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Direitos Humanos / 31/08/2020


Inter-American system for the protection of human rights

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Inter-American system for the protection of human rights

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First, a little bit of its history

The Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights emerged in 1948 with the approval of the American Declaration of Human Rights and Duties and the adoption of the OAS Charter.

Based on these efforts, in 1959 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was created, and with the American Convention or the San Jose Pact of Costa Rica, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights was finally founded.

these, 25 of the 35 OAS member states recognized the obligation to respect and ensure the free and full exercise of Civil and Political Rights for the whole of society, such as the right not to be subjected to slavery, the right to Freedom, among others . Accordingly, two international oversight bodies were created to carry out this purpose: the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which make up the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights.

The idea of ​​all this is that when a country practices serious violations against human rights, international law allows other states agreed or the affected person and even social organizations to activate mechanisms to guarantee respect for those rights and avoid further violations. Thus, it seeks to achieve the protection of the minimum dignity to human beings through these resources.

What is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - IACHR is a representative body of OAS member states. Based in Washington, it has a strong influence within the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights, being recognized by several authors as the most important piece within the system.

Initially, the IACHR worked through visits to countries with particular situations, subsequently making special reports to make recommendations and support governments. So far, 92 visits have been made to 23 member countries.

Subsequently, the Commission was expressly authorized to receive and process complaints or petitions about individual cases, in which human rights violations were alleged. As of 1997, it has received tens of thousands of petitions, which have given rise to more than 12,000 cases, some of which are ongoing.

The commission's work today is fundamental, as it is responsible for sending and analyzing all cases submitted by Member States, by NGOs and even in some exceptions by individuals. If an amicable solution between the conflicting parties is not possible, such as an agreement, the case can be referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

What are the Commission's functions and tasks?

The Commission's main function is to promote the observance and defense of human rights, and in the exercise of its mandate:

Receive, analyze and investigate individual petitions alleging human rights violations;

Monitoring the development of human rights in member states.

Requiring member states to use “precautionary and provisional measures” to prevent serious and irreparable damage to human rights, these are the most serious cases in which the Commission can intervene.

Refer cases to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court and act before the Court in certain disputes.

Request “Consultative Opinions” the Inter-American Court on aspects of interpretation of the American Convention.

And how does the Inter-American Court of Human Rights operate?

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, capital of Costa Rica, is part of the Inter-American Human Rights System. It is one of three regional Human Rights protection Courts, alongside the European Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Thus, the court has two fundamental functions within the System, contentious and litigious or consultative.

The contentious function is the competence to judge the cases referred by the Commission. Consultative or litigious functions, in turn, refer to the Court's ability to interpret the Convention and other international human rights instruments. It basically deals with cases in which one of the Member States is alleged to have violated a right or freedom protected by the Convention, it can even be a form of guidance and support in the growth of Human Rights in Latin America.

Such functions have allowed fundamental discussions to be established to effectively protect human rights, for example, habeas corpus, judicial guarantees, the death penalty, and accountability of States, among others.

The court still has the power to carry out provisional measures, in cases of extreme urgency, which are a form of "interventions" in the member states to prevent deaths, massacres, and irremediable violations of human rights. It is essential to add that the court cannot directly interfere in the states in conflict. Even so, it has the possibility of holding public hearings for the democratic direction of cases, that is, with more participation by society and interested people.

In addition, it has the competence to judge cases to States Parties to the Convention that have expressly recognized their jurisdiction. If it recognizes that the violation of the Convention has actually occurred, it will determine the adoption of measures that are necessary to restore the right then violated, and may even condemn the State to pay fair compensation to the victim.

But does it really work?

There are still many discussions about the functioning of the human rights protection system in America, mainly due to the political influence within the decisions and the lack of autonomy of the court in the procedural precepts, as it always depends on the Commission to initiate the procedures.

Even so, the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights deserves to be highlighted in this scenario, in view of its impact on the internationalization process of the legal systems of several countries in Latin America. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has now tried several cases of human rights violations, which has contributed to important institutional changes within the national justice systems.

Along this line, a theme that has gained relevance is that of monitoring the effective implementation at national level of decisions and recommendations that emanate international and regional human rights systems and mechanisms.


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