Inter-American Court of Human Rights

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7. Paraguay has been a State party to the American Convention since August 24, 1989, and accepted the Court’s contentious jurisdiction on March 26, 1993. The Court is, therefore, competent to hear the present case under the terms of Articles 62 and 63(1) of the Convention.

Proceeding before the Commission
8. On August 14, 1996, the Center for Justice and International Law (hereinafter “CEJIL” or “the representatives”) and the Fundación Tekojojá filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission” or “the Inter-American Commission”).
9. The Commission opened the case on August 27, 1996, and classified it as No. 11,666.
10. On April 27, 1997, the petitioners indicated their willingness to work toward a friendly settlement. Therefore, on May 8 of that year the Commission made itself available to the parties with a view to arriving at a friendly settlement.
11. The parties met several times during the friendly settlement process. During its sessions, the Commission itself held three hearings in connection with this attempt at a friendly settlement.
12. During the course of one friendly-settlement meeting at Commission headquarters on March 23, 1999, the State pledged to present a timetable on the measures being taken to permanently close the ‘Panchito López’ Center. The Commission conducted an in loco visit to Paraguay from July 28 to July 30, 1999. In July 1999, the State presented a timetable of activities aimed at the Center’s definitive closing. According to that plan, the alleged victims were to have been permanently transferred by late November of that year.
13. The first fire at the Center broke out on February 11, 2000. On March 20, 2000 the State sent the Commission a report on the fire, in response to a request the Commission made on February 24 of that year.
14. During the course of the friendly settlement proceeding, on April 4, 2000, Paraguay informed the Commission that forty children had been transferred to the Centro Educativo Integral Itauguá [Itauguá Comprehensive Education Center].
15. On October 10, 2000, during its 108th regular session, the Commission held another hearing where the State once again pledged to permanently close the ‘Panchito López’ Center, this time within six months of the date of the hearing. The Commission informed it that if by the end of that six-month period the Center had not been permanently shut down, the Commission would terminate its intervention as organ of friendly settlement and proceed to process the case in accordance with the Convention.
16. The Commission held another hearing on March 1, 2001, on the heels of a second fire at the Center on February 5, 2001. At that hearing, Paraguay pledged, for a third time, to permanently shut down the Center by no later than late June 2001. The Commission stated that if the facility was not closed by that date, which it considered final, it would terminate its intervention as organ of friendly settlement and proceed to process the case in accordance with the Convention.
17. On July 25, 2001, another fire broke out at the Center; the petitioners withdrew from the friendly settlement process that same day.
18. The Commission terminated the friendly settlement process on July 26, 2001. It asked the State to present its final observations on the merits of the petition within two months’ time and scheduled a hearing to discuss the case.
19. On July 30, 2001, the State sent the Commission a report on the July 25, 2001 fire and announced the Center’s permanent closing and the fact that 255 inmates had been moved to various adult prisons in the country.
20. The petitioners requested precautionary measures for Benito Augusto Adorno, a child shot by a guard at the Center on July 25, 2001; they also requested precautionary measures for the 255 children relocated to various adult prisons in the country as a result of the Center’s closing.
21. On August 8, 2001, the Commission requested that the State adopt the following precautionary measures:
1. Provide the minor Benito Augusto Adorno with the necessary medical care and medications.

2. Immediately transfer the juveniles to the Itauguá Education Center, as [the] government had pledged to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or equip other facilities to accommodate the juveniles currently being held in adult prisons.

3. On the timetable for relocating the juveniles being held in adult prisons, make certain that juveniles now housed in adult prisons are completely segregated from the adult prisoners.

4. Facilitate the juveniles’ access to their defense attorneys and family visits.

5. Investigate the factors that necessitated these measures and punish those responsible.
22. On October 24, 2001, the State sent the Inter-American Commission the information it had requested on July 26, 2001 (supra para. 18).
23. On November 12, 2001, during its 113th session, the Commission received news that young Benito Augusto Adorno had died from the bullet wound he sustained at the Center on July 25, 2001.
24. On December 3, 2001, the Commission approved Report No. 126/01, on the merits, wherein it concluded that:
The Republic of Paraguay violated the right to life, protected by Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of: Elvio Epifanio Acosta Ocampos, Marcos Antonio Giménez, Diego Walter Valdez, Sergio Daniel Vega Figueredo, Sergio David Poletti Domínguez, Mario Alvarez Pérez, Juan Alcides Román Barrios, Antonio Damián Escobar Morinigo, Carlos Raúl de la Cruz and Benito Augusto Adorno.
The Republic of Paraguay violated the right to humane treatment, protected under Article 5 of the American Convention, to the detriment of: Abel Achar Acuña, José Milicades Cañete, Ever Ramón Molinas Zárate, Arsenio Joel Barrios Báez, Carlos Raúl de la Cruz, Alfredo Duarte Ramos, Sergio Vincent Navarro Moraez, Raúl Esteban Portillo, Ismael Méndez Aranda, Pedro Iván Peña, Osvaldo Daniel Sosa, Walter Javier Riveros Rojas, Osmar López Verón, Miguel Coronel, César Ojeda, Heriberto Zarate, Antonio Escobar, Francisco Noé Andrada, Jorge Daniel Toledo, Pablo Emmanuel Rojas, Sixto González Franco, Francisco Ramón Adorno, Antonio Delgado, Claudio Coronel Quiroga, Clemente Luis Escobar González, Julio César García, José Amado Jara Fernando, Alberto David Martínez, Miguel Angel Martínez, Osvaldo Espinola Mora, Hugo Antonio Quintana Vera and Juan Carlos Vivero Zarza, Eduardo Vera, Ulises Zelaya Flores, Hugo Olmedo, Rafael Aquino Acuña, Nelson Rodríguez, Demetrio Silguero, Aristides Ramón Ortiz B. and Carlos Raúl Romero Giacomo, by virtue of the injuries they sustained and the fumes they inhaled during the three fires. It also violated the right to human treatment in the case of all the children and adolescents held at the ‘Panchito López’ Center between August 1996 and July 2001 and subsequently transferred to the country’s adult prisons.
The Republic of Paraguay violated the rights protected in Article 5 (right to humane treatment), Article 7 (right to personal liberty), Article 19 (the rights of the child), Article 8 (the right to a fair trial), and Article 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention, to the detriment of the children and adolescents interned at the ‘Panchito López’ Juvenile Reeducation Institute between August 1996 and July 2001 and subsequently sent to adult prisons in the country. Because of those violations, the Paraguayan State has failed to honor its obligation under Convention Article 1(1), which is to respect those rights and ensure their free and full exercise to all persons subject to its jurisdiction.
25. Based on the foregoing findings, the Commission recommended that the State:

  1. Immediately transfer the children and adolescents to proper centers separate from adult prisons, but discount this measure as a long-term solution to the problem of where to house juvenile detainees.

  1. Adopt the necessary measures to put the Child and Adolescent Code into full effect immediately.

  1. Adopt the necessary measures to guarantee children and adolescents an effective right of defense, to reduce the length of time they are held in preventive custody and make greater use of alternatives to deprivation of liberty.

  1. Adopt the measures needed to investigate the violations established in this report and to punish those responsible.

  1. Adopt the necessary measures so that the children and adolescents who were held at the ‘Panchito López’ Reeducation Institute or, where applicable, the next of kin of the deceased adolescents, receive adequate, prompt and effective compensation for the violations herein established.

  1. Adopt the necessary measures to prevent a recurrence of events and practices such as these.

  1. Transfer detained juveniles who have physical handicaps, addictions and mental disorders to the proper health centers, and give those suffering from addictions the proper treatment.

  1. Abolish prolonged solitary confinement and the practice of sending children and adolescents to Emboscada prison as a form of punishment.

26. On December 20, 2001, the Commission sent that Report to the State and gave it two months to comply with the recommendations made therein. On February 18, 2002, the State asked the Commission for an extension in order to comply with the recommendations made in the report on the merits. The Commission granted that extension on February 26, 2002, giving the State a two-month extension starting as of that date.

27. On April 30, 2002, the State informed the Commission of the measures that it was taking to comply with the recommendations made in Commission Report No. 126/01.


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