Americas' top rights group faces financial crisis, warns of cuts
By Anastasia Moloney
BOGOTA, June 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The leading human rights organization in the Americas said on Wednesday it will cut staff and operations drastically unless it gets added funding in the next six weeks, a move that rights advocates say would undermine justice and protection for victims of abuses.
The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) faces a "severe financial crisis," said James Cavallaro, its president.
"We will have to lay off nearly half of our staff, 30 people, unless we get a cash injection by July," Cavallaro told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"We are working very hard to stave off this crisis," he said. The group needs additional funding by July 31 at the latest, he said.
The Syrian refugee crisis has meant less funding coming from Europe, particularly from Nordic countries that have been big donors to the IACHR, he said.
The IACHR, part of the 35-member Organization of American States (OAS), has an annual budget of $10 million to $12 million, getting roughly half its money from OAS and the remainder from voluntary donations.
In late May, the IACHR said it was suspending sessions it holds to discuss cases of rights violations brought by citizens and rights groups, as well as country visits, planned for this year.
Each year, dozens of rights groups bring complaints of abuses before the Washington, D.C.-based commission, where they have an opportunity to call governments to account in public hearings. Continuación...