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IFEX-ALC calls on OAS member states to elect commissioners who meet all the requirements of the position (Demo)

We, the 24 members of the IFEX-ALC network, who work to defend freedom of expression and press freedom in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries and who form part of the broader IFEX network that defends and promotes free expression worldwide, call on the governments of the OAS member states to demonstrate their commitment to the Inter-American System for protection of human rights by electing candidates who meet all the requirements for the position of commissioner.

In the upcoming OAS General Assembly, scheduled to take place on 26 to 28 June, four new commissioners will be elected to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR’s principal function is to protect and promote human rights in the Americas. The organisation has played an important role in providing guarantees for these rights in Latin America and the Caribbean for decades. The role of the IACHR’s commissioners is fundamental and, as such, the process for their nomination and election is a matter that should receive a great deal of attention from OAS member states and civil society in general.

According to the American Convention on Human Rights and the IACHR’s statute, the commissioners should be individuals with extensive human rights experience, in addition to being independent and of high moral character. To date, however, the process for the election of the commissioners has been lacking in transparency and civil society participation, making it difficult to determine if the candidates for the positions fulfil these requirements.

All the selection processes for the senior positions at the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights should be transparent and participatory.

In agreement with an Independent Panel of Experts,[1] IFEX-ALC notes with concern, that a small number of candidates has been presented by the member states, in this case five candidates for four positions, demonstrating a lack of interest in the topic on the part of the states. The IFEX-ALC member organisations also note with concern information in the report published by the independent experts which states that two of the candidates do not have enough human rights experience, in addition to which doubts exist about their independence. We call on the OAS member states to take into account the Independent Panel of Experts’ report. As such, we urge them to vote in a manner oriented toward choosing candidates with the best profiles for the important work of a commissioner, and avoid electing candidates according to diplomatic or political interests.

[1] The Panel of Independent experts was formed at the request of the Center for Justice and International Law (Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional, CEJIL), the Due Process of Law Foundation (Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal, DPLF) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI). The composition of the panel and the complete text of the panel’s report can be viewed here (Spanish only). 

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