This week, the countries of the OAS must elect three candidates of the six nominated to serve as members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In February, more than 130 organizations – human rights groups, trade unions, peasant movements, associations that work on issues of justice, gender equality, the environment, LGBTI rights and freedom of speech – formally objected to the Argentine state’s candidate, Carlos Horacio de Casas.
De Casas’ professional development is not linked to the defense and promotion of human rights. His activity within the inter-American system has been to defend executives from an Uruguayan company accused of financial crimes, and his law firm defended before the system a mining company that gravely affected indigenous communities in Guatemala.
De Casas has made public statements that go against international standards on freedom of speech: he took a stance against repealing the crime of contempt, a measure that had been ordered in a friendly settlement agreement before the IACHR. He has also made statements against the rights of LGBTI persons and women.
In addition, when he was called upon to publicly defend his candidacy, he falsified information regarding a person he represents, military official Enrique Blas Gómez Saa, who is accused of crimes against humanity committed during the last Argentine civic-military dictatorship. He lied about Gómez Saa’s record and misrepresented dates and places where the military official had carried out functions.
Two former presidents of the IACHR, Robert Goldman and Juan Méndez, sent a formal note to Argentine President Mauricio Macri to express their concern regarding De Casas’ candidacy and reject his nomination.
More than 60 scholars solicited that the Foreign Ministry withdraw the proposal for De Casas to become a member of the IACHR. In the letter, they stressed that “he does not meet the necessary conditions of suitability to form part of this body.”
An international panel of Independent Experts analyzed the records of all the candidates nominated to join the Commission. The only person it questioned was De Casas. Based on his curriculum, his professional trajectory and his publications, the panel expressed “its concern regarding compliance with the requirement that the candidate have recognized competence in matters of human rights.”
For these reasons, we ask the countries of the OAS to not elect Carlos Horacio de Casas as a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.