University of Minnesota

Report on Terrorism and Human Rights, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.116, Doc. 5 rev. 1 corr. (2002).


Doc. 5 rev. 1 corr.
22 October 2002
Original: English



One of the most challenging responsibilities confronted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights since its creation over 40 years ago has been supervising compliance with human rights protections in member states of the Organization of American States that have faced terrorist threats. In fulfilling this responsibility, the Commission has emphasized in no uncertain terms that ensuring fundamental human rights in these situations does not contradict the obligation of member states to protect their populations from terrorist violence. To the contrary, the very purpose of anti-terrorist initiatives is to preserve the fundamental rights and democratic institutions that terrorism seeks to undermine and destroy. And through mechanisms such as derogations and restriction clauses, international human rights law recognizes and provides for means by which the restriction or suspension of certain rights may be necessary in exceptional circumstances to protect human rights and democracy.

The terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States on September 11, 2001, though extraordinary in their magnitude and horror, have not changed these fundamental precepts. Indeed, now more than ever it is crucial for member states to ensure that their responses to these inexcusable acts of violence honor faithfully the liberties and values upon which the democratic societies of our Hemisphere are built. To accept less only furthers the interests of forces that present among the most profound threats to our region in the 21st Century.

In this setting, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights presents this Report on Terrorism and Human Rights, in the hope that it will assist member states of the Organization of American States and other interested actors in the inter-American system in ensuring that anti-terrorism initiatives comply fully with fundamental human rights and freedoms and thereby achieve one of the crucial components for a successful campaign against terrorist violence.

The Commission would like to recognize the work of its Executive Secretariat in the preparation of this report. In particular, it wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Brian Tittemore, principal drafter, with the collaboration of Bernard Duhaime, Human Rights Specialists. Also contributing to particular components of the report were Eduardo Bertoni, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Lisa Yagel, Attorney with the Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression, Helena Olea, Attorney with the Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and their Families, and Gabriela Hageman, Principal Secretary, and Nora Anderson, Gloria Hansen, Documents Technicians.

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