Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
REPORT ON THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED
DURING ITS TENTH SESSION
March 15-26, 1965
PAN AMERICAN UNION
General Secretariat, Organization of American States
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
March 15 to 26, 1965
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held its Tenth Session from March 15 to 26, 1965, at its permanent headquarters in the Pan American Union, Washington, D.C.
2. The subcommittee established for the preliminary consideration of communications or complaints directed to the Commission and the formulation of pertinent recommendations to it met on March 10, 11, and 12.
3. The opening meeting took place at 10:30 a.m. on March 15 in the Columbus Room of the Pan American Union. Present at that meeting as guests of honor were the Secretary General of the Organization, Dr. Jose A. Mora, the Assistant Secretary General, Dr. William Sanders, and the Director of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Pan American Union, Dr. Francisco Garcia Amador.
4. In declaring the Tenth Session open, the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Manuel Bianchi welcomed the members and extended greetings to the guests of honor. He also thanked the Secretary General for the efficient assistance given to the Commission, which had enabled it to carry out its work. The Chairman referred to the Commission’s determination to give special attention, during the working period that had just begun, to the study of the report that would be presented to the Second Special Inter-American Conference convoked to be held in Rio de Janeiro on May 20, the agenda of which included the subject of human rights. He also mentioned the intention to consider two topics of the general work programs namely, the situation of political refugees in the Americas and the observations made by the governments on the draft convention on freedom of expression information, and investigation.
5. Subsequently, the Secretary General of the Organization thanked Dr. Bianchi for his kind words and expressed his pleasure at being present at the opening of a new session. He mentioned the importance of the report that the Commission would present to the Second Special Inter-American Conference to be held in Rio de Janeiro, stressing the fact that topics 5 and 6 of the agenda dealt with subjects directly related to human rights. He also pointed out the effort involved in preparing the convention on freedom of expression, information and investigation. He expressed his confidence that the Commission would be strengthened at the Rio Conference and commended the prudence with which, in his opinion, the Commission had fulfilled its mandate.
B. Members of the Commission and their Participation in the Session
6. The Commission is composed of the
All of the members, with the exception of Dr. Martins, attended the Tenth Session.
C. Meeting and Documents
7. During this session the Commission held ten meetings. The secretariat prepared summary minutes of these meetings, which are restricted to the exclusive use of the members.
8. In accordance with Article 34 of the Regulations, the secretariat prepared a list of the communications or complaints received prior to this session and of those that were received while it was in progress, together with a summary of their contents. The list was prepared in chronological order and by countries to which the communications related (Doc.2-XI, Rev.).
9. The secretariat also published a document entitled: "Observaciones al Proyecto de Convención Interamericana sobre Libertad de Expression, de Información y de Investigacion" ("Observation on the Draft Inter-American Convention on Freedom of Expression, Information and Investigation") (Doc.4-XI), containing the observations on the draft convention made by the Governments of Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, the United States, and Venezuela.
10. During the session, the secretariat published another document entitled "Proyecto de Informe sometido por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos a la Segunda Conferencia Interamericana Extraordinaria""Draft of a report to be submitted by the Inter-american Commission on Human Rights to the Second Special Inter-American Conference" (Doc. XI, Rev.). In addition, the secretariat issued several press releases through the Press Division of the Pan American Union, in order to inform the public of its activities.
11. The Commission was provided with the technical and administrative services of its secretariat, composed of: Dr. Luis Reque, Executive Secret of the Commission, and Drs. Isidoro Zanotti, Alvaro Gomez, Renzn Minut, and Guillermo Cabrera, members of the staff.
12. At its first meeting, held on March 15, 1965, the Commission adopted the following agenda for the Tenth Session.
1. Report prepared by the secretariat on the work accomplished by the Commission during its Ninth Session.
2. Report of the Executive Secretary on the activities of the secretariat between the Ninth and Tenth Sessions.
3. Violations of human rights in American countries:
4. General work
5. Report to the Second Special Inter-American Conference.
6. Date and place of the Eleventh Session.
7. Other matters.
III. REPORT PREPARED BY THE SECRETARIAT ON THE WORK ACCOMPLISHED BY THE COMMISSION DURING ITS NINTH SESSION
13. At the first meeting, held on March 15, 1965, the Commission approved the report prepared by the secretariat on the work accomplished by the Commission during its Ninth Session, held in Washington, D.C.,. from October 5 to 16, 1964 (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.10, Doc. 21, February 16, 1965). That document contains a list of the activities carried out by the Commission during the aforesaid session. One chapter of the report refers to the situation regarding human rights in American countries specifically the cases of Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador.
14. Another chapter of the report relates to the work carried out by the Commission in accordance with its general work program. In regard to this subject, the report mentions that the Commission studied the following topics: Human rights and the state of siege (Dr. Martins, rapporteur); Human rights and the right of suffrage (Dr. Bianchi, rapporteur); and legal protection of human rights (Dr. Fraga, rapporteur); in addition to the study made on the situation of political refugees in the Americas, and the draft convention on freedom of expression, information, and investigation.
15. This report includes the following list of topics of the general work program that are to be considered at future sessions: the right to petition, the right of association of labor unions, the right to education, the international protection of human rights since 1959 and the fundamental human rights. The report also mentions the possibility of holding a high-level working meeting in the field of human rights, as well as the preparation of a report that could be submitted to the next Inter-American Conference.
IV. REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRETARIAT BETWEEN THE NINTH AND TENTH SESSIONS OF THE COMMISSION
16. At the first meeting, the Executive Secretary) submitted to the consideration of the Commission the report of the secretariat on its activities between the Ninth and Tenth Sessions in compliance with the decisions taken by the Commission (Doc. 20-XI). Reference was made to the list of communications of complaints received, prepared in chronological order and by countries (Doc. 2-XI, Rev.), and a summary of those communications for the Commission.
17. Reference was also made in the report to the preparation of a leaflet entitled: "Derechos Humanos y Democracia Representative ("Human Rights and Representative Democracy"), based on Part, II of the report entitled. "The Relationship between the respect for human rights and the effective exercise of representative democracy" prepared by Prof. Durward V. Sandifer, a member of the Commission. With regard to the draft convention on freedom of expression, information, and Investigation, approved by the Commission at its Seventh Session the report points out that the secretariat prepared a document containing the observations made by governments (Doc. 4-XI). A revised draft report was also prepared on the situation of political refugees in the Americas (Doc. 7-XI).
18. This report also refers to the preparation of background material for the study on the international protection of human rights since 1959 (Dr. Abranchest, rapporteur); revision and expansion of the draft Report to the Second Special Inter-American Conference; preparation of a summary of the work of the commission since 1960 and steps directed toward the holding a high-level working meeting to appraise the experience of the international commission that are active in the field of human rights.
V. VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN AMERICAN COUNTRIES
A. Report of the Subcommittee
18. The subcommittee is composed of three
members of the Commission namely:
19. As provided for in the regulations, the subcommittee met one week prior to the opening of the session to make a preliminary study of the communications or complaints addressed to the Commission and to prepare a draft agenda for the Tenth Session. After concluding its works the subcommittee prepared a report (Doc. 6-XI), which was submitted to the Commission, containing a summary report of the study and consideration of the communications or complaints presented by the secretariat (Doc. 2-XI, Rev.), and also the recommendations relative to the cases studied, and a draft agenda for the Tenth Session.
20. The Commission took cognizance of the report at its second meeting and instructed the secretariat to proceed according to the recommendations of the subcommittee.
B. New communications or complaints
21. At the ninth meeting, the Commission considered new denunciations received, which are included in the Addendum presented by the secretariat at that meeting. The Committee decided on the processing of these communications in accordance with regulations.
C. Request for information from the governments and replies received
22. During the present session, the Commission in the exercise of its powers, requested several American governments to transmit pertinent information regarding alleged violations of human rights in their respective territories that had been denounced before this entity communications in this sense were transmitted to the governments of Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and the United States.
23. The Commission received a preliminary reply from the Government of the United States to the request for information made on January 18, 1965 It also received a preliminary reply from the Government of Guatemala regarding the request for information addressed to that government on December 17, 1964. The Government of Bolivia sent a complete report to the Commission in reply to the request made by the Commission on January 18, 1965 The Government of Ecuador also sent complete information in reply o the Commissions request of January 18, 1965.
D. The case of Cuba
24. During this working period the Commission decided to address a note to the Government of Cuba reiterating the request for information it made on October 22, 1964.
In this note the Commission pointed out that it did not share the criterion maintained by the Cuban Government in its note of November 4, 1964 addressed to the Chairman of the Commission, and it made it clear that this inter-American agency has authority to take cognizance of the situation regarding human rights in any member state of the Organization, in accordance with the mandate entrusted to it by the Fifth Meetingof Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
25. The text of the note sent to the Government of Cuba on April 6, 1965 is as follows:
I have the honor to refer to your kind note of November 4, 1964, which this Commission received on December 28, 1964.
You affirm in that note that the State of Cuba has been deprived of its rights by the Organization of American States. This affirmation is not in accordance with the facts, because, as you are aware, the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs excluded "the present Government of Cuba from participation in the inter-American system." As you can see, the measure of exclusion was directed towards the presents Government of Cuba and not towards the State.
During its Fourth Session, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made a careful study of the scope of Resolution VI of the Eighth Meeting of Consultation and declared that it could not in any event renounce its unavoidable obligation to promote respect for human rights in all the member states of the Organization. Consequently, the Commission decided to continue to concern itself with the situation regarding human rights in Cuba and to continue, in accordance with its regulations, to consider and process the communications or claims received with respect to this matter. It is for this reason, in accordance with the provisions of Article 9, paragraphs b. and d. of its Statute, that the Commission has transmitted to the Government of Cuba, through you, the communications or claims directed to it with respect to your country, with a request for the pertinent information.
Through you, I request your government to give this note its most careful attention and to be good enough to furnish this Commission with any information that it deems pertinent regarding the facts described in the Commissions note of October 22, 1964 and in the notes sent to you that are appended thereto.
Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.
E. The Case of Paraguay
26. At the ninth meeting, the Chairman informed the Commission regarding the efforts he had been making, in compliance with the decision taken at the Ninth Session, to enable the agency to visit Paraguayan territory.
27. The Commission authorized the Chairman to continue his efforts in this respect, and to visit Paraguay, accompanied by the Executive Secretary, at the most opportune time.
VI. ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE GENERAL WORK PROGRAM
Situation of political refugees in the Americas
During this session, the Commission continued to deal
with the subject of political refugees in the Americas.
29. During the ninth meeting the secretariat informed the Commission that urgent communications had been received from political refugees in the Americas, requesting the Commission to recommend to the governments that they validate the expired passports of refugees who are unable to obtain renewal of them in their countries of origin.
30. The Commission considered the situation of refugees at its ninth meeting, and gave special attention to the problem of the lack of travel documents or valid passports, presented by the refugees. Bearing in mind the foregoing, the Commission adopted the following resolution:
Since its Seventh Session, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has studied and it is continuing to study, the problem of political refugees of the American states, with a view to submitting certain proposals in this regard to the governments of the member states of the Organization for consideration;
During its Eighth Session it reached the conclusion among others, that "one of the most serious problems that confronts these refugees is the need for a travel documents; since they cannot obtain such a document from their country of origin they are prevented, in general, from leaving the country of first asylum" and recommended to the governments of the member states of the Organization that "they study the possibility of issuing a travel document to Latin American political refugees in their territories who lacked passports; and
It has recently received several communications describing the difficulties encountered by refugees when their travel documents have expired.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights RESOLVES:
To recommend to the governments of the member states of
the Organization that they consider the possibility of issuing to political
refugees of the American countries who are in their territories legally travel
documents that will permit them to travel outside those territories, or to
study the possibility of recognizing as valid the travel documents held by
those refugees, that have expired or cannot be renewed.
The Commission instructed the secretariat to complete the preparation of the draft report on political refugees in the Americas, on the basis of the recommendations made during the Ninth Session. This document will be considered at the Eleventh Session.
B. "Draft Convention on Freedom of Expression, Information, and Investigation” and considerations of the observations transmitted by the governments
31. In accordance with the decision taken by the Ninth Session, the Commission continued to study the draft convention on freedom of expression, information and investigation during the present working period, taking into account the observations made by the governments. In this connection the secretariat prepared a document in October 1964, containing the opinions formulated by the governments of Brazil, Ecuador, the United States, and Venezuela regarding the draft convention (Doc. 13-X). In March 1965, the secretariat prepared a new document incorporating the observations made by the Government of Chile (Doc. 4-XI).
The Governments of Brazil and Ecuador stated that they had no observations to make on the draft, The Governments of Chile, the United States, and Venezuela made some observations on the text, with respect to both form and substance.
32. The Commission considered the draft convention during the eighth, ninth and tenth meetings of this Session, and made a careful analysis of Articles 1, IIg III, Vg VIg VIII, IX, X9 XII, XIV, XVI, XVII, and XVIII, regarding which the aforesaid governments had made observations. After completing an analysis of all the articles the Commission requested the Rapporteur, Dr. Escudero, to prepare a revised text of the draft in collaboration with the Executive Secretariat. The revised text was submitted to the Commission for consideration at the tenth meeting and was unanimously approved. It was decided to present it to the Second Special Inter-American Conference. The text of the draft convention is as follows:
The Charter of the Organization of American States and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man proclaim human rights and fundamental freedoms, as do the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
Among these freedoms, those of conscience, thought, religion, opinion, expression, information and investigation are of principal importance; The respect for and protection of the aforementioned freedom and one of the foundations supporting the solidarity and unity of the Western Hemisphere, international peace, understanding and justice, and the progress of civilization;
The freedom of opinion, expression, information, and investigation is essential to the enjoyment of the freedom of conscience, thought, and religion;
The exercise of these freedoms presupposes the obligations and responsibilities essential to maintain compatibility with respect for the ethical personality of the individual, for society and its moral law, and for the existence and personality of the State against everything that might disturb the peace, security, and public order;
Freedom of information comprehends both the right to transmit information on facts and ideas by any media, and the right of every person to receive such information without any limitation whatsoever;
Whoever makes use of information media assumes a grave responsibility before public opinion and has the moral duty to respect the truth; and the attainment of the ends stated above requires these freedoms to be free of pressure or force of any kind;
The Governments of the member states of the Organization of American States have agreed to conclude the following Convention:
They also undertake to provide them with facilities for the fulfillment of their professional duties, fully guaranteeing their freedom of action and movement, both in gathering information and in transmitting it inside and outside of the respective countries.
The Contracting States may regulate for technical necessities the installation and operation of radio and television stations, and any other process for disseminating ideas, which process, by virtue of its nature, may not be used in an unrestricted manner.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries, whose full powers have been presented and found to be in good and due form, sign the present Convention, in the name of their respective governments, in the city of on the day of nineteen hundred and sixty…
VII. REPORT TO THE SECOND SPECIAL INTER-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
33. During this period of work, the Commission considered The Report to the Second Special Inter-American Conference.
Pursuant to the Commission, taken at the Ninth Session, the secretariat prepared a second draft report in the light of observations made by the members up to December 1, 1964 based on the text of the original draft (Doc. 18-IX).
The text of the second draft presented to the Commission is entitled. "Report submitted by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to the Second Special Inter-American Conference" (Doc. 5-XI, Rev.).
34. This document was carefully studied by the Commission during the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh meetings, and it was approved at the ninth meeting held on March 25, 1965.
35. The report contains a preliminary chapter that gives a brief historical summary of the creation of this Inter-American organ, the election of its members, and the establishment of its directives, as well as of the sessions that it has held up to now. The second chapter gives a brief description of the activities of the Commission since it began its work in compliance with the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the American states and to recommend measures tending to facilitate this respect.
36. The third chapter of the report refers to the protection of human rights and the consideration of the Draft Convention on Human Rights prepared by the Inter-American Council of Jurists at its Fourth Meeting. It also points out the relationship between fundamental human freedoms and the economic and social development of the Latin American countries advocated by the Alliance for Progress, the advisability of revising the Draft Convention prepared by the Inter-American Council of Jurists in 1959 in the light of new advances in the field of international protection of human rights and the possibility of convening a specialized conference to consider the final text of the Convention.
The third chapter also contains considerations regarding the strengthening of the Inter-American Commission an Human Rights and suggests a number of additional provisions in the Statute, which would permit this agency to promote certain fundamental human rights more effectively, in accordance with the Charter of the Organization, namely: the right to life, liberty, security and due process of law.
37. Likewise the third chapter refers to the special procedure to be followed by the Commission in taking cognizance of and dealing with the cases submitted to it for consideration.
38. The report has two appendices. The first describes the actions of the Commission with respect to violations of human rights in American countries and the second the activities of the Commission related to its general work program
39. The report was approved by the Commission at its ninth meeting, held on March 259 19é5. It was also decided to transmit it to the Chairman of the Council of the Organization of American States so that it might be presented to the Second Special Inter-American Conference.
VIII. COMMUNICATION TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
40. At the third meeting of the present working period, the Commission decided to express to Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States, its satisfaction with his message to Congress on March 15, 1965, in defense of the right to vote for all the citizens of the country and it to this end, it requested the Chairman to send a message to this effect to the President of the United States of America. The text of the communication is as follows:
The President of the United States of America
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, convened in Washington for its Tenth Regular Session, listened with deep satisfaction to your address on Monday night with its eloquent rededication of the Government and people of the United States to the "dignity of man and the destiny of democracy."
This Commission is charged by its Statute with promoting respect for human rights in the American Republics as embodied in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man approved in Bogota in 1948.
That Declaration assures to every citizen of these republics, among other rights, the "right to participate in the government of his country and to take part in popular elections," the "right to assemble peaceably," the "right to submit respectful petitions to any competent authority," and the "right freedom of expression." Therefore, we applaud, Mr. President, your determination to secure "to every American citizen an equal right to vote," and to preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. While sharing your nation’s revulsion over the recent events in Selma, Alabama, we take heart from your resolve to convert them into "a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom."
We endorse your sentiment that at the heart of the battle for equality is a belief in the democratic process" and that equality depends on "the force of moral right" and "on respect for law.
From your renewed dedication of the Government of the United States to "the struggle for human rights" we take fresh courage in our continuing endeavors to help make the promises of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man a reality in the daily lives of all the peoples of the Americas.
41. The President of the United States replied to the communication of this Inter-American agency by a note addressed to the Chairman of the Commission on March 25, 1965 the text of which is as follows.
Dear Mr. Bianchi:
I just want you to know how much I appreciate your long and thoughtful telegram, It is heartening to have your approval of my Voting Rights Address to the Congress, and I appreciate your efforts in behalf of this important work.
(s) Lyndon B. Johnson
IX. COMMUNICATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENTS AND TO THE COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION
42. 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 and reiterated previous requests made to some of those governments.
43. As in previous sessions, the Commission resolved to send a note to the Chairman of the Council of the Organization of American States, informing him of the activities carried out by this agency during its Tenth Session.
X. DATE AND PLACE OF THE ELEVENTH SESSION
44. During it tenth meeting, the Commission decided to hold the Eleventh Session from October 4 to 25, 1965 and set Mexico City, in principle, as the place therefore.
The Commission also decided to send a note to the Government of Uruguay thanking it for its invitation to hold the aforesaid session in Montevideo, and explained that it was prevented from accepting because it had already been planned to hold the session in Mexico City.
XI. CLOSING OF THE TENTH SESSION
45. At the meeting held on March 26, 1965, the Chairman declared the Tenth Session 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.