The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has the
honor to submit its report to the General Assembly, in compliance with
the provisions of Article 52 f of the Charter of the Organization
of American States.
This report contains five chapters and has been prepared in
accordance with Resolution 331 (VIII-0/80) of the General Assembly and
Article 63 of the new Regulations of the Commission.
Chapter I is a brief summary of the Commission's origin and
juridical bases. This chapter also contains a brief account of the
Commission's relationship with other organs of the inter-American system
and regional and global institutions of a similar nature during 1985 and
Chapter II refers to the activities undertaken by the Commission
during the period covered by this report. Emphasis is placed on the
Commission's principal activities, as well as the subjects it dealt with
and the most important measures taken during its various sessions. It
includes the participation of the Commission in the fifteenth regular
session of the General Assembly as well as the resolutions adopted by
this organ in relation to the work of the Commission in the field of
Chapter III is entitled “Resolutions on Individual Cases.”
This chapter contains several resolutions adopted by the Commission
regarding specific cases presented to it, which the Commission processed
in accordance with the applicable legal provisions.
In Chapter IV the Commission has included special reports on
developments in the human rights situation in Cuba, Chile, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Suriname--all of which have
been the subject of previous Commission reports--in order to examine the
measures taken by the various governments to comply with the
recommendations that the Commission had made in those earlier reports
and to examine developments in the observance of human rights in those
countries in the twelve months preceding the approval of the present
Chapter V constitutes a study by the Commission on areas in which
the States should institute measures to further the cause of human
rights, in accordance with the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man and the American Convention on Human Rights.
The two latter chapters have enabled the Commission to conduct an
overall review, albeit of necessity an incomplete one, of the status of
human rights in the hemisphere, and to propose certain measures to
facilitate increased observance of these rights.
At present, in the judgment of the Commission, the situation with
regard to human rights in many areas of the region is difficult and
On the one hand, the majority of peoples that lived under
conditions of oppression, repression and confinement imposed against
opponents have, by courage and respect for law, achieved democracy. On
the other hand, however, the Commission is forced to acknowledge, to its
regret, that there are still regimes in the Americas that remain in
power by force and that, in some cases, the rise of some governments to
power through elections has not always been accompanied by respect for
the human person. Serious problems therefore persist in a number of
areas and must be addressed.
In the opinion of the Commission, the most serious crisis that
human rights in the region are confronting involves, specifically, the
right to life, the primary and most fundamental of all rights. The
transgressions observed with respect to this basic right during the
period dealt with in this report have two causes.
The first has to do with the internal upheavals and civil wars
that are taking place in Central America, especially, leaving in their
wake as primary victims, in addition to the combatants themselves, vast
sectors of the civilian population. These sectors have borne the brunt
of action attributable to both the regular and insurgent forces as a
result of bombings of the civilian population, the mining of fields and
roads and summary executions in violation of international humanitarian
Another factor that has affected the right to life in the period
covered by this report has been the social polarization resulting from
the lack of political participation. The denial of political rights in
turn has given rise to acts of terrorism committed against the
governments and provoked by those governments. Recourse to violence as
an option to settle such conflicts, the Commission notes, has mutually
strengthened extremist positions and rational and pacifist stances have
found no option.
Against that backdrop also, the Commission has noted, on the
basis of a review of the human rights situation in several countries,
that in some, the absence of an effective and modern judiciary with the
capacity to redress promptly the mistakes or abuses of the authorities
has also facilitated numerous human rights violations.
Related to the judiciary is the problem of the lack of
effectiveness of the petition for habeas corpus in some countries
when a state of emergency has been decreed. Because of its importance,
the Commission will request the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to
give an advisory opinion on this matter.
Another serious problem that has arisen during the period covered
by this report concerns the persecution to which human rights
organizations have been subject. The Commission would like to point out
that these organizations have worked admirably precisely in those
countries where the judiciary is more curtailed or limited.
This latter problem as well as the problem of the preparation of
the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights,
which the Commission was mandated to prepare by the General Assembly,
are included in the last chapter of this report.