January – March 2024

1. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

The IACHR is the autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS) responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Americas. One of its duties is to receive and review individual complaints for human rights violations and to monitor human rights situations.

– On February 8, 2024, the IACHR announced that it had submitted a case to the IACtHR for the attacks on the integrity and the impossibility of access to justice of a candidate for councilor in Nicaragua, as well as his family.

the IACHR announced that it had submitted a case to the IACtHR for the attacks on the integrity Headquarters of the Supreme Electoral Council in Managua. Source: Confidencial.

Case 14.047 concerns the violence suffered by Jaime Antonio Chavarría Morales and his family during an electoral process. The facts of the case took place in 2008, when Jaime and his family suffered serious threats and physical attacks during the citizen verification process, which resulted in severe physical repercussions, such as fractures and wounds. Following these brutal attacks, the victims filed complaints with the police and electoral authorities, as well as legal appeals seeking justice and reparations for what they had suffered. At the electoral level, the Supreme Electoral Council ordered that all complaints be denied or ignored, which was done. Within the sphere of the National Police and the Electoral Inspectorate, there were no effective results either, since the criminal charges were rejected numerous times, resulting in the case being shelved in 2016. After Jaime filed a petition to the IACHR, the threats and violence increased even more, which led to his son Jaime Antonio Chavarría Alonso going to the United States of America as an asylum seeker.

The IACHR highlighted a series of breaches by the State in its Report on Admissibility and Merits. It considered that the personal integrity of Mr. Chavarría Morales and his family was violated during and after the 2008 municipal elections, that there was a lack of State intervention to stop the violent acts, and that there was ineffectiveness of the investigations into the facts. Furthermore, the absence of police action had a significant impact on the development of the facts. In addition, the IACHR found that there had been violations of due process and judicial protection concerning the criminal and electoral complaints, including a delay of more than 14 years without a proper investigation, and that the physical integrity of the family had been affected, with a child involved and a member of the family having left the country. Regarding the reparation measures requested to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the IACHR pointed out that the victims should be compensated with economic and satisfaction measures, and that an exhaustive, impartial and effective investigation into the case be carried out, among others. The press release can be found here.

– On January 5, 2024, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR published the report “Building a Proactive Transparency Index for Use During Health Emergencies”, to guide States to ensure the dissemination of important information in health emergency contexts.

On January 5, 2023, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR published the report
Source: Revista Salud Digital Latinoamérica.

The report aims, among others, to develop a proposal for increasing transparency and access to public information based on the criteria established in the guidelines for notifying the risks of public health emergencies. The IACHR highlighted that since many countries on the American continent did not have specific requirements in their legislation, during the COVID-19 pandemic they responded with varying levels of effectiveness to ensure compliance with the right of access to public information. In this sense, before and after the pandemic, it was already clear that access to timely information can save lives and provide better care for people individually and collectively. The IACHR then described the problem, which covers the issue of the obligation of States in terms of government transparency. Thus, even though States have laws to disclose information about public purchases during an emergency, and how vaccines are acquired, these indicators have not been expanded so that States can respond better to future health crises. The IACHR addressed possible solutions to the problem, such as active transparency in health and scientific matters. When it comes to structuring and organizing the indicators, countries usually use four main areas: access to information, open data, accountability, and citizen participation. All the indicators cover a series of aspects that must be considered, such as the characteristics of the information (which must be reliable and up-to-date based on the most solid scientific evidence available), the standards of open data (so that evidence can be made available and contribute to government decisions), among others. The IACHR made a series of recommendations, for instance, that States issue guidelines so that obliged parties actively publish information on health and scientific indicators that help protect and mitigate damage to public health. The report can be found here and the press release here.

2. Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR)

The IACtHR is a regional human rights court responsible for applying and interpreting the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights (IACHR) and other human rights instruments in the region. Its main function is to decide cases on human rights violations committed by States that have accepted its jurisdiction.

– On March 15, 2024, the IACtHR published the decision “Tavares Pereira and Other Vs. Brazil” in which found that Brazil is internationally responsible for the deaths and injuries that the Military Police caused to rural workers during a protest in Parana.

On March 15, 2024, the IACtHR found that Brazil is internationally responsible for the deaths and injuries that the Military Police caused to rural workers
Antonio Tavares Monument in Curitibia. Source: Brasil de Fato.

On May 2, 2000, a march for agrarian reform was organized in the state of Paraná. To regulate the march, the police were ordered to search the buses transporting the marchers. After that, the police did not allow the workers to enter Curitiba and ordered them to return to Paraná. During this return, the buses stopped again, and the protesters gathered on the highway, despite the police instructing them not to get out of the vehicles. In response, the police started shooting and one of these shots hit Antônio Tavares Pereira, who did not receive prompt medical attention and died. To clear the road, the police deployed tear gas bombs, rubber bullets, dogs, physical force, and firearms. As a result, 197 people were affected and at least 69 were injured.

In its considerations, the IACtHR found a violation of Articles 13 (freedom of thought and expression), 15 (right of assembly), and 22 (freedom of movement and residency), because the police prevented the workers from entering Curitiba, thus preventing their protest. Moreover, because there were also children in the group, the Court declared the violation of Article 19 (rights of the child) of the American Convention. In the case of the 69 people who were injured, the IACtHR concluded that the State used disproportionate force and failed to comply with its obligation to protect their physical and psychological integrity. Therefore, it declared the violation of Article 5.1 (right to humane treatment) of the American Convention. On the other hand, because the investigation into the murder of Mr. Tavarez was conducted in military jurisdiction, the Court decided that Brazil violated Article 8.1 of the same international instrument. In addition, since the injuries to the workers were not investigated, the State violated Articles 8.1 (right to a fair trial) and 25.1 (right to judicial protection). Finally, it concluded that there was a violation of Article 5.1 (right to humane treatment) due to the violation of the personal integrity of Mr. Tavares Pereira’s family, as a consequence of his death and the subsequent failure to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsibles. The press release can be found here and the decision here (ES).

– On March 22, 2024, the IACtHR published the decision of the case “Viteri Ungaretti and others Vs. Ecuador”, which declared Ecuador’s international responsibility due to its actions in response to the denunciation of alleged acts of corruption that occurred in the Armed Forces.

the IACtHR published the decision of the case “Viteri Ungaretti and others Vs. Ecuador”
Two Ecuadorian military personnel during maneuvers in 2016. Source:  General Military Forum.

Julio Rogelio Viteri Ungaretti was a member of the Armed Forces, who reported serious irregularities in the public administration and acts of corruption within the Armed Forces, in November 2001. In retaliation, four rigorous arrest sanctions were imposed on him and he was pressured to request his discharge from the Army. Finally, he was removed from his charge. His wife also suffered such reprisals, as the armed forces constantly pursued her. Due to this situation, Mr. Viteri and his family requested political asylum in London.

Because of the actions carried out by the Armed Forces, the IACtHR declared the violation of Articles 13 (freedom of thought and expression), 7 (right to personal liberty), 26 (right to job stability), and 23 (right to participate in government), to the detriment of Mr. Viteri. In addition, because Mr. Viteri’s family was forced to change their life plan and seek asylum in another country, the Court stated that Ecuador violated their rights protected by Articles 22 (freedom of movement and residence), 5.1 (right to humane treatment) and 17 (rights of the family). Also, because Mr. Viteri had children, Article 19 (rights of the child)  was violated. The press release can be found here and the decision here (ES).

Explore more news within the regional human rights systems.