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Reform of the Inter American Human Rights System must not weaken its capacity to protect victims – Pillay

GENEVA (21 March 2013) – United Nations Human Rights chief Navi Pillay today urged all members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to ensure that reform of the Inter American System for the protection of human rights does not affect its independence and capacity to defend victims and persons at risk of human rights violations.

“In every country, in the entire American continent, all victims of human rights violations must be protected,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed on the eve of an Extraordinary General Assembly meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), tomorrow in Washington DC, to vote on proposed reforms to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR).

“During the past five decades, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been a beacon of hope in the American continent, providing recourse to countless victims of human rights violations, consolidating democratic institutions and inspiring the development of human rights machinery worldwide,” she said.

“I encourage OAS Member States to seize this opportunity in the reform process to strengthen its exemplary human rights system, by promoting universal access for citizens throughout the continent, respecting the Commission’s autonomy to progressively improve its policy and practice in response to the needs of victims and concerns of member states, and providing the necessary resources to allow for an even greater contribution to safeguarding human rights in the Americas,” the High Commissioner added.

The UN High Commissioner noted that the Inter-American system and the universal human rights system have increasingly been working together and complemented each other to maximise protection, promote human rights and prevent abuses.

The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights was created by the OAS in 1959 as an autonomous body, with the mission to promote and protect human rights in the American continent, and to act as a consultative body to the organization in this area. Together with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, set up in 1979, the Commission is one of the institutions within the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.

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