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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In brief
Latinamerica Press
5/27/2016
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Latin America and the Caribbean, Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a body of the Organization of American States (OAS) that promotes the defense of human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, announced on May 23 that as a result of the extreme financial crisis that it is going through at the moment, it has been forced to suspend the planned visits for this year as well as the sessions scheduled for July and October of this year. In addition, the IACHR does not have the funds that are needed to renew the contracts of 40 percent of its staff, which expire on July 31. This will pose serious consequences on its ability to fulfill its mandate and core functions. The OAS allocates only 6 percent of its budget to the IACHR, an equivalent to US$ 4.8 million for 2016. This year the only countries that have made voluntary contributions to the Commission are Argentina, the United States, Peru and Uruguay for a grand total of US$ 2.5 million, most of which was contributed by the United States.

On May 3, Bolivia’s government put into effect a background check certificate that disqualifies people from accessing public office when they have a sentence related to gender-based violence. Any citizen who wants access “to a public office in any state body or a management level position either by election, appointment, designation or hiring, in addition to those means provided for by the law, it shall be considered a compulsory requirement not to have a background of violence against women or any other member of his family, that has an executory sentence with the effect of res judicata [a matter judged].” The certificate shall be issued by the Plurinational Integrated System of Prevention, Care, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Based on Gender, under the Ministry of Justice.

The National Narcotics Council of Colombia reported on May 4 that illicit coca crops will once again be sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate, but only by the ground sprinkling method. In May 2015, the government suspended aerial spraying after the World Health Organization warned that the agrichemical could cause cancer. The agency in charge of the fumigation will be the Antinarcotics Police, and the authorities expect that by May 2017 they will have destroyed at least 16,200 hectares of illicit crops. According to Coca Crop Monitoring 2014, presented on July 2 last year, Colombia is the largest producer of coca leaf, with 69,000 hectares planted, while the potential for cocaine production reached 442 MT.

Maria Teresa Rivera was freed after four years imprisonment in El Salvador. She had been sentenced to 40 years in prison for aggravated homicide after suffering a miscarriage in 2011. Rivera was arrested in the hospital after health personnel reported her to the Police for having undergone an abortion, a practice that is illegal in the country under any circumstances, even when the mother’s life is in danger. After a lengthy appeal process, a judge ruled on May 20 that there was no evidence that Rivera had induced the abortion. According to Amnesty International, in November 2015 there were at least 19 women incarcerated in relation to the criminalization of abortion, and convicted of murder with weak or inconclusive evidence.

Judge Adalid Ambriz Landa, of the Sixth Unitary Tribunal of Toluca, ordered on May 13 the release of three soldiers accused of killing 22 people in the municipality of Tlatlaya, in the state of Mexico, on June 30, 2014, “for insufficient evidence.” The three soldiers were part of a group of eight members who, according to the version of the Army, had a confrontation with criminals in a warehouse. The other five defendants were released in October 2015 by a federal court. According to the government’s National Commission on Human Rights, at least 15 unarmed civilians who had surrendered were executed extrajudicially and the scene was altered to simulate that a confrontation had indeed taken place.


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