Washington, D.C. June 24, 1997
On Friday, July 25, 1997, Jean Joseph Exume, a member of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, was seriously injured by unidentified assailants in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he resides. Dr. Exume was hospitalized and is out of danger. The reasons for this attack are unknown.
The IACHR condemns and deplores this attack on an individual who, both as a member of this international agency which promotes and defends human rights and throughout his professional life, has constantly devoted his intelligence, his efforts, and even his life to promoting the rule of law, the quest for peace, and respect for human rights.
On behalf of the Inter-American Commission, its Chairman, Ambassador John Donaldson, is in Haiti today, both to express solidarity to Dr. Exume personally and to bring attention to this outstanding person and his invaluable work to defend and promote human rights throughout the Americas.
The Commission believes that this appeal for the lives, safety, and dignity of all persons to be respected is important. Jean Joseph Exume is one of the most seasoned and committed defenders of precisely these rights for everyone.
Washington, D.C., August 4, 1997
On October 17, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ended its 97th regular session. The participants in the session included Ambassador John Donaldson, Chairman; Dr. Carlos Ayala, First Vice Chairman; Professor Robert Kogod Goldman, Second Vice Chairman; Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano and Dean Claudio Grossman. Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé was not able to attend to this period of sessions due to his precarious health situation after an attack on his life in July of this year.
During this period of sessions the Commission granted sixty hearings, during which it received representatives of States and representatives of some of the victims whose cases are being processed by the Commission. During the hearings, testimony was heard regarding the human rights situation in different Member States of the Organization and on individual cases that are currently being processed by the Commission.
The Commission also addressed the important role that freedom of expression plays in the hemisphere as the basis of the democratic system of government and as a guarantee for the exercise of public freedoms and human rights. Thus, during the current period of sessions, the Commission decided to create a Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, whose mandate and objective will be duly defined in the Commission's next regular session.
At the invitation of the Government of Canada, the Commission will carry out an on-site visit to that country with the aim of directly observing the process for determining refugee status in Canada and the internal remedies that are offered by the country to those seeking such status. The visit will be carried out from October 20th through the 22nd and will include Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal.
The Commission approved preparations for the on-site visit to be carried out in Colombia in the first days of December with the aim of directly observing the human rights situation in that country. The Government of Colombia has reiterated that it will give the Commission complete cooperation during the visit. The Commission appreciates and is grateful for the positive attitude of the Government of Colombia and considers the upcoming visit an important opportunity to investigate and analyze in depth the situation of human rights in that country.
During the current period of sessions, the Commission also approved the invitation of the Government of Guatemala to carry out an on-site visit next year.
During this period of sessions, the Commission considered the on-site visit to Bolivia, carried out in April 1997 to investigate the violent events that occurred in the mines of Amayapampa and Capasirca. Ambassador John Donaldson, Chairman of the IACHR, Dean Claudio Grossman and Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé, accompanied by Ambassador Jorge Taiana, Executive Secretary, and Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary and Dr. Milton Castillo participated in this visit. The Report was discussed and approved by the IACHR and submitted to the Government of Bolivia on July 8. The Government made its observations and the final report was approved on July 29. It should be underscored that the Government accepted the report and the recommendations, and a host of administrative actions were initiated. The Commission appreciates the acceptance of the report by the Government of Bolivia and will continue to observe compliance with the Reports recommendations.
The Commission also considered the results of the on-site visit carried out in the Dominican Republic from June 16 through June 20, with the aim of observing the general human rights situation in that country. Ambassador John Donaldson, Chairman of the IACHR, Dean Claudio Grossman and Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Members of the Commission participated in the visit. The Secretariat staff was comprised of Ambassador Jorge Taiana, Executive Secretary, Dr. Bertha Santoscoy, Dr. Denise Gilman and Dr. Ibrahim García. The Commission decided to approve an initial outline of a Special Report that is now under preparation. The Commission thanks the Government of the Dominican Republic for its extensive cooperation, which resulted in the Commission receiving an abundance of information about the situation of human rights in that country.
The Commission also discussed visits carried out in order to follow-up on general situations and cases being processed, including some friendly settlements cases, to wit:
The visit to Mexico carried out during July 1997, with the aim of meeting with Government authorities and with petitioners regarding several cases that are in the process of friendly settlement. Dr. Carlos Ayala Corao, First Vice Chairman of the IACHR, Ambassador Jorge Taiana, Executive Secretary and staff attorney Ibrahim García, participated in this trip.
The visit to Brazil, that included Rio De Janeiro, Brasilia and Sao Paulo, carried out in July 1997, with the aim of meeting with the high-level authorities and petitioners to discuss general aspects of the relationship between the State and the work of the Commission. The delegation was made up of Professor Robert Goldman and Dr. Osvaldo Kreimer.
The visit to Paraguay, also in the beginning of July, to participate in the human rights seminar on the Inter-American system on human rights held in Asunción and in several friendly settlement hearings in cases that are being processed by the Commission. The delegation was made up of Dean Claudio Grossman, Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Dr. Oscar L. Fappiano and Dr. Christina Cerna.
The visit to Venezuela on September 29 and 30, 1997, with the aim of observing judicial activities in relation to case Nº 11.068 (Eleazar Ramón Mavares) intended to sanction those responsible in the case. Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano and staff attorney Milton Castillo made up the Special Delegation of the IACHR.
During the present period of sessions, the Commission examined the situation of 34 cases of complaints of violations of human rights and, bearing in mind the status of some of these files, approved 29 reports on individual cases pertaining to different countries. The Commission also considered the follow-up of three of its reports: 28/92 (Argentina), 29/92 (Uruguay) and 43/96 (Mexico). The Commission held hearings on the three aforementioned cases with the respective petitioners and representatives of the States, with the aim of analyzing compliance with the recommendations in each of these reports.
The Commission approved a report on friendly settlement in case 11.217 (Paulo Christian Guardatti). A policeman in the Province of Mendoza, Argentina detained Mr. Guardatti, on May 23, 1992, and his whereabouts are unknown to this day. The State of Argentina and the petitioners in the case agreed to the procedure provided for in Article 49 of the American Convention. As a result of the agreement, an "ad hoc" Investigation Commission was created that issued its report on August 16, 1996 and an arbitrated settlement was achieved that gave monetary compensation to the mother of Mr. Guardatti. In its report on the case, the Commission decided to continue supervising the measures adopted by the State of Argentina until there is full compliance, and recommended to the State the publication and broad dissemination of the "ad hoc" Commissions report.
During the 97th period of sessions, the Commission also held eight hearings regarding cases from Colombia and the general situation in that country. The Commission was pleased regarding the Caloto and Los Uvos cases, in which the Committee that has been following the process of friendly settlement has informed the Commission that the Government of Colombia has decided to accept its international responsibility regarding these cases. The Commission continues to follow with interest other cases in which it made itself available to the parties in order to achieve a friendly settlement such as in the Villatina and the Unión Patriótica cases. The Commission is pleased with the willingness and determination that exists between the Government of Colombia and nongovernmental organizations to fully cooperate to achieve friendly settlements in the cases being considered by the IACHR.
The Commission held six hearings regarding individual cases in Mexico and the general situation of human rights in that country. During those hearings, the Commission received valuable information from government authorities as well as nongovernmental human rights organizations. The Commission received the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, who reported on the work that said institution carries out within the framework of its principal function of promoting and protecting human rights in Mexico.
The Commission held a meeting regarding the friendly settlement proceeding regarding several cases of forced disappearances in Honduras in the eighties. During this hearing, the Permanent Representative for Honduras referred to Executive Decree Nº PCM-007-97, promulgated by President Carlos Roberto Reina, which creates in Honduras a temporary Inter-institutional High Level Commission that will participate in negotiations and actions that must be carried out in the friendly settlement procedure, which will include "pending cases of complaints presented against the State of Honduras before the IACHR, regarding the forced disappearance of Honduran citizens which occurred in the period between 1981 and 1989."
During the hearing regarding case Nº 11.068 (Eleazar Ramón Mavares), the Commission received from a representative of the State of Venezuela, the payment of compensation, consisting of two checks made out to a relative of the victim in the amount of Bs. (Bolivares) 7,116,327.00 and Bs. 7,883,673.00. This was in compliance with the recommendation contained in paragraph number 148 of report Nº 49/96, approved by the Commission on October 17, 1996. The Commission approved publication of the report on this case, acknowledging its appreciation for the progress achieved.
During this period of sessions, the Commission also held a hearing in relation to case Nº 11.791 regarding the Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti, Associate Editor of the La Prensa de Panama newspaper. According to the petitioners, there was a threat of imminent danger of deportation against Mr. Gorriti after an extension of his work permit was denied as a reprisal for his professional work. In that hearing, the representatives of the Government of Peru, after stating that there was never an imminent deportation order for Mr. Gorriti, whose complaint is being heard by Panamanian courts, reported that on October 14, his work permit had been renewed so that he may continue to exercise his profession as a journalist and immigration authorities were ordered to normalize his situation.
During that same hearing, representatives of the Government reported that the Executive Power was endeavoring to modify certain legislation with the aim of adapting it to the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and would keep the Commission informed on the progress of the process of legislative reform. The Commission is pleased with the initiatives adopted by the Government of Panama, which reveal efforts to find a solution within the framework of the protection of human rights.
During this period of sessions, the Commission also held a hearing in the case of Baruch Ivcher, a businessman and journalist, against the Peruvian State. The petitioner complained about the cancellation of his Peruvian citizenship and the confiscation of his shares in the "Frecuencia Latina" TV channel.
The Commission would like to underscore the progress achieved during the hearings regarding seven cases in Paraguay where the procedure for friendly settlement was implemented. In cases Nº 11.558 (Soler) and 11.559 (Goiburú) the Government has granted reparations to the widows of the victims. In the Soler case, the criminal sentence was recently handed down, while the Goiburú case is still pending in the Paraguayan courts. In cases Nº 11.665 (Mancuello), 11.667 (Villalba), 11.666 (Panchito Lopez Juvenile Detention Center), 11.713 (Comunidad "Enxet-Lamenxay") and 11.669 (Victor Hugo Maciel) decisions were reached regarding measures to hasten the friendly settlement procedure, and it was agreed that the pertinent would be presented during the next regular period of sessions.
The Commission also studied several petitions for precautionary measures presented to avoid irreparable damage to persons and agreed, in duly verified cases, to request from Governments the adoption of measures to avoid irreparable damage, also requiring them to inform the Commission regarding the measures adopted as quickly as possible. The Commission reported that, since the last period of sessions, 12 precautionary measures have been requested in different cases in several countries.
The Commission also considered and approved the outline of the 1997 Annual Report, which will be submitted to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in June of next year.
During this period of sessions, the Commission addressed the approval of the report on the situation of human rights in Ecuador during the course of the last 96th period of sessions. That report was submitted in its final form to the Government of Ecuador on July 1, 1997, as well as to the Secretary General of the OAS for its submission to the President of the Permanent Council, so that it might ultimately be sent to the General Assembly of the OAS. The Commission hopes to receive information on the evolution of the situation of human rights in Ecuador in order to analyze that situation at the pertinent moment and reiterates its willingness to cooperate with the Ecuadorean State.
The Commission approved the publication of the Special Report on the situation of human rights in Brazil. This is the first report that the Commission has produced regarding that country and it reflects the results of the observation visit that was carried out in December 1995 as well as other information. This Special Report will be published at the end of November.
It is the practice of the Commission that the final version of the aforementioned reports is drafted after evaluating the comments and observations that the respective Governments formulate about the preliminary version.
A draft of the Prison Report was presented and studied by the Commission. A final document for the consideration of the Commission will be prepared for its February 1998 session. This report will be comprised of, among other things, the report presented in this session and the report prepared by former Commissioner, Prof. Michael Reisman.
During the 97th period of sessions and in the context of reexamining its practices and procedures, the Commission adopted several important decisions regarding matters of its competence. The IACHR approved the formation of a Special Commission composed of its leadership to begin a general evaluation of its Regulations, with the aim of revising, updating and amending them.
Moreover, the Commission adopted a host of procedural provisions to improve its proceedings. In this regard, in the future, when exercising the powers invested by Article 29 of the Regulations, when the Commission adopts a request for precautionary measures, it will do so in principle, for 6 months, requesting from the State periodic information; and it will also publish a press release, to contribute to the certainty regarding the contents of the request.
Regarding final reports referring to concrete cases, as of now these will be made public on the date of their approval for publication.
Finally, the Commission decided to amend letter "h" of Article 63 of the Regulation. Said provision is now worded as follows:
During the present period of sessions, the Commission considered the results of the recent meeting with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in San Jose, Costa Rica, on September 6 and 7 of this year. General issues were discussed, such as the 50th anniversary of the OAS, the follow-up to the Summit of the Americas, the amendment of the Commissions Regulations regarding its representation in cases before the Court, and specific topics such as translation problems, probatory material, complying with deadlines to submit observations to government reports on provisional measures, inter alia.
The Commission wishes to express its satisfaction regarding the recent ratification of the Protocol of San Salvador on social, economic and cultural rights deposited by the government of Paraguay on June 3 of this year, which represents an advance and support for the system for protection of human rights. The Commission is hopeful that in the near future the necessary number of ratifications will be gathered so that the aforementioned Protocol will enter into force. Eight countries have ratified the Protocol.
As a result of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter of the Organization of American States and of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in the Ninth American International Conference held in Colombia in May 1948, the Commission decided to accept the invitations of the Governments of Colombia and Venezuela to participate in the official commemoration of the OAS that will be held in Santafé de Bogotá on April 29 and 30 and to hold a special session together with activities for the promotion of human rights in Caracas on May 1 through May 5, 1998.
The Commission analyzed the progress of the future "American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" which is currently under consideration by the General Assembly of the OAS, the permanent Council and Governments and it expressed its hope that it will be adopted by the member States in the General Assembly in 1998, thus commemorating the 50th anniversary of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, adopted in 1948.
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of women, Dean Claudio Grossman, informed the Commission on the progress of this project. Until now, 13 Member States have responded to the questionnaire distributed by the Commission to gather data on the project: Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay. The Commission would like to thank member States , as well as nongovernmental organizations for the vast amount of information sent. The Commission reiterated its request for information to the governments that have not answered. With the aim of considering future possibilities regarding this project, the Commission convened a meeting of experts for November 6 and 7 of this year.
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of migrant workers and their families in the hemisphere, Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía, reported to the Commission on the status of this study and the measures that have been carried out for the drafting of a questionnaire that will be submitted to member states.
The Commission received information about the new "home page" on the Internet that will contain its published documents. This electronic site which will be available to the public in November of this year, will permit direct access through the Internet to Annual and Special reports, press releases and other public documents issued by the IACHR.
The Commission also dealt with activities carried out in the area of promoting human rights and specifically pointed out that as a part of a program begun two years ago, seminars were held on the Inter-american system for the promotion and protection of human rights in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and in this period of sessions, the Commission approved two more such sessions. The first one will be held in Nicaragua on October 30 and 31, and the second in Haiti on December 10 and 11 of this year. The Commission wishes to thank the Governments for the invitations extended and appreciates the full cooperation offered during these promotional activities.
As part of the promotional activities, the Chairman of the Commission, Ambassador John Donaldson, at the invitation of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, attended a conference on "Democracy, Human Rights and Governance" in Barbados from the 9th to the 10th of September.
In addition, Ambassador John Donaldson participated in an international human rights conference in Brasilia, convened by the Brazilian Bar Association from September 14th through the 17th.
From August 4th to August 5th, the Chairman of the IACHR, Ambassador John Donaldson, accompanied by staff attorney, Dr. Relinda Eddie, visited Haiti to meet with Commissioner Jean Joseph Exumé, after he was attacked. The Delegation also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Haiti, Dr. Fritz Longchamps.
The Commission met with the President of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights of Costa Rica, Dr. Pedro Nikken, and its Executive Director Dr. Juan Méndez, with the aim of exchanging opinions and ideas to formulate a program for the promotion of human rights, as per the request of the General Assembly of the OAS.
During this period of sessions the Commission met with the Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. César Gaviria, with the aim of dealing with different human rights issues, and, among these, the Commission mentioned its possible contribution to the Hemispheric Summit which will be held in Santiago, Chile. The Commission sees in this important summit a great opportunity for the States in the Hemisphere to reiterate their support for and to strengthen the Inter-American system.
At the end of the period of sessions, the Commission agreed to hold its next regular meeting on February 16 through March 6, 1998.
Washington, D.C., October 17, 1997