The Inter-American Court of Human Rights held its XXXIII Regular Session from January 22 to February 3, 1996.
During this session, the Court heard the following matters:
1) Paniagua Morales et al. Case. Preliminary Objections. The Court passed judgment on the preliminary objections interposed by the State of Guatemala. Preliminary objections are procedural defenses that the defendant can invoke which, if successful, end the contentious proceedings. The preliminary objections interposed by the Government and refuted by the Commission were: prescription of the Commissions right to submit the case to the Court and the absolute legal invalidity of the petition in this case.
On January 26, 1996, the Court read in a public session the Judgment on the Preliminary Objections of January 25, 1996, in which it decided, by six votes against one, to reject the preliminary objections interposed by the Government of the Republic of Guatemala and to continue hearing the merits of the case. Judge ad hoc Larraondo-Salguero dissented.
According to the complaint, the events that gave rise to this case occurred during 1987 and 1988 when agents of the Guatemalan Treasury Police allegedly kidnapped and murdered several civilians. This case is also known as the white van case due to the use of this type of vehicle as part of the modus operandi. On January 19, 1995, the Commission filed the case before the Court, and requested that the Court declare the Government of Guatemala responsible for the violation of Articles 1.1 (Obligation to Respect Rights), 4 (Right to Life), 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection), all of the American Convention of Human Rights, to the detriment of the victims. The complaint also asked the Court to order Guatemala to identify, judge, and punish those responsible for these violations and to pay fair compensation to the victims according to Article 63(1) of the American Convention.
2) Castillo Páez Case. Preliminary Objections. On January 30, 1996, the Court passed judgment on the preliminary objections interposed by the Government of Peru and contested by the Inter-American Commission. These included: lack of exhaustion of domestic remedies and the inadmissibility of the petition. To that respect, the Court unanimously decided to reject the preliminary objections interposed by the Government of the Republic of Peru and to continue hearing the merits of the case. Judge Antônio A. Cançado Trindade presented the Court with his concurring opinion.
According to the complaint, agents of the Peruvian National Police arrested Mr. Ernesto Castillo-Páez and since that time his whereabouts are unknown. Due to these events, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requests that the Court declare that Peru has violated Articles 4 (Right to Life), 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection), all as guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights and in relation to Article 1(1) of the same (Obligation to Respect Rights). The Commission requests that the Court order the Government to: conduct the necessary investigations to identify, try, and punish those responsible for the forced disappearance of Ernesto Castillo-Páez; locate and deliver his remains to his family; and pay full reparation, both material and moral, to the victim's family for the serious damages suffered as a result of the violation of said rights protected under the Convention.
3) Loayza Tamayo Case. Preliminary Objections. On January 31, 1996, the Court passed Judgment on preliminary objections, in which it rejected the preliminary objection of the lack of exhaustion of domestic remedies, interposed by the State of Peru, and to continue hearing the merits of the case. Judge Antônio A. Cançado Trindade presented the Court with his concurring opinion.
According to the petition, the events occurred as of February 6, 1993, when Peru allegedly violated Articles 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 25 (Right to Judicial Protection), and, as a result, 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights), all of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission considers that Peru has also violated Article 51(2) of the Convention by not complying with the recommendations submitted to it in the Commission's Report. As a result of the above, the Commission requests that the Court order Peru to pay full reparation to Ms. Loayza Tamayo for the damages suffered and to pass a decree granting her immediate freedom.
4) Garrido and Baigorria Case. The Inter-American Commission presented this case before the Court on May 29, 1995. On September 8, 1995, the State of Argentina informed the Court that it accepted the statement of facts of the petition and the legal consequences deriving from them. The complaint refers to events that occurred as of April 28, 1990, when uniformed personnel of the Mendoza Province Police detained Adolfo Garrido and Raúl Baigorria. Their whereabouts are since unknown. At approximately 4 p.m. on April 28, Mr. Garrido and Mr. Baigorria were traveling in a rural type vehicle, which belonged to the Garrido family, when they were detained by uniformed personnel of the Mendoza Police in the General San Martín Park, in front of the Eva Perón Home School, in the city of Mendoza. The petition states that various witnesses saw the victims while they were being interrogated (or detained) by at least four uniformed police officers wearing black berets, which are worn by the motorized division of the Mendoza Police. The Police used two Renault 12 automobiles belonging to said security force. These cars had the markings, lights, and sirens unique to the police.
On February 1 at 10:00 a.m., the Court held a public hearing at which it heard the oral arguments of both parties concerning the merits of the case. On February 2 the Court read in public session the Judgment of that same day, in which it unanimously took note of Argentinas acceptance of the statement of facts on the petition and its acceptance of the international responsibility deriving from them, conferred the parties a lapse of six months from the date of Judgment to reach an agreement regarding reparations and reserved the faculty of hearing the case on the Reparations stage if such an agreement is not reached.
5) Blake Case. Preliminary Objections. On January 28, 1996, the Court held a public hearing to listen to the oral arguments of the Inter-American Commission and the State of Guatemala concerning the preliminary objections interposed by the latter, which are:
2.- Lack of jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the subject matter of the petition.
3.- Violation, on the part of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, of the rule of interpretation set forth in Article 29(d) of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.
The petition in this case refers to events that began on March 28, 1985, when according to the Inter-American Commission, agents of the Guatemalan State arbitrarily and illegally kidnapped Mr. Nicholas Chapman Blake and Mr. Griffith Davis, resulting eventually in their forced disappearance. The petition also accuses Guatemala of failing to provide an effective judicial remedy and continuously obstructing the enforcement of justice with the purpose of concealing Mr. Blake's disappearance. As a consequence, the Commission considers that the Government of Guatemala is responsible for violating Articles 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights), 4 (Right to Life), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 13 (Freedom of Thought and Expression), 22 (Freedom of Movement and Residence), and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection), all of the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of Mr. Nicholas Blake. Furthermore, the Commission requests that the Court order the Government to compensate the victim's relatives and pay the expenses of the proceedings.
6) The El Amparo Case. Reparations. On January 27, 1996, the Court held a public hearing at which it heard to the oral arguments of the Commission and the State regarding reparations, since on January 18, 1995, the Court unanimously decided to take note of the acceptance of responsibility of the Republic of Venezuela and that the controversy surrounding the facts in the case had ceased. The Court also ordered Venezuela to repair all damages and pay fair compensation to the surviving victims and the nex of kin to the deceased.
7) Neira Alegría et al. Case. Reparations. On January 26, the Court held a public hearing at which it heard to the oral arguments of the Inter-American Commission and the Republic of Peru regarding reparations and costs in this case, since on January 19, 1995, the Court passed Judgment in which it declared that Peru had violated, to the detriment of Víctor Neira-Alegría, Edgar Zenteno-Escobar, and William Zenteno-Escobar, the right to life as recognized under Article 4(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights in connection with Article 1(1) of the same. Additionally, the Court found that the Government violated the right to habeas corpus established in Article 7(6) in connection with the prohibition of Article 27(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Court found that Peru was liable to pay fair compensation to the nex of kin of the victims and to reimburse the expenses that they had incurred in proceedings before national authorities.
8) Cases against Suriname. During this session, the Court reviewed compliance with the Judgment on reparations in the Aloeboetoe Case and with the Judgment on the merits in the Gangaram Panday Case. The President of the Court, Judge Hector Fix-Zamudio required Suriname to inform the Court on the status of compliance with some specific points of the Judgments.
9) Provisional Measures in Guatemala. The Court studied the reports presented before it by the Inter-American Commission and the State of Guatemala regarding the provisional measures declared in the Colotenango Case and the Carpio Nicolle Case. In both cases, the Court decided to extend the measures for an additional period of six months.
10) Rosero Suárez Case. During this session, the Court studied a new case presented against the State of Ecuador: the Suárez Rosero Case, submitted by the Commission on December 22, 1995. The petition refers to facts that occurred as on June 23, 1992, when agents of the Ecuadorian State arrested, in an allegedly illegal and arbitrary manner, Mr. Rafael Iván Suárez Rosero and holding him incommunicado for 36 days. The petition also states that Mr. Suárez Rosero is still being detained, that the Ecuadorian State has not provided an effective judicial remedy and that it has violated the judicial guarantees to which Mr. Suárez Rosero is entitled. Therefore, the Commission submits that Ecuador has violated Articles 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights), 2 (Domestic Legal Effects), 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights to the detriment of Mr. Suárez Rosero. The Inter-American Commission requests that the Court order the State of Ecuador to immediately liberate Mr. Suárez Rosero, identify and sanction those responsible for the violations in the case, and compensate Mr. Suárez Rosero for the consequences of these violations.
11) Provisional Measures in Nicaragua: Alemán Lacayo Case. On February 2, 1996, the Inter-American Commission submitted to the Court a request for Provisional Measures in the Alemán Lacayo Case (Nº11.281), pending before the Commission, to protect the life and ensure the humane treatment of Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, a presidential candidate in the Republic of Nicaragua. That same day the Court decided:
2. To order the Government of Nicaragua to investigate the events and punish those responsible for them.
3. To order the Government of Nicaragua to inform the Court on a monthly basis, from the moment of notification, about the Provisional Measures taken and to the Inter-American Commission to send its observations about this information within a fortnight from its receipt.
4. To include this matter in the agenda of the next regular session of the Court in order to analyze the result of the measures taken by the Government of Nicaragua.
12) Other matters. During this session, the Court approved its Annual Report for 1995, which will be presented for approval to the General Assembly of the O.A.S. at its meeting in Panama from June 3 to June 7, 1996.
The composition of the Court for this session was: Héctor Fix-Zamudio, President (Mexico); Hernán Salgado-Pesantes, Vice President (Ecuador); Alejandro Montiel-Argüello (Nicaragua); Máximo Pacheco-Gómez (Chile); Oliver Jackman (Barbados); Alirio Abreu-Burelli (Venezuela), and Antônio A. Cançado Trindade (Brazil). The following ad hoc judges joined the Court: Alfonso Novales-Aguirre for the Blake Case, Julio Barberis for the Garrido and Baigorria Case, Jorge E. Orihuela-Iberico for the Neira Alegría et al. Case and Edgar Enrique Larraondo-Salguero for the Paniagua Morales et al. Case.
The Secretary of the Court is Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, and Ana María Reina is the Deputy Secretary.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution of the Organization of American States established in 1979. The Court is composed of jurists of the highest moral standing and competence in the area of human rights. Judges are elected by the OAS General Assembly and cannot exercise their functions for more than two six-year terms.
For further information, please address all requests to:
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
San José, Costa Rica
Telephone: (506) 234-0581, Fax: (506) 234-0584
San José, February 10, 1996.
Home / Treaties / Search / Links