In February, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights had an eventful trip to Bogotá, Colombia for the 167th Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights participated in two working meetings with IACHR Commissioners on two ongoing matters against Brazil and The Bahamas. Programs Director Angelita Baeyens represented the organization in a coalition of civil society organizations that voiced opinions and concerns to the IACHR on issues related to civil society involvement, procedural delays, and the need for increased representation and diversity of issues and groups before the IACHR.
Our litigation and advocacy team was joined by three human rights advocates, one from Latin America and two from Sub-Saharan Africa, as part of an observation mission under the frame of a project funded by the National Endowment for Democracy that seeks to increase understanding and collaboration among practitioners of the African and Inter-American human rights systems to advance the protection of civic space.
On the first day, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Kerry Kennedy, joined the delegation to give an overview of our work and attend a hearing on the Dominican Republic, an issue Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has been working on for over a decade. The human rights advocates observed other public hearings as well, including on issues such as freedom of expression in the Americas and the human rights situations in the United States and Venezuela. After the hearings, they were able to speak with advocates from different parts of the world and compare notes on litigation strategies, coalition building and advocacy tactics.
The delegation also met with Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, the Assistant Executive Secretary of the IACHR, and Jorge Meza, Coordinator of the Protection Unit, to talk about differences between the Inter-American and African systems of human rights and areas of potential synergy.
The observation mission will help to inform Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ upcoming events on international litigation for the protection of civic space, including the upcoming litigation surgery in Dakar, Senegal in May 2018.