IACHR Launches Searchable Database of Recommendations, to Track Implementation
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has launched an online database of recommendations it has issued to States in friendly settlement agreements, published merits reports, annual reports, country reports, and resolutions. [IACHR Press Release] The IACHR plans to soon add recommendations from thematic reports and precautionary measures, as well. The goals of the new system, known as the Inter-American SIMORE, are to facilitate State compliance and promote accountability and transparency, by improving access to information on the IACHR’s recommendations and their implementation. [IACHR Press Release] The Inter-American SIMORE is the IACHR’s first searchable database of its decisions and other outputs, and it is unique among human rights bodies in that it also serves as a channel for receiving information from many stakeholders on the status of (some) recommendations. States and civil society members may register on the platform to submit information on implementation, including regarding the IACHR’s most recent recommendation on the COVID-19 pandemic and human rights in the Americas. [IACHR Press Release] Currently, it contains 2,340 recommendations from 1999 to 2020. The interface, although not all documents, is available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
The Inter-American SIMORE collects and organizes IACHR recommendations to States on complying with their regional human rights commitments, as detailed in the Methodological Annex. Using the Inter-American SIMORE, users may search the recommendations according to seven search criteria: the issuing mechanism (e.g., friendly settlements); the year of publication of the report or decision in which the recommendation was issued; geographic reach; population groups; theme, topic, or specific right; type of measures/actions; and, level of compliance.
Users may also search the text of the recommendations using the “Simple Search” function. See id. Note that the text search is limited; it searches the text of the recommendations themselves, but not of the larger documents or decisions they belong to. So, for example, a search for a particular person, city, or domestic law will only return results where that word or phrase is contained in the recommendations. Further, it is not clear how often the IACHR will add new recommendations; its most recent merits report is not yet in the database.
Currently, the Inter-American SIMORE tool allows users to search through IACHR recommendations contained in its resolutions, published merits reports, approved friendly settlement agreements, country reports, and in Chapter IV of its annual reports (the chapter that includes countries where conditions exist that pose a risk to human rights). Previously, the recommendations could be found only in those separate documents, and the IACHR shared information on their implementation in its annual reports.
Not all of the IACHR’s mechanisms are included yet. In the future, the Inter-American SIMORE will also allow users to search recommendations issued in thematic reports from 2000 onward and recommendations issued in precautionary measures from 2013 onward. [IACHR Press Release] It is not clear whether admissibility reports will be included in the future. Additionally, cases that the IACHR has referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights are not included in the database; this is likely because its focus is on collecting and sharing information on implementation, and the final recommendations (reparations) in those cases will be determined by the Court.
According to the Methodological Annex, the “geographic reach” category allows users to filter based on recommendations issued to specific Organization of American States (OAS) Member States or to conduct a regional search that will include general recommendations, such as recommendations issued in IACHR thematic reports. See IACHR, Methodological Annex. The Methodological Annex notes that users applying the “geographic reach” search criterion should be aware that “the system may not return any results for some States.” That may be because there are no published merits reports for these States from 2000 to the present or because “States may have cases that are actively being monitored, but no active precautionary measures or recently issued Country Reports.” See id.
The Inter-American SIMORE also allows users to conduct a search based on the type of population involved. This category includes persons of African descent, human rights defenders, migrants, Indigenous and tribal peoples, persons deprived of liberty, women, children and adolescents, older persons, journalists, persons with disabilities, persons with HIV/AIDS, people living in poverty, LGBTI persons, peasants, public servants, and justice operators. See id. There is also an option to select “N/A” for the type of population, which includes all cases where the victim(s) cannot be identified as part of a particular group. All of the categories are intended to be broad and “open concepts that can be expanded.” Moreover, the IACHR explains that the categories do not “reflect a position on the recognition of individuals, groups or rights” and that “this categorization should be understood as an inclusive but not limitative criterion.” See id.
Users may also filter by “Theme/Right.” This filter is not exhaustive, but should simplify the search process for users. See id. The IACHR notes that while some of “Theme/Right” categories are similar to those included in the “Population” category, they are not “identical or interchangeable.” For example, the category of “sexual orientation, gender identity and bodily diversity” is related to the “LGBTI persons” population, but the IACHR states that the “first category is not necessarily limited to that population” and may include communities that “make use of the bodily diversity category.” See id.
Type of Measure
Given that not all of the IACHR recommendations are similar in nature, the Inter-American SIMORE has grouped recommendations included in published merits reports and friendly settlement agreements into six categories; recommendations included in country and thematic reports, resolutions, and in Chapter IV of the IACHR annual report into six different categories; and, recommendations made in granted precautionary measures into three categories. See id. The recommendations derived from merits reports and settlement agreements are grouped as: 1) measures to restore the infringed right; 2) compensation measures; 3) satisfaction measures; 4) rehabilitation measures; 5) truth and justice measures; and, 6) non-repetition or structural measures. The recommendations derived from country and thematic reports, resolutions, and Chapter IV of the IACHR annual report are categorized as: 1) public policies; 2) legislation and other regulations; 3) institutional strengthening; 4) impact on society’s culture; 5) access to justice; and, 6) information systems, databases, and indicators. The recommendations derived from precautionary measures are grouped as: 1) “direct” protection measure; 2) “agreement” protection measure; and, 3) “investigation” protection measure. See id.
Level of Compliance
Finally, users can search the recommendations by the progress made in complying with each (“Status of Compliance”), ranging from total compliance to non-compliance. The Inter-American SIMORE also includes two categories – “declarative clause” and “under monitoring” – that do not asses the measures taken to ensure compliance with a recommendation given that the recommendation is declarative in nature (applies only to recommendations in friendly settlements) or because the IACHR is in the analysis and assessment process (applies only to recommendations in country and thematic reports, and Chapter IV recommendations). See id.
The Inter-American SIMORE follows other efforts by the IACHR to improve compliance with its recommendations, including the IACHR 2019 General Guidelines on the Follow-up of Recommendations and Decisions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Resolution 2/19 on the Creation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Impact Observatory. See IACHR, Methodological Annex.
Civil Society, National Human Rights Institutions, & State Participation
The Inter-American SIMORE will be the “preferential channel” for receiving information from, and sharing information with, civil society, States, and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) on the follow up of recommendations. The Inter-American SIMORE allows for periodic reporting on State actions to comply with recommendations via a “Follow-up Factsheet,” which registered State representatives and civil society members may use to upload information regarding recommendations derived from country and thematic reports, resolutions, and Chapter IV of the IACHR annual reports. The information provided will be publicly available on the SIMORE website. See id. The Inter-American SIMORE does not allow users to submit information related to recommendations issued in its merits reports or friendly settlement agreements; this information will be collected through those processes and shared in the IACHR’s annual reports. See id.
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