JUAN FRANCISCO BUENO ALVES
September 21, 1999
Juan Francisco Bueno Alves (hereinafter “the petitioner”)
submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (hereinafter “the Commission”) on August 24, 1994,
accusing the Argentine Republic (hereinafter “Argentina” or
“the State”) of allegedly violating the following rights enshrined
in the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Convention”): the right to humane treatment (Article 5), the right to personal
liberty (Article 7), and the right to a fair trial and judicial
protection (Articles 8 and 25).
The petitioner describes a series of events to the
Commission, chiefly involving the alleged arbitrary arrest
and torture carried out against him by officers of the “División
de Defraudaciones y Estafas.”
These incidents allegedly took place on April 5 and
6, 1988, respectively. In reply, the State maintains that
the remedies available under domestic law have not been exhausted
and that consequently, under Article 46(1)(a) of the Convention,
the case is not admissible.
3. The Commission concludes
that the petitioner has not exhausted the remedies offered
under domestic law in connection with the alleged threats
made against him by the police. This aspect of the case is
therefore inadmissible under Article 46(1)(a) of the Convention
and Article 37 of the Commission’s Regulations. The Commission
concludes that the allegations of arbitrary arrest do not
constitute a violation of rights enshrined in the Convention,
as required by Article 47(b) of the Convention and Article
41(b) of the aforesaid Regulations. On the contrary, in the
Commission’s view those allegations are manifestly
groundless, as described in Article 47(c) of the Convention
and Article 41(c) of the Regulations.
4. The Commission also
concludes that the petitioner’s allegations of torture, the
denial of a fair trial, and ineffective judicial recourse
do meet the admissibility requirements set forth in Article
47(b) of the Convention and Articles 31 and 41(b) of the Regulations
in that they do describe incidents that could tend to establish
a violation of rights protected by the Convention.
PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION
The Commission received the petition on August 24,
1994. It forwarded the relevant parts of it to the State the
following September 20.
The petitioner sent the Commission additional information
whose receipt was acknowledged on October 31.
The State sent the Commission its initial reply on
December 15; receipt of this was acknowledged and it was forwarded
to the petitioner on December 21.
8. On January 20, 1995,
the Commission received the petitioner’s comments on the State’s
reply. On that same date the case was opened and, on January
30, the petitioner was informed thereof and the relevant parts
were forwarded to the State. On April 3 the State asked for
additional time to prepare its reply; this extension, for
45 days, was granted by the Commission on that same date.
On July 21 the Commission resent its request for information
to the Argentine State; subsequently, on July 24, the Commission
received the State’s reply.
The petitioner sent the Commission additional information
on September 14, 1995; the Commission acknowledged receipt
of this and forwarded it to the State on October 11. The State
replied on December 7, and notice of this was given to the
petitioner on December 13. The petitioner sent the Commission
a communication on December 21 to inquire about the State’s
On January 19, 1996, and then on February 8 and August
23, the petitioner sent the Commission additional information;
acknowledgement of these submissions was given on February
8, February 21, and October 9.
Then, on October 1, 1996, the State sent the Commission
updated information on the legal proceedings related to this
case; acknowledgement of this was given and it was forwarded
to the petitioner on October 24.
The Commission received a further communication from
the petitioner on December 5; acknowledgement of this
was given and it was forwarded to the State on December 19.
On March 6, 1998, the Commission received a letter
from the petitioner reporting new allegations of victimization.
Acknowledgement that this communication was received was sent
on March 18.
14. On June 29, 1999, the Commission
asked the petitioner for additional information, which he
sent on July 23. On August 11, the State was sent the petitioner’s
allegations, giving it a period of 30 days in which to reply.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
The petitioner initiated a real-estate sales transaction
with Norma Lage and Jorge Denegri, which was not finalized.
He filed a complaint against the two of them for fraud and
threats in January 1988. In turn, on February 22, Norma Lage
filed a complaint against the petitioner and another individual,
alleging fraud and extortion, with which criminal proceedings
Nº 24519 began. The petitioner states that on the following
March 20, he and the other parties to the transaction agreed
to cancel the transaction. However, on April 5, the petitioner
and his attorney were arrested, the attorney’s professional
office was searched, and the recording of the cancellation
meeting was seized. This series of actions was carried out
by officers of the Fraud Division of the Argentine Federal
Police, acting on a court order issued as a part of criminal
proceedings Nº 24519.
16. He claims he was tortured at the
facilities of the police on April 6, 1988, to coerce him into
making a statement against his attorney,
a fact which he reported to the judge in charge of the case.
“The injuries described in the complaint were duly recorded
in the medical report.” He claims that the torture he suffered
resulted in “perforation of the eardrum caused by direct trauma
to the right ear, [. . .] from which injuries I
suffer permanent aftereffects, with the weakening of one organ
and two senses: my hearing, and my balance.”
In addition, he claims he was punched in the stomach,
which “was not recorded,” and kept from taking the medication
intended to prevent ulcer pain that he was carrying when arrested.
Because of the torture inflicted on the petitioner,
proceedings Nº 24079, “for maltreatment,” were initiated.
The petitioner claims these proceedings were plagued with
irregularities, such as:
to carry out the preventive custody orders served on
the three federal police offices accused of torturing
Release of the defendants “on account of an ungrounded
ruling by the prosecutor” and their subsequent promotion
within the police force;
“[. . .]
irregularities in the trial of [Police Officer] Ruiz:
the judge’s reluctance to take a statement from him
in spite of the Chamber’s ruling, paralysis of the case,
19. After 15 days in preventive custody
the petitioner was released and, on October 5, 1988, the criminal
action initiated against him was provisionally dismissed on
account of insufficient evidence.
He adds that:
right of freedom has been grossly affronted, in that I was
illegally arrested in spite of the fact I was executing a
perfectly correct and legal contract rescission and then sent
to prison for two weeks, despite being the only real victim
of a case of fraud [. . .] To this deprivation of
freedom [. . .] we must add that which I have suffered
over the past seven years [said in January 1995], curtailing
all journeys in public to the absolute minimum because of
my grounded fears of suffering new attacks.”
21. He reports that in addition to
case Nº 24079 (“maltreatment”), he has initiated a number
of other “both judicial and administrative” proceedings, which
can be summarized as follows:
Nº 24519, “providing the evidence necessary to demonstrate
the falsehood of the accusations that I committed fraud and
made threats.” The petitioner claims that this evidence subsequently
“disappeared” from the case file.
Nº 32989, “for irregularities in the proceedings: no procedural
measure was ever ordered.”
Nº 26696/95 and/or Nº 57642, “for threats made by police personnel
and for the irregular promotion of [accused police officer]
Nº 11425, “for human rights violations.”
Nº 25156, “for threats made by members of the Federal Police.”
Nº 6269/96, “for the disappearance of evidence.”
filed with the General Auditing Office of the Nation (AGN).
filed with the “National Secretariat of Human Rights.”
Regarding the law
The petitioner maintains that the right to judicial
protection, “was not respected,” in that in proceedings Nº
24519 he reported that he had been the victim of fraud but
“I was tried for it [and I was tortured by the police personnel
in charge].” He adds:
proceedings Nº 24079, for maltreatment, they allowed one
of the accused to work in that court; they never carried
out the preventive custody orders issued against the three
police officers charged in the case; and, finally, the case
was dismissed because of an ungrounded report by the Chamber’s
prosecutor. Since my claims were not addressed by the Chamber,
I filed an extraordinary remedy with the Supreme Court of
Justice of the Nation, which was rejected by the intervening
Court to which I had previously appealed without said appeal
being resolved, on the grounds that the Court’s judges could
not judge their own actions. [. . .] in proceedings
Nº 25156, for threats made against my person, no procedural
measure was ever ordered. In proceedings Nº 32989, for irregularities
in proceedings Nº 24079, no conclusion was ever reached.
[. . .] in proceedings 6269/96, for the disappearance
of evidence, no procedural measure has been ordered.
With regard to the violation of the specific guarantee
of being heard by the courts within a reasonable time, he
reports that, “In 1988 I began the first of my suits. [. . .]
Eight years have gone by [stated in December 1996] since the
incidents that gave rise to the claim. Thus, the reasonable
time has been violated, over and above the complexity of the
He also claims that, “I did not find in the domestic
courts the simple and prompt recourse that would protect me
against the actions of my respondents,” in violation of Article
25 of the Convention. In addition: “The frequent irregularities
in this case constitute serious, exact, consistent, and adequate
indications of the absence of judicial impartiality,” in breach
of the terms of Article 8(1) of the Convention.
He maintains that in addition to the torture and cruel,
inhuman, and degrading treatment he suffered during his police
attacks on my person did not end when I secured my freedom;
instead, I have received threats from members of the Argentine
Federal Police. In combination with the procedural irregularities,
this has affected me not only physically, but also morally
and psychologically, by placing me in a situation of defenselessness.
Finally, he claims, his arrest was arbitrary in nature.
To summarize, the petitioner’s allegations cover three
general groups of supposed situations:
(a) his arbitrary arrest on April 5, 1988, (b) the
torture inflicted the following day, lack of due process and
effective remedies for proving his claims, and (c) the threats
made by members of the police.
Regarding the facts
The State has not contradicted any of the petitioner’s
allegations and, instead, focused its answers to the Commission
on explaining the course of the judicial proceedings in this
case. In its communications it specifically refers to proceedings
Nos. 24079, for “maltreatment” (torture), and 61720, for “the
possible crime of destroying a public instrument.”
29. Its reply of July 24, 1995, explains
the course of the criminal investigation conducted into the
alleged maltreatment of the petitioner by three police officers.
In its reply of December 7, 1995, it reports the dismissal
of proceedings Nº 57.144 (for threats), brought before National
First-Instance Criminal Investigating Court Nº 30, and of
the provisional dismissal of proceedings Nº 25.156 (for threats),
brought before National First-Instance Criminal Investigating
Court Nº 23. Within these latter proceedings, the Argentine
Federal Police was ordered to “identify and capture the perpetrator(s)
of the crime.”
In its communication of October 1, 1996, it offers
a detailed description of the course of the different judicial
proceedings initiated by the petitioner. It refers to the
judgment of January 31, 1996, in proceedings Nº 24079 (maltreatment),
which ordered the final dismissal and acquittal of the alleged
torturers. It explains the steps taken in connection with
the letter the petitioner sent to the President of the Republic
on June 16, 1989. It notes that, “in proceedings Nº 26.696/95,
on June 3, 1996, it was decided to file the case because of
the nonexistence of a crime.”
Regarding the law
32. In its reply of December 15, 1994,
it maintains that the petitioner has not exhausted the remedies
available under domestic law as required by Article 46(1)(a)
of the Convention and that, consequently, the petition is
inadmissible. The State has not addressed the other legal
issues raised in the case.
Competence of the Commission
The petitioner’s claims involve alleged violations
of Articles 5, 7, 8, and 25 of the Convention, to which Argentina
is a party. Consequently, the case comes under the Commission’s
competence ratione materiae.
Competence ratione personae
The victim is an individual and he appears before the
Commission as the petitioner. Consequently, the Commission
holds that it has active competence ratione
personae in this case.
The petitioner’s claims describe alleged violations
of the Convention for which Argentina would be responsible.
Consequently, the Commission has passive competence ratione personae to hear this case.
The petition describes events that allegedly violated
the Convention and that exclusively took place after the Convention
had come into force for Argentina (September 5, 1984). Consequently,
the Commission has competence ratione
temporis to hear the case.
Other requirements for admissibility
Exhaustion of domestic remedies
37. One of the requirements set by
Article 46 of the American Convention for a case to be admitted
is that “the remedies
under domestic law have been pursued and exhausted in accordance
with generally recognized principles of international law.”
This requirement was introduced to allow states a chance to
resolve disputes through the legal and judicial channels provided
by their own domestic laws.
38. The State claims, in its communication
of December 15, 1994, that the case is inadmissible because
the stipulation requiring the exhaustion of domestic remedies
has not been met.
39. The petitioner, in turn, has invoked
the exception to this requirement set forth in Article 46(2)(c)
of the Convention, regarding the unwarranted delay in resolving
the domestic remedies available in his case:
11 years] I have been waiting for a legally correct solution;
during that entire time I have seen my human rights systematically
violated. I have been appearing before the courts since
1988 in my attempts to end the police pressure
that keeps me from living a normal life. [. . .]
My frequent requests for judicial protection have been formally
received, but the treatment given to them has been either
not effective or patently arbitrary [. . .] making
it virtually impossible to exhaust the domestic remedies.
40. The Commission notes the fact that
the situation has changed since the parties gave their statements
on this aspect of the case. As of the date of this report’s
adoption, all the corresponding judicial proceedings under
Argentine law have concluded.
41. One of the reasons for the complexity
of this case is the fact that it involves seven trials, each
dealing with different issues. For the purpose of assessing
compliance with the requirement of exhausting domestic remedies,
however, only the ordinary judicial remedies related to the
allegedly violated rights are of interest.
Regarding the alleged arbitrary arrest
42. The petitioner was placed in preventive
custody as part of proceedings Nº 24519, for fraud. In other
words, he was detained on the orders of a judge with competence
to order such an arrest, a requirement that can be deduced
from Article 7 of the Convention. The judge, responsible for
National First-Instance Criminal Investigating Court Nº 39,
ordered a dismissal in the petitioner’s favor in October 1988;
this ruling was finalized and the case was filed. The petitioner
maintains that, “since I was considered the accused and not
the complainant, I was legally barred from appealing the dismissal
resolution” [emphasis in the original]. The State has made
no objection to that claim and, in the interests of procedural
economy, the Commission will refrain from further analysis
of whether proceedings Nº 24519 were indeed a suitable remedy
for seeking recourse against the accusation. Consequently,
the Commission holds that the requirement has been met as
regards this aspect of the case.
the alleged torture
43. The proper recourse for this allegation
was proceedings Nº 24079 (“for maltreatment”), which also
dealt with the alleged removal of a medical report evidencing
the torture allegedly inflicted on the petitioner. Domestic
jurisdiction was exhausted with the ruling of the Supreme
Court of Justice of the Nation on April 15, 1997, dismissing
the petitioner’s complaint alleging that extraordinary recourse
had been denied. Consequently, the Commission holds that the
requirement has been met in this aspect of the case.
the alleged denial of a fair trial
44. The proper recourse for this allegation
was proceedings Nº 32989, begun by the petitioner on February
11, 1995, “for irregularities in the proceedings [24079, allegedly
committed by unidentified police and judicial officers.]”
The petitioner had claimed that “no procedural measure was
ever ordered,” but in a later communication he admitted that
the magistrate responsible for Investigating Court Nº 30 dismissed
the complaint “because no crime existed.” The petitioner holds
that, “I was legally unable to appeal against this resolution,
and so to date it is final and the case has been FILED”
[emphasis in the original]. Since State has not challenged
that claim, in connection with these proceedings the domestic
remedies are deemed to have been exhausted.
Regarding the alleged threats made by police personnel
The proper recourse for this was proceedings Nº 25156,
the purpose of which was to address the alleged threats made
by members of the Federal Police. It was “opened on March
14, 1989, and, on March 29, 1989 (15 days later), it was closed
without any investigation being conducted or procedural measure
ordered under a provisional dismissal ruling that, to date,
is final and the proceedings have been FILED” [emphasis in
46. Unlike the allegations regarding
arbitrary arrest and torture, in this regard the petitioner
has not supplied evidence to indicate his exhaustion of the
available domestic remedies. The petitioner has not claimed
to have appealed against the decision in proceedings Nº 25156,
nor has he claimed that additional remedies do not exist.
The State, in contrast, has alleged the petitioner’s global
failure to exhaust domestic remedies. Consequently, the Commission
concludes that this aspect of the case is inadmissible because
said remedies have not been exhausted.
47. In summary, for the purposes of
processing this case, the domestic remedies have been exhausted
in connection with the allegations of arbitrary arrest, torture,
and the denial of a fair trial. They have not been exhausted
as regards the alleged threats made by members of the police.
The following section analyzes compliance with this
requirement in respect of the proceedings in which the domestic
remedies were deemed to have been exhausted. Under Article
46(1)(b) of the Convention and Article 38(1) of the Commission’s
Regulations, the deadline for submitting petitions is six
months after the date on which notice of the “final ruling”
is served. The petition in this case was submitted on August
24, 1994, and that will be used as the starting date for calculating
compliance with this requirement.
Regarding the alleged arbitrary arrest
49. The Commission’s file does not
contain a copy of the final ruling in proceedings Nº 24519
(for fraud), during which the petitioners’ preventive custody
was ordered. But the petitioner has maintained that, “A provisional
dismissal was ordered in October 1988, and that ruling has
been finalized and the case filed.” The State, in turn, in
its reply of December 15, 1994, has globally held “that [with
regard to all the proceedings initiated by the petitioner,
which by reason of the date include the proceedings in question,
Nº 24519] they show that domestic remedies have not been exhausted.”
In sum: (a) the exact date on which the ruling became final
and was notified is not known, and (b) the State, by maintaining
that the domestic remedies have not been exhausted, forfeits
the right to argue any failure in complying with filing period
in connection with this case. Consequently, the Commission
declares that said requirement has been met in respect of
the alleged torture
50. The proper remedy was proceedings
Nº 24079 (for maltreatment and removal of the medical file).
The Supreme Court’s final ruling was handed down on April
15, 1997, and notice was given over the following days. Consequently,
as regards this aspect of the case, the requirement has been
Regarding the alleged denial of a fair trial
51. The proper remedy was proceedings
Nº 32989, “for irregularities in the proceedings [24079, allegedly
committed by unidentified police and judicial officers].”
The final ruling issued by the investigating judge is dated
February 21, 1995, and notice was given over the following
days. Consequently, as regards this aspect of the case, the
requirement has been met.
52. In sum, the filing period requirement
has been met as regards the alleged deprivation of personal
liberty, torture, and denial of a fair trial.
Duplication of proceedings and res
There is no evidence to indicate that the substance
of the petition is pending settlement in any other international
proceeding or that it is substantially similar to another
case already examined by the Commission or any other supranational
Nature of the allegations
54. After the analysis of the Commission’s
competence and of the formal requirements for admissibility,
the substance of the case has been reduced to the following
allegations: arbitrary arrest (illegal deprivation of personal
liberty); torture; and denial of the right to a fair trial.
The next step is to determine whether, if the allegations
are confirmed, they constitute prima
facie violations of the Convention as required by Article
Regarding the alleged arbitrary arrest — illegal deprivation of personal
liberty (Convention, Article 7)
The Commission notes that the petitioner’s allegations
refer to the arrest warrant issued against him by National
Criminal Investigating Court Nº 30 and carried out on April
There is nothing in the petitioner’s submissions that
would allow the Commission to conclude that these allegations
constitute a breach of the provisions of Article 7 of the
Convention regarding the right to personal liberty. The petitioner
was arrested “for the
reasons and under the conditions established beforehand by
the laws of Argentina].”
57. Neither do the petitioner’s claims
indicate that the judge in charge of proceedings Nº 24519
and who ordered his arrest acted in an illegal or clearly
abusive fashion or exceeded the limits of reasonable discretion
in the performance of his duties as a magistrate.
Consequently, the Commission concludes that the petitioner’s
allegations regarding his alleged illegal arrest, even if
proven true, do not constitute a violation of the Convention,
particularly of Article 7 thereof, as required by Articles
47(b) of the Convention and 41(b) of the Commission’s Regulations.
On the contrary, in the Commission’s opinion, those allegations
are manifestly groundless, in accordance with Articles 47(c)
of the Convention and 41(c) of the Commission’s Regulations.
the alleged torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment
inflicted on the petitioner (Convention, Article 5(2)
The petitioner claims that after his arrest, “at approximately
one o’clock in the morning [on April 6, 1988], in the place
where he was being held, the same officer who had arrested
him applied blows with a cupped hand over both ears, an attack
that was then repeated by another person.”
It should be noted that the petitioner has also claimed
that during his arrest, his police guards “punched him in
the stomach” but that “no evidence was given [. . .]
of the results of such blows.”
61. According to the information contained
in the case file, the petitioner’s torture allegations were
addressed by criminal proceedings Nº 24079, brought before
Investigating Court Nº 13, Secretariat Nº 140, against the
police officers who supposedly perpetrated the punishable
acts: René Jesús Derecho, Horacio Soto, and Norberto Cándido
Ruiz. The judge issued an order for them to be placed in preventive
custody, which was not carried out, and this was addressed
by the ruling of February 21, 1995, in proceedings Nº 32989
brought by the petitioner.
Proceedings Nº 24079, “for maltreatment,” was the legal
recourse available to the petitioner after his allegations
about the mistreatment he supposedly suffered while under
arrest at the police building. These proceedings also analyzed
the petitioner’s claims about the alleged disappearance of
the medical report drawn up by the Federal Penitentiary Service
which, he maintains, contained evidence of the torture inflicted
The Commission notes that it is not clear that proceedings
Nº 24079 addressed all the petitioner’s torture allegations,
since the ruling in the case solely refers to the violence
carried out against the petitioner’s ears and hearing apparatus.
In other words, the ruling makes no mention of the alleged
blows to the stomach or to the deliberate denial of the medication
needed to combat the ulcer pains from which the petitioner
The Commission also notes that the State’s replies
to the Commission have not specifically addressed these allegations
made by the petitioner.
The Commission concludes that, if these allegations
are proven true, this aspect of the case meets the requirement
of constituting prima
facie rights violations,
as set forth in Articles 47.b of the Convention and 41.b of
the Commission’s Regulations.
Consequently, it declares the case admissible in this
the alleged absence of judicial guarantees and resources for
substantiating the petitioner’s claims under argentine law
The Commission notes that the petitioner has maintained
that there were a number of irregularities in criminal proceedings
Nº 24079, in which his torture allegations were examined.
Criminal proceedings Nº 32989, processed by the National First-Instance
Criminal Investigating Court Nº 39, Secretariat Nº 135, was
intended to subject all the alleged irregularities in proceedings
Nº 24079 to judicial scrutiny. That was the remedy available
to the petitioner under Argentine law in order to obtain a
ruling on his allegations about the failure to observe due
process in proceedings Nº 24079.
The Commission believes that this allegation, together
with his claims about a lack of effective judicial remedies,
is closely related to the main issue regarding alleged torture.
The Commission concludes that, if these allegations
are proven true, this aspect of the case meets the requirement
of constituting prima
facie rights violations set forth in Articles 47(b) of
the Convention and 41(b) of the Commission’s Regulations.
Consequently, it declares the case admissible in this regard.
Based on the factual and legal arguments given above,
and without prejudging the merits of the case.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare this case admissible with respect to the
alleged violations of Articles 5, 8, and 25 of the Convention.
To declare this case inadmissible with respect to the
alleged violation of Article 7 of the Convention and to the
alleged threats made against the petitioner by members of
To notify the parties of this decision.
To continue with its analysis of the merits of the
To make itself available to the parties with a view
toward reaching a friendly settlement based on respect for
the rights enshrined in the American Convention, and to invite
the parties to make a statement regarding the possibility
To publish this decision and to include it in its Annual
Report to the OAS General Assembly.
signed at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, in the city of Washington, D.C., on September
21, 1999. Robert K. Goldman, Chairman; Hélio Bicudo First
Vice-Chaiman; Claudio Grossman, Second Vice-Chairman; Commissioners
Carlos Ayala Corao, Jean Joseph Exumé and Alvaro Tirado Mejía.