In order to give compliance to the provisions of Article 59(e) of the Regulations of the Commission, which provides that the annual report of the IACHR to the General Assembly should include a statement on progress made in achieving the objectives set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and in the American Convention on Human Rights, the Commission wrote to the governments of the member states of the OAS, through the Secretariat, requesting pertinent information. Responses were received to the Commission’s request, as follows: from the Government of Brazil, through a note from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, dated September 19, 1980; from the Government of Colombia, in a note from the Under Secretary for International Agencies and Conferences, dated August 29, 1980; the Government of Chile, in a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated July 1, 1980; from the Government of Ecuador, in a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated July 15, 1980; from the Government of Guatemala, in a note from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, dated July 11, 1980; from Honduras, through a note from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, dated September 1980; from the Government of Mexico, in a note from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, of September 11, 1980;from Nicaragua, through a note from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, dated September 5; from the Government of Peru, in a letter dated August 14, 1980, from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, and from the Government of Uruguay, in a note from the Permanent Mission to the OAS, dated July 14, 1980.


          The information received can be summarized as follows:


A.          BRAZIL


          The Government of Brazil reported that in August 1979, Law Nº 6683 was enacted. By virtue of this law, amnesty is granted to all those who, during the period between September 2, 1961, and August 15, 1979, allegedly committed political crimes, common crimes related to political crimes, and voting offenses. The amnesty also covers those whose political rights had been suspended, civil servants involved in direct or indirect administration of functions related to the Public Power, civil servants of the Legislative and Judicial Powers, military personnel and union leaders and representatives, convicted on the ground of the institutional and supplementary acts. Amnesty is also granted to employees of private businesses who, because of their participation in strikes or in some movement to recover or reclaim rights governed under social legislation, had been dismissed from their jobs or stripped of their positions as union administrators or representatives.


          The law states that the benefits of the amnesty do not apply to those who have been found guilty of the crimes of terrorism, assault, kidnapping and attempted murder.


          The Government of Brazil reported the foregoing and attached the text of the law and the texts of Law 4329, of March 16, 1964, and of Decree 63681, of November 22, 1968, which create and regulate, respectively, the Council for Protection of the Rights of Persons (CDDPH), an organ that meets periodically to monitor the enforcement of laws in the area of human rights.


B.          COLOMBIA


          The Government of Colombia reported that following a proposal by the Government, the Congress adopted an amendment to the Constitution, in Legislative Act Nº 1 of 1979, to supplement Colombia’s legal system of protection of human rights. This Act expressly authorizes the Procurator General of the Nation and his agents to defend human rights. Thus, Article 40 of the Legislative Act amended Article 143 of the National Constitution, giving the Procurator General the power to rule on complaints he may receive on violations of human rights and social guarantees by public officials or employees, to verify them and institute legal proceedings, if pertinent, and to present draft legislation regarding his assignment, and particularly regarding defense of human rights and social guarantees to Congress for consideration.


          Likewise, pursuant to the amended Article 143, the Procurator General is responsible for seeing that the right to a legal defense is fully upheld, and that criminal trials are conducted according to law; to oversee the official conduct of public officials and employees, and to institute an investigation by the competent authority of acts by such public officials and employees that might be in violation of the law. The Procurator General also oversees the conduct of officials and employees of the Judiciary and may institute proceedings before the Higher Judiciary Council for appropriate disciplinary action.


C.       CHILE


          The Government of Chile reported that during the period 1978 to 1979, considerable progress was made in the specific areas of: a. labor law; b. health; c. social security; d. education; e. justice and protection against arbitrary arrest, and f. property law.


a.       Labor Law – Articles XIV and XV of the American Declaration


          Decree Law Nº 2200 of June 15, 1978 not only eliminated the distinction between manual workers (blue-collar workers) and intellectual workers (white-collar workers) as stated in the 1978 report, but it also established freedom of hiring and selection of jobs, indicating that the regular work week shall not exceed 48 hours, setting a maximum work week of 42 hours for radio operators and telephone line-men, and 33 hours per week maximum for operators, key punchers and supervisors of automated accounting or statistics systems. The workday can be adjusted so that the working week is either five days or five-and-a-half days long.


          There is a break during each working day of no more than two hours and not less than one, except when there is authorization for a single workday, in which case the break will be only half an hour long.


          The legislation calls for weekends and holidays with full pay. Workers with more than one year of service have the right to 15 working days’ vacation on full pay, while workers in the extreme north and south of the country are entitled to 25 days. In addition, after 10 years of work, whether continuous or not, whether or not with the same employer, the worker is entitled to one day for each additional three years of work, although the maximum may not be more than 35 days.


          Decree Law Nº 2200 also establishes equal pay for equal work, and requires that the monthly wage not be less than the minimum monthly wage. No discrimination of any kind is allowed regarding the rights to this minimum wage per month, which is adjusted periodically.


          Also in the labor field, as regards trade unions, collective bargaining and the right to strike, the Government of Chile underscores that Decree-Laws Nos. 2755 to 2761, which form the “Labor Plan”, were promulgated on July 3, 1979.


b.      Health and Welfare – Article XI of the American Declaration


          In this field, the Chilean Government reported that Constitutional Act Nº 3, Article 1, Nº 19, established the right to health. The State assumes the responsibility of guaranteeing free access to health promotion, protection and recovery and to rehabilitation, on an equal basis for all individuals. The State is also responsible for coordination and control of integrated health action. Regulations have been established for the social security system which extends benefits originally given to intellectual workers, i.e., private employees or semi-public or public officials, to the working class sectors, i.e., to all the country’s workers, who now have access to the same health services, either directly, or by optional payments by the beneficiary himself.


c.       Social Security – Article XVI of the American Declaration


          The Government stated in this regard that Nº 21 of the same Article 1 of Constitutional Act Nº 3 establishes the right to social security, and adds that improvements have been made to the existing provisional legislation, in the expectation that the process of reform will be completed in 1980, and will set up a social security system that meets individual and family needs in a uniform and adequate manner. It will take care of any needy situation arising for whatever reason, but particularly will look to maternity, old age, death, accidents, illness, disability, family problems and unemployment, by delivering preventive and curative health services.


          The Chilean Government added that it is also important in this field to note that Decree Law 2448 of February 9, 1979 amended the pension systems, setting general, common standards that ended certain privileges for particular groups, such as the so-called early pensions granted after ten or somewhat more years of service that were draining the pension system of funds. The right to an old-age pension at 65 for men and 60 for women was recognized, and a transitional system was established for people anticipating the right to a seniority pension after 30 or 35 years service, on the basis of a combined age-seniority table.


          The Ministry of Lands and Colonization set regulations in Decree Nº 2695 aimed at regularizing small land-holdings and constituting land ownership.


D.          ECUADOR


          The Government of Ecuador reported that the new Political Constitution approved in a national referendum on January 15, 1978, which entered into force on August 10, 1979, upholds the following rights in Title II: personal rights (life, personal security, etc.) (Section I); family (Section II); education and culture (Section III); social security and popular promotion (Section IV); work (Section V); political rights (Section VI), while Title III upholds economic and property rights.


          The Government of Ecuador reported that the new Political Constitution approved in a national referendum of January 15, 1978, which entered into force on August 10, 1979, upholds the following rights in Title II: personal rights (life, personal security, etc.) (Section I); family (Section II); education and culture (Section III); social security and popular promotion (Section IV); work (Section V); political rights (Section VI), while Title III upholds economic and property rights.


          The Government also reported that in a spirit of full universal protection of human rights, the penal code was amended by decree Nº 3194 published in Official Gazette 769 of February 8, 1979. It included the provisions necessary to prevent and punish any type of racism or racial discrimination, even though the court records of Ecuador, which finally abolished slavery in 1845 do not show a single suit brought for racial reasons. The report of the Ecuadorian Government adds that on the basis of its working philosophy summarized in the “21 Program Points” set forth by the President of the Republic, it has put into practice its ideal of protecting the fundamental rights of man by various domestic and international actions. Domestically, it stresses the low-cost housing programs, the social security and health benefits provided through the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute, or through the preventive and curative health program conducted throughout the country, within the guidelines of the 1980-1984 National Development Plan. It lays particular stress, domestically, on the creation of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Popular Promotion, which is responsible for coordinating all social advancement programs for the underprivileged.


          Internationally, the Government of Ecuador makes particular mention of the proposal approved by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Andean countries on May 15, 1970 of a Code of Conduct containing various proposals on protection of human rights in the countries of the Andean Group.


E.          GUATEMALA


          In its reply, the Government of Guatemala stated that “all Guatemalan legislation is perfectly adapted to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the American Convention on Human Rights, and hence there is no need in our country to amend domestic legislation to bring it into line with those international instruments.”


F.          HONDURAS


          The note from the Government of Honduras states that it has traditionally respected human rights and has been conducting activities to make those rights more effective and, as a consequence, strengthen political and representative institutions. Among such actions, mention is made of the following: in accordance with provisions of the Election and Political Organizations Law, an electoral census was conducted in 1979 to register the citizenry. On April 20, 1980, elections were held to form a Constitutional Assembly, which was assigned the tasks of drafting and approving a new Constitution and of fully reestablishing the constitutional system in Honduras. The electoral process in general and the elections in particular were conducted in a climate of broad guarantees and free participation on the part of the citizenry, a fact recognized both nationally and internationally.


          On July 20, 1980, the new Constitutional National Assembly was installed. It has undertaken discussion of the new Constitution. Later it will call presidential elections and elections for a Regular Congress. These elections must be held within an estimated period of from 12 to 18 months. A Provisional Government was formed with the participation of the political parties; that Provisional Government will rule until the next Constitutional Government is elected and takes office. Immediately after its installment, the Constitutional National Assembly enacted a decree of general amnesty and pardon, which benefited a considerable number of citizens who had been detained for a variety of reasons.


          The Christian Democratic Party was registered by the National Elections Court, thereby qualifying it for full participation in the political life of Honduras.


          The Constitution now being discussed will include specific provisions for protection of the individual and social rights and guarantees that are the basis of the existence and functioning of a democratic and representative system.


G.          MEXICO


          In its reply, the Government of Mexico states that in general terms, it may be said that Mexican legislation has undergone significant reform in the period of reference.


          A third paragraph was added to Article 4 of the Constitution, addressed particularly to minors, who because of their minority status, must be considered as being entitled to everything they need for their development, and physical and mental health, and that there is an obligation to meet all their needs. (The third paragraph of the Article in reference was added in a decree of March 14, 1980, published in the Official Gazette of March 18, 1980).


          During the period in reference, other laws were issued, amended and added to within the ambit of Mexican sovereignty. Such was the case with the “Law on Liabilities of Federal, Federal District and State Officials and Employees” (Decree published in the Official Gazette of January 4, 1980), involving measures related to the Rights and Duties of Man.


          Important measures in support of the major issue of constitutional review were passed, and can be found in the amendments to the law regulating Articles 103 and 107 of the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico, according to the Decree of December 31, 1979, published in the Official Gazette of January 7, 1980.


          The Mexican Government’s report also notes the promulgation of “Regulations for Prisoners” (Decree of August 14, 1979, published in the Official Gazette of August 24, 1979). Article 9 of these Regulations states: “All forms of physical or mental violence and acts or procedures that violate the dignity of prisoners are hereby prohibited; as a result, authorities shall not in any case commit acts that constitute inhumane, denigrating or cruel treatment, torture or economic extortion.”


          A number of secondary laws were amended to conform to this: the amendments to the Penal Code are found in the Decrees of December 27, 1979 published in the Official Gazette of January 3 and 7, 1980; the Decree of November 23, 1979, published in the Official Gazette of December 5, 1979; the Decree of December 30, 1979, published in the Official Gazette of January 7, 1980, and there particularly, the amendments to the “Organic Law of the Judiciary” in the same Official Gazette of January 7, 1980.


          The amendments to the “Internal Regulations of the Government Secretariat,” which makes it responsible for a number of functions regarding the protection and implementation of measures on human rights (Decree of February 19, 1980, published in the Official Gazette of February 21, 1980).


          The decree promulgating the “Convention on the Nationality of Married Women,” published in the Official Gazette of October 25, 1979.


          These were the most prominent items of legislation. The case law can be found in the reports of the Supreme Court during the period in question.


H.          NICARAGUA


          The Government of National Reconstruction of Nicaragua reported the legislation adopted in the area of human rights since it came to power in July 1979. It emphasized enactment of the following: the Fundamental Statutes, the Statutes on Rights and Guarantees, the Law on Creation and Organic Structure of the Special Government Attorney’s Office, the Law to Protect Freedom and Personal Security, the Law of Protection, the General Statutes of the State Council, repeal of the National Emergency Law (Decree 383, of April 21, 1980), the law that approved and ratifies the Convention on Human Rights, concluded in San José, Costa Rica, adherence to the International Convention on the Suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid, adherence to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, approval and ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Archeological, Historic and Artistic Heritage of the American Nations, the Nicaraguan Government’s approval of and adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, its Optional Protocol, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, approval of the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the Special Law on Social Security Benefits for Minors.


          The Nicaraguan Government also reported that a National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights was created through Decree 438 of June 1, 1980.


          According to the note from the Government, the Commission was established bearing in mind resolutions 23 (XXXIV) and 24 (XXXV), adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on March 8, 1978, and December 14, 1978, respectively, which promote and endorse the guidelines on the structure and functioning of national institutions to promote human rights, which appear in the Report of the Seminar held in Geneva from September 18 through 29, 1978.


I.        PERU


          The New Government of Peru reported on the measures it had taken since it was installed on July 28, 1980, in relation to the observance and promotion of human rights in the country. These measures are:


          a.          Promulgation of two laws adopted by the Legislature: Law Nº 23215, which granted a general amnesty to all those who, on the date of promulgation, stood accused, were being tried or had been sentenced under common or private law, for acts of a political or social nature or related accessory acts, and it was established that the rights and property that had been taken away by virtue of the acts or crimes for which amnesty was being granted would be restored to the persons covered by the amnesty; and Law Nº 23216, which instructed the Executive to reinstate or give indemnity to public servants fired during the previous regime, in violation of the Constitution or the law.


          b.          A decision of the Council of Ministers of July 28, 1980, which adopted the draft legislation reestablishing freedom of speech, information, opinion and circulation in the country, and another similar bill was passed “delegating to the Executive the authority to legislate, by legislative decrees, repeal of decree laws and other provisions regarding seizure of national newspapers, and ordering restitution of the tangible and intangible assets of newspaper, printing and distribution businesses seized, including third party goods, to their owners, and within no more than 120 working days, to take pertinent measures to resolve the legal, economic, financial, administrative and labor problems created as a consequence of such acts, including all reorganization measures considered necessary.


          This decision also instructed the President of the Republic to exercise his right to send this draft legislation adopted by the Council of Ministers to Congress as an urgent priority.


          c.          Supreme Resolution Nº 034-80-OCI of July 28, 1980, which reinstated the editors or managers of a number of national newspapers to the posts they held at the time of the decree expropriating newspapers, by decrees laws Nos. 18169, 20681, and their amendments, additions, restatements, and related regulations.


J.          URUGUAY


          The Government of Uruguay reported progress as regards: a) the system of conditional and early release; b) the right of association; c) government relaxation authorizing the visit by the International Red Cross.


a.       New system of conditional and early release


          Law Nº 14997 adopted by the Council of State on March 25, 1980 established the new system of conditional and early release under the military courts. The law, which went into effect immediately, also permits review of a case before final sentencing in the event security measures had been imposed.


b.       Right of association


          In application of Decree Nº 477 of 1973, the Minister of the Interior announced on July 9, 1980’ that he would permit meetings of a political nature throughout the country, provided authorization was requested from the corresponding authorities. Only citizens who are not proscribed may participate in such meetings.


c.       Visit by the International Red Cross


          The Government authorized a visit by the International Red Cross in the broadest terms, i.e., the international model for visits by that organization was fully applied. All prisoners, without exception, were visited. The teams of experts and doctors visited and talked with each prisoner, interviewing them without witnesses, in total privacy.



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