The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is holding its 154th regular session from March 13 to 27, 2015 at IACHR headquarters in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes public hearings on March 16, 17, 19 and 20. [IACHR Press Release] The hearings allow both States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide the IACHR with information and context on 55 human rights issues, ranging from trafficking of women and children in Guatemala, to the rights of LGBTI persons in Venezuela, to the impact of the media on children’s rights in the Americas. Live webcasts of the hearings and video recordings of past hearings are available on the Commission’s website.
Regarding the United States, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on criminal justice and race (requested by the State), Puerto Rico, detainees at Guantánamo, and trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. The Commission will also hold a hearing concerning the merits of the case of Leopoldo Zumaya and Francisco Berumen Lizalde, which concerns the employment rights of undocumented workers in the United States. See IACHR, Report No. 134/11, Petition 1190-06, Undocumented Workers (United States), October 20, 2011.
Regarding Nicaragua, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on labor rights and on the impacts of the Transoceanic Canal construction. Plans for the Transoceanic Canal predict economic growth but there are concerns of environmental impact and the displacement of local populations. [Al Jazeera]
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on Uruguay’s new criminal legislation. Uruguay has been reviewing a draft bill of the State’s Penal Code for the past four years. [International Forum of National NGO Platforms]
With regard to Ecuador, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on freedom of expression in the country and on the leaders and defenders of the Shuar community. Human rights groups have alleged that leaders and defenders of the land of the Shuar people are being harassed and killed for opposing projects that threaten the environment. In December of 2014, the body of José Isidro Tendetza Antún, the leader of the Shuar people, was found floating in the Zamora River. He had been en route to the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima to voice his concerns about a mining project in his community. [Amnesty International; Guardian]
Regarding Venezuela, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on LGBTI persons; economic, social, and cultural rights; and the human rights situation in Venezuela, generally. The Commission will also hold a hearing concerning the merits of the case of Linda Loaiza López Soto et al., which concerns the State’s responsibility of exercising due diligence in investigating and prosecuting rape committed by a private individual. See IACHR, Report No. 154/10, Petition 1462-07, Linda Loaiza López Soto and Next of Kin (Venezuela), November 1, 2010.
Concerning Peru, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on non-discrimination and equality in the National Education Plan (requested by the State), and on the enjoyment of freedom of association and assembly in the country.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the situation of the right to access to information in Haiti.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on violence against trans persons and impunity in Paraguay.
With regard to Chile, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on maternity leave discrimination in the public sector, and on the relationship between extractive industries and the human rights of the indigenous Mapuche people. The development of resource extraction in Chile is reportedly affecting the Mapuche people’s access to land, water, and minerals. See Minority Rights Group International, State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 98 (2012).
Regarding Argentina, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on the right to work of persons with disabilities in Tucumán and on citizen security and torture.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on truth, justice, and reparations for violations committed by military dictatorships in Bolivia.
Concerning Guatemala, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on people with disabilities’ access to justice, the trafficking of women and children, and judicial independence.
With regard to Colombia, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on extrajudicial executions and impunity, military criminal justice legislation, follow-up on the implementation of the Justice and Peace Law, and the resettlement of people displaced by conflict in the country.
The Justice and Peace Law of Colombia of 2005, also knows as Law 975, was established to ease the process of reincorporating members of illegal armed groups into civilian life. See International Center for Transitional Justice, Transitional Justice Mechanisms in Colombia. It aimed to do this by regulating the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of those who had demobilized. Id. These individuals were provided with certain legal benefits as long as they complied with steps including truth-seeking, reparations to victims, and re-socialization. Id. In the IACHR’s 2006 statement on the Justice and Peace Law, the Commission raised concerns of uniformity in interpretation and implementation, timeliness of reparations, and the return of land to those who were forcibly displaced. See IACHR, OEA/Ser/LV/II. 125, Doc. 15, Statement by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Application and Scope of the Justice and Peace Law in Colombia, August 1, 2006.
Concerning El Salvador, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on persons deprived of liberty and on impunity for grave human rights violations committed during the armed conflict.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the general human rights situation in Cuba.
Trinidad and Tobago
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the Equal Opportunity Act and Commission in Trinidad and Tobago. The Equal Opportunity Act of 2000 was established to prohibit discrimination in employment, education, access to goods and services, and access to accommodation. See Equal Opportunity Act of 2000, Section 4.
Regarding Mexico, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on reports of forced disappearance and impunity; energy reform and the enjoyment of social, economic and cultural rights; sexual torture of women; access to justice for migrants; and the human rights situation in the State of Guerrero.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the economic, social, and cultural rights situation in Guyana.
Concerning Brazil, the IACHR will hold thematic hearings on killings of young people of African descent and on the right to truth in the context of the Report of the National Truth Commission. The Report of the National Truth Commission (Portuguese) was released in December 2014. This document reveals the use of torture against political prisoners and the repression of groups that were considered a threat to the military regime between the 1960s and the 1980s. [International Center for Transitional Justice]
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the human rights situation of migrants in the Bahamas.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the rights to property and a healthy environment of indigenous peoples in the province of Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro is experiencing growing commercial development, which is impacting environmental decline and land dispossession. See Minority Rights International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, Panama Overview.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on rural communities’ access to water in Costa Rica.
Regional and Sub-Regional Topics
The IACHR will hold a number of hearings concerning issues of concern in multiple countries or in the Americas as a whole. These include hearings on the following hemispheric themes: labor association rights; social protest; diversity, pluralism, and media concentration; trans persons’ economic, social, and cultural rights; corporations and prior consultation of communities affected by development and other projects; children’s rights and the media; and urban shantytowns.
Regarding the Caribbean, the IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the death penalty.
The IACHR will hold a thematic hearing on the forced migration and persecution of LGBTI defenders in Central America, and a thematic hearing on extractive industries in Latin America.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is responsible for monitoring, promoting, and protecting human rights in the 35 independent countries of the Americas. It holds public sessions at least twice annually. Hearings or working meetings may be requested during a specific time window in advance of each public session via the online request portal. Requests for the 156th IACHR regular session may be submitted from July 15 to 29, 2015.
To learn more about the IACHR and its role in protecting human rights in the Americas, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.