Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Amerícas: IACHR Focuses on Guatemala, Venezuela, Argentina , Canada

According to EFE, at its latest meeting in the US capital, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), has studied reports on the increase in impunity, violence and poverty this year in Venezuela.

It has also asked the Canadian government to pay heed to reports of human rights abuses in Canadian-owned mines in Latin America, and alerted Guatemala on excessive militarization.

Venezuela, Guatemala, Argentina and Canada were the subjects of hearings Tuesday (October 28) on the second day of sessions of the IACHR, an autonomous organization of the Organization of American States (OAS).

During the first part of the hearing on Venezuela, Liliana Ortega, director of the Venezuelan human rights group COFAVIC, said that violence and impunity had increased, especially in the context of the protests that shook the country between February and June.

Ortega added that the Venezuelan Public Ministry opened 189 investigations related to the protests this year, but 80% of the cases were apparently shelved.

Also, the general coordinator of the human rights group Provea, Marino Alvarado, said that in 2013 poverty had increased by 6%, while the high rate of inflation was impacting negatively on the poorer sections of the country.

Venezuelan government human rights representative German Saltron accused the Commission of partiality against its government and referred to the case of imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López and the petition to release him by a UN commission on arbitrary detentions.

“López is being judged by our courts and therefore cannot seek the intervention of international human rights systems, unless his physical integrity is in imminent danger, which is not the case,” Saltron said.

In another part of the hearing, IACHR examined whether the Canadian government had any responsibility in the alleged human rights abuses by Canadian firms on foreign soil, as claimed by several activists.

Canadian representative Dana Cryderman said that the accusations-in countries like Guatemala, Chile, Perú, Bolivia and México- fell beyond the brief of Canada’s obligations and urged the judicial systems of the concerned countries to resolve the matter.

IACHR’s Rapporteur for Canada, Commissioner Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, said that Canada should seriously look into the reports of damages to the environment, health and human rights of indigenous people by Canadian firms.

In the hearing on Guatemala, two lawyers’ associations said that the country did not make enough of an effort to arrest military leaders who are charged with human rights violations committed during the civil war between 1960 and 1996.

In another hearing, the IACHR warned of excessive militarization in Guatemala where there is a military presence even in schools.

Guatemalan journalists also reported extrajudicial policies and pressure from government officials.

COMMENT: In private hearings, the problem of corruption in the judicial system is also being examined, magistrate Claudia Escobar told EFE.

Regarding Argentina, the hearing addressed the human rights of people deprived of liberty, and the absence of an ombudsman in the country since 2009.

Paulo Vannuchi, one of the seven IACHR commissioners, offered to reach out to the Argentine congress in this regard.

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