According to the Annual Report 2008 of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti continue to have serious human rights problems (see here for the report).
The Commission’s Report, which was presented to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States on 8 May of this year, mentions these countries in a special chapter. This chapter is dedicated to countries which have been “the subject of the Commission’s special attention”.
Pursuant to the Commission’s criteria a country is listed in this chapter 1) if the government of the country concerned has not been democratically elected 2) if the rights under the convention have been suspended in this country due to exceptional circumstances (state of emergency etc.) 3) if the government commits massive violations of the rights enshrined in the Inter-American Convention of Human Rights 4) if the country concerned is in the process of transition from one of the above states 5) if the country is in an institutional crisis or in another particular situation that is likely to cause problems in terms of human rights implementation.
As to Colombia, the Commission expressed its concern about the ongoing violence in the country caused by the numerous armed groups and criminal organizations and the rampant impunity. It also noted the particularly grave situation of trade union activists, hundreds of which are murdered for political reasons every year. As regards Cuba, the Commission underscored a number of institutional problems, including the obvious lack of democracy, the repression of the political opposition, flaws regarding the independence of the judiciary, and restrictions of freedom of expression. Haiti was included into this list because of the structural problems the country faces. The reason for this is the ongoing political instability but also the natural disasters that have struck the country, including four hurricanes in the last few years. Finally, as far as Venezuela is concerned, the Commission was particularly concerned about “an environment hostile to political dissent” and the increasing impunity in the country.
Interestingly, the same countries had already been listed in the Commission’s Annual Report of 2007 (see here). The Commission is the main human rights body of the Organisation of American States besides the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and has a high reputation in the Americas. Its report has therefore the potential to cause quite some embarrassment to the leaders of the countries concerned.