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IACHR releases report on Human Rights Situation in Venezuela

By Aleksander Bpyd

London 02.05.06 | The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has just released its annual report. It speaks for itself, the novelty being that Venezuela has been placed in category IV, the meaning of which has been summarised thusly:

INTRODUCTION

1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights continues its practice of including in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States a chapter on the situation of human rights in member countries of the Organization, based on the competence assigned to it by the OAS Charter, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Commission's Statute and Rules of Procedure. This practice has served the purpose of providing the OAS updated information on the human rights situation in those countries that had been the subject of the Commission's special attention; and in some cases, to report on a particular event that had taken place or was emerging or developing at the close of its reporting cycle.

2. The Annual Report of the IACHR for 1997 set forth five criteria pre-established by the Commission to identify the member states of the OAS whose human rights practices merited special attention and which consequently should be included in its Chapter IV.

1. The first criterion encompasses those states ruled by governments that have not come to power through popular elections, by secret, genuine, periodic, and free suffrage, according to internationally accepted standards and principles. The Commission has repeatedly pointed out that representative democracy and its mechanisms are essential for achieving the rule of law and respect for human rights. As for those states that do not observe the political rights enshrined in the American Declaration and the American Convention, the Commission fulfills its duty to inform the other OAS members states as to the human rights situation of the population.

2. The second criterion concerns states where the free exercise of the rights set forth in the American Convention or American Declaration have been, in effect, suspended totally or in part, by virtue of the imposition of exceptional measures, such as state of emergency, state of siege, suspension of guarantees, or exceptional security measures, and the like.

3. The third criterion to justify the inclusion in this chapter of a particular state is when there is clear and convincing evidence that a state commits massive and grave violations of the human rights guaranteed in the American Convention, the American Declaration, and all other applicable human rights instruments. In so doing, the Commission highlights the fundamental rights that cannot be suspended; thus it is especially concerned about violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture, and forced disappearances. Thus, when the Commission receives credible communications denouncing such violations by a particular state which are attested to or corroborated by the reports or findings of other governmental or intergovernmental bodies and/or of respected national and international human rights organizations, the Commission believes that it has a duty to bring such situations to the attention of the Organization and its member states.

4. The fourth criterion concerns those states that are in a process of transition from any of the above three situations.

5. The fifth criterion regards temporary or structural situations that may appear in member states confronted, for various reasons, with situations that seriously affect the enjoyment of fundamental rights enshrined in the American Convention or the American Declaration. This criterion includes, for example: grave situations of violations that prevent the proper application of the rule of law; serious institutional crises; processes of institutional change which have negative consequences for human rights; or grave omissions in the adoption of the provisions necessary for the effective exercise of fundamental rights.

3. On the basis of the criteria set forth above, the Commission has decided to include five member states: Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti and Venezuela.



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