Statement of AIDA, APRODEH and Justiça Global on the financial crisis affecting the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

May 24, 2016

The organizations decry the affront to human rights in the region and urges members of the Organization of American States to fulfill their responsibility to adequately fund the Commission.

Washington, DC, USA. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced yesterday that a grave financial crisis has led to the suspension of site visits, the cancellation of hearings, and the imminent loss of 40 percent of its staff. 

The Commission is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS). Its mandate is to promote the protection of human rights on the American continent. Together with the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, it forms the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights, which is often the last hope for people and communities whose human rights have been violated and who have failed to find justice in their own country.

The Commission called upon OAS Member States to provide funds promised for its operation, and to adopt “a historic and far-reaching decision, one that reflects the States’ commitment to the defense of human rights in the region” at the General Assembly in June.

In response to this urgent situation, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) from Peru and Justiça Global from Brazil, stated:

“The imminent loss of nearly half the Commission’s staff is a serious threat to human rights in the region and reflects the lack of political will of Member States to support the Inter-American Commission’s mandate.

“Thousands of victims of human rights violations in the hemisphere have placed their trust and their last hopes for justice in the Commission.  This is the case for people poisoned by heavy metals in La Oroya, Peru, as well as for communities that have lost their way of life due to the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil. Both groups have cases long pending before the Commission, and bravely continue to seek justice for the violation of their rights.

“By not properly financing an organization that they themselves created, the States are establishing another obstacle for these people in their search for justice.

“We call on Member States of the OAS to make a voluntary emergency contribution that will allow the Commission to keep its staff, make its planned visits, and undertake the hearings planned for July and October.

“The States of the region have a responsibility to the Inter-American System. It is our hope that they honor it, not through speeches and resolutions filled with good intentions, but with concrete actions and immediate financing.”