The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights assigned thematic and country rapporteurships to each of the seven Commissioners at the end of January. [Press Release] In addition to their responsibilities for deciding the admissibility and merits of petitions, granting precautionary measures, and referring cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Commissioners individually lead the IACHR’s promotion and monitoring duties in specific countries and thematic areas as rapporteurs.
Rapporteurs typically conduct working visits to countries, organize or participate in seminars, lead or oversee the development of specialized norms, and provide technical support to the Commission and its Executive Secretariat on petitions and cases in a particular thematic area. In addition to the rapporteurships filled by Commissioners, the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expressionis held by an independent expert, Catalina Botero.
Three of the Commissioners began their four-year terms last month, and the IACHR’s membership is over half female (with four women commissioners) for the first time in its history. The current Commissioners are: Dinah Shelton, Chair; José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, First Vice-Chair; Rodrigo Escobar Gil, Second Vice-Chair; Felipe González; and Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Rosa María Ortiz and Tracy Robinson (who took office on January 1, 2012). Read the Commissioners’ bios here.
The Commissioners also held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in celebration of the new female Commissioners’ election, where Secretary Clinton “stressed the United States’ support for the work of the Commission and its Rapporteurs” and the need to protect the IACHR from political interference. [IACHR; State Department]
The Rapporteurships have been assigned as follows:
Commissioner Dinah Shelton, IACHR Chair: Rapporteur for Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada,
Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Granadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, and Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Commissioner Rose-Marie Belle Antoine: Rapporteur for Canada, Chile, Nicaragua and Paraguay, and Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro Descendants and against Racial Discrimination.
The IACHR also launched a new website design this month, which visitors will likely find easier and more enjoyable to navigate.