In January and February, 1997, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held its
XXXV Regular Session and its XXI Special Session.
During the XXI Special Session, held from January 22 to January 25 and on January 29 and 31, 1997, the Court heard the following matters:
1) Genie Lacayo Case: On January 29, 1997, the Court passed judgment on the merits of this case, in which it
1. Rejected the preliminary objection of non-exhaustion of local remedies interposed by the State of Nicaragua.
2. Decided that the State of Nicaragua violated Article 8(1) of the Convention, in relation to Article 1(1) of the same, in detriment of Raymond Genie Peñalba.
3. Decided that the State of Nicaragua did not violate Articles 2, 25, 24 and 51(2) of the Convention.
4. Established in US$20.000 (Twenty thousand dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in córdobas at the date of payment, the amount that the State of Nicaragua must pay within six months following the date of this judgment without any imposition of tax, in concept of equitable compensation to Mr. Raymond Genie Peñalba. This payment must be made in the manner and conditions established in paragraph 95 of [the] judgment.
According to the Inter-American Commission's application, this case is motivated by the events that occurred as of July 23, 1991, when agents of the State began a systematic denial of justice in the proceedings relating to the death of Jean Paul Genie-Lacayo, in the city of Managua, Nicaragua, on October 28, 1990, events that resulted in the filing of case No. 10.792 before the Commission. The Commission requested that the Court find that the Government of Nicaragua violated Articles 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 24 (Right to Equal Protection of the Law) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, all in relation to Article 1(1) of the Convention, which establishes the obligation of parties to the treaty to respect and guarantee the rights protected therein. The Commission also requested that the Court declare that Nicaragua violated Articles 51(2) by not complying with the recommendations formulated by the Commission and 2 of the Convention by not adopting the necessary dispositions of internal law that would protect these rights effective and prevent the occurrence of similar events in the future.
The composition of the Court for this case was the following: Héctor Fix-Zamudio (Mexico), President; Hernán Salgado-Pesantes (Ecuador), Vice President; Rafael Nieto-Navia (Colombia); Alejandro Montiel-Argüello (Nicaragua) and Máximo Pacheco-Gómez (Chile). The Secretary of the Court, Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, and the Interim Deputy Secretary, Víctor Manuel Rodríguez-Rescia, were also present.
During the XXXV Regular Session, held from January 27 to February 7, 1997, the Court heard the following matters:
1) Caballero-Delgado and Santana Case: In conformity with the December 8, 1995 judgment on the merits, the Court passed judgment on January 29, 1997 on the reparations and costs in this case. In the December judgment the Court decided that the Government of Colombia must pay fair compensation to the victims' next-of-kin and that the nature and amount of such compensation would be established by the Court.
In the judgment on reparations and costs, the Court decided
1) To establish the amount that the State of Colombia must pay before July 31, 1997 as means of reparation to the nex-of-kin of Isidro Caballero Delgado and María del Carmen Santana in US$89.500,00 (eighty nine thousand five hundred dollars of the United States of America) or its equivalent in national currency. These payments must be made by the State of Colombia in the proportion and conditions set forth in the considerative part of [the] judgment.
2) To establish the amount that the State must pay directly to Ms. María Nodelia Parra Rodríguez as compensation for the expenses incurred in her actions before the Colombian authorities in US$2.000 (Two thousand dollars of the United States of America).
3) That the non-pecunuary reparations that were requested are inadmissible.
4) That the State of Colombia is obliged to continue the efforts to locate the remains of the victims and deliver them to their next-of-kin.
5) To supervise the compliance with this judgment and end the proceedings only after full compliance.
This case was submitted by the Inter-American Commission on December 24, 1992, for acts that occurred as of February 7, 1989, in Guaduas, a municipality of San Alberto, Department of Cesar, Republic of Colombia. The acts consisted of the illegal, arbitrary, and forced detentions and later disappearance of Isidro Caballero Delgado and María del Carmen Santana. According to the Judgment on the merits, the Colombian Government violated, to the detriment of the abovementioned citizens, Articles 4 (Right to Life), and 7 (Right to Personal Liberty) of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, both in relation to Article 1(1) of the same Convention which establishes the obligation to respect these rights.
2) Garrido and Baigorria Case: The Court studied the possibility of homologation of a friendly settlement on reparations between the parties in this case. However, on January 31, 1997, the Court issued a resolution in which it considered that the proposal that had been presented did not comply with the necessary requirements to be considered a friendly agreement. Consequently, the Court opened the proceedings on reparations and compensation in accordance with its Judgment of February 2, 1996, which unanimously took note of the acceptance made by Argentina of the acts stated in the application and of Argentina's acceptance of international responsibility for those acts. In that same Judgment, the Court granted the parties a time period in which to reach an agreement on reparations and compensation and reserved the authority to examine and approve that agreement. The Court further reserved that in the event the parties did not reach an agreement, it would continue the proceedings on reparations.
The complaint in this case 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 vehicle belonging to the Garrido family, when they were detained by uniformed personnel of the Mendoza Police inside 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 automobiles belonging to said security force. These cars had the markings, lights, and sirens unique to the force.
3) Bámaca Velásquez Case: The Court studied procedural actions relevant to the Bámaca Velásquez Case against Guatemala. The application refers to events that occurred as of March 12, 1992, when agents of the armed forces of Guatemala allegedly captured Mr. Efraín Bámaca-Velásquez after an armed confrontation, proceeding to keep him alive in military installations of the armed forces where he was tortured and later executed by members of the Guatemalan armed forces. The Commission also requests that the Court declare that Guatemala has violated the American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, that it must investigate these events and sanction those responsible for them, inform the next-of-kin on the whereabouts of Mr. Bámaca and return his remains, reform the training of the armed forces of Guatemala and pay fair compensation to the victim's family and the costs of procedure.
4) Loayza Tamayo Case. On February 5, the Court held a public hearing at its seat in order to hear testimony of the witnesses Iván Bazán and Víctor Alvarez and the experts Julio Maier, Carlos Arslanian and Héctor Faúndez. The Court also heard the arguments presented by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Government of the Republic of Peru on the evidence in this case.
According to the application, this case originated with events that occurred as of February 6, 1993, when Ms. María Elena Loayza Tamayo was allegedly illegally and arbitrarily deprived of her freedom, tortured, and treated in a cruel, inhuman and degrading manner. The application also alleges the violation of judicial guarantees and double jeopardy in relation to the same events. As a result, the application alleges the violation of Articles 1.1 (Obligation to Respect Rights), 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) and 51(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission requests that the Court decide on the above-mentioned violations of the Convention, order Peru to pay full reparation to Ms. Loayza Tamayo for the damages suffered and to pass a decree granting her immediate freedom.
5) Castillo Páez Case: On February 6 and 7, the Court held a public hearing at it seat and heard the testimony of the witnesses María Elena Castro-Osorio, Joe Roberto Ruiz-Huapaya, Cronwell Pierre Castillo-Castillo, Elba Minaya-Calle, Augusto Zúñiga-Paz and from expert Enrique Bernales-Ballesteros. The Court also heard the arguments presented by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Government of the Republic of Peru on the evidence in this case.
According to the complaint, this case originates from events that occurred as of October 21, 1990, when agents of the Peruvian National Police arrested Mr. Ernesto Castillo-Páez. Since that time, his whereabouts are unknown. Due to these events, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submitted the application to the Court on January 12, 1995, requesting that the Court declare that Peru has violated 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 as guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission also 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; to locate and deliver his remains to his family; and to pay full reparation, both material and moral, to the victim's family for the serious damages suffered.
6) Aloeboetoe et al Case: By means of resolution of February 5, 1997, the Court declared that the Government of Suriname complied with the judgment of September 10, 1993, in the Aloeboetoe et al. Case and consequently decided to end the proceedings in the Case. Furthermore, the Court reserved the faculty of reopening the Case if the circumstances so require, due to the fact that this judgment established some permanent obligations.
7) Status of compliance with Provisional Measures; The Court studied the various Reports presented by the Governments regarding the Provisional Measures ordered by the Court and the observations the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have presented regarding those Reports. The Court also decided to end the provisional measures adopted in Nicaragua in the Aleman-Lacayo Case and in Colombia in the Caballero-Delgado and Santana Case.
8) Other matters. During this Regular Session, the Court signed an Agreement of Cooperation regarding computer and document information with the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Costa Rica. At the solemn signing of the agreement were present the Judges of the Inter-American Court and the following Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Costa Rica: Edgar Cervantes Villalta, President ; Rodrigo Montenegro Trejos, Vice-President; Orlando Aguirre Gómez, President of the Second Chamber; Luis Paulino Mora Mora, President of the Constitutional Chamber and Carlos Arguedas Ramírez. Also present were the Registrars, Directors of related projects and officers of both Tribunals. The Court also considered various administrative matters and approved its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.
The composition of the Court for this Regular 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: Dr. Rafael Nieto-Navia for the Caballero-Delgado and Santana Case and Julio Barberis for the Garrido and Baigorria Case. The Secretary of the Court, Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, and the Interim Deputy Secretary, Víctor M. Rodríguez-Rescia, were also present.
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:
Manuel E. Ventura-Robles
Secretary, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
San José, Costa Rica
Telephone: (506) 234-0581, Fax: (506) 234-0584
San José, February 19, 1997.