Nº 15/01



On Thursday, July 19 and Friday, July 20, 2001, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”) will hold a seminar on the inter-American system for the protection of human rights in Belize City, Belize. This event, convened at the invitation of the Government of Belize, is the second in a series of Caribbean human rights seminars sponsored by the Commission in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, San Jose, Costa Rica, the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, United Kingdom, the Government of the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean Human Rights Network, Barbados. The first seminar was held in St. George’s, Grenada on February 1 and 2, 2001 at the invitation of that country’s government.  

The Commission’s delegation is composed of: Lic. Marta Altolaguirre, Vice-President, Commissioners Dr. Peter Laurie and Professor Robert K. Goldman; Dr. Relinda Louisy, Senior Human Rights Attorney; Brian Tittemore, Human Rights Attorney; Eric Rudge, Romulo Gallego Fellow; Joanna Evans, Intern; and Gloria Hansen and Claudia Ramos, Administrative Assistants. 

Panelists invited to participate in the seminar include: the Hon. Godfrey Smith, Attorney General and Minister of Information of Belize; Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh of the Supreme Court of Belize; Ambassador John S. Donaldson, former Chairman of the Commission; Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé, Attorney at Law and former Commissioner; Dr. Clare Roberts, Commissioner-elect and former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda; Lloyd Joseph, Attorney at Law; Guyana; Maurice Glinton, Attorney at Law, The Bahamas; Georgine de Miranda, Attorney at Law, Suriname; Lloyd Barnett, Esq., Barrister, President of the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights and member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights; Nicholas Blake QC, Barrister with Matrix Chambers, London; Saul Lehrfreund MBE, attorney with Simons Muirhead and Burton, London; and Charles Moyer, Director of Administration and Finance, Inter-American Institute of Human Rights. 

Officials with the Government of Belize who are expected to attend the seminar’s opening session include the Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance of Belize, and the Hon. Godfrey Smith, Attorney General and Minister of Information of Belize. These officials will be joined by members of the diplomatic corp in Belize and other dignitaries from the Western Caribbean region, including members of the judiciary and members of the Bar from Belize, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Guyana, Haiti and Suriname. 

The aim of the seminar is to promote the inter-American treaties and procedures for protecting human rights in OAS member states, with a focus upon the states of the Caribbean region. To this end, regional participants in the seminar are expected to include: attorneys general; solicitors general; national human rights commissioners; parliamentary commissioners; ombudsmen; prosecutors; public defenders; judges; members of the Bar; law professors; law students; law enforcement officers; correctional officers; psychiatrists; physicians and physicians’ assistants; representatives of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations; and other members of relevant state institutions and civil society. 

The Commission is the principal organ of the OAS mandated to promote, protect, and defend human rights in the Americans, and serves as a consultative organ to the OAS in these matters. The Commission derives its authority from the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Commission’s Statute and Rules of Procedure. The Commission is comprised of seven Commissioners who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence. As part of its mandate, the Commission receives individual petitions alleging violations of the rights protected in the American Convention in respect of member states that have ratified that treaty, and of rights under the American Declaration in respect of other OAS member states. The Commission also studies the human rights situation in the countries of the hemisphere, examines specific issues within its sphere of competence, and prepares and publishes corresponding reports. 

The Commission wishes to thank and commend the Government of Belize for hosting and facilitating this event. The Commission also extends its thanks to the Inter-American Institute, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Government of the United Kingdom, and Caribbean Human Rights Network for their collaboration in carrying out this series of seminars. 

Washington, D.C. July 18, 2001