Civil society organizations express concern over OAS silence in wake of petitions for dialogue with candidates
Civil society organizations members of the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas, deeply lament the silence and lack of formal response by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), to the requests we made during the months of March, April, and May of 2015 where they asked the Permanent Council to convene dialogues  between both organizations from civil society and the members of the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IASHR) with the candidates of the Inter-American Court and Commission of Human Rights.
08.June.2015

We, the undersigned organizations, as members of the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas, deeply lament the silence and lack of formal response by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), to the requests we made during the months of March, April, and May of 2015[1]. In these requests we asked the Permanent Council to convene at one of the many dialogue spaces between both organizations from civil society and the members of the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IASHR) with the candidates of the Inter-American Court and Commission of Human Rights.

Although the request for formal dialogue was discussed in Permanent Council’s two public sessions and one private session without the presence of civil society and the general public, at the moment we still have not received a formal and concrete response. Given the closeness of the General Assembly of the OAS in which the reference elections will be occurring, we infer that the lack of any response regarding our list of demands implies its refusal.

With its silence and implicit refusal, the OAS has diverged from the steady path it has taken in the last several years, dedicated to incorporating more transparent practices in the selection process before civil society, the press, and academia among others. This is clearly worrying as the selection process for members of human rights bodies directly affects the rights of those who inhabit the continent, from heads of states to individuals. It is for this reason that the selection of members should be subject to wide scrutiny from members, victims, national protection bodies, the press, and academia among other relevant actors.

Formal dialogue with candidates would allow the aforementioned actors and the public in general to learn about the candidates’ stances and proposals while being able to evaluate their independence, suitability, and ability to represent, all of which are indispensable in achieving the effective protection of human rights. Additionally, these actors and the public would be able to comment on the collective balance that these bodies demand in order to guarantee diversity, gender parity, representation, judicial specialization to mention several criteria.

It surprises us that on this occasion the OAS has not granted formal dialogues from candidates in front of the IASHR and civil society, even though open forums in the Permanent Council have been held in the past. On May 1, 2013 a session was held in which the candidates for the Inter-American Commission at the time responded to various questions posed by organizations from civil society and delegations from member states. More recently, these meetings have been held for the selection of the Secretary General and the Under-Secretary General.

It is worrying that institutionally the OAS moves away from the practices described and let pass a valuable opportunity to engender transparency, participation, and legitimacy that should govern the selection process of the members of its human rights bodies.

We announce that we are attentive to the observations made by the Panel of Independent Experts about the Election of Inter-American Commissioners and Judges, created as a result of an initiative from civil society to give greater transparency to selection processes.

In addition, we would like to thank all the candidates of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights that presented themselves at the dialogue supported by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), member of the Coalition, in Panama City, Pana during the 7th Summit of the Americas. This dialogue allowed a fruitful and productive interchange of key topics for the protection of human rights in the Americas. Their participation demonstrated that candidates are not the ones who fear or mistrust public opinion.

We hope to count on the attendance of all the candidates of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to a forum that will be backed by civil society in the frame of the General Assembly of the OAS in Washington DC.

 


[1] The first letter was dated March 13, the second was dated April 15, and the third May 8 of 2015.

 

 

Signing organizations

Argentina
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales

Bolivia
Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer

Chile
Centro Regional por los Derechos Humanos y la justicia de Género: Corporación Humanas Chile

 

Colombia
Consultorio Jurídico Internacional de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Santo Tomás de Bogotá
Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES)
Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos (GIDH)

 

Costa Rica

Alianza por tus Derechos

Defensa de Niñas y Niños- Internacional (DNI)
Centro Internacional para los Derechos Humanos de los Migrantes (CIDEHUM)

 

Ecuador

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
Terra Mater

 

 

El Salvador

Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugenésico

Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local

Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente de El Salvador (GMIES)

 

Guatemala

Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH)

Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP)

Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres (GGM)

Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres (REDNOVI)

Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)

Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)

 

Honduras
Centro de derechos de Mujeres (CDM)

Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús (ERIC-SJ)

Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla

 

México

Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos
Asistencia Legal  por los Derechos Humanos A.C. (ASILEGAL)
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña "Tlachinollan"
Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh)

 

Nicaragua
Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)
Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres (MAM)

 

Perú

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)
Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (PROMSEX)
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad (IIDS)
Paz y Esperanza

Uruguay
Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR)

Venezuela
Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de Caracas

Regionales
Asociadas por lo Justo (JASS - Just Associates)
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Coalición de Organizaciones LGBTI con trabajo en la OEA
Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights - Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional)