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

OEA/Ser.L/V/11.6

Doc.18 (English)

April 25,1963

Original: Spanish

INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION


ON HUMAN RIGHTS

REPORT ON THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED

DURING ITS FIRST SPECIAL SESSION

January 3 to 23, 1963

PAN AMERICAN UNION

General Secretariat, Organization of American States

Washington, D. C.

April 1963

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Paragraphs Page

Organization of the first special session 2

Opening date and length of session 1 - 5 2

Composition of the Commission and

Participation in the Special Session 6 2

Meetings and documents 7 - 9 3

Secretariat 10 - 11 3

II. Agenda 12 4

III. Violations of human rights in American countries 4

Report of the Subcommittee 13 - 15 4

Possible visit to Nicaragua 16 - 26 4

Situation regarding human rights in Paraguay 27 - 31 7

Situation of political prisoners and their

families in Cuba 32 - 35 8

Meetings in Miami 36 - 39 9

IV. Other matters

Invitation from the Government of the

Dominican Republic 40 - 42 9

Date of the Sixth Session 43 10

INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

REPORT ON THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED DURING ITS FIRST SPECIAL SESSION JANUARY 3 to 23, 1963

I. ORGANIZATION OF THE FIRST SPECIAL SESSION

A. Opening date and length of session

1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held its First Special Session from January 3 to 23, 1963, part taking place at its permanent headquarters in the Pan American Union, Washington, D. C., and part in Miami, Florida.

2. During the course of the twenty-second and twenty-third meetings of the Fifth Session, held in October 1962, the Commission considered the possibility of holding a special session if justified by the situation with respect to human rights in the countries of America. In accordance with that decision and pursuant to Article ll.b of the Statute, the Chairman of the Commission convoked a special session to take place in January 1963 for the purpose of considering possible visits to the Republics of Nicaragua and Paraguay, and of examining the communications or claims received with respect to the situation of human rights in the Republic of Cuba.

3. The inaugural meeting took place at 10 o'clock in the morning of January 3, 1963. Dr. William Sanders, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States, and Dr. Francisco V. Garcia-Amador, Director of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Pan American Union, were present.

4. In declaring the First Special Session open, the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Manuel Bianchi, discussed the reasons for convoking it. The Chairman referred to the possible visits to Nicaragua and Paraguay and stressed the Commission's interest in examining closely the situation of political prisoners in Cuba and the treatment accorded them and their families by Cuban authorities. After greeting the members present, he expressed appreciation to the General Secretariat, particularly to the Secretary General of the Organization, Dr. José A. Mora, for the cooperation extended to the Commission.

5. Dr. Sanders replied to the remarks of the Chairman, congratulating the Commission for the work it had done and referring to the members as pioneers in the vast field of human rights in America. He reiterated the willingness of the General Secretariat to place its services at the disposal of the Commission.

B. Composition of the Commission and participation in the Special Session

6. The Commission is composed of the following individuals:

Name Nationality

Mrs. Angela Acuna de Chacon Costa Rica

Dr. Manuel Bianchi Gundian Chile

Dr. Gonzalo Escudero Ecuador

Dr. Gabino Fraga Mexico

Mr. Romulo Gallegos Venezuela

Dr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl El Salvador

Dr. Durward V. Sandifer United States

All of the members attended the Special Sessions, with the exception of Messrs. Romulo Gallegos and Gabino Fraga.

C. Meetings and documents

7. The Commission held fifteen meetings during this Special Session, the first ten at its permanent seat at the Pan American Union in Washington, D. C., and the other five in Miami, Florida. The Secretariat prepared the minutes of these meetings, and published them as restricted documents for the exclusive use of the members.

8. The Secretariat prepared a list of the communications or claims received prior to the opening of this Session, as well as those that were received during its course. This list, arranged in chronological order and by countries, includes a brief resumé of each communication or claim.

9. In accordance with instructions given by the Commission, the Secretariat issued press releases to inform the public of the activities of the Commission. One release was issued at the beginning of the session, in Washington, and two in Miami: one at the arrival of the Commission and another at the close of the Session, January 23, 1963.

Secretariat

10. The Commission had the technical and administrative services provided by its Secretariat, composed of Dr. Luis Reque, as Executive Secretary, and Drs. Isidoro Zanotti, Manuel Velarde, Ronald Scheman, and Guillermo Cabrera, officials of the Secretariat.

11. The Press Division of the Pan American Union provided public information services.

II. AGENDA

12. At the first meeting, held on January 3, 1963, the Commission adopted the following agenda for the First Special Session:

1. Report of the Subcommittee. Consideration of the communications or claims received since the Fifth Session.

2. Possible visit to Nicaragua.

3 Consideration of the Note and information transmitted by the Government of Paraguay on November 19, 1962. Request for consent to visit Paraguay.

4. Situation with respect to human rights in Cuba. Consideration of the possibility of holding part of the special session in Miami with a view to gathering information on the situation of political prisoners and their families in Cuba.

5. Invitation from the Government of the Dominican Republic, dated

November 1, 1962, to visit that country.

III. VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN AMERICAN COUNTRIES

A. Report of the Subcommittee

13. The Subcommittee is composed of three members of the Commission:

Chairman: Dr. Manuel Bianchi Gundian

Members: Dr. Gonzalo Escudero

Dr. Durward V. Sandifer

14. In conformity with the Regulations, the Subcommittee met prior to the opening of the Session and made a preliminary study of the communications or claims addressed to the Commission, thus facilitating the work of the members. The Subcommittee also prepared a Draft Agenda of the present session.

15. At the conclusion of its work the Subcommittee issued a report, which was submitted for the consideration of the Commission at its first meeting. This study contains the matters referred to in the preceding paragraph and is confidential.

Possible visit to Nicaragua

16. The Commission unanimously decided at the Fifth Session to hold part of that session in Nicaragua, in order to examine the situation concerning human rights in that country.

17. For that purpose the Commission requested the consent of the Government of Nicaragua in a cablegram of September 28, 1962. That government on October 6, granted the consent requested but without setting a date for the visit, which, according to the reply of the Foreign Ministry of Nicaragua, would be fixed by mutual agreement between that government and the Commission.

18. The Commission, in telegrams of October 11 and 19 to the Government of Nicaragua, expressed its willingness to agree upon a date and suggested December 1962 or January 1963, during a week that the Government would determine.

19. After the close of the Fifth Session, on October 31, 1962, the Commission received a cable from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua advising that the government was unable to set a date during the months of December 1962 or January 1963.

20. In view of the decision by the Commission to hold a special session in January 1963, the Chairman of the Commission, acting on its behalf, again addressed the Government of Nicaragua, on November 1, 1962, informing it of their decision and reiterating the desire of the Commission to hold a part of the special session in Nicaragua.

21. The Government of Nicaragua replied to this latest communication from the Commission after the opening of the special session. After an interval of more than 2 months, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, on January 6, 1963, sent the following cable in reply to the communication of the Commission of November 1, 1962:

Managua, Nicaragua

January 6, 1963

The Honorable

Ambassador Manuel Bianchi

Chairman, Inter-American Commission

on Human Rights

Pan American Union

Washington, D. C.

I take this opportunity of the convoking of an Extraordinary Session of the Commission to acknowledge receipt of your kind note of November 1, 1962, which was received after the Commission had already concluded its ordinary session. In reply, permit me to reiterate the expressions contained in my note of October 31, 1962 to the effect that it is not possible to designate the current month of January for Nicaragua to serve as the temporary seat of the Commission. Please advise me of the duration of the present Extraordinary Session so that my government may consider possible future dates after February of this year. I wish to take this opportunity to repeat to you the assurances of my highest consideration.

Alfonso Ortega Urbina

Minister of Foreign Affairs

22. At its fourth and fifth meetings, held on January 8 and 9, the Commission considered the reply of the Government of Nicaragua. After a careful study of the document, the Commission reached the following conclusions: first, the cable of January 6, 1963, from the Government of Nicaragua constitutes a refusal of the consent requested by the Commission on September 28, 1962, and specifically repeated by the Commission on November 1 of the same year; second, the fact that the Government of Nicaragua had, on various occasions, avoided setting a date for the trip by the Commission, despite its apparent consent to the trip, meant that the government did not look with sympathy upon the Commission's holding part of its session on Nicaraguan territory for the purpose of ascertaining in reality whether human rights were observed in that country; and, third, the refusal by the Government of Nicaragua of consent for the visit prior to the election of February 3, 1963, prevented the Commission from confirming whether the electoral process in Nicaragua was in accord with the provisions of Article 20 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, approved at Bogota with the affirmative vote of Nicaragua.

23. In accordance with these conclusions, the Commission, at its fifth meeting, held on January 9, unanimously decided to send the following cable to the Government of Nicaragua:

Washington, D.C.

January 9, 1963

The Honorable

Dr. Alfonso Ortega Urbina

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Managua (Nicaragua)

In reply to your telegram of January 6th, I must advise Your Excellency that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights sincerely regrets that your Government has denied authorization to the Commission to hold part of its current Session in Nicaragua during the present month prior to the elections in Nicaragua. The Commission, in the exercise of its irrevocable mandate to promote respect for human rights, and conscious of its historic responsibility before the American people, had the firm intention to visit Nicaragua during the present month to verify whether such rights were in reality observed in that country, with special attention to the right of free elections provided for in Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, approved at the Conference of Bogota with the affirmative vote of Nicaragua. The Commission believes, however, that its visit subsequent to the elections, as suggested by Your Excellency, would not coincide with the intentions of the Commission as specified in its request for consent on September 28th, 1962. The Commission, nevertheless maintains its firm intention to continue to devote its full attention to the situation of human rights in Nicaragua and to follow closely the developments in that country with particular attention to the manner in which the forthcoming elections will be held. In doing this, the Commission will consider the manner in which it can most effectively discharge its specific responsibilities subsequent to the abovementioned elections.

Manuel Bianchi

Chairman

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

24. The Commission issued a press release after the above cable was sent to the Government of Nicaragua, reproducing the texts of the latest cables exchanged between this organ and the said government.

25. During the fourth meeting, held on January 8, 1963, the Commission granted interviews to two Nicaraguan citizens who had previously stated their interest in amplifying their reports which had been presented in writing on the situation of human rights in their country. Both witnesses described to the Commission the prevailing political circumstances in Nicaragua, and answered various questions put by members of the Commission.

26. At the seventh meeting, held on January 14, 1963, the Commission instructed the Secretariat to prepare a document containing the texts of the cables exchanged between the Commission and the Government of Nicaragua the press statements issued by the authorities of Nicaragua with regard to the projected visit of the Commission, and the proposal presented by the Delegation of Nicaragua to the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Chile in 1959, relating to the designation of observers for the elections of the highest executive authorities.

Situation regarding human rights in Paraguay

27. In the course of the Fourth and Fifth Sessions, the Commission maintained particular interest in the situation regarding human rights in the Republic of Paraguay, concerning which it received many communications or claims reporting on violations of human rights. With a view to learning about the situation regarding these communications, the Commission sent a request for information to that government on July 26, 1962, accompanied by the pertinent parts of several concrete reports on the referred to violations.

28. Finally, on November 19, 1962, the Government of Paraguay sent a note to the Commission replying to the aforesaid request for information. In that note the Paraguayan government offered full information on the re Ported violations and also referred to the procedure being followed by the Commission with respect to the communications or claims it receives.

29. In considering the note of the Government of Paraguay at the present Special Session, the Commission decided to reply to it in order to clarify certain allegations contained in the said note, which suggested an unfamiliarity with the procedure followed by the Commission, according to its Statute and Regulations, in the handling of communications or claims. At the eighth meeting, held on January 15, the text of the note to the Government of Paraguay was approved, and it was sent on the same date.

30. During the fourth meeting, held on January 8, 1963, the Commission granted an audience to a Paraguayan citizen, who expanded upon the reports made in writing about violations of human rights in his country. He referred in particular to the situation of the Paraguayans exiled to the countries bordering on his own.

31. The Commission decided to postpone until the Sixth Session, which will take place in April, 1963, the request to the Government of Paraguay for its consent to the holding of part of the session in that country.

D. Situation of political prisoners and their families in Cuba

32. At the Special Session the Commission continued to study the situation regarding human rights in Cuba. In that regard, it considered new communications or claims sent by Cuban exiles handling them in conformity with the Regulations.

33. During the tenth meeting, held on January 17, 1963, the Commission interviewed an exiled Cuban citizen, who thanked the Commission on behalf of his fellow prisoners for the interest taken by this organ in the situation of the political prisoners and for the steps taken in behalf of the prisoners captured at the Bay of Pigs. He also presented testimony on the condition of those now imprisoned in Cuba, indicating the unhygienic condition of the prisons and the problems of infection arising therefrom.

34. In view of the many communications or claims received on the treatment given in Cuba to political prisoners and their families, the Commission decided to transfer its seat to Miami, Florida, in order to receive direct information on the subject.

35. For that purpose, and in accordance with the relevant statutory provision, the Commission requested the United States Government, on January 8, 1963, for its consent to transfer the seat, and this was given on January 11 of the same year.

. E. Meetings in Miami

36. The Commission, expressly represented by its Chairman, Prof. Manuel Bianchi, Mrs. Angela Acuna de Chacon, and Dr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, moved to the city of Miami on Sunday, January 20, and established its offices at the International Airport Hotel. The first informal meeting was held the same day, and a list was prepared of those requesting an audience. A press release was issued, explaining the reasons for the Commissions transfer to Miami.

37. The Commission held five meetings in Miami, during the course of which it granted interviews to more than 80 persons, who supplied full and documented information regarding the treatment received by political prisoners and their families in Cuba. These persons referred in particular to the prison situation in Cuba, the existence of concentration camps, the state of political prisoners, and the treatment accorded these and their families by the authorities. The Commission likewise received many reports in writing.

38. The Commission agreed to prepare a documented report in the near future on the situation of political prisoners in Cuba, for the purpose of informing the governments of the Americas and the Council of the Organization of American States.

39. At the end of its meetings in Miami, on Wednesday the 23rd of January, the Commission issued a press release reporting on the closing of the First Special Session and on the work done by it during that period

IV. OTHER MATTERS

A. Invitation from the Government of the Dominican Republic

40. On November 1, 1962, the Secretary of State for Foreign Relations of the Dominican Republic extended to the Commission an invitation to visit that Republic for the purpose of completing the important mission it began in October 1961. Since the Commission was not then in session, it had to postpone a consideration of that invitation until the present session.

41. Since five of the seven members of the Commission Mrs. Angela Acuna de Chacon, Professor Manuel Bianchi, Dr. Gonzalo Escudero, Dr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, and Professor Durward V. Sandifer participated in the First Symposium on Representative Democracy, which was held in Santo Domingo from December 17 to 22, 1962, and observed the national elections that took place on the 20th of that month, thp felt that it had an opportunity on that occasion to verify the progress made by the Dominican people in the field of human rights.

42. The Commission refereed to that circumstance in the note it sent to the Dominican Republic on January 18, 1963. In that note the Commission, after thanking the Government of the Dominican Republic for the invitation extended to it, placed on record the exemplary conduct observed by the authorities, police power, and citizens in general during the elections of December 20, 1962.

B. Date of the Sixth Session

43. In accordance with the decision taken at the Fifth Session, the Commission decided to open the Sixth Session on April 15, 1963, at its permanent headquarters in the Pan American Union.

APPENDIX

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

Document Number Title

OEA/Ser.L/V/II.6 DOCUMENTS Of THE FIRST SPECIAL SESSION

Doc. 1 Documentos de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, registrados por la Secretaria hasta el 11 de febrero de 1963

Doc. 2 Acta Resumida de la Primera Sesión celebrada el 3 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Tercera Sesión del 7 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 3 Acta Resumida de la Segunda Sesión celebrada el 4 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Cuarta Sesión del 8 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 4 Acta Resumida de la Tercera Sesión celebrada el 7 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Quinta Sesión del 9 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 5 Acta Resumida de la Cuarta Sesión celebrada el 8 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Séptima Sesión del 14 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 6 Acta Resumida de la Quinta Sesión celebrada el 9 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Séptima Sesión del 14 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 7 Acta Resumida de la Sexta Sesión celebrada el 11 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Novena Sesión del 16 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 8 Acta Resumida de la Séptima Sesión celebrada el 14 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Novena Sesión del 16 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 9 Acta Resumida de la Octava Sesión celebrada el 15 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Decima Sesión del 17 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 10 Acta Resumida de la Novena Sesión celebrada el 16 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaprimera Sesión del 21 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 11 Acta Resumida de la Décima Sesión celebrada el 17 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaprimera Sesión del 21 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 12 Acta Resumida de la Undecima Sesión celebrada el 21 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaquinta Sesión del 23 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 13 Acta Resumida de la Duodécima Sesión celebrada el 21 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaquinta Sesión del 23 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 14 Acta Resumida de la Décimatercera Sesión celebrada el 22 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaquinta Sesión del 23 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 15 Acta Resumida de la Décimacuarta Sesión celebrada el 22 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaquinta Sesión del 23 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 16 Acta Resumida de la Décimaquinta Sesion celebrada el 23 de enero de 1963 (Aprobada en la Décimaquinta Sesión del 23 de enero de 1963)

Doc. 17 Documentos e informaciones sobre la solicited de anuencia al Gobierno de la Republica de Nicaragua

Doc. 18 Informe sobre la labor desarrollada durante su Primer Periodo Extraordinario de Sesónes del 3 el 23 de enero de 1963

Doc. 19 Resumen de las comunicaciones recibidas por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, correspondiente al Primer Periodo Extraordinario de Sesiones