Category Archives: Inter-American System

Inter-American Court to Rule on Anti-Gay Discrimination in Ecuador’s Military

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Commissioners, Ecuador’s Representatives, and Petitioners at an IACHR hearing
Credit: Eddie Arrossi

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]

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Inter-American Court Holds 108th Ordinary Session and 52nd Extraordinary Session

Inter-American Court judges

Judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) is currently holding its 108th Ordinary Session, which began on April 13 and will conclude on April 17, 2015 in San Jose, Costa Rica, and will be holding its 52nd Special Session from April 20 to April 24, 2015 in Cartagena, Colombia.

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Inter-American Court of Human Rights Holds 107th Session

The Inter-American Court in session.Credit: IACtHR
The Inter-American Court in session.Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court in session.
Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) convened its 107th regular session from January 26 to February 6, 2015 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Court held hearings concerning five pending cases, provisional measures regarding Venezuelan prisons, and States’ compliance with four previous judgments. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish)]

Public hearings were held on the following pending cases: Rural Community of Santa Barbara v. Peru, Galindo Cárdenas v. Peru, López Lone et al. v. Honduras, Kaliña and Lokono Peoples v. Suriname, and García Ibarra and Family v. Ecuador. These cases involve allegations of forced disappearance and arbitrary detention during Peru’s internal armed conflict, administrative punishment of judges who questioned the legality of the coup d’état in Honduras, indigenous land rights in Suriname, and the killing of an unarmed teenager by police in Ecuador, respectively. Read more

Former Guatemalan Police Chief Convicted for Spanish Embassy Siege

Guatemala City
Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Credit: Rigostar

On January 19, a Guatemalan court found Pedro García Arredondo, a former police chief, guilty of murder and crimes against humanity for his role in authorities’ attack on the Spanish embassy in Guatemala City in 1980. In this attack, 37 protesters burned to death when the Spanish embassy building caught fire and García Arredondo ordered the building to be sealed and instructed officers, “No one gets out of there alive!” [Amnesty International: Conviction; BBC] Among those killed was the father of human rights advocate Rigoberta Menchú Tum. [Guardian] The Guatemalan court sentenced García Arredondo to a total of 90 years in prison: 40 years for murder and crimes against humanity in connection with the embassy attack, and 50 years for the murder of two students at the embassy victims’ funeral. [BBC; New York Times]

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IACHR Issues Report on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada

IACHR visit to Canada in 2013.Credit: IACHR
IACHR visit to Canada in 2013.Credit: IACHR

IACHR visit to Canada in 2013.
Credit: IACHR

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has published a new report on missing and murdered indigenous women in British Columbia, Canada. The report, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada, examines the context and efficacy of Canada’s response to the pattern of violence and discrimination against indigenous women. The report also offers recommendations to assist the Canadian government in improving its efforts to protect and guarantee the rights of indigenous women. IACHR, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada, OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc 30/14 (2014). Read more

Guatemalan Court Suspends Genocide Retrial of Former Dictator

A witness testifies during Rios Montt's first genocide trial.Credit: Elena Hermosa/Trocair
A witness testifies during Rios Montt's first genocide trial.<br>Credit: Elena Hermosa/Trocair

A witness testifies during Rios Montt’s first genocide trial.
Credit: Elena Hermosa/Trocair

The retrial of former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt reopened on January 5, 2015, but was quickly suspended. [La Prensa; BBC] Charged with committing genocide and crimes against humanity against indigenous Ixil Maya of the Quiché region, the 88-year-old ex-army general is allegedly responsible for 15 massacres carried out against indigenous Mayans during his rule from 1982 to 1983, which resulted in 1,771 deaths, the displacement of 29,000, and the rape and torture of many others. [International Justice Monitor: Eighteen Months]. While the court rejected Ríos Montt’s attorneys’ argued that he was too ill to participate, the defense ultimately prevailed in recusing one of the members of the three-judge panel, resulting in a suspension of the trial while a new judge is selected or an appellate court examines the recusal issue. [International Justice Monitor: Eighteen Months] It is unclear how long this might take.

Ríos Montt’s previous conviction in May 2013, the first successful genocide prosecution of a former head of state in his home country, was annulled later that month due to procedural technicalities. [Huffington Post] Widely considered to be an historic ruling, the judgment’s annulment was criticized by some as a major setback. [Americas Society]

As the case draws increased attention and raises concerns about politically biased or corrupt judges, some fear this prosecution of Ríos Montt will end in a mistrial, if it ever begins. [Americas Quarterly] Read more

Human Rights Experts Call for Prosecution, Reparations in Wake of U.S. Torture Report

The U.S. appears before the Committee Against Torture
The U.S. appears before the Committee Against Torture

The U.S. appears before the Committee Against Torture
Credit: UN Treaty Body Webcast

On Tuesday, December 9, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Intelligence Committee) published a report detailing the “abuses and countless mistakes” of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) detention and interrogation program in the years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. See Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program: Forward 2 (Intelligence Committee Report) (approved Dec. 13, 2012) (Declassification Revisions Dec. 3, 2014).

The release of the report was welcomed by human rights experts at the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, but also prompted calls for the U.S. to prosecute and punish those responsible for the documented acts of torture, enforced disappearance, and illegal detention. Read more

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