The book "International Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism" (E. Shor & S. Hoadley, eds, Springer 2019) contains the following two chapters on the Inter-American Human Rights System:
Christina M. Cerna
Abstract: "The Organization of American States (OAS) comprises all 35 independent countries in the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Chile, including the independent islands of the Caribbean. The Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights are the two OAS organs created to deal with human rights in the region and in the discussion of international human rights law; the Commission is often overlooked in favor of an examination and analysis of the Inter-American Court’s jurisprudence. The Commission, however, has the overarching responsibility for the monitoring of human rights in the hemisphere and consequently has a wider mandate than the Court, the principal function of which is the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights.
In discussing the work of the OAS as regards counter-terrorism, it is also important to look at the work of specific bodies created to deal specifically with the issue of counter-terrorism such as the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, although this body has little contact with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission, for its part, has a long history in conducting on-site visits to countries that were engaged in internal armed conflicts, often against military dictatorships, where terrorism was employed to undermine the State and where the State engaged in acts of counter-terrorism. This chapter will consider examples of the Commission’s on-site visits and country reports to illustrate the changing nature of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the region."
Amaya Ubeda de Torres
Abstract: "How have Inter-American human rights bodies dealt with terrorism and how has it shaped their case law? The Inter-American system of human rights has been a pioneer in this field, paving the way toward assessing and establishing the limits of States’ behavior in the fight against terrorism. The American continent is not foreign to terrorism, even before the attacks on the Twin Towers and the 11 September events gave it global resonance. This chapter will assess the approach adopted by the Inter-American bodies and the complexities in developing such a response. The reactions of both the Inter-American Commission and the Court to counterterrorist measures and human rights abuses have generated a rich and well-developed body of case law. As with many other topics, the Inter-American Court has played a leading role and, over time, has transformed the American Convention through interpretation, making it a well-adapted mechanism in the fight against human rights abuses. States are confronted with a complex dilemma, as they have to decide whether to declare a state of emergency and exception or deal with terrorism in the context of the normal working of the institutions of the democratic State. In the first case, if the State recognizes a threat that may endanger the life of the nation, the state of emergency allows it to adopt measures restricting human rights in the fight against terrorism under international supervision. In the second case, the State does not specify that there is an extraordinarily grave danger, and counterterrorist measures will therefore have to satisfy the tests of proportionality and necessity when limiting individual human rights. Dealing with “gray areas,” which are situations in between exception and normality and which call for adopting restrictive measures which affect everyday life, has triggered a wide range of case law. Most cases happen in a context in which there is not an open conflict but, rather, concern a situation of internal strife. Instances of State terrorism are also at the basis of some of the most powerful rulings issues."
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