PRESS RELEASE (*)
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hold its XLI Regular Session at its seat in San Jose, Costa Rica, from August 23 to September 6, 1998. During this session, the Court will hear the following matters:
1) Garrido and Baigorria Case: Reparations Phase. The Court will deliberate and study the possibility of passing a Judgment on the reparations and costs in this case, based on its Judgment of February 2, 1996, and its Resolution of January 31, 1997, in which it decided that the State of Argentina must compensate the relatives of the victims and that the type and amount of compensation would be established by the Court.
The application 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 Raul Baigorria. Since then, their whereabouts are unknown. At approximately 4:00 p.m. on April 28, 1990, Mr. Garrido and Mr. Baigorria were travelling in a vehicle belonging to the Garrido family, when they were detained by uniformed personnel of the Mendoza Police within the General San Martin Park, in front of the Eva Peron Home School, in the city of Mendoza. In its February 2, 1996 Judgment, the Court took note of the State's acceptance of the facts stated in the application, as well as the State's acceptance of the respective international responsibility.
2) Cantoral Benavides Case: Preliminary Objections Phase. The Court will deliberate and study the possibility of passing a Judgment on the the preliminary objections presented by Peru in this case. Preliminary objections are procedural defenses that the defendant State may submit, which seek to have a contentious case dismissed before the merits of the case are heard. The preliminary objections submitted by the State of Peru in this Case, which are opposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, include the failure to exhaust domestic remedies, expiration of the application, lack of standing, and lack of jurisdiction in regard to the entire application.
The facts of the application, submitted for consideration by the Court on August 8, 1996, concern the alleged violation of the Convention, to the detriment of Luis Alberto Cantoral-Benavides who, according to the Commission, was illegally deprived of his liberty; submitted to cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment; tried twice on the same facts; and had his right to a fair trial violated. According to the application, the State of Peru violated, to the detriment of Mr. Cantoral-Benavides, Articles 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), and 25 (Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, all in relation to Article 1(1) of the same, which establishes the obligation to respect rights. The Commission also claims that Peru is responsible for violating Article 2 (Domestic Legal Effects) of the American Convention and Articles 2 and 8 of The Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.
3) Castillo Petruzzi et al. Case: Preliminary Objections Phase. In this case, the Court will deliberate and study the possibility of passing a Judgment on the preliminary objections submitted by Peru and refuted by the Commission. The objections are as follows: failure to exhaust domestic remedies in Peru, lack of jurisdiction of the Commission and the Court; lack of legal capacity of the complaint to present petition against the State of Peru; expiration of the application; and sovereignty and jurisdiction.
The facts of the application, submitted for consideration by the Court on July 22, 1997, concern a faceless tribunal in the State of Peru, which sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime of treason the following Chilean citizens: Jaime Francisco Castillo-Petruzzi, Maria Concepcion Pincheira-Saez, Lautaro Enrique Mellado-Saavedra, and Alejandro Astorga-Valdes. The Commission requested that the Court decide that Peru violated Articles 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights), 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 20 (Right to Nationality), 27 (Suspension of Guarantees) and 51(2), all of them of the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of the victims and asked that the Court declare null and void the consecutive proceedings in the military courts against the mentioned persons, who also should have reparations made to them and a fair indemnity paid to them for the damages they have suffered. The petition also requested that the State be ordered to pay the costs and expenses incurred in this Case and in the proceedings in the domestic courts. The Commission also requests that the Court declare that Peru violated Article 29 (Norms of Interpretation) of the American Convention in combination with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
4) Pantoja Ordónez et. al Case: the Court will also initiate the proceedings of this Case, submitted for its consideration by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on July 6, 1998.
The application in this Case refers to the alleged extra-judicial execution and latter denial of justice by the State of Colombia, in detriment of Artemio Pantoja Ordoñez, Hernan Javier Cuaran Muchavisoy, Julio Milciades Ceron Gomez, Edebraiz Ceron Rojas, William Hamilton Ceron Rojas and Hernan Lizcano Jacanamejoy o Moises Ojeda. The application submitted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requests the Court to declare that Colombia has violated Articles 1.1 (Obligation to Respect Rights), 4 (Right to Life), 8 (Right to Fair Trail) and 25 (Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
5) James et al. Provisional Measures: The Court will hold a public hearing at its seat on August 28 at 10:00 a.m., on several Provisional Measures requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The requests for provisional measures arise from the imminent execution of several citizens sentenced to death in Trinidad and Tobago, who have presented petitions before the Inter-American Commission. The Commission has argued that said execution would hinder the Commission's opportunity to review and decide their cases and the adoption of any eventual measure of reparation in their favor. On May 22, 1998, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights presented a request for provisional measures in five cases presently before the Commission involved with the death penalty interposed to five arrested citizens in Trinidad and Tobago (Wenceslaus James, Anthony Briggs, Anderson Noel, Anthony Garcia and Christopher Bethel). The President of the Court, Judge Hernan Salgado Pesantes, in an Order of May 27, 1998, adopted urgent measures and on 14, June, 1998 the Court deliberated and resolved:
1. To order Trinidad and Tobago to take all measures necessary to preserve the life and physical integrity of Wenceslaus James, Anthony Briggs, Anderson Noel, Anthony Garcia and Christopher Bethel, so as not to hinder the processing of their cases before the Inter-American system.
2. To order Trinidad and Tobago to submit a report by June 30, 1998, on the measures taken in compliance with this Order, and to require the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to submit its observations on this report within fifteen days of its receipt.
3. To summon Trinidad and Tobago and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to a public hearing on this matter at the seat of the Court on August 28, 1998, at 10:00 a.m.
Subsequently, the President of the Court, based on several requests of the Inter-American Commission of amplification of the provisional measures, required the State to take all measures necessary to preserve also the life of Darrin Roger Thomas, Haniff Hilaire and Denny Baptiste, so that the Court may examine the pertinence of the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
After the date of the resolution of the Court, the State and the Commission have presented opposing arguments, which will be presented to the Judges on 28, August, 1998. However, on 13, August, 1998, the State of Trinidad and Tobago informed to the Court that will not participate in the public hearing, because the State party cannot accept any responsibility for the consequences which ensue from the failure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to organise its proceedings. On 19, August, 1998, the President of the Court, Judge Hernan Salgado Pesantes, sent a note to the State, which copy is enclosed to this press release, in which he reiterated the importance of Trinidad and Tobago appearing before the Tribunal, so that the Court may give full consideration to its arguments, as well as those of the Inter-American Commission.
6) Bamaca Velasquez Case: Provisional Measures. The Court will consider a request of provisional measures presented by the Inter-American Commission on 24, June, 1998, to protect the life and the personal integrity of Mr. Santiago Cabrera López, wittness before the Court in this case. On 30, July, 1998, the President of the Court, Judge Hernan Salgado Pesantes, requested the State of Guatemala to adopt urgent measures in favour of Mr. Cabrera to secure his personal integrity. Likewise, required the State to present a communication and the Commission to present observations, so that this information and his resolution of 30, June, 1998, may be put in consideration of the Court during her XLI Regular Session.
This case was submitted to the Court by the Inter-American Commission's application of August 30, 1996, which presented claims against the State of Guatemala for the alleged disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial execution of Efrain Bamaca-Velasquez in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights. The application refers to the facts that occurred as of March 12, 1992, when members of the Armed Forces of Guatemala allegedly captured Mr. Bamaca-Velasquez after an armed confrontation, and subsequently detained him in various military installations, where he was tortured and later executed by members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces. The Commission requested that the Court declare that Guatemala had violated the following: Article 3 (Right to Juridical Personality), Article 4 (Right to Life), Article 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), Article 7 (Right to Personal Liberty), Article 8 (Judicial Guarantees), and Article 25 (Judicial Protection), all in relation to Article 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights) of the American Convention on Human Rights. In addition, the Commission requested that the Court declare that Guatemala violated the Inter-American Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Torture; that the State should investigate the facts and punish those responsible; that the State must inform the family of the whereabouts of Mr. Bamaca-Velasquez and give them his remains; that the State must reform the methods for training the armed forces; and that the State must pay a fair indemnity and costs to the relatives of the victim.
7) Provisional Measures Alvarez et. al: The Court will consider a request of amplification of the provisional measures presented by the Inter-American Commission on 4, August, 1998, in favour of Mr. Daniel Prado and his family. Mr. Prado is a lawyer of ASFADDES who represents the relatives of several victims in some criminal processes and compensation claims in Colombia, and, according to the Commission, he and his family are in a situation of extreme gravity and urgency due to some threatens that he has received. On 6, August, 1998, the President of the Court, Judge Hernan Salgado Pesantes, requested the State of Colombia to adopt urgent measures to secure the life and personal integrity of Mr. Daniel Prado, his wife Estela de Prado and his daughters Camilla Alejandra and Lina. Also, requested the State to present a communication and the Commission to present observations. Likewise, ordered Colombia to investigate the facts that originated the 4, August, 1998, request of the Inter-American Commission and to sanction the responsibles. In the same way, decided to put in consideration of the Court during her XLI Regular Session his 6, August, 1998, resolution.
8) Other matters: The Court will consider several matters currently pending before it and it will analyze 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 composition of the Court for this Regular Session will be: 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 Garrido and Baigorria Case, Julio A. Barberis, appointed by the State of Argentina, will participate as ad hoc Judge. In the Cantoral-Benavides and Castillo-Petruzzi Cases, Fernando Vidal-Ramirez will participate as the ad hoc Judge appointed by the State of Peru. The Secretary of the Court, Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, and the Interim Deputy Secretary, Víctor M. Rodriguez-Rescia, will also be 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.
San Jose, August 20, 1998.
San Jose, August 19, 1998
I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that I have received the communication of August 11, 1998, in which the Illustrious State of Trinidad and Tobago informed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that it must decline the summons of the Court to appear at the public hearing concerning the provisional measures adopted in the matter of James et al., to be held on August 28, 1998.
By convening the public hearing, the Court seeks to permit both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Trinidad and Tobago to present their arguments concerning these provisional measures in a public forum, without compromising their positions in the proceedings which are currently pending before the Commission. Due to the urgency and complexity of these matters, the Court also deems such a hearing important for the full consideration of said arguments.
The Court has always relied on the good faith and cooperation of States in order to carry out the mandate established by the State Parties to the American Convention on Human Rights.
The failure of a State Party to appear at a public hearing, to which it has been duly summoned, is without precedent in the history of the Court. The Tribunal is seriously concerned by the implications of Trinidad and Tobago's decision in the present matter and its ramifications.
Therefore, I reiterate to Your Excellency the importance of Trinidad and Tobago appearing before the Court on August 28, 1998, and thereby fulfilling its obligation as a State Party to the American Convention on Human Rights.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Basdeo Panday, Prime Minister
Level 19, Central Bank Tower
Erick Williams Financial Complex
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
(*) El contenido de este comunicado es responsabilidad
de la Secretaría de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. El texto oficial
de los documentos reseñados puede obtenerse mediante solicitud escrita dirigida
a la Secretaría, en la dirección que se adjunta.
The contents of this press release are the sole responsibility of the Secretariat of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The official text of the documents cited may be obtained by sending a written request to the Secretariat at the address provided at the end of this press release.