BUENOS AIRES – Governments must not consider human rights irrelevant but must rather recognize their moral stature, the head of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said on Monday at the start of its 162nd extraordinary period of sessions in Argentina.
“The subject of human rights is often a hard topic to deal with in political discussions within governments and state agencies. It’s a subject that impassions/polarizes,” Commissioner Francisco Jose Eguiguren said as this week’s IACHR public hearings got underway at a hotel in Buenos Aires.
For Eguiguren, the cause for human rights demands an attribution of “moral stature” that is sometimes neither spontaneous nor easy to achieve, since it is often spoken of as something “distant and remote” when it is not that at all.
He also said the concentration of power, which violates the separation of powers, undermines judicial independence and infringes on human rights, is a matter the IACHR focuses on in the region, since, he said, “it tends to go hand in glove with a disrespect for disagreement, freedom of opinion and the right to debate.”
After the period of session held in Washington last March and before the one Lima will host next July, the hearings in Buenos Aires will be the second of the five extraordinary periods of sessions open to the public in 2017, in which, besides members of the IACHR, representatives of governments and social organizations of each country will take part.
Beginning this Monday, members of the rights organization will hold private hearings in the afternoons, while between May 24-26 public sessions will be held in the morning.
As Eguiguren recalled, subjects and problems to be explored include drug policies, incarceration systems, judicial independence and respect for freedom of speech in five countries: Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay and Peru.
Such situations in Argentina will not be discussed because of IACHR protocol for extraordinary sessions, which is to steer clear of issues of the host country that finances the meeting in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
In that sense, he thanked the South American country for its invitation to hold these hearings at a time when the commission is going through such economic hard times, while noting the common ground in the “fight against impunity” that has united IACHR with Argentina since 1979, when representatives of the organization arrived in Buenos Aires at the height of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.