The Inter-American Court of Human Rights held its XLIII Regular Session at its seat in San Jose, Costa Rica, from January 18 to 29, 1999. During this session, the Court considered the following matters:
1) Suarez Rosero Case (Ecuador): Reparations Phase. The Court deliberated and determined the reparations and costs that the state of Ecuador must pay in this Case to Mr. Rafael Ivan Suarez Rosero and his next-of-kin, in accordance with the Judgment issued on November 12, 1997, in which it decided that the State of Ecuador must pay a fair compensation to the victim and his next-of-kin, and reimburse them for any expenses they may have incurred in their representations before the Ecuadorean authorities.
The Court, by means of its Judgment on Reparations of January 20, 1999, decided:
1. To order the State of Ecuador not to execute the fine imposed to Mr. Rafael Ivan Suarez Rosero and strike his name from the Criminal Record Register as well as from the Register that the National Counsel of Narcotic Substances keeps, in relation with this process and in terms of paragraph 76 of the Judgment.
2. To order that the State of Ecuador must pay , in the form and conditions set forth in paragraphs 101 to 112 of this Judgment, a total sum amount of US$86.621,77 (eighty six thousand six hundred twenty one dollars of the United States of America and seventy seven cents) or its equivalent in the Ecuadorian currency, distributed in the following manner:
a. US$53.104,77 (fifty three thousand one hundred and four dollars of the United States of America and seventy seven cents) or its equivalent in the Ecuadorian currency to Mr. Rafael Ivan Suarez Rosero;
b. US$23.517,00 (twenty three thousand five hundred seventeen dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in Ecuadorian currency to Mrs. Margarita Ramadan Burbano; and
c. US$10.000,00 (ten thousand dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in Ecuadorian currency to the minor child Micaela Suarez Ramadan.
3. To order that the State of Ecuador must reimburse the fees and expenses, in the form and conditions set forth in paragraphs 101 to 112 of this Judgment, a total sum amount of US$6.520,00 (six thousand five hundred twenty dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in Ecuadorian currency to Mr. Alejandro Ponce Villacis and the amount of US$6.010,45 (six thousand ten dollars of the United States of America and forty five cents) or its equivalent in Ecuadorian currency to Mr. Richard Wilson.
4. To order to the State of Ecuador the application of the following rules to the payments determined in this Judgment:
a. the payment of the owed salaries ordered in the operative point 2(a), will be exempt of any deduction different from the one made by the Court when it did the respective calculate according with the paragraph 55(A.a) of the present Judgment; and
b. all the payments set forth in the present Judgment shall be exempt from any tax currently in force or any that may be decreed in the future
5. To supervise the State of Ecuador's compliance with this Judgment.
The events that motivated these reparations occurred as of June 23 1992, when Mr. Rafael Ivan Suarez-Rosero was illegally deprived of his liberty, and treated in a cruel, inhumane and degrading manner by the agents of the Ecuadorian National Police.
2) Blake Case (Guatemala): Reparations Phase. As in the Suarez Rosero Case, the Court deliberated and determined the reparations and costs in this Case, pursuant to its Judgment of January 24, 1998, in which it decided that the State of Guatemala is obliged to make reparations to the relatives of Mr. Nicholas Chapman Blake, due to the violation, to their detriment, of the Right to a Fair Trial (Article 8(1) of the American Convention in relation with Article 1(1) of the same), and the Right to Humane Treatment (Article 5 of the American Convention in relation to Article 1(1) of the same).
The Court, by means of its Judgment on Reparations of January 22, 1999, decided:
1. To order that the State of Guatemala must investigate the facts of the present Case, identify and punish those responsible, and adopt the necessary measures in its internal law to ensure compliance with this obligation (according to the operative point 3 of the Judgment on Merits), and inform this to the Court in a period of six months until the end of the respective procedures.
2. To order that the State of Guatemala must pay:
a. US$151.000,00 (one hundred fifty one thousand dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in Guatemalan currency to Richard Blake, Mary Blake, Richard Blake Jr, and Samuel Blake as aggrieved parties according to the reparations set forth in paragraphs 58, 50 and 49 of this Judgment:
i. US$30.000,00 (thirty thousand dollars of the United States of America) for moral damages to each one of the following persons: Richard Blake, Mary Blake, Richard Blake Jr. and Samuel Blake;
ii. US$15.000,00 (fifteen thousand dollars of the United States of America) for medical fees awarded to Mr. Samuel Blake; and
iii. US$16.000,00 (sixteen thousand dollars of the United States of America) due to extrajudicial expenses
b. Also, US$10.000,00 (ten thousand dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in Guatemalan currency to Richard Blake, Mary Blake, Richard Blake Jr, and Samuel Blake, as aggrieved parties, as compensation for the expenditures incurred for the various petitions before the Inter-American System of Human Rights, according to paragraph 70 set forth in this Judgment.
3. To order that the State of Guatemala execute the payments indicated in operative point 2, within the six months of the date or notification of the present Judgment
4. To order that the payments set forth in the present Judgment shall be exempt from any tax currently in force or any that may be decreed in the future
5. To supervise the compliance with this Judgment
Judge Cançado Trindade informed the Court of his Separate Opinion and, Judge ad hoc Novales Aguirre of his separate concurring opinion, both of which are attached to the Judgment.
3) Cesti Hurtado Case (Peru): Preliminary Objections Phase. During this Session, the Court deliberated and on January 26, 1999 passed Judgment on the preliminary objections presented by the State of Peru in this Case.
The Court, by means of its Judgment decided:
1. Reject for improcedent the preliminary objections presented by the State of Peru
2. Proceed with the consideration of the present case.
The Court also knew by means of the Resolution of January 19, 1999, the resignation of Mr. David Pezua Vivanco, due to his designation as Judge ad hoc in the present case, motivated in the incompatibility generated by his charge as Executive Secretary of the Executive Commission of the Peruvian Judicial Power.
The application in this Case was submitted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on January 9, 1998, and refers to the alleged violation by the State of Peru of Articles 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trail), 11 (Right to Privacy), 17 (Rights of the Family), 21 (Right to Property), 25 (Right to Judicial Protection), and 51(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights, in relation with Articles 1 and 2 of the same. The application alleges that these violations were result of the inclusion, detention, sentencing and deprivation of liberty of the victim at trial, which occurred despite the existence of a definitive judgment issued in a habeas corpus proceeding, ordering that he be withdrawn from said trial and that his personal liberty not be hindered. The Commission also requested the Court to require Peruvian State to sanction those responsible for the alleged violations, to release Mr. Cesti Hurtado, and to compensate him for the period during which he was wrongly detained and for the respective damages to his personal life and to his financial well-being.
4) Baena Ricardo et al. Case (Panama): Preliminary Objections Phase. On January 27, 1999, the Court held a public hearing on the preliminary objections submitted by the State of Panama, in which it heard the oral arguments of the State, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a witness proposed by the State of Panama.
The preliminary objections submitted by the State of Panama in this Case, which are opposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, are based in the alleged irreceivability of the application for three reasons: failure to comply with the requirements of Article 51 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which establishes that the Commission must adopt a resolution in order to send a contentious case to the Court; because the subject of this petition, according to the State, is the same as the subject-matter of a petition already examined by the International Labor Organization (ILO); and, for the violation, by the Commission, of the rule regarding confidentiality when a copy of report 37/97 was sent to the petitioners.
The Court, by means of the Resolution of January 22, 1999, declared that Mr. Rolando Adolfo Reyna Rodriguez is hindered to accomplish the charge of Judge ad hoc in the present case, according to what is established in articles 10 and 19 of the Statute of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and 18(1) and 19 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court.
5) Villagran Morales et al. Case (Guatemala): Merits Phase. On January 28 and 29, the Court held a public hearing on the merits in this Case, in order to receive the declarations of the witnesses proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who testified about their knowledge of the facts of the application and heard the final arguments of the Commission and the State of Guatemala.
6) New Case: The Court examined the submission, by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, of a new case (Olmedo Bustos et al. against the State of Chile). The application in this case (N. 11.803), refers to the alleged violations of some articles of the American Convention on Human Rights, arising from the judicial censorship, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Chile on June 17, 1997, of the exhibition of the film The Last Temptation of Christ. The Commission considers that the aforesaid decision violated the rights to Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Conscience, recognized by Articles 12 and 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, in prejudice of the Chilean society and, in particular, of Juan Pablo Olmedo Bustos, Ciro Colombara Lopez, Claudio Marquez Vidal, Alex Muñoz Wilson, Matias Insulza Tagle and Hernan Aguirre Fuentes.
The Commission also requested this Court, based on Article 63(1) of the American Convention, the reparations of the consequences of the violations object of their application.
7) Other Matters: The Court considered several matters currently pending before it and analyzed the various reports submitted to it by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the States involved in issues in which the Court has adopted provisional measures. The Court also considered and approved its Annual Report for 1998 to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States to be presented to that aforesaid Assembly in the next Ordinary Period of Sessions.
In the Clemente Teheran et al. Case (Colombia) Provisional Measures, the Court studied the fourth and fifth reports of the State and the observations of the Commission dated January 13 and January 20, 1999. By means of the Resolution of January 29, 1999, the Court required the State to maintain the provisional measures adopted previously; investigate the events submitted to this Court that motivated the provisional measures in order to obtain efficient results that lead to discover those responsible and punish them; investigate the veracity of the possible links of the protected people with provisional measures to illegal groups; listen the opinion of the petitioners and inform them about the progress of the execution of the measures established by the Court and that, in its next report include information related to the measures adopted in relation with foresaid Resolution.
In the Paniagua Morales et al Case (Guatemala) the President determined:
1. To call upon the victims or their next of kin, to present a report and the grounds that might be available for the determination of the indemnities and costs until march 27, 1999. For those victims or relatives that might have presented the aforesaid report before the Court, it will not be necessary for them to repeat them for the ones done will be valid.
2. To instruct the Secretary of the Court that, once expired the time set forth in the first paragraph, transmit all the reports received to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
3. To call upon the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to present any additional observation considered appropriate by the Commission within one month from the receivement date of the reports set forth in the operative point 2 of the present Judgment.
4. Instruct the Secretary of the Court that, once expired the time set forth in the operative point 3 of the present Judgment, transmit all the reports received to the State of Guatemala.
5. Call upon the State of Guatemala to present the observations and grounds available for the determination of the reparations in this case, within two months from the receivement date of the reports aforesaid.
The composition of the Court during this Regular Session included the following: Hernan Salgado-Pesantes (Ecuador), President; Antônio A. Cançado Trindade (Brazil), Vice-President; Maximo Pacheco-Gomez (Chile); Oliver Jackman (Barbados); Alirio Abreu-Burelli (Venezuela); Sergio Garcia-Ramirez (Mexico) and Carlos Vicente de Roux-Rengifo (Colombia). In the Benavides Cevallos and Suarez Rosero Cases, the President of the Court was Judge Antônio A. Cançado Trindade (Brazil), because the President of the Court, Judge Hernán Salgado Pesantes, yielded the Presidency while the Court heard these cases against Ecuador, of which he is a national (Article 4(3) of the Court's Rules of Procedure). Alfonso Novales-Aguirre, appointed by the State of Guatemala, participated as judge ad hoc in the Blake Case. The Secretary of the Court, Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, and the Deputy Secretary, Renzo Pomi, were also present.
For further information, please address all requests to:
Manuel E. Ventura-Robles
Secretary, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
San Jose, Costa Rica
Telephone: (506) 234-0581, Fax: (506) 234-0584
San Jose, February 8, 1999.
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