MEETINGS OF THE COMMISSION
A. Meeting of the Subcommittee
For the purpose of considering the work done by the Commission in the Dominican Republic, a meeting of its Subcommittee was held in Washington from June 22 to 24. This meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Manuel Bianchi, the Vice Chairman, Dr. Gabino Fraga, and Dr. Durward V. Sandifer, a member.
At that time the Chairman of the Commission presented a preliminary report on the situation regarding human rights in the Dominican Republic (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.12, Doc. 2 Rev.).
That document, which presents a detailed description of the activities carried out from June 1 to 15, 1965, contains the following conclusions:
1. Overcrowding in some cells of prisons under the authority of the Government of National Reconstruction was the most negative scene observed by the Commission in its trip through the Dominican Republic.
This fact was laid before the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of that government by note of June 11, 1965.
Such a situation not only is insulting to the individual who experiences it, but it brings with it sanitary and physical problems that must be avoided.
The Chairman gave preference to this problem, by obtaining transfers of prisoners to less crowded cells or by accelerating the process of purging prisoners, in order that those against whom there were no specific charges might be set free as soon as possible.
2. Arrest for reasons of political vengeance or partisan rancor should be entirely avoided. The Commission knows of many cases in which those arrested were the victims of the hatred or passion of determined agents of authority, either for the purpose of holding them as hostages or in order to terrorize their families. This problem continues on both sides of the conflict.
The Chairman suggests that these charges be sifted and that, as in the previous case, all individuals against whom there are no specific charges or grounds for detaining them, be immediately set free.
3. The disappearance of persons arrested is another important phenomenon observed by the Commission. Many cases have been reported of persons arrested who were transferred from one prison to another without reaching their destination. This aspect should be investigated and prevented, particularly in the area under the authority of the Government of National Reconstruction, where, because of the greater number of prisons and greater distances, a large number of denunciations have been forthcoming.
4. The Commission has observed that despite the existence of written orders authorizing the visiting of prisoners by their families, some of them are unable to see their families because this is prevented by the prison guards.
The Commission learned of cases in which the families of prisoners waited 30 and 40 consecutive days without seeing them, and even without being certain that they were receiving the clothes or meals they brought them.
The Chairman recommends to the competent authorities that they comply strictly with the order permitting visits to prisoners, either on special days of each week or during particular hours of each day, in order to alleviate in this way the serious situation created by the uncertainty prevailing in many Dominican families.
5. The Commission has likewise observed that the wages of persons imprisoned for political reasons are withheld, with the result that their families are left in desperate circumstances.
The Chairman made known to the Secretary General of the Organization the information received with regard to this problem, so that he could give instructions for the appropriate measures to be taken.
6. The Commission observed that in some cases imprisoned persons were punished physically in both factions, in flagrant violation of the right of the individual to physical integrity.
The said document contains, in addition to the aforementioned conclusions, the following recommendations:
1. The Chairman of the Commission completely agrees with the terms of the cable from the Secretary General of the Organization, dated May 25, 1965, to the effect that the presence of the Commission in the Dominican Republic during the present situation is essential. He therefore recommends that a representation thereof remain in that country continuously, for the purpose of observing and solving problems relating to human rights.
2. The Chairman also considers it essential for the Commission to hold a special session as soon as possible in order to examine exclusively the case of human rights in the Dominican Republic.
At the close of its meetings, the Subcommittee resolved:
1. To take note of the Report presented by the Chairman, and
2. To suggest: a) that the Chairman continue to act in accordance with his powers until a special meeting of the Commission is held to deal exclusively with the Dominican case, and b) the convoking of the aforementioned special meeting of the Commission, to be held as soon as possible at its permanent seat in Washington, D.C.
B. Eleventh Meeting (Special)
The Chairman of the Commission, in a communication addressed to the members of the inter-American agency on June 23, 1965, stated the need for holding a special meeting to consider the situation regarding human rights in the Dominican Republic.
In that communication, Professor Bianchi referred to the request formulated by Dr. José A. Mora, Secretary General of the OAS, that the Commission be present in the Dominican Republic to ensure respect for human rights in that country, as well as for the agreements adopted by the subcommittee at the meeting it just held.
The special meeting convoked by the Chairman in accordance with the powers conferred on him by Article 11.b.ii, of the Statute, was held at the Commission’s permanent seat in Washington, from July 21 to 23, 1965. The Chairman, Professor Manuel Bianchi, and Mrs. Angela Acuña de Chacón, Dr. Carlos Alberto Dunshee de Abranches, and Dr. Durward V. Sandifer, members, attended the meeting.
The Agenda of the Eleventh Meeting (Special) contained two main points: 1. The situation regarding human rights in the Dominican Republic, and 2. Activities of the Commission in the Dominican Republic: a) Activities that the Commission will continue to carry out until the establishment of the Provisional Government, and b) Activities to be carried out from the establishment of the Provisional Government until the installation of the elected government.
In the course of the meetings, the Chairman amplified the Preliminary Report he had presented to the Subcommittee, and reports were received from the Commission members who had served in the Dominican Republic: Dr. Durward V. Sandifer (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.13, Doc. 4) and Carlos Alberto Dunshee de Abranches (OEA/Ser.L/II.12, Doc. 9).
With regard to the activities in the Dominican Republic until the establishment of a Provisional Government, the Commission approved a Resolution, whose text is the following:
The Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in all member states of the Organization;
Article 11.c of its Statute states that the Commission “May move to the territory of any American State when it so decides by an absolute majority of votes and with the consent of the government concerned”;
Article 3 of the Regulations lists, as one of the duties of the Chairman, “to represent the Commission”;
Article 8 of the Regulations provides that the members of the Commission “shall perform their functions during the course of the meetings, and during the time of recess shall carry out the task or preparatory work entrusted to them by the Commission”;
In the present situation in the Dominican Republic, the Chairman and two members of the Commission, complying with requests addressed both by the Constitutional Government and by the Government of National Reconstruction of the aforementioned country, as well as with the appeal made by the Secretary General of the Organization, went to the Dominican Republic for the purpose of examining on the spot the situation regarding human rights;
The Chairman of the Commission, in the report he submitted for consideration by the members thereof regarding his activities in the Dominican Republic, emphasized the need to maintain a representation of the Commission in that country in the course of its present situation; and
Both the Constitutional Government and the Government of National Reconstruction, in statements signed on June 8 and 9, respectively, have declared that they will give the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights all of the facilities that are essential for the proper fulfillment of its mission,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
To authorize its Chairman, in accordance with his powers and by whatever means he considers most appropriate, to maintain a representation of the Commission in the Dominican Republic so that it may continue its attention to the problems related to human rights in that country in the course of the present situation.
As regards the activities of the Commission following the establishment of the Provisional Government and until the date on which an elected government is inaugurated, the following resolution was adopted:
The draft Institutional Act prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Tenth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs contemplates the presence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the Dominican Republic until the installation of the elected government;
Both the Constitutional Government and the Government of National Reconstruction have, at various times, expressed the need for the presence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the Dominican Republic until the present situation in that country becomes normal; and
The Commission, in accordance with its Statute, has a mandate to promote respect for the human rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
To authorize its Chairman to maintain a representation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the Dominican Republic in the form he deems most appropriate, provided that the Provisional Government of the Dominican Republic, in accordance with the Institutional Act, authorizes its presence in the country, for the purpose of promoting respect for the human rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and especially of ensuring strict compliance with Articles I, II, IV, IX, X, XVII, XVIII, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, and XXVI of the aforesaid Declaration.