on Human Rights (1969)
The American states signatory to the present Convention,
Reaffirming their intention to consolidate in this hemisphere,
within the framework of democratic institutions, a system of personal
liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential
rights of man;
Recognizing that the essential rights of man are not derived
from one's being a national of a certain state, but are based
upon attributes of the human personality, and that they therefore
justify international protection in the form of a convention reinforcing
or complementing the protection provided by the domestic law of
the American states;
Considering that these principles have been set forth in the
Charter of the Organization of American States, in the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, and that they have been reaffirmed
and refined in other international instruments, worldwide as well
as regional in scope;
Reiterating that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, the ideal of free men enjoying freedom from fear
and want can be achieved only if conditions are created whereby
everyone may enjoy his economic, social, and cultural rights,
as well as his civil and political rights, and
Considering that the Third Special Inter-American Conference
(Buenos Aires, ~967) approved the incorporation into the Charter
of the Organization itself of broader standards with respect to
economic, social, and educational rights and resolved that an
inter-American convention on human rights should determine the
structure, competence, and procedure of the organs responsible
for these matters,
Have agreed upon the following:
Signed at Inter-American Specialized Conference on Human Rights,
San Jose, Costa Rica.
Part I. State Obligations and Rights Protected
CHAPTER I. GENERAL OBLIGATIONS
ARTICLE I. OBLIGATION TO RESPECT RIGHTS
1. The States Parties to this Convention undertake to respect
the rights and freedoms recognized herein and to ensure to all
persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise
of those rights and freedoms, without any discrimination for reasons
of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national or social origin, economic status, birth, or any other
2. For the purposes of this Convention, "person"
means every human being.
ARTICLE 2. DOMESTIC LEGAL EFFECTS
Where the exercise of any of the rights or freedoms referred
to in Article ''is not already ensured by legislative or other
provisions, the States Parties undertake to adopt, in accordance
with their constitutional processes and the provisions of this
Convention, such legislative or other measures as may be necessary
to give effect to those rights or freedoms.
CHAPTER II. CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
ARTICLE 3. RIGHT TO JUDICIAL PERSONALITY
Every person has the right to recognition as a person before
ARTICLE 4. RIGHT TO LIFE
T. Every person has the right to have his life respected.
This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the
moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of
2. In countries that have not abolished the death penalty,
it may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant
to a final judgment rendered by a competent court and in accordance
with a law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the
commission of the crime. The application of such punishment shall
not be extended to crimes to which it does not presently apply.
3. The death penalty shall not be reestablished in states
that have abolished it.
4. In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political
offenses or related common crimes.
5. Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who,
at the time the crime was committed, were under ~ 8 years of age
or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women.
6. Every person condemned to death shall have the right to
apply for amnesty, pardon, or commutation of sentence, which may
be granted in all cases. Capital punishment shall not be imposed
while such a petition is pending decision by the competent authority.
ARTICLE 5. RIGHT TO HUMANE TREATMENT
1. Every person has the right to have his physical, mental,
and moral integrity respected.
2. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman,
or degrading punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of
their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity
of the human person.
3. Punishment shall not be extended to any person other than
4. Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances,
be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to
separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted
5. Minors while subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated
from adults and brought before specialized tribunals, as speedily
as possible, so that they may be treated in accordance with their
stems as minors.
6. Punishment consisting of deprivation of liberty shall have
as an essential aim the reform and social readaptation of the
ARTICLE 6. FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY
1. No one shall be subject to slavery or to involuntary servitude,
which are prohibited in all their forms, as are the slave trade
and traffic in women.
2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory
labor. This provision shall not be interpreted to mean that, in
those countries in which the penalty established for certain crimes
is deprivation of liberty at forced labor, the carrying out of
such a sentence imposed by a competent court is prohibited. Forced
labor shall not adversely affect the dignity or the physical or
intellectual capacity of the prisoner.
3. For the purposes of this article, the following do not
constitute forced or compulsory labor:
a. work or service normally required of a person imprisoned
in execution of a sentence or formal decision passed by the competent
judicial authority. Such work or service shall be carried out
under the supervision and control of public authorities, and any
persons performing such work or service shall not be placed at
the disposal of any private party, company, or juridical person;
b. military service and, in countries in which conscientious
objectors are recognized, national service that the law may provide
for in lieu of military service;
c. service exacted in time of danger or calamity that threatens
the existence or the well-being of the community; or
d. work or service that forms part of normal civic obligations.
ARTICLE 7. RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY
1. Every person has the right to personal-liberty and security.
2. No one shall be deprived of his physical liberty except
for the reasons and under the conditions established beforehand
by the constitution of the State Party concerned or by a law established
3. No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment.
4. Anyone who is detained shall be informed of the reasons
for his detention and shall be promptly notified of the charge
or charges against him.
5. Any person detained shall be brought promptly before a
judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial
power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time
or to be released without prejudice to the continuation of the
proceedings. his release may be subject to guarantees to assure
his appearance for trial.
6. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty shall be entitled
to recourse to a competent court, in order that the court may
decide without delay on the lawfulness of his arrest or detention
and order his release if the arrest or detention is unlawful.
In States Parties whose laws provide that anyone who believes
himself to be threatened with deprivation of his liberty is entitled
to recourse to a competent court in order that it may decide on
the lawfulness of such threat, this remedy may not be restricted
or abolished. The interested party or another person in his behalf
is entitled to seek these remedies.
7. No one shall be detained for debt. This principle shall
not limit the orders of a competent judicial authority issued
for non-fulfillment of duties of support.
ARTICLE B. RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL
1. Every person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees
and within a reasonable time, by a competent, independent, and
impartial tribunal, previously established by law, in the substantiation
of any accusation of a criminal nature made against him or for
the determination of his rights and obligations of a civil, labor,
fiscal, or any other nature.
2. Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right
to be presumed innocent so long as his guilt has not been proven
according to law. During the proceedings, every person is entitled,
with full equality, to the following minimum guarantees:
a. the right of the accused to be assisted without charge
by a translator or interpreter, if he does not understand or does
not speak the language of the tribunal or court;
b. prior notification in detail to the accused of the charges
c. adequate time and means for the preparation of his defense;
d. the right of the accused to defend himself personally or
to be assisted by legal counsel of his own choosing, and to communicate
freely and privately with his counsel;
e. the inalienable right to be assisted by counsel provided
by the state, paid or not as the domestic law provides, if the
accused does not defend himself personally or engage his own counsel
within the time period established by law;
f. the right of the defense to examine witnesses present in
the court and to obtain the appearance, as witnesses, of experts
or other persons who may throw light on the facts;
g. the right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself
or to plead guilty; and
h. the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court.
3. A confession of guilt by the accused shall be valid only
if it is made without coercion of any kind.
4. An accused person acquitted by a non-appealable judgment
shall not be subjected to a new trial for the same cause.
5. Criminal proceedings shall be public, except insofar as
may be necessary to protect the interests of justice.
ARTICLE 9. FREEDOM FROM EX POST FACTO LAWS
No one shall be convicted of any act or omission that did
not constitute a criminal offense, under the applicable law, at
the time it was committed. A heavier penalty shall not be imposed
than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offense
was committed. If subsequent to the commission of the offense
the law provides for the imposition of a lighter punishment, the
guilty person shall benefit therefrom.
ARTICLE I0. RIGHT TO COMPENSATION
Every person has the right to be compensated in accordance
with the law in the event that he has been sentenced by a final
judgment through a miscarriage of justice.
ARTICLE 11. RIGHT TO PRIVACY
1. Everyone has the right to have his honor respected and
his dignity recognized.
2. No one may be the object of arbitrary or abusive interference
with his private life, his family, his home, or his correspondence,
or of unlawful attacks on his honor or reputation.
3. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against
such interference or attacks.
ARTICLE 12. FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and of
religion. This right includes freedom to maintain or to change
one's religion or beliefs and freedom to profess or disseminate
one's religion or beliefs, either individually or together with
others, in public or in private.
2. No one shall be subject to restrictions that might impair
his freedom to maintain or to change his religion or beliefs.
3. Freedom to manifest one's religion and beliefs may be subject
only to the limitations prescribed by law that are necessary to
protect public safety, order, health, or morals, or the rights
or freedoms of others.
4. Parents or guardians, as the case may be, have the right
to provide for the religious and moral education of their children
or wards that is in accord with their own convictions.
ARTICLE 13. FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION
1'. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression.
This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information
and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally,
in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other
medium of one's choice.
2. The exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing
paragraph shall not be subject to prior censorship but shall be
subject to subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be
expressly established by law to the extent necessary to ensure:
a. respect for the rights of reputations of others; or
b. the protection of national security, public order, or public
health or morals.
3. The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect
methods or means, such as the abuse of government or private controls
over newsprint, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used
in the dissemination of information, or by any other means tending
to impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.
4. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph ~ above, public
entertainments may be subject by law to prior censorship for the
sole purpose of regulating access to them for the moral protection
of childhood and adolescence.
5. Any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial,
or religious hatred that constitute incitements to lawless violence
or to any other similar illegal action against any person or group
of persons on any grounds including those of race, color, religion,
language, or national origin shall be considered as offenses punishable
ARTICLE 14. RIGHT OF REPLY
1. Anyone injured by inaccurate or offensive statements or
ideas disseminated to the public in general by a legally regulated
medium of communication has the right to reply or to make a correction
using the same communications outlet, under such conditions as
the law may establish.
2. The correction or reply shall not in any case remit other
legal liabilities that may have been incurred.
3. For the effective protection of honor and reputation, every
publisher, and every newspaper, motion picture, radio, and television
company, shall have a person responsible who is not protected
by immunities or special privileges.
ARTICLE 15. RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
The right of peaceful assembly, without arms, is recognized.
No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other
than those imposed in conformity with the law and necessary in
a democratic society in the interest of national security, public
safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals
or the rights or freedoms of others.
ARTICLE 16. FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
1. Everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological,
religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports,
or other purposes.
:2 The exercise of this right shall be subject only to such
restrictions established by law as may be necessary in a democratic
society, in the interest of national security, public safety or
public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights
and freedoms of others.
3. The provisions of this article do not bar the imposition
of legal restrictions, including even deprivation of the exercise
of the right of association, on members of the armed forces and
ARTICLE 17. RIGHTS OF THE FAMILY
1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of
society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.
2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry
and to raise a family shall be recognized, if they meet the conditions
required by domestic laws, insofar as such conditions do not affect
the principle of nondiscrimination established in this Convention.
3. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and
full consent of the intending spouses.
4. The States Parties shall take appropriate steps to ensure
the equality of rights and the adequate balancing of responsibilities
of the spouses as to marriage, during marriage, and in the event
of its dissolution. In case of dissolution, provision shall be
made for the necessary protection of any children solely on the
basis of their own best interests.
5. The law shall recognize equal rights for children born
out of wedlock and those born in wedlock.
ARTICLE 18. RIGHT TO A NAME
Every person has the right to a given name and to the surnames
of his parents or that of one of them. The law shall regulate
the manner in which this right shall be ensured for all, by the
use of assumed names if necessary.
ARTICLE 19. RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Every minor child has the right to the measures of protection
required by his condition as a minor on the part of his family,
society, and the state.
ARTICLE 20. RIGHT TO NATIONALITY
1. Every person has the right to a nationality.
2. Every person has the right to the nationality of the state
in whose territory he was born if he does not have the right to
any other nationality.
3. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality
or of the right to change it.
ARTICLE 21. RIGHT TO PROPERTY
1. Everyone has the right to the use and enjoyment of his
property. The law may subordinate such use and enjoyment to the
interest of society.
2. No one shall be deprived of his property except upon payment
of just compensation, for reasons of public utility or social
interest, and in the cases and according to the forms established
3. Usury and any other form of exploitation of man by man
shall be prohibited by law.
ARTICLE 22. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND RESIDENCE
1. Every person lawfully in the territory of a State Party
has the right to move about in it, and to reside in it subject
to the provisions of the law.
2. Every person has the right to leave any country freely,
including his own.
3. The exercise of the foregoing rights may be restricted
only pursuant to a law to the extent necessary in a democratic
society to prevent crime or to protect national security, public
safety, public order, public morals, public health, or the rights
or freedoms of others.
4. The exercise of the rights recognized in paragraph ~ may
also be restricted by law in designated zones for reasons of public
S No one can be expelled from the territory of the state of
which he is a national or be deprived of the right to enter it
6. An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to
this Convention may be expelled from it only pursuant to a decision
reached in accordance with law.
7. Every person has the right to seek and be granted asylum
in a foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of
the state and international conventions, in the event he is being
pursued for political offenses or related common crimes.
8. In no case may an alien be deported or returned to a country,
regardless of whether or not it is his country of origin, if in
that country his right to life or personal freedom is in danger
of being violated because of his race, nationality, religion,
social status, or political opinions.
9. The collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited.
ARTICLE 23. RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT
1. Every citizen shall enjoy the following rights and opportunities:
a. to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or
through freely chosen representatives;
b. to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections,
which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot
that guarantees the free expression of the will of the voters;
c. to have access, under general conditions of equality, to
the public service of his country.
2. The law may regulate the exercise of the rights and opportunities
referred to in the preceding paragraph only on the basis of age,
nationality, residence, language, education, civil and mental
capacity, or sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings.
ARTICLE 24. RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION
All persons are equal before the law. Consequently, they are
entitled, without discrimination, to equal protection of the law.
ARTICLE 25. RIGHT TO JUDICIAL PROTECTION
1. Everyone has the right to simple and prompt recourse, or
any other effective recourse, to a competent court or tribunal
for protection against acts that violate his fundamental rights
recognized by the constitution or laws of the state concerned
or by this Convention, even though such violation may have been
committed by persons acting in the course of their official duties.
2. The States Parties undertake:
a. to ensure that any person claiming such remedy shall have
his rights determined by the competent authority provided for
by the legal system of the state;
b. to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; and
c. to ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce
such remedies when granted.
CHAPTER III. ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
ARTICLE 26. PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT
The States Parties undertake to adopt measures, both internally
and through international cooperation, especially those of an
economic and technical nature, with a view to achieving progressively,
by legislation or other appropriate means, the full realization
of the rights implicit in the economic, social, educational, scientific,
and cultural standards set forth in the Charter of the Organization
of American States as amended by the Protocol of Buenos Aires.
CHAPTER IV. SUSPENSION OF GUARANTEES, INTERPRETATION, APPLICATlON
ARTICLE 27. SUSPENSION OF GUARANTEES
1. In time of war, public danger, or other emergency that
threatens the independence or security of a State Party, it may
take measures derogating from its obligations under the present
Convention to the extent and for the period of time strictly required
by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures
are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international
law and do not involve discrimination on the ground of race, color,
sex, language, religion, or social origin.
2. The foregoing provision does not authorize any suspension
of the following articles: Article 3 (Right to Juridical Personality),
Article 4 (Right to Life), Article 5 (Right to Humane Treatment),
Article 6 (Freedom from Slavery), Article 9 (Freedom from Ex Post
Facto Laws), Article 12 (Freedom of Conscience and Religion),
Article 17 (Rights of the Family), Article 18 (Right to a Name),
Article 19 (Rights of the Child), Article 20 (Right to Nationality),
and Article :23 (Right to Participate in Government), or of the
judicial guarantees essential for the protection of such rights.
3. Any State Party availing itself of the right of suspension
shall immediately inform the other States Parties, through the
Secretary General of the Organization of American States, of the
provisions the application of which it has suspended, the reasons
that gave rise to the suspension, and the date set for the termination
of such suspension.
ARTICLE 28. FEDERAL CLAUSE
1. Where a State Party is constituted as a federal state,
the national government of such State Party shall implement all
the provisions of the Convention over whose subject matter it
exercises legislative and judicial jurisdiction.
2. With respect to the provisions over whose subject matter
the constituent units of the federal state have jurisdiction,
the national government shall immediately take suitable measures,
in accordance with its constitution and its laws, to the end that
the competent authorities of the constituent units may adopt appropriate
provisions for the fulfillment of this Convention.
3. Whenever two or more States Parties agree to form a federation
or other type of association, they shall take care that the resulting
federal or other compact contains the provisions necessary for
continuing and rendering effective the standards of this Convention
in the new state that is organized.
ARTICLE 29. RESTRICTIONS REGARDING INTERPRETATION No provision
of this Convention shall be interpreted as:
a. permitting any State Party, group, or person to suppress
the enjoyment or exercise of the rights and freedoms recognized
in this Convention or to restrict them to a greater extent than
is provided for herein;
b. restricting the enjoyment or exercise of any right or freedom
recognized by virtue of the laws of any State Party or by virtue
of another convention to which one of the said states is a party;
c. precluding other rights or guarantees that are inherent
in the human personality or derived from representative democracy
as a form of government; or
d. excluding or limiting the effect that the American Declaration
of the Rights and Duties of Man and other international acts of
the same nature may have.
ARTICLE 30. SCOPE OF RESTRICTIONS
The restrictions that, pursuant to this Convention, may be
placed on the enjoyment or exercise of the rights or freedoms
recognized herein may not be applied except in accordance with
laws enacted for reasons of general interest and in accordance
with the purpose for which such restrictions have been established.
ARTICLE 31. RECOGNITION OF OTHER RIGHTS
Other rights and freedoms recognized in accordance with the
procedures established in Articles 76 and 77 may be included in
the system of protection of this Convention.
CHAPTER V. Personal Responsibilities
ARTICLE 32. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DUTIES AND RIGHTS
1. Every person has responsibilities to his family, his community.
2. The rights of each person are limited by the rights of
others, by the security of all, and by the just demands of the
general welfare, in a democratic society.
Part II. Means of Protection
CHAPTER VI. COMPETENT ORGANS
The following organs shall have competence with respect to
matters relating to the fulfillment of the commitments made by
the States Parties to this Convention:
a. the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, referred
to as "The Commission"; and
b. the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, referred to as
CHAPTER VII. INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1. Organization
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights shall be composed
of seven members, who shall be persons of high moral character
and recognized competence in the field of human rights.
The Commission shall represent all the member countries of
the Organization of American States.
1. The members of the Commission shall be elected in a personal
capacity by the General Assembly of the Organization from a list
of candidates proposed by the governments of the member states.
2. Each of those governments may propose up to three candidates,
who may be nationals of the states proposing them or of any other
member state of the Organization of American States. When a slate
of three is proposed, at least one of the candidates shall be
a national of a state other than the one proposing the slate.