March 6, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) publishes today the Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, which presents updated information on the situation of defenders in the region and on the applicable standards of international law. Moreover, it provides a follow-up to the first report, published by the IACHR on March 7, 2006.

The report was presented today in Geneva, in the context of the sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, and the IACHR Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton, were in charge of the presentation in a seminar with the participation of the UN Rapporteur on this issue, Margaret Sekaggya. The seminar was organized by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). The report will also be presented in Washington, D.C., on March 28, 2012, in the context of the 144th Period of Sessions of the IACHR.

The report has four chapters: (1) problems faced by human rights defenders in the region; (2) human rights defenders at particular risk; (3) independence and impartiality of justice operators as a guarantee of access to justice; and (4) protection mechanisms for human rights defenders.

The Commission recognizes that some Member States have made significant efforts in order to comply with the recommendations established in the 2006 report. Notwithstanding these efforts, the obstacles pointed-out in the 2006 report persist, and in some cases, they have intensified. There is a continuance of murders, assaults, forced disappearances, threats, illegal searches, as well as in the statements by high-level authorities discrediting and stigmatizing the work of defending human rights. Moreover, the Commission has noted a growing sophistication of the mechanisms designed to hamper, block, or discourage the work of defending and promoting human rights, which is reflected in criminal charges being filed, financing sources for organizations being restricted, and in the absence of adequate and effective mechanisms for their protection. (more…)

 

Geneva-Paris, March 15, 2012. On March 8 and 9, 2012, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), organised the fourth “inter-mechanisms” meeting, which was hosted by the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

On that occasion, international and regional mechanisms and programmes for the protection of human rights defenders – operating within the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Council of Europe, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – joined by representatives of the European Union, the International Organisation of the Francophonie and various NGOs, discussed the drafting of a joint report on existing standards and recommendations related to the protection of human rights defenders at the international and regional levels. IACHR offered to take a coordinating role in drafting the report, with the back up of the Observatory. This report would be inspired by the 2011 Commentary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the IACHR Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. Such a document, the first of its kind, will not only be a useful tool to human rights defenders, States and other relevant stakeholders, but will also demonstrate a unity of approaches among mechanisms. (more…)

 

The Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders from the United Nations (UN), the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) express their grave concern over acts of reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN and/or the regional human rights systems. These reprisals against individuals and/or groups engaging directly with the UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR, or otherwise providing information on particular countries’ human rights situation, take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, direct threats, physical attacks and killings.

The UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR all have normative agreements and rules of procedure explicitly prohibiting acts of reprisals by States and non-State actors.1/In an effort to safeguard the vital collaboration between civil society and the UN and regional human rights mechanisms, the Rapporteurs on human rights defenders commit to and call for enhanced monitoring and action to respect those rules, and support the recent initiative by the President of the UN Human Rights Council to call on States to immediately put an end to intimidation and harassment of individuals and groups attending the 19th session of the Human Rights Council.2/ (more…)

 

December 9, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the attack in Mexico against human rights defender Norma Andrade, leader of the group Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Our Daughters Back Home), an organization that seeks justice for the girls and women disappeared or killed in the State of Chihuahua. Norma Andrade specifically sought justice for the killing of her daughter, Lilia Alejandra García Andrade, assassinated in 2001. Norma Andrade is beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR.

The IACHR urges the State of Mexico to protect Norma Andrade and her family, and to investigate the attack, in order to prosecute and punish those responsible for committing and masterminding it.

According to the information received, unknown persons attacked Norma Andrade on Friday, when she was about to enter her house, and she was hit with five bullets. Her belongings were allegedly not stolen. Her daughter, Malú García Andrade, informed that Norma Andrade allegedly was followed that day and that unknown persons allegedly went to her employment site and requested information on her schedule and her address. According to the State Commission on Human Rights, Norma Andrade is hospitalized in serious condition.

The Inter-American Commission had received information before on alleged homicides, threats, harassment and attacks against human rights defenders who seek justice for the cases of women killed in Ciudad Juárez and other places in the State of Chihuahua. In December 2010, the IACHR condemned the assassination of Marisela Escobedo, who was gunned down at the entrance of the Government Palace of the State of Chihuaha, where she was claiming justice for the violent death of her daughter, Rubí Marisol Frayre, killed in 2008 when she was 16 years old. (more…)

 

Washington, D.C., August 2, 2011—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of women’s rights defender Keila Esther Berrio Almanza, a member of the League of Displaced Women of Colombia (Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas, LMD). The IACHR had granted precautionary measures for the League of Displaced Women in 2009 and expanded them twice, in 2010 and 2011, to the benefit of all members of the LMD and 16 members of the organization’s Youth League.

According to publicly available information, different theories are being considered as possible motives for this crime. The LMD has stated that this murder could be linked to Keila Esther Berrio’s activities in defense of women’s rights.

The beneficiaries of the precautionary measures of the League of Displaced Women have informed the IACHR that the Colombian authorities have not responded in a timely manner to their situation of risk. They have also reported experiencing problems and delays in the implementation of the precautionary measures. In response to this information, the IACHR has sent special communications to the State and held working meetings during its periods of sessions, as well as during a visit to Colombia by the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in May of 2011. Specifically, during this visit, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Luz Patricia Mejía Guerrero, held meetings aimed at promoting compliance with the precautionary measures that the IACHR has granted in favor of women’s organizations and following up on the Agreement signed by the State of Colombia and the women’s organizations. During this visit, the Rapporteur examined the problems and obstacles detected in the implementation of the precautionary measures and emphasized the need to establish a distinct approach to the measures of protection that seek to benefit women, in response to the causes and effects related to the situation of risk that they face in light of their gender. (more…)