Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay seek to undermine the role of the Inter-American Human Rights System
On 11 April 2019, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay sent a joint communication to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, expressing concern over their institutional autonomy in the context of the statements and decisions made by the Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the application of human rights standards. The communication represents an effort towards restricting the role of the Inter-American System, and is particularly concerning in the context of the regional trends of attacks against human rights defenders and growing authoritarianism.
According to the joint communication, the governments raise their complaints based on the recognition of states’ sovereignty and the principle of subsidiarity, referred to in the American Convention on Human Rights. However, it is important to highlight that the Inter-American Human Rights System is mandated to promote a collaborative dialogue between human rights defenders, victims of human rights violations and civil society organisations, and the concerned states, rather than impose undue or arbitrary burdens on national governments. In many cases, the Inter-American Court and Commission are the only forum allowing human rights defenders to enter into a dialogue with states.
Any attempts at restricting the independence and autonomy of the Inter-American Court and Commission will represent a limitation on one of the few spaces that human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations can count on to take up their cases and offer solutions which address their actual needs. This is especially noteworthy, given the regional tendencies of shrinking civil society space and increased attacks against human rights defenders, as shown by Front Line Defenders’ 2018 Global Analysis Report.
Front Line Defenders remains concerned about the attempts at restricting the role of the Inter-American System. Front Line Defenders is further worried that states might use the principle of subsidiarity as a way of shirking their human rights obligations and denying access to justice for victims of human rights violations.