PRESS RELEASE (  )
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights held its XLVII Regular Session at its seat in San José, Costa Rica, from January 24 to February 4, 2000. During the session, the Court considered the following matters:
1) Cesti Hurtado Case (Peru): Phase of Interpretation of the Judgement on Merits. On January 24, 2000, the Court held a public hearing at its seat on the request filed by Peru on October 13, 1999, for interpretation of the judgement on merits of September 29, 1999, with regard to the meaning and scope of this judgement. In its Judgement on Interpretation of January 29, 2000, the Court unanimously decided:
1. That only the first, second, third and fourth points of the request filed by the State of Peru for interpretation of the judgement of September 29, 1999, in the Cesti Hurtado case, are admissible.
2. That decisions 1 and 8 of the judgement of September 29, 1999, in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights orders the Peruvian State to comply with the decision of the Public Law Chamber of Lima of February 12, 1997, and to annul the proceeding [against Mr. Cesti Hurtado] and all the effects deriving from it, are of an obligatory nature and, consequently, must be complied with immediately. However, this does not preclude the competent authorities from taking decisions on the criminal responsibility of Mr. Cesti Hurtado in relation to the illegal acts that are attributed to him.
3. That the eighth decision of the judgement of September 29, 1999, by which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights orders the annulment of the proceedings against Mr. Cesti Hurtado, signifies the nullification of all the corresponding legal consequences, including, the nullification of the liens that were ordered on his assets.
4. That is not in order for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to determine the relevance of its judgements in future hypothetical situations and that, for the effects of this case, the appropriateness of the remedy of habeas corpus as a procedural measure to decide whether the detention of Mr. Cesti Hurtado was of an arbitrary nature was clearly and duly established by the Court in its judgement of September 29, 2000,.
2) Baena Ricardo et al Case (Panama): Merits Phase. On January 26, 27 and 28, the Court held a public audience on the merits of this case at its seat in order to hear the witnesses and expert witnesses proposed by the parties, who testified on their knowledge about the facts of the application. The Court also heard the final oral arguments of the Inter-American Commission and the State of Panama.
In this case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed the application on January 16, 1998. It referred to the alleged violation by the Panamanian State of Articles 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 9 (Freedom from Ex Post Facto Laws), 10 (Right to Compensation), 15 (Right of Assembly), 16 (Freedom of Association) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights in relation to its Articles 1, and 2, as a result of the facts that occurred as of December 6, 1990, owing to which it was alleged that 270 public employees who had taken part in a protest march on labor claims were arbitrarily dismissed. Furthermore, as a consequence of the proceedings resulting from these facts, their rights to due process and judicial protection were allegedly violated. The Commission also requested the Court to declare that Law 25 and the provision contained in Article 43 of the Panamanian Constitution that permit laws to be retroactive for reasons of public order or social interest, such as those applied in this case, are contrary to the American Convention and, consequently, should be modified or repealed in accordance with Article 2 of the Convention. Moreover, the Commission requested the Court to declare that Panama had violated Articles 33 and 50.2 of the Convention and that the State should reestablish the rights of the dismissed workers and provide reparations and compensation to the victims.
3) Trujillo Oroza Case (Bolivia): Preliminary Objections Phase. During this session, the Court deliberated on the brief of January 21, 2000, in which the State of Bolivia withdrew the preliminary objections that it had filed and requested the Court to open the reparations phase. As a result of these deliberations, the Court issued an Order on January 25, 2000, in which it decided:
1. To consider that the preliminary objections filed by the State of Bolivia have been withdrawn.
2. To continue proceedings on the merits of the case and, to this end, change the purpose of the public audience on preliminary objections convened by the President of the Court in an Order of December 6, 1999, so as to consider other aspects of the brief presented by the State of Bolivia on January 21, 2000.
On January 25, 2000, the public hearing that had been convened was held at the seat of the Court. During the hearing Bolivia admitted the facts and international responsibility in this case and accepted the legal consequences deriving from the facts; the Inter-American Commission expressed its satisfaction regarding the attitude assumed by the State. As a result of the foregoing, on January 26, 2000, the Court decided:
1. To acknowledge the State's admission of the facts and recognition of responsibility.
2. To declare, as evidenced by the terms of the State's recognition of responsibility, that it had violated the rights protected by Articles 1.1, 3, 4, 5.1, 7, 8.1 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights [of José Carlos Trujillo Oroza and his next of kin, as claimed by the Commission in the application].
3. To open the proceeding on reparations and authorize the President to adopt the corresponding measures.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed this case on June 9, 1999. The application referred to facts that occurred as of December 23, 1971, when José Carlos Trujillo Oroza was allegedly detained and subsequently disappeared by agents of the Bolivian State, and also to the absence of an investigation into these facts. The Commission considers that the facts described in the application violate the following articles of the American Convention: Article 3 (Right to Juridical Personality), Article 4 (Right to Life) and Article 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), all in relation to its Article 1.1 (Obligation to Respect Rights), to the detriment of the alleged victim. Furthermore, the Commission considers that Bolivia violated the rights to a fair trial (Article 8.1), to judicial protection (Article 25) and to humane treatment (Article 5.1) also of the American Convention on Human Rights, in relation to its Article 1.1 (Obligation to Respect Rights) to the detriment of Mr. Trujillo Oroza and his next of kin.
4) Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community Case (Nicaragua): Preliminary Objections Phase. During this session, the Court deliberated on the preliminary objection filed by Nicaragua and refuted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which referred to the failure to exhaust remedies under domestic law and, in a judgement of February 1, 2000, unanimously decided:
1. To reject the preliminary objection filed by the State of Nicaragua.
2. To continue hearing this case.
Judge Alejandro Montiel Argüello informed the Court of his Concurring Opinion, which accompanies the text of the judgement.
The application in this case, which was filed by the Commission on June 4, 1998, refers to the alleged violated by the Nicaraguan State of Articles 1 (Obligation to Respect Rights), 2 (Domestic Legal Effects), 21 (Right to Property) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of members of the Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Indigenous Community, owing to the failure to officially recognize and demarcate this Community's territory. The Commission also requested the Court to order reparations for the consequences of the violations of the rights cited in the application, based on Article 63.1 of the American Convention.
5) Las Palmeras Case (Colombia): Preliminary Objections Phase. The Court deliberated on the preliminary objections filed by the State of Colombia, which are: 1) violation of due process owing to a serious omission of information by the Commission; 2) lack of competence of the Commission to apply International Humanitarian Law and other international treaties; 3) lack of competence of the Court to apply International Humanitarian Law and other international treaties; 4) failure to exhaust domestic remedies; and 5) lack of competence of the Court to act as a trial court for specific acts. On February 3, 2000, the Court delivered a Judgement on Preliminary Objections, in which it decided:
1. To reject the first, fourth and fifth preliminary objections filed by the State of Colombia.
2. To admit the third preliminary objection filed by the State of Colombia.
by six votes to one
3. To admit the second preliminary objection filed by the State of Colombia.
Judge Jackman dissenting
4. To continue hearing this case.
Judges Cançado Trindade and García Ramírez informed the Court of their respective Concurring Opinions and Judge Jackman of his Partially Dissenting Opinion, all of which are attached to the judgement.
In this case, the application was filed by the Commission on July 6, 1998, and refers to the alleged violation by the Colombian State of Articles 4 (Right to Life), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) and 1.1 (Obligation to Respect Rights) of the American Convention and Article 3 common to all the Geneva Conventions. According to the application, owing to the facts that occurred on January 23, 1991, Artemio Pantoja Ordóñez, Hernán Javier Cuarán Muchavisoy, Julio Milcíades Cerón Gómez, Edebraiz Cerón Rojas, William Hamilton Cerón Rojas and Hernán Lizcano Jacanamejoy or Moisés Ojeda were executed extrajudicially and, subsequently, access to justice was denied. The Commission also requested the Court to order Colombia to carry out a prompt, impartial and effective judicial investigation of the facts denounced and to punish those responsible; to identify whether the person who was extrajudicially executed on January 23, 1991, was Hernán Lizcano Jacanamejoy or Moisés Ojeda; to carry out an investigation to clarify the circumstances of death of the seventh victim, about whose death the Commission did not comment; to grant integral reparation to the next of kin of the victims and rehabilitate their memory; to adopt the necessary reforms of the regulations and training programs of the Armed Forces, and to pay the costs and expenses incurred by the next of kin of the victims in the domestic jurisdiction and before the Commission and the Court, as well as reasonable fees for their lawyers.
6) Colotenango: Provisional Measures (Guatemala). The Court examined the reports presented by the State and the Inter-American Commission on the provisional measures that the Court had ordered in this case. In view of the situation persisting in the Municipality of Colotenango, on February 2, 2000, the Court decided:
1. To require the State of Guatemala to maintain the measures necessary to protect the life and physical integrity of the persons protected by the Orders of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of June 22 and December 1, 1994, and September 19, 1997.
2. To require the State of Guatemala to expand the measures adopted in this case in order to ensure the right to life and physical integrity of Viviana Rucux Quilá.
3. To require the State of Guatemala to report urgently on the specific measures adopted in order to comply effectively with the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
4. To require the State of Guatemala to continue allowing the petitioners to take part in the planning and implementation of the measures and, in general, to keep them informed on the status of the measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
5. To require the State of Guatemala to include information on the investigation and punishment of those responsible for the facts that motivated the adoption of the provisional measures in its next report and also on the status of the investigations into the alleged threats against Francisca Sales Martín, Natividad Pérez, María García Domingo, Alberto Godínez, Marcos, Juan and Ramiro Godínez Pérez, Alfonso Morales Jiménez and Arturo Federico Méndez Ortiz.
6. To require the State of Guatemala to include in its next report detailed information on the measures of protection provided to Patricia Ispanel Medinilla, Fermina López Castro, Gonzalo Godínez López, Arturo Federico Méndez Ortiz and Juan Mendoza.
7 To require the State of Guatemala to continue presenting reports every two months on the provisional measures it has taken, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to present its observations on these reports within six weeks of receiving them.
7) On February 5, 6, 8 and 9, 2000, two Meetings of Experts were held at the seat of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as part of the follow-up to the conclusions reached by the Seminar on The Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights on the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century, held in San Jose, Costa Rica, in November 1999. The objective of these meetings, which were attended by judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, former judges of the Court, members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and specialized jurists from America and Europe, was to share ideas on the current process to strengthen the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights.
8) Other matters: The Court considered diverse pending matters and examined various reports presented by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the States involved in cases in which provisional measures had been adopted. It also considered and approved its 1999 Annual Report, to be presented to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) during the next regular session of this body.
The composition of the Court for this Regular Session was as follows: Antônio A. Cançado Trindade (Brazil), President; Máximo Pacheco Gómez (Chile), Vice-President; Hernán Salgado Pesantes (Ecuador); Oliver Jackman (Barbados); Alirio Abreu Burelli (Venezuela); Sergio García Ramírez (Mexico) and Carlos Vicente de Roux Rengifo (Colombia). Charles N. Brower, Judge ad hoc appointed by Bolivia was present in the deliberation and delivery of judgement in the Trujillo Oroza case. Alejandro Montiel Argüello, Judge ad hoc appointed by Nicaragua was present during the deliberation and delivery of judgement in the Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community case. Julio A. Barberis, Judge ad hoc appointed by Colombia for the Las Palmeras case was present during the corresponding deliberation and delivery of judgement, while Judge Carlos Vicente de Roux Rengifo excused himself from hearing it as he is Colombian. The Secretary of the Court, Manuel E. Ventura Robles and the Deputy Secretary, Renzo Pomi, were also present.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, created in 1979, is an autonomous judicial institution of the Organization of American States. It is made up of jurists of the highest moral authority and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The judges are elected on an individual basis by the General Assembly of the OAS and may not exercise their functions for more than two terms of six years each.
For further information, please contact:Manuel E. Ventura Robles, Secretary
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Apartado 6906-1000, San José, Costa Rica
Telephone (506) 234-0581. Fax (506) 234-0584.
San José, February 5, 2000.
 The contents of this release are the responsibility of the Secretariat of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The official text of the documents may be obtained by submitting a written request to the Secretariat at the address provided at the end of this document.