Human Rights Alarm

Article excerpt

POLICE ABUSES, violations of due process of law, unlawful restrictions on freedom of expression, and problems in the administration of justice are some of the "structural deficiencies" that weaken democracies in the Americas, the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) says in its 2003 annual report.

"Periodic elections and the expansion of democratic regimes have not achieved a democratic institutionalization and culture sufficient to bring stability and unity to our societies, thereby hindering the rule of law, undermining the enjoyment of fundamental rights, and generating a climate susceptible to social crises that impact at the political and institutional levels," the report states.

The report (available at was made public in March. Member states were given the opportunity to make observations before the report is considered by the OAS General Assembly in June.

In its Chapter IV, on "Human Rights Developments in the Region," the IAGHR annual report identifies five OAS member states whose human rights practices merit special attention: Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, and Venezuela.

With respect to Colombia, the report highlights the continued violence related to the armed conflict, the involvement of police with criminal groups, and the violation of the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law by participants in the conflict. It reiterates the Commission's concern over the continued activities of paramilitary forces in vast areas of the country, despite the presence of the armed forces. …


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