OAS Head Faulted for Inaction
Insulza Allows Human Rights Violations – HRF
NEW YORK (August 20, 2008 ) —The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) launches the “Inter-American Democratic Charter and Mr. Insulza” program today with an open letter to José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), decrying his unwillingness to enforce the charter’s mandate to protect democracy in the Americas. HRF will send monthly digests to Insulza detailing violations of human rights and democracy in the continent, with the hope that the secretary general will take note and do his job.
The letter, cosigned by HRF President Thor Halvorssen and Chairman Armando Valladares, observes that under Insulza’s watch at the OAS, the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela have acted in clear violation of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter.
Such violations include infringements on fundamental rights, ranging from freedom of the press and expression to freedom from torture and tyranny – the shutting down of an independent television station in Venezuela and the recent state take-over of media in Ecuador; the government-sanctioned lynchings and political violence that have resulted in 40 deaths in Bolivia; the obliteration of judicial independence in Venezuela and Bolivia and the dissolution of the congress in Ecuador; and political persecution in all three countries.
The letter reminds Insulza that on September 11, 2001, every nation in the Americas approved the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a document that recognizes the need to defend democracy not only from unelected dictatorships but also from popularly-elected governments on the continent. The democratic clause found in Article 20 of the charter establishes a formal response mechanism that the OAS secretary general may initiate when democracy in a member state is under threat.
“Despite clear transgressions of the charter by the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, the secretary general of the OAS has failed to implement the democratic clause. HRF is categorical in its belief that Mr. Insulza should fulfill his duties as secretary general. We will continue to campaign until he protects human rights and democracy in the Americas from all types of violators, whether elected or not,” said Javier El-Hage, HRF’s General Counsel.
HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.
Contact: Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486, firstname.lastname@example.org
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