Report on Sessions of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights

OEA/Ser.L/V/II.12
Doc.10 (English)
September 20, 1965

Original: Spanish


INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

REPORT ON THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED

DURING ITS ELEVENTH SESSION

(SPECIAL)

July 21 to 23, 1965


PAN AMERICAN UNION

General Secretariat, Organization of American States

Washington, D. C.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Organization of the Eleventh Session (Special) 3

Opening Date and Length of Session 3

Members of the Commission and their Participation in the Session 4

Meetings and Documents 4

II. Agenda 4

III. Situation of Human Rights in the Dominican Republic 5

Report of the Chairman of the Commission 5

Report presented by Dr. Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches 6

Report of Dr. Durward V. Sandifer 7

IV. Action of the Commission in the Dominican Republic 8

Activities that the Commission should continue performing until the establishment of a Provisional Government 8

Activities that the Commission should undertake from the time that the Provisional Government is established until the elected government is installed 9

Other Matters 11

Amendment suggested by the Commission to the draft Institutional Act 11

Report of the Commission on the situation regarding human rights in the Dominican Republic 11

Place and date of the Twelfth Session 11

Situation regarding human rights in other countries of the Americas 12

Visit to the capital of Paraguay 12

VI. Communications to the Governments 12

VII. Closing of the Eleventh Session (Special) 13

Appendix - Documents of the Eleventh Session (Special) 14


INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

REPORT ON THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED

DURING ITS ELEVENTH SESSION

(SPECIAL)

JULY 21 TO 23, 1965



I. ORGANIZATION OF THE ELEVENTH SESSION (SPECIAL)

A. Opening Date and Length of Session

1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held its Eleventh Session (Special) from July 21 to 23, 1965, at its permanent headquarters in the Pan American Union, Washington, D.C.

2. The Chairman of the Commission, in a letter addressed to the members of this inter-American agency on June 23, 1965, stated the need for convoking a special session in accordance with the powers conferred upon him in Article II. b. ii of the Statute of the Commission.

In his letter, Dr. Bianchi referred to the request made by Dr. Jose A. Mora, Secretary General of the OAS, that the Commission should be present in the Dominican Republic in order to keep watch over the observance of human rights in that country. Dr. Bianchi also referred to the recommendations made by the Subcommittee during its meeting in Washington on June 23.

In addressing the members of the Commission, the Chairman stated that it would be advisable for this agency to determine, at a special session, the specific tasks that it should carry out in the Dominican Republic up to the time of the establishment of a Provisional Government, and after the installation of that government.

3. The opening meeting took place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 21, in the Columbus Room of the Pan American Union. Present at the meeting were Dr. Jose A. Mora and Dr. William Sanders, Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General, respectively, of the Organization.

4. In declaring the Eleventh Session (Special) open, the Chairman of the Commission made a brief statement on the reasons underlying the convocation of the meeting and pointed out the importance of the work of the Commission in the Dominican Republic, saying that "the responsibilities of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have increased in number, and in order to meet those responsibilities it would be imperative to lay aside important matters and take up a task involving serious sacrifices." Referring to the presence of the Commission in the Dominican Republic, he emphasized the difficult situation of that country and stated that the Commission had won the respect and praise of the Dominican people by serving the high interests of the individual, which are given form in the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. In conclusion, he expressed his sincere regret at the absence of Drs. Fraga, Escudero, and Martins, whose official duties had prevented them from attending the session.

B. Members of the Commission and their Participation in the Session.

5. The Commission is composed of the following persons:

Name Nationality

Mrs. Angela Acuna de Chacon Costa Rica

Prof. Manuel Bianchi Gundian Chile

Dr. Carlos Alberto Dunshee de Abranches Brazil

Dr. Gonzalo Escudero Ecuador

Dr. Gabino Fraga Mexico

Dr. Daniel Hugo Martins Uruguay

Dr. Durward V. Sandifer United States

6. The following persons did not attend the Eleventh Session (Special):

Drs. Gonzalo Escudero, Gabino Fraga, and Daniel Hugo Martins.

C. Meetings and Documents

7. During this special working period the Commission held four meetings. The Secretariat prepared the summary minutes of those meetings, which are restricted to the exclusive use of the members.

The Secretariat distributed copies of the document entitled "Preliminary Report of the Chairman of the Commission on the Situation of Human Rights in the Dominican Republic" (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.12, Doc.2 Rev.)

8. The Secretariat also issued press releases, through the Press Division of the Pan American Union, informing the public of its activities.

Technical and administrative services were rendered y the Secretariat, composed of Dr. Luis Reque, Executive Secretary, and Drs. Renzo Minut and Guillermo Cabrera, officials of the Secretariat.

II. AGENDA

9. At its first meeting, held on July 21, 1965, the Commission adopted the following agenda for the Eleventh Session (Special):

1. Situation of human rights in the Dominican Republic

a. Report of the Chairman of the Commission

b. Report of the members of the Commission who recently visited the Dominican Republic

Activities of the Commission in the Dominican Republic

a. Activities that should be continued by the Commission until the provisional government is established

b. Activities that the Commission should carry out from the date of establishment of the provisional government to the date of installation of the government-elect.

3. Other matters

III. SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

A. Report of the Chairman of the Commission

10. First of all, the Chairman referred to the preliminary report prepared in June (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.12, Doc. 2. Rev.).

He said that that document reflected the initial activities of the Commission in the Dominican Republic and gave a general account of the situation of human rights in that country. He explained that following the said preliminary report, the Commission had continued to carry on its activities with more facilities.

11. The Chairman stated that the preliminary report covered only those fundamental rights regarding which the Commission had been able to carry out a more effective and continuing action, such as the right to life, liberty, and personal security and the physical integrity of individuals. In this respect, he said that the visits to prisons and other places of detention, as well as to barracks and fortresses in the capital and in the interior of the country, as described in the preliminary report, had been systematically continued and that practical objectives had been achieved: the relieving of congestion in cells, release of numerous political prisoners, facilities for visits from relatives, and weekly lists of prisoners and released prisoners, which had enabled the Commission to inform the claimants concerned.

12. Moreover, the Chairman said that after the preliminary report was published, the Commission had obtained the services of a liaison officer, appointed by the armed forces of the Government of National Reconstruction, through whom certain transactions with the military authorities of that government had been facilitated.

He also referred to the importance the documents collected by the Commission had had in cases of denunciations of executions in Hacienda Haras, which proved useful to the Committee of Criminologists appointed to investigate those acts, and all of which was recorded by the Commission in its report on activities in the Dominican Republic.

13. The Chairman also mentioned that the Commission had witnessed several discoveries of bodies and that it had seen cases of destruction and looting of property, all of which is carefully recorded in its files.

14. The Chairman pointed out that in many aspects favorable changes had taken place that he attributed to the work of the Commission. In this respect, he mentioned the increasing number of persons who had been released, and recent improvements in the treatment of political prisoners.

15. On the other hand, he stated that certain problems had arisen in connection with arrests made by the authorities of the Government of National Reconstruction in the Safety Zone, and that he had transmitted notes to the Ad Hoc Committee regarding this, because he considered that it was the pertinent authority to deal with such cases.

16. With reference to the conclusions in his preliminary report, the Chairman stated that although congestion in prisons had been largely reduced, there were still other problems awaiting solution, such as the disappearance of persons transferred from one prison to another in the country, arbitrary and unjustified arrests, and the delay in investigating and reviewing the situation of numerous political prisoners.

In this connection he repeated the opinion expressed in his preliminary report, that the Commission should continue to remain in the Dominican Republic in order to watch over the rights of the individual in accordance with the precepts of the Commission itself, and providing that it is so authorized by the Provisional government that is established in the Dominican Republic.

B. Report Presented by Dr. Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches

17. Dr. Abranches presented a report (Doc. OEA/Ser.L/V/II.12, Doc. 9) on the activities of the Commission from June 19 to July 2, 1965. This report was prepared for the exclusive use of the members of the Commission, and is confidential.

In his report, Dr. Abranches described the legal bases for the action of the Commission in the Dominican Republic and the facilities provided to this organ by the two contending factions.

18. He also describes the work carried out in cases involving specific acts of alleged violations of human rights in visiting prisons and barracks, interviewing Dominican authorities, and negotiating with those authorities and international organizations in matters within the Commissions sphere of competence.

19. In the special cases mentioned in the report, the rapporteur mentions the situation in Monte Plata, where a Canadian Catholic priest, Father Arthur MacKinnon was assassinated, together with two policemen, whose bodies were found beside him. He also refers to the case of San Francisco de Macoris, where he traveled as representative of the Commission to take cognizance of the violent situation growing out of an armed attack on the army barracks on June 24, 1965 In this specific case he states that the Commission was denied an interview with the military authorities of the city and mentions other inconveniences, regarding which Dr. Abranches presented a protest to the Government of National Reconstruction.

20. He also refers in this report to the assassination that took place in a nuns' school at Ensanche Luperon by "comandos" of the Constitutional Government, the looting of the port area of the Dominican capital, and the situation of political prisoners in the Ozama Fortress, a well as the handing out of firearms to women and minors by the said government.

21. The rapporteur devotees a special chapter to the problem created by the arrests made by agents of the Government of National Reconstruction in the Safety Zone, which he considers extremely serious, because it constitutes a flagrant violation of agreements accepted previously by the Dominican authorities themselves.

22. In the conclusions, the rapporteur considers the emergency situation in which the Commission has had to act, pointing out that the presence of the agency has been the most constructive contribution of the inter-American system in the Dominican Republic. The report recognizes that both parties in conflict have committed serious violations of the principal rights set forth in the American Declaration. It also recognizes the work that the Chairman of the Commission has done in dealing with the authorities of both parties and states that this body should carefully study the text of the Institutional Act being drawn up, in order to see that the Commission is given proper participation in the field of human rights. It further recommends that the Commission specifically outline its plans for the work that it will have to do once the Dominican Provisional Government is installed.

C. Report of Dr. Durward V. Sandifer

23. Dr. Sandifer made an oral report to the Commission, explaining what in his judgment the action of this agency in the Dominican Republic represents. He analyzed the work done by the Chairman since the beginning of the activities and described his participation in the work between June 30 and July 14, 1965.

Dr. Sandifer also said that he felt it encouraging that the Commission had been accepted with complete willingness by the Dominican authorities of both sides.

He said, moreover, that during its visits to the prisons in one or another area of the Dominican capital, as well as to the cities of San Pedro de Macoris, Ramon Santana, San Cristobal, and other places, the Commission had done as much as could be expected under the circumstances prevailing in the Dominican Republic. He referred to the lack of civil and judicial administration capable of defending and promoting the observance of human rights. In this respect he observed that in merely being present in the Dominican Republic for the purpose of listening to claims and denunciations of the people, the Commission was performing an extremely useful function.

24. In specifying his points of view, Dr. Sandifer emphasized the need to draw up an advance program of activities to be undertaken in that country at the proper time after the Provisional Government was installed. He pointed out that on that occasion the Commission should give special attention to the right of suffrage, of association and meeting, and of expression and movement, so that the fundamental rights of the people might be guaranteed in the period prior to the national elections.

IV. ACTION OF THE COMMISSION IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

A. Activities that the Commission should continue performing until the establishment of a Provisional Government

25. The Commission gave full consideration to the present situation of the Dominican Republic in the field of human rights and, in the light of the opinions and reports presented by the members, studied the most urgent needs existing if this agency is to do an efficient job in the country.

Also taken into account were the facilities furnished by both factions and the recognition that they had given to the Commission. The powers set forth in the Statute and the provisions of the Regulations were studied, in order to determine what the functions of this agency would be and to what extent they could be applied pending installation of the Provisional Government in the Dominican Republic.

26. The Commission also took into consideration the suggestions made by the Subcommittee during its meeting in Washington, from June 21 to 23, in which the Chairman of this body was authorized to continue representing the Commission, in accordance with his powers.

27. In view of the foregoing, the Commission adopted the following resolution at the meeting held on July 23:

WHEREAS:

The Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in all the member states of the Organization;

Article 11. c of its Statute provides that the Commission "may move to the territory of any American state when it so decided by an absolute majority of votes and with the consent of the government concerned;"

Article 3 of the Regulations states that one of the duties of the Chairman shall be "to represent the Commission;"

Article 8 of the Regulations provides that the members of the Commission "shall perform their functions during the course of the meetings, and during the time of recess shall carry out the task of preparatory work entrusted to them by the Commission;"

In the present situation in the Dominican Republic, the Chairman and two members of the Commission, in response to the requests of the Constitutionalist Government and the National Reconstruction Government, as well as that of the Secretary General of the Organization, went to the Dominican Republic to make an on the spot study of the situation regarding human rights;

In the report on his activities in the Dominican Republic, which he submitted to the members of the Commission for consideration, the Chairman stressed the need for maintaining representatives of the Commission in that country during the present situation; and

Both the Constitutionalist Government and the Government of National Reconstruction made signed statements on June 8 and 9, respectively, to the effect that they will furnish the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with all facilities necessary for the proper fulfillment of its mission,

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

RESOLVES:

To authorize its Chairman, in accordance with his powers and in the way that he considers most appropriate, to maintain a representation of the Commission in the Dominican Republic, in order that this body may continue dealing with problems related to human rights in that country during the present situation.

B. Activities that the Commission should undertake from the time that the Provisional Government is established until the elected government is installed

28. As stated in the convocation of this special meeting, sent by the Chairman to the members of the Commission, one of the most important topics on the agenda was to determine the future action of the Commission in the Dominican Republic, once the Provisional Government assumed power and authorized the presence of this agency in that country.

29. In the first place, the Commission took cognizance of the fact that the draft Institutional Act gives broad consideration to the subject of human rights and their observance, as well as to the presence of the Commission in the Dominican Republic. The Commission also took into account that, since the Provisional Government would be responsible for supervising the civic process prior to the elections, it would be up to the Commission to concern itself, first of all, with those rights whose observance is essential for the effective exercise of the right to vote and the holding of free and democratic elections. For that reason it considered that, in addition to the fundamental human rights, such as those of life, liberty, security, and integrity of the individual, protection should also be given to the other rights, such as those of suffrage, meeting, association, and others, all of which are set forth in the American Declaration of 1948.

30. To this end, the following resolution was adopted:

WHEREAS:

The draft Institutional Act, prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Tenth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, contemplates the presence of the Inter-American Commission on Rights in the Dominican Republic until the installation of the elected government;

Both the Constitutionalist Government and the Government of National Reconstruction have several times said that it is necessary for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to remain in the Dominican Republic until the present situation in that country becomes normal; and in accordance with its Statute, the Commission has a mandate to promote respect for the human rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

RESOLVES:

To authorize its Chairman to maintain a representation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the Dominican Republic in the form that he deems most appropriate, provided that, in accordance with the Institutional Act, the Provisional Government of the Dominican Republic similarly authorizes the presence of the Commission in that country, in order that the Commission may promote respect for the human rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, watching especially for strict compliance with Articles I, III, IV, IX, X, XVII, XVIII, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, and XXVI of the aforementioned declaration.

V. OTHER MATTERS

A. Amendment suggested by the Commission to the draft Institutional Act

32. In considering its future action in the Dominican Republic, the Commission took into account the draft Institutional Act prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Tenth Meeting of Consultation, since this document is the one that will serve as the basis for the constitution of the future Provisional Government of the Dominican Republic, and several of its articles are concerned with human rights.

33. In order that the role of the Commission should be made entirely clear in the aforementioned draft, it was agreed to request the Ad Hoc Committee to change the final part of Article VIII of the draft Institutional Act by adding the following clause:

For its part, the Provisional Government authorizes the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to maintain its representation in the Dominican Republic until the elected government is installed and promises to cooperate with the Commission so that this body may comply with the provisions of Article III.

B. Report of the Commission on the situation regarding human rights in the Dominican Republic

34. At its fourth meeting, the Commission requested its Secretariat to prepare a draft report on the work done by this agency in the Dominican Republic from June 1 to July 21, 1965, the date on which this session opened. It also requested that the report include agreements reached on the work that is to be continued as well as pertinent conclusions and recommendations.

The Secretariat was advised to use all documents on the Dominican situation available in the files of the Commission, as well as the reports presented by the members. 35. It was agreed to recommend to the Secretariat that when approved, it publish the aforementioned report in the official languages of the Organization.

C. Place and date of the Twelfth Session

36. In considering where the Twelfth Session should take place, the Commission studied the possibility of holding it in the Dominican capital, since in the last few months most of its activities have been conducted in that country. After considering the circumstances prevailing there, the Commission concluded that it was not advisable to hold the meeting in Santo Domingo, since the situation there would affect its work, which is also concerned with the cases of other American countries.

Consideration was also given to holding the Twelfth Session at the permanent seat of the Commission, that is, in Washington, D.C., in view of the material and technical facilities available at the Pan American Union.

37. Before deciding on this matter, the Commission took into account the suggestion made by the Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Gabino Fraga, that the next session be held in Mexico City. It consequently agreed to write to Dr. Fraga to, request the pertinent information from him.

No decision was reached on the place of the next session, but it was agreed to hold it during the first half of October of this year.

D. Situation regarding human rights in other countries of the Americas

38. The Executive Secretary of the Commission informed the members that several complaints and claims had been received from various countries of the Americas, especially from Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, and Paraguay, and that communications requesting pertinent information on these had been sent to the governments concerned.

The Chairman said that the Secretariat had kept him constantly informed regarding the denunciations received and that these had been transmitted to the interested governments, in accordance with the procedure established in the Regulations.

E. Visit to the capital of Paraguay

39. The Chairman informed the Commission that, in accordance with the mandate he had received from the members at the Tenth Session to arrange for the Commission to visit Paraguay, he was pleased to announce that the Paraguayan Government, through the Ambassador of Paraguay in Chile, had authorized the Chairman and the Executive Secretary of the Commission to visit that country.

40. The Commission was pleased with the information and congratulated the Chairman for the success of his negotiations. It then reiterated its authorization to the Chairman and the Executive Secretary to make a trip to Asuncion, in August, for the purpose of interviewing high Paraguayan authorities and other representative elements of that country and thereby gaining fuller information on the situation regarding human rights in Paraguay.

VI. COMMUNICATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENTS

In accordance with the provisions of Article 36 of the Regulations of the Commission, it asked the governments of certain American countries for information. regarding concrete cases that were denounced to the Commission.

VII. CLOSING OF THE ELEVENTH SESSION (SPECIAL)

At the meeting held on July 23, 1965, the Chairman declared the Eleventh Session (Special) closed. He expressed his satisfaction at the work that had been accomplished and thanked the members of the Commission and the staff of the secretariat for their cooperation.

APPENDIX

DOCUMENTS OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS OEA/Ser.L/V

Document Number Title

OEA/Ser.L/V/II.12 DOCUMENT OF THE ELEVENTH SESSION (SPECIAL)

Doc. 1 Documentos de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, registrados por la Secretaria hasta el 24 de agosto de 1965

Doc. 2. Rev. Situacion de los derechos humanos en la Repfublica Dominicana

Doc. 3 Acta resumida de la primera sesión celebrada el 21 de julio de 1965

Doc. 4 Acta resumida de la segunda sesión celebrada el 22 de julio de 1965

Doc. 5 Acta resumida de la tercera sesión celebrada el 22 de Julio de 1965

Doc. 6 Resolucion

Doc. 7 Resolucion

Doc. 8 Acta resumida de la cuarta sesión celebrada el 23 de julio de 1965

Doc. 9 Missao na Republica Dominicana

Doc. 10 Informe sobre la labor desarrollada durante su Undécimo Periodo de Sesiones (Extraordinario)

CDH/455