Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Legal defect in the filing of the application

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Legal defect in the filing of the application

Pleadings of the State

102. In filing this preliminary objection, the State asserted that:

a) the Commission erred by filing the application without fulfilling the requirements set forth in Article 33 of the Rules of Court; the litis cannot be engaged unless the alleged victims are named and information confirming their identity is provided;
b) in the case of provisional measures, it is sufficient that the beneficiaries be “identifiable” since the merits of the case are not being litigated;
c) in its June 21, 2002 order, the Court pointed out that the alleged victims “were properly identified and named in the application that the Inter-American Commission filed with this Court”;

d) the identification of the alleged victims was materially possible, since the Commission could have obtained that information during the friendly settlement process or before the admissibility and merits of the case were considered, given “the very strong cooperation” provided by the State in this case. Neither the Commission nor the claimants requested that information from the State at the proper stage of the proceedings;

e) the Commission had access to reference material based on the Court’s June 21, 2002 order, since the Court requested that the State cooperate by providing the requested list. The State sent the requested information to the Commission, “in keeping with its posture of cooperation and its respect for the principle of good faith that governs the international human rights system”;
f) facts and evidence must be shown to support the alleged violation of rights. “Evidence is clearly lacking of the individual identities of persons alleged to be victims of concrete facts in the period from August 1996 to July 2001, specifying place, dates, circumstances, victims and alleged perpetrators.” The Commission “has failed to show sufficient proof of how the State violated the rights of the more than three thousand supposed victims, specifically as regards the rights to humane treatment, personal liberty, judicial guarantees, and so on.” The Commission and the representatives have alleged facts and provided evidence of the supposed violation of rights in the case of the alleged victims of the three fires, but they have failed to show proof that all the inmates at the Center were somehow alleged victims;
g) were the reparations in genere sought by the Commission granted, the precedent set in the inter-American system would be contrary to the principle that requires victims to be identified and would affect “the legal certainty, reasonableness, and equilibrium” of that system. During the friendly settlement proceeding with the Commission, neither the representatives nor the Commission suggested to the State that all children and adolescents confined in that time frame should be compensated; and
h) the proceedings in the instant case should concern only the alleged victims identified under operative paragraph 1 of the Court’s June 21, 2002 order.
Pleadings of the Commission
103. The Inter-American Commission asked the Court to declare this first preliminary objection to be inadmissible on the grounds that:
a) the discussion of this case when it was before the Commission began on August 14, 1996, and was always about all the children who were inmates at the Center; the case was never confined to the adolescents killed or injured in the fires that occurred on February 11, 2000, February 5, 2001 and July 25, 2001;
b) the application was never intended to be an actio popularis with unnamed alleged victims. The entire case with the Commission was conducted on the premise that the alleged victims were identified and that the State had their exact names in its possession;

c) assuming, arguendo, that some names of alleged victims were not in the application, that issue was definitively decided by the Court in its June 21, 2002 order; it would be pointless to revisit this matter yet again;

d) on September 16, 2002, before the three-month time period the Court set in that order had expired, the Commission submitted a complete list, with the names of the children who were inmates at the Center between August 1996 and July 2001, which the Permanent Mission of Paraguay to the Organization of American States had submitted by notes dated August 27, 2002 and September 5, 2002. In those notes the State expressly stated that it was complying with operative paragraph 3 of the Court’s June 21, 2002 order.

Pleadings of the representatives

104. With regard to the first preliminary objection the State filed, the representatives asked the Court to regard it as out of order on the grounds that:

a) when the proceedings on the case got underway and at the time of the early communications sent to the Commission, the fires had not yet occurred and no inmate had died. The State never raised any objection to the assertion that the alleged victims were all inmates at the Center;
b) there is no legal defect in the manner in which the application was filed. The Commission provided the names of some alleged victims in its application, and the data necessary to be able to identify the others, thereby satisfying the requirement established in Article 33(1) of the Rules of Court;
c) furthermore, subsequent to the State’s prompt cooperation, the Commission delivered to the Court a new list in November 2002, in alphabetical order, making it possible to establish the number of alleged victims and their individual identities; and
d) Article 33(1) of the Rules of Court provides that “when this is possible”, the brief containing the application shall include the name and address of the alleged victims, their next of kin or their duly accredited representatives. That article relaxes the formalities required when filing a complaint for inter-American litigation.

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