During its latest session of hearings, which concluded last Friday, the Washington based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced the creation of a Rapporteurship on the situation of human rights defenders. Commissioner José Orozco Henríquez of Mexico will be the Rapporteur.
In a press conference, Commissioner Orozco stated that this specialized office is being created to highlight the Commission’s concern and draw attention to the increased attack on human rights defenders. The Rapporteurship also aims to support the important work carried out by human rights defenders (as well as judicial personnel, that also fall under the Rapporteur’s mandate), in order to ensure that the rule of law is respected.
The 94 co-signing organizations (22 NGOs and the TDT Network, which is made up of 72 organizations) welcome the Rapporteurship’s creation, which was explicitly requested in a hearing held before the Commission on March 29.
We also reiterate our concern for the continuing harassment of human rights defenders as well as its increase in some countries. Attacks by state actors or groups that act with state support or tolerance have continued. New forms of harassment by organized crime and companies with economic interests in the region have also appeared. Among other offenses, the defenders have been victims of monitoring by state intelligence agents, information theft, improper use of criminal law against them, and attacks against their lives and integrity, as well as those of their families.
We therefore trust that the Rapporteurship will contribute to strengthening the Inter-American Commission’s crucial role in tracking and monitoring the work of human rights defenders in the region.
The IACHR now has eight Rapporteurships on topics including the rights of women, indigenous peoples, freedom of expression, persons deprived of liberty, Afro-descendants and racial discrimination, migrant workers, and the rights of the child.
List of co-signing organizations:
Amazon Watch / Amnesty International / Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (Aprodeh) / Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres de Chihuahua / Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh) / Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”, México/ Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, México/ Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)/ Corporación de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos del Pueblo (CODEPU) /Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (CMDPDH) / Comité de Defensa integral de Derechos Humanos “Gobixha”, AC. / Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) / Comité de Familiares de Víctimas (COFAVIC)/Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES) / Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR)/ Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) / Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas (IDHUCA) / Global Rights Partners for Justice/ Observatorio Ciudadano, Chile/ Peace Brigades International (PBI)/ Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA) / Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” (Red TDT) / Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA) / Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)