MANDATE OF THE RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY
The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty is one of the special mechanisms overseen by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission created the Rapporteurship during its 119th Session in 2004. See, e.g., OAS General Assembly, Study of the Rights and the Care of Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, Doc No. AG/RES. 2037. Its purpose is to evaluate the conditions of detention centers and to encourage Organization of American States (OAS) Member States to comply with their international obligations to protect and promote the rights of persons deprived of liberty.
COMPOSITION AND WORKING METHODS
One of the Commission’s seven Commissioners is selected to be the Rapporteur for a three-year term, which may be renewed once. Each Commissioner serves in an independent capacity and does not represent his or her country of citizenship. The Commissioner who holds the office undertakes his or her work on a part-time basis, including during the three times per year that the Commission is in session. One or more lawyers in the Commission’s Executive Secretariat, in Washington, D.C., assist the Rapporteur.
The Rapporteur has many duties, including conducting country visits to OAS Member States, undertaking specialized studies, and preparing publications. The Rapporteurship advises the Commission in its processing of individual petitions, cases, and requests for provisional and precautionary measures that involve the rights of persons deprived of liberty. On its website, the Rapporteurship lists the Inter-American decisions and judgments that address the rights of people in detention.
The Office of the Rapporteur also assisted in the preparation of the Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas. The Rapporteurship encourages Member States to adopt measures that protect the rights of persons deprived of liberty.
The Rapporteurship conducts country visits to OAS Member States, with their consent. During country visits, the Rapporteur visits various detention centers, engaging with detained individuals and their relatives, civil society organizations, and with officials who are responsible for developing policies that administer detention centers. The Rapporteurship uses this information to compile reports for the Commission on the conditions of detention centers, and to develop recommendations to Member States to assist them in fulfilling their international obligations. The Rapporteurship also has the ability to follow-up with the State to inquire as to what measures, if any, the State has taken to address any problems that were identified during the visit. The Rapporteurship provides brief descriptions of its country visits on its webpage, and also links to sections of country reports published by the Commission following more general on-site visits.
Aside from information obtained during country visits, the Rapporteurship often gathers information through promotional activities on the rights of persons deprived of liberty, including the organization of regional seminars, workshops, and trainings on the rights of persons deprived of liberty. The Rapporteurship is often invited to participate in regional meetings of international experts on rights of persons deprived of liberty. The Office of the Rapporteur has issued questionnaires to gather information for its reports.
Additionally, the Commission holds thematic hearings to gather information from States and civil society on particular issues. The Rapporteur may participate in these hearings or refer to the information discussed in subsequent reports. View the Commission’s searchable database of public hearings to see those related to the rights of persons deprived of liberty.
The Rapporteurship publishes thematic reports and studies on issues affecting persons deprived of liberty. The Rapporteurship has a duty to provide the Commission with annual reports of its activities, which the Commission then shares in its own Annual Reports to the OAS General Assembly. The Rapporteurship has collected excerpts of these reports related to its activities through 2010 on its website. To view reports on the Rapporteurship’s activities in more recent years, see the Commission’s annual reports page.
The Rapporteurship may be contacted by:
Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
- Telephone: + 1 (202) 458-3992
The Rapporteurship does not receive individual complaints or requests for precautionary measures. Such petitions and requests must be addressed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. For additional information, see the petition form or IJRC’s resources on the Inter-American human rights system.