Segundo Wenceslao Segura v. Argentina, Petition 0344/97, Report No. 121/01, OEA/Ser./L/V/II.114 Doc. 5 rev. at 372 (2001).
SEGUNDO WENCESLAO SEGURA
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION
On October 6, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter
the Commission or the IACHR) received a complaint
against the Argentine State in connection with the situation of Mr. Segundo
Wenceslao Segura. The Commission
acknowledged receipt of the complaint on December 3 of that year.
On August 18, 1998, the petitioners filed a chronological account of
the facts. The Commission acknowledged
receipt of the information on October 11, 1998. On March 1, 1999, the petitioners presented to the Commission
their legal arguments and requested that the petition be admitted.
On June 10, 1999, the Commission asked the petitioners to provide a
copy of the sentence at first instance. On July 12, 1999, the petitioners submitted a copy of all local
court proceedings. Finally, on February 9 and August 8, 2000, the petitioners
requested information on the action taken on the petition.
The petitioners alleged violations of the rights protected under Articles
8(1) (right to due process guarantees), 5(1) (right to respect for ones
personal integrity) and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American
Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the Convention).
FACTS AND ARGUMENTS
Since his youth, Segundo W. Segura, father of a low-income family,
had been partially disabled, as he was blind in the left eye.
He had, therefore, been receiving a pension from the National Social
Security Institute for Retirees and Pensioners [Instituto Nacional de Seguros Sociales para Jubilados y Pensionados]
(PAMI). In 1990, his right eye,
in which he had very little sight, suffered from neo-vascular glaucoma, according
to a November 8, 1990 diagnosis by Dr. Magrini. Because the eye required surgery, he was to be transported
immediately from the Province of Rio Negro to the federal capital.
On November 9, the petitioner went to PAMI to request transfer to the
capital, which was authorized on November 13.
That authorization covered travel expenses and accommodations.
The petitioner arrived in Buenos Aires on November 14.
The attending PAMI physician ordered tests, which were scheduled on
November 16. An electroretinogram
done on November 20 showed that the retina was not functioning.
The petitioners allege that Mr. Segura suffered permanent, irreversible
loss of sight in his right eye, and with that was left completely blind and
unable to work, all because PAMI failed to provide Mr. Segura emergency treatment.
The petitioners went to the Argentine civil courts seeking compensation
for damages and injuries. The
lower court ruling of December 5, 1995, dismissed the suit and ordered costs.
After examining and weighing the evidence tendered by the parties and
the experts, the judge concluded that PAMI had acted properly; that hospitalization
did not appear to be necessary; and that with surgery the petitioner would
have retained, at best, less than 5% of his sight, which would never
have been enough to enable the [petitioner] to again become a self-sufficient
member of society. The
Civil Appeals Court dismissed the appeal on June 19, 1996.
The Appeals Court also refused to hear the extraordinary appeal that
the attorneys for Mr. Segundo Segura filed.
The extraordinary appeal filed before the Supreme Court on March 18,
1997 was also declared inadmissible.
As indicated by the preamble of the American Convention on Human Rights,
the nature of the protection that the organs of the inter-American system
for the protection of human rights offer complements that afforded under local
law. Consequently, while it is
a function of the Commission to ensure the observance of the obligations undertaken
by the States parties to that international instrument, it cannot perform
the functions of an appeals court to examine alleged errors of fact or law
that the local courts may have committed acting within the scope of their
jurisdiction. The Commission
is not competent to investigate the actions of the local courts or to review
the evidence that the national courts have weighed, unless there is unequivocal
evidence that the guarantees of due process recognized in the American Convention
have been violated.
The petitioners allege that the absence of an objective justification
to explain why evidence fundamental to a fair decision was ignored constitutes
a miscarriage of due process prejudicial to the alleged victims right
of defense. However, the information
in the case file indicates that Mr. Segundo Segura was given access to all
levels of the judiciary in Argentina, which, based on the evidence in the
case, concluded that the medical assistance afforded by the health care agency
was adequate and timely.
The Commission notes that the alleged victim was heard by independent
and impartial courts that, having examined and weighed the evidence presented
in the judicial proceedings, ruled in accordance with the guarantees recognized
in the American Convention, even though the ruling was not in the alleged
victims favor. As for the
alleged violations of Articles 5(1) and 21 of the American Convention, the
Commission considers that, as presented, they are subsidiary to the alleged
violations of Articles 8 and 25 of that instrument.
Therefore, as there is no independent allegation of violations of those
provisions, it would not be appropriate for the Commission to examine them
In accordance with the brief review above, the Commission considers
that the material facts in the petition under study do not tend to characterize
a violation of the American Convention.
It therefore declares the petition inadmissible, in accordance with
Article 47(b) of the American Convention.
Based on the analysis and the conclusions set out in the present report,
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
To declare the present petition inadmissible.
2. To notify the petitioner of this
3. To publish this decision and include
it in the Commissions Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
Done and signed at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights in the city of Washington, D.C., on October 10, 2001.
(Signed): Claudio Grossman,
President; Marta Altolaguirre, Second Vice-President; Commission members Hélio
Bicudo, Robert K. Goldman, Peter Laurie and Julio Prado Vallejo.
The First Vice President of the IACHR, Juan E. Méndez, an Argentine national,
did not participate in the discussion or vote on this petition, in keeping
with Article 17(2)(a) of the Commissions Rules of Procedure.