On September 8, 2015 the National Secretariat of Communications of Ecuador (SECOM) sent a letter of notification to La Fundación Andina para la Observación y Estudio de los Medios [The Andean Foundation for the Social Observation and Study of Media] (Fundamedios), a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, that it was initiating an administrative process to dissolve the organization. [Committee to Protect Journalists] The SECOM order accuses Fundamedios of violating both its own founding statutes as well as Ecuadorian law governing the role of civic organizations by publishing messages, alerts, and essays with “political overtones.” [El Universo; OAS Press Release] As evidence of this, the annex to SECOM’s notice contains 57 tweets, many of which it claims contain links to opinion pieces or news articles that criticize the government. [Human Rights Watch] The organization was given 10 days since the receipt of this dissolution order to present evidence in its defense. [Freedom House]
Category Archives: Inter-American System
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) held its 53rd Extraordinary Session in Honduras, which began on August 24 and concluded on August 29, 2015. During this session the Court held public hearings in two cases: Quispialaya Vilcapoma v. Peru and Ángel Alberto Duque v. Colombia. The Court also held a private hearing concerning compliance on the part of Honduras with sentences in six cases: Juan Humberto Sánchez v. Honduras, López-Álvarez v. Honduras, Servellón-García and others v. Honduras, Kawas-Fernández v. Honduras, Pacheco Teruel and others v. Honduras, and Luna López v. Honduras. The Court prepared judgments in two cases: Gonzáles Lluy (TGGL) and family v. Ecuador and Galindo Cárdenas and others v. Peru. Additionally, the Court started proceedings in two cases: Garífuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its members v. Honduras and Garífuna Community of Punta Piedra and its members v. Honduras. The Court also reviewed various pending cases and administrative issues.
On August 3, 2015 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commenced its 87th session in Geneva, Switzerland. During this session, which will end on August 28, the Committee will review the State reports of Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, and Suriname. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) as well as follow-up information submitted by States parties.
On July 22, 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) launched its Individual Petition System Portal (IPSP), which gives parties digital remote access to their petitions and cases. The IACHR is the first regional human rights body to provide parties with electronic access to this type of information. The creation of the portal is also part of a larger effort to increase access to information for people seeking remedies from the Inter-American human rights system. IACHR Chair and Commissioner, Rose Marie Belle Antoine stated that the portal’s launch is “a really historic moment that will radically change the processing of petitions, cases, and precautionary measures” and is a “major step forward in the use of new technologies to enable all users of the Inter-American human rights system to exercise the right of access to information.” [OAS Press Release]
IACtHR 109th Ordinary Session Addresses Custodial Death in Guatemala, Abuses of Colombian Human Rights Defenders
The 109th Ordinary Session of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) began on June 18 and concluded on July 1, 2015, in San Jose, Costa Rica. During this session, the Court publicly heard two cases, Chinchilla Sandoval and Others v. Guatemala and Yarce and Others v. Colombia. The first case concerned the ill-treatment, followed by the death, of a diabetic woman incarcerated in Guatemala, the second case concerned the situation of five Colombian human rights defenders. The Court was also scheduled to: hold a public hearing regarding Panama’s request for an advisory opinion; analyze the possibility of issuing judgments for three cases, hold a private hearing on compliance with two Barbados judgments, and celebrate the 21st Annual Meeting of Presidents and Judges of Tribunals, Courts, and Constitutional Chambers of Latin America. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish only)]
Videos of the public hearings and events are available on the Court’s Vimeo page.
On June 16, 2015, at the 45th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., Member States elected four commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and four judges to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). [IACHR Press Release] These eight positions comprise more than half of the total seats on the Commission and the Court and the outcome of the elections is expected to “affect both the composition and identity of the Commission and the Court for years to come.” [Open Society Foundations Press Release] Only one seat was filled by an incumbent candidate, although several current members were eligible for reelection.
On May 7, 2015, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its 2014 Annual Report, evaluating the state of freedom of expression in the Americas, to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS). [IACHR Press Release] See also Executive Summary of the 2014 Annual Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will have the opportunity to determine for the first time whether State regulations designed to uphold discipline within a military institution may punish sexual acts between persons of the same sex without violating the principle of equality and non-discrimination. In December 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed an application to submit the case of Homero Flor Freire v. Ecuador to the Court. The case involves the discharge of Mr. Flor from the Ecuadorian army as punishment for allegedly committing sexual acts with a person of the same sex. In 2013, the Commission held that Ecuador had violated Mr. Flor’s rights to a fair trial, judicial protection, equal protection before the law, and non-discrimination. The Commission referred the case to the Court after Ecuador failed to comply with the Commission’s recommendations. [IACHR Press Release]
Last month, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its Annual Report 2014, summarizing the Court’s structure, jurisprudence, and activities throughout 2014. The Report discusses the Court’s functions, summarizes the status of cases before the Court, breaks down the Court’s budget, and describes additional activities the Court undertook in 2014. See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Annual Report 2014. The majority of the Report focuses on the hearings that the Court held, cases that were submitted to the Court, and judgments that the Court delivered in 2014. See id. at 12–33, 39–66.