The Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration, Ricardo Patiño began a six-day trip on Wednesday to eight countries in the region where he is meeting with counterparts regarding proposed reforms to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The first leg of his trip is already complete, which included visits to Venezuela and Mexico. Patiño first met with Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade on Wednesday agreeing that there was room for changes to the IACHR, such as improving its management and transparency and for “balanced funding for all rapporteurs and the necessary political and financial appropriation of the system.” Patiño is also visiting Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, and Haiti before a March 8 meeting in Guayaquil, Ecuador where signatories to the American Convention of Human Rights will meet to discuss reforms. The meeting was convened by UNASAUR.
As detailed in an AQ Web Exclusive last week, “in mid-2011 the Organization of American States (OAS) began its initiative to ‘strengthen’ the inter-American system— with the main proponents of this process being the ALBA countries, most notably Ecuador and Venezuela. These countries have submitted proposals to weaken the independence and effectiveness of the Commission in several ways: by cutting its possibilities for financing; by denying it the power to issue reports on the countries of greatest concern; and by limiting its ability to seek urgent protective actions when serious threats of human rights violations arise.”
José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, voiced concern that the March 8 meeting will “negotiate formulas that will weaken IACHR,” and that it “seems to be rather an ambush against IACHR and freedom of expression promoted by the Ecuadorian government.”
The reforms will be voted on during an Extraordinary General Assembly of the OAS on March 22.