IACHR Presents 2009 Annual Report

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Thursday presented its 2009 Annual Report to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States.  See the  press release, IACHR President Felipe Gonzalez’ speech before the Committee, and a video of the presentation and discussion.  The most controversial part of the report is its Chapter 4 which describes, each year, the human rights conditions in a handful of countries the Commission considers to be most worrisome.  

As in prior years, the 2009 annual report summarizes the Commission’s activities; includes the requests for precautionary measures considered and the individual complaints that were the subject of admissibility or merits decisions or were otherwise resolved or submitted to the Inter-American Court; describes the state of compliance with IACHR recommendations; in Chapter 4, details the human rights situations in those countries considered to be of most concern to the Commission – this year, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, and Venezuela; and provides follow-ups to previous thematic reports – this year, on access to justice and social inclusion in Bolivia (original report here) and violence and discrimination against women in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia (original report here); and the Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

At the presentation and in other statements, the representatives of Nicaragua and Venezuela criticized the Commission for what they consider to be its imperialist and discriminatory perspective.  The remaining representatives in attendance at the presentation largely praised the Commission and emphasized their continued commitment to its work.

In the report, as in President Felipe Gonzalez’ speech and States’ comments, the worrisome state of the Commission’s funding and need for greater financial stability were highlighted.  The Commission’s work is currently financed in great part by European countries and intergovernmental organizations, in addition to its allotted budget from the OAS and OAS Member State contributions.  For example, based on its only recurring, reliable source of funding – the OAS -the Commission operates on a much smaller budget, proportionally, than its other regional counterparts (considering, particularly, the European mechanisms for treatment of repetitive applications and pilot cases, and manifestly inadmissible applications), as roughly summarized below:

Member States Applications per Year Annual Budget (in USD millions)
Inter-American Commission 35 1,500 3.8
European Court 47 50,000 80.2
African Commission 53 400 3.6

The OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs is comprised of representatives of the OAS Member States and is charged with, inter alia, considering the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and submitting those reports, with Member States’ observations and recommendations, to the Permanent Council of the OAS.  See the Committee’s work plans, or agendas, here.  The Committee does not have authority to review or edit the Commission’s reports prior to their publication.  Rather, the presentation of the annual report to the Committee is an opportunity for dialogue and for States to express their views on the Commission’s activities and decisions of the prior year.

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