WASHINGTON – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomed the Catholic Church, which made representation to the organization for the first time to defend indigenous peoples and their resources, on a day also marked by complaints of human rights violations in Cuba and of modifications to the criminal justice system in Colombia.
On the third day of its 154th session, the Washington based IACHR held hearings on issues related to Colombia and Cuba, and received submissions from senior clerics from Latin America, the United States and Canada.
The Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru, Pedro Barreto Jimeno informed the IACHR that he and Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes have written to Pope Francis asking him to visit the IACHR during a trip to the United States scheduled for September.
“The Pope received the letter with great joy,” said Jimeno, who presented a copy of the document to the organization.
At the hearings, the clerics denounced the violation of the rights of Latin American peasants and indigenous peoples by companies extracting natural resources from different parts of the region, particularly the Amazon.
They submitted a report highlighting governments’ criminalization of protest, attacks on human rights defenders, and growing social conflict due to the extraction of natural resources.
In the single session on Cuba, three activists complained that repression of government opponents and human rights workers in the country has continued and even increased since the announcement of normalization of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations last December.
In a session on Colombia, the IACHR delved into the initiatives of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos to reform the military justice system, to allow military tribunals to try crimes committed against civilians by serving military personnel.
In another hearing on Colombia, 20 NGOs called on the Colombian government to prosecute high military officials accused of committing extrajudicial executions known as ‘false positives’ during decades of armed conflict.