University of Minnesota

Paniagua Morales et al. Case, Order of the Court of September 23, 1997, reprinted in 1997 Annual Report of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [231], OEA/Ser.L/V/III.39, doc. 5 (1998).





1.             The brief from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter "the Commission") of September 12, 1997, in which it submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter "the Court") the opinions of Ms. Olga Molina and Mr. Robert Bux, substituting for expert witnesses Roberto Arturo Lemus and Robert Kirschner respectively, for the public hearings convened by the Court on merits in the Paniagua Morales et al. Case.

2.             The communication from the Secretariat of the Court of September 14, 1997, in which it transmitted the aforesaid brief to the State of Guatemala (hereinafter "the State") and, on the instructions of the Court, requested the State to submit its observations thereon by Wednesday, September 17, 1997, at the latest.

3.             The Order of the President of the Court of September 18, 1997, in which he decided "[t]o accept the proposal of Ms. Olga Molina and Mr. Robert Bux as expert witnesses in the case, as substitutes for experts Roberto Lemus and Robert Kirschner respectively, to express their opinion on the matters reserved for the latter in the petition".

4.             The communications of September 22, 1997, from the State, in which it requested  "[t]hat the Order fixing a term other than those prescribed in the Rules of Procedure, within which the State of Guatemala may object to or challenge expert witnesses OLGA MOLINA and ROBERT BUX proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights be deemed to have been appealed," and that

a formal OBJECTION be deemed to have been lodged against expert witnesses OLGA MOLINA and ROBERT BUX, on the ground that their appointment constitutes a manifest violation of the Rules of Procedure of the Honorable Court, rendering it impossible for the State of Guatemala to challenge them within the fifteen days following their appointment, by which time they would long have made their statements.


1.             That Article 43 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court (hereinafter "the Rules of Procedure") establishes that

[e]vidence tendered by the parties shall be admissible only if previous notification thereof is contained in the application and in the reply thereto and, where appropriate, in the communication setting out the preliminary objections and in the answer thereto.  Should any of the parties allege force majeure, serious impediment or the emergence of supervening events as grounds for producing an item of evidence, the Court may, in that particular instance, admit such evidence at the time other than those indicated above, provided that the opposing party be guaranteed the right of defense.

2.             That the State has declared in the instant Case that it takes exception to the opinions by Ms. Olga Molina and Mr. Robert Bux, on the ground that it was not granted the period established in Article 49(2) of the Rules of Procedure.  The Court considers this argument to be valid inasmuch as, pursuant to the aforesaid article, objections shall be presented within fifteen days of notification of the appointment of the expert witness.

3.             That the purpose of the term granted to the State was to enable it to submit its comments on the taking of evidence from Ms. Molina and Mr. Bux within a reasonable time and so permit the Court to rule on the submission of those opinions during the hearing convened by the Court, in accordance with the principle of procedural economy.

4.             That in its brief of exception, the State did not adduce any reason why the aforementioned opinions should not be presented, claiming only that it had not been granted the term prescribed by the Rules of Procedure for filing an objection.  In consequence, and inasmuch as a situation of urgency exists with regard to the presentation of evidence, the Court considers it pertinent in this case to exercise the powers conferred on it by Article 49(4) of the Rules of Procedure, which establishes that

[s]hould it become necessary to appoint a new expert witness, the Court shall rule on the matter.  Nevertheless, if the evidence needs to be heard as a matter of urgency, the President, after consultation with the Permanent Commission, shall make the appointment and inform the Court accordingly.  The Court shall rule on the value of the evidence.



pursuant to Article 25(2) of the Statute and Articles 29(2) and 49 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court,


                To hear the opinions of expert witnesses Olga Molina and Robert Bux and to evaluate them at a later date.



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