August 26, 2020
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (the Coalition) stands
with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in their firm
condemnation of the decision made on August 15, 2020 by Luis Almagro,
the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), not to
renew the four-year mandate of Dr. Paulo Abrão as Executive Secretary of
Dr. Abrão is an unparalleled defender of human rights in the Americas.
Having served as Executive Secretary of the Institute for Public Policies on
Human Rights of MERCOSUR, Brazil’s Secretary of Justice, and Chairman
of Brazil’s Amnesty Commission, he has advocated for the rights of victims
throughout the region and has played a pivotal role in securing human
rights for the most vulnerable – including refugees and survivors of
trafficking – for decades. Worldwide, his work on the importance of
memory in the pursuit of justice and accountability has been nothing short
For these reasons and many more, the IACHR unanimously recommended
in January 2020 that Dr. Abrão’s mandate be renewed for another four
years. Without transparency or a respect for procedure, the Secretary
General unilaterally overrode that recommendation in an unprecedented
move on August 15, 2020 – only one day before Dr. Abrão’s contract was
set to expire. In doing so, he threatens the legitimacy of the IACHR – which
is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in the American
hemisphere – by undermining its autonomy as an independent arm of the
OAS, free of political influence.
As an organization that includes all 35 independent states of the Americas
and is charged with supporting democracy, human rights, security, and
development among member states, the OAS, led by Luis Almagro, should
reverse the decision regarding Dr. Abrão and reaffirm its commitment to
transparency and nonpartisanship. Only when our institutions are free from
bias and opacity can the rights of all people be properly protected.
To read IACHR’s full statement, please click here.