Press release

Open Society Justice Initiative Joins Calls to Protect Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

March 01, 2019
Jonathan Birchall

NEW YORK—A group of 50 civil society organizations and experts are joining calls by members of Congress and United States nominees and former commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to maintain strong U.S. support and funding to the IACHR as the hemisphere’s principal human rights organ. 

The call comes as the U.S. State Department considers curtailing funding for the IACHR, upon a request made by nine senators on December 21, 2018. The undersigned organizations are extremely concerned that cutting or eliminating U.S. funding would put the IACHR at a severe disadvantage in uplifting core values in the Americas—democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 

The 50 organizations and experts echo previous letters sent to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in February by members of Congressformer commissioners, and nominees. The IACHR leads on efforts to fight violence, corruption, censorship, and trafficking, and to promote victims’ rights and regional responses to refugee crises throughout the Americas. The signatory organizations agree that it would be a severe misstep for the U.S. government to cut off funding to a respected organization that is mandated to protect democracy and human rights in the Americas. 

Created in 1959, the IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States that monitors and defends human rights. The IACHR considers petitions from individuals who claim that their rights have been violated by a member state, and they cannot find justice in their own country. The IACHR can also take concrete measures to protect individuals and groups whose lives are in imminent danger. It is also its duty to monitor the human rights situation in the member states. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, the IACHR challenged and reported abuses by repressive regimes, becoming instrumental in helping to facilitate the region’s transition to democracy. More recently, it has been a leading institution in developing human rights standards. 

The signatory organizations and individuals call on all Organization of American States member states, including the United States, to continue supporting the IACHR and ensuring it can meet its mandate. The IACHR’s continued leadership on human rights has importance beyond the region, and it must be safeguarded. 

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