You are currently viewing Una mirada a los Derechos Humanos en el Sistema Interamericano
Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

A look at Human Rights in the Inter-American System

The life, physical integrity and dignity of individuals cannot be left at the mercy of any government or State. The Inter-American System of Human Rights was born out of this international awareness, which was achieved after the experience of mankind in various armed conflicts.

Its intention is to promote the regional protection of human rights under all circumstances.. It does so through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court). Both bodies are responsible for monitoring compliance with the obligations assumed by the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS).

World War II was devastating from every point of view. The systematic and serious violations of human rights during this conflict opened the way to take seriously the protection of human rights outside the jurisdictions of the countries, preventing the interests of governments from obstructing justice. This is how the protection of human rights became on an international assignmentThe company's assets are now in the hands of the world's society.

The OAS provides for the monitoring of these rights. since its founding charter adopted in 1948 in Bogota (Colombia). Article 5 of the document establishes the proclamation of human rights without distinction of race, sex, creed or nationality.

For this reason, all OAS member states are subject to the scrutiny of the Inter-American System.The organization brings together the 35 independent countries of the Americas, regardless of whether or not they have ratified any treaty related to the subject. This organization brings together the 35 independent countries of the American continent and, in addition to ensuring compliance with human rights, is the guarantor of democracy, peace, security and development in the region. Venezuela is one of the member states.

Action for the safeguard

The Inter-American Human Rights System has the particularity of applying the Statute and Rules of Procedure of the IACHR and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man to all OAS member states without exception, even if a nation is suspended from the organization.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the OAS created in 1959. It is composed of seven independent members with the necessary competencies to be specialists in the field of human rights. They are elected by the OAS General Assembly and do not answer to any state or government.

Its objective is to monitor and promote the defense of human rights in the Americas.. This goal is achieved by visiting OAS member countries, carrying out related activities, adopting precautionary measures, preparing reports on the human rights situation in a particular country and analyzing individual petitions, with the intention of determining the international responsibility of States, as established in the following paragraphs. in the information brochure IACHR Petitions and Cases System.

About the petitions before the IACHR

Individual petitions under consideration by the Commission may be submitted by personsgroups of persons or organizations claiming to have been victims of human rights crimes.

It should be noted that the IACHR cannot take action against States that are not members of the OAS. It is also prohibited from offering lawyers to assist in domestic judicial proceedings, providing financial assistance or work tools to individuals, and is not qualified to conduct immigration or political asylum proceedings.

The work of the IACHR is legally based on the provisions of the American Convention, also known as the Pact of San José, Costa Rica.. This instrument was ratified by the following countries: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.

Venezuela was a member of the Convention until it decided to withdraw and today is not a party to the Convention. The Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago opted for the same option.

What does the Pact of San José promote?

The Convention promotes the obligation for all parties involved to respect rights and guarantee their exercise without discrimination on any grounds. This guideline is reinforced by the invitation to all member states to adopt legal measures to achieve compliance with all the rights and freedoms declared.

These are the most important ones: right to recognition as a person before the law, right to life, right to bodily integrity, prohibition of slavery or servitude, right to personal liberty, judicial guarantees, principles of legality and retroactivity, right to compensation, protection of honor and dignity, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought and expression, right to reply, right to assembly, freedom of association, protection of the family, right to a name, right of the child, right to nationality, right to property, rights of movement and residence, political rights, equality before the law and finally judicial protection.

If the State where any of these rights have been violated fails to follow the recommendations In order for the IACHR to put an end to the violation, the Commission is fully empowered to submit the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has the primary function of interpreting and applying the American Convention and other relevant treaties. It has the authority to issue judgments on cases and advisory opinions.

Human rights and Venezuela

For the Court to act, States must have recognized its jurisdiction. Venezuela does not recognize it because it has not ratified the American Convention. The country was a member of the Court until 2013, when its president, Nicolás Maduro, decided to withdraw on September 10 of that year.

The departure is preceded by the announcement of retirement made a year before the date by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, considering it a measure of "national dignity and sovereignty" when the organization presented reports accusing the national government of allegedly violating the human rights of opposition leaders.

This decision makes it clear to the international community that the protection and respect for human rights in Venezuela are in danger.. The most serious consequence of this situation is the fact that other countries will not be able to act in the country to promote the protection of rights, increasing the chances of massive violations of rights.

Inter-American Human Rights Treaties

  1. American Convention on Human Rights, "Pact of San José de Costa Rica", 1969.
  2. Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, 1985.
  3. Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, "Protocol of San Salvador", 1988.
  4. Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, 1990.
  5. Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, "Convention of Belém do Pará", 1994.
  6. Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, 1994.
  7. Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, 1999.

Scope of the Inter-American System

The violation of human rights is not uncommon in the Americas.. In this sense, having a legal apparatus that can deal with these crimes is of utmost importance.

The Pact of San José offers broad legal coverage to guarantee civil and political rights. However, there is little protection for some economic, social and cultural rights.

The powers of the IACHR extend to all OAS member countries.This facilitates the work even in the event that some States decide not to join the Commission or do not wish to ratify protocols in defense of human rights. Likewise, the Inter-American Court has the capacity to issue judgments and determine responsibilities.

A major achievement of the system is to have specifically catalogued a treaty to prevent and punish torture. One of the pending debts is the inclusion of non-governmental organizations with consultative status, as these institutions tend to handle human rights violations correctly, since they do not respond to conflicts of interest of particular governments.

Sources consulted