Inter-American Court of Human Rights

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Facts Proven

133. Having examined the documents, the statements of the witnesses, the opinions of the experts and the pleadings of the Commission, of the representatives and of the State during the course of the present proceeding, this Court deems the following facts proven:

Background information
134.1 The ‘Panchito López’ Center was under the authority of the Ministry of Justice and Labor of Paraguay.1
134.2 The Center was first located in the city of Emboscada, Paraguay, which is some 50 km from Asunción. It was not easily accessible. Subsequently, the State decided to convert that facility into a maximum security prison for adults. With that, the inmates interned at the ‘Panchito López’ Center were moved to a place that was originally built as a private residence in Asunción.2
General conditions of incarceration at the Center
134.3 Having been designed to serve as a residence, the Center did not have the proper infrastructure for a detention facility.3
134.4 The Center was a facility for incarcerating children in conflict with the law. Most of the children at the Center came from marginal sectors of society.4 The inmate population was increasing, giving rise to inmate overcrowding and a lack of security and safety.5 Between August 1996 and July 2001, the population at the Center exceeded its maximum by another 50%.6 The State acknowledged the situation on a number of occasions, and also admitted to the general structural flaws in the system for treatment of juveniles in conflict with the law in Paraguay.7
134.5 The inmates at the Center were confined in unsanitary cells with few hygienic facilities.8
134.6 The inmates were ill-fed and lacked proper medical, psychological and dental care.9

134.7 Inmates with physical disabilities,10 mental disorders and/or addictions11 did not receive medical attention suited to their special needs.12

134.8 Inmates had few opportunities to exercise or to participate in recreational activities.13
134.9 Many inmates had no bed, blanket and/or mattress, which meant that they had to sleep on the floor, take turns with their fellow inmates, or share beds and mattresses.14

134.10 The lack of beds and mattresses, combined with the overcrowded conditions, provided an enabling environment for sexual abuse among inmates.15

134.11 Inmates at the Center engaged in quarrels and fights, which sometimes involved home-made weapons.16

The inadequacies of the Center’s educational program

134.12 The Youth and Adult Education Center No. 118, an institution certified by the Ministry of Education and Culture, ran a formal educational program at the Center.17 The program, however, was seriously flawed, as it did not have sufficient teachers and was inadequately funded.18 This drastically limited the inmates’ opportunity to pursue even elementary studies19 and/or learn trades.20

The guards at the Center

134.13 The Center did not have a sufficient number of guards for the Center’s inmate population.21

134.14 The guards were not properly trained in the protection of children deprived of their liberty and were not taught the techniques of responding to emergency situations.22
134.15 Frequently, the guards at the Center resorted to the use of cruel and brutal punishment to discipline the inmate population.23

134.16 Punishment measures used included solitary confinement, beatings, torture,24 and transfers to adult prisons.25

134.17 The guards at the Center sold the inmates narcotic substances.26

General observations on the law in Paraguay and how it affected the inmates at the Center

134.18 The previous Code of Criminal Procedure was still in effect between 1996 and 2000, and applied to adults and children alike. Preventive detention or detention pending trial was the rule rather than the exception.27 The new Code of Criminal Procedure, which took full effect in 2000, provides that preventive detention should be used only in exceptional cases.28 Nevertheless, this provision has not been fully enforced.29
134.19 The vast majority of the Center’s inmates were awaiting or standing trial, but had not yet been convicted.30
134.20 The inmates awaiting or standing trial and still not convicted by a court of law were not separated from the inmates who had been convicted.31
134.21 Of all the inmates in the Center between August 14, 1996 and July 25, 2001, at least 153 were, when they entered, adults under the law in effect at the time (infra para. 134.58). Of these, 118 were 20 years old when they entered; 28 were 21 when they entered; five were 22, one was 23 and another was 24.32 These adult inmates were not segregated from the inmates who were minors.33

134.22 In general, the inmates’ court cases moved very slowly.34
134.23 Although the inmates had legal counsel,35 it was, in general, unsatisfactory.36
134.24 The constant threats to the inmates’ personal safety, the overcrowding and the Center’s grossly inadequate resources and infrastructure created a sense of desperation in the inmates and made them more prone to violence.37 Rather than being rehabilitated at the Center to successfully rejoin society, the inmates endured daily suffering and went through a counterproductive, brutal learning process, which in part explains the high recidivism rate among the inmates.38

The fires at the Center

134.25 Over the last 10 years, there were a number of clashes at the Center between inmates and guards and among the inmates themselves.39 Subsequent to the date on which the present case was filed with the Inter-American Commission, which was in 1996, the Center had three fires (infra paragraphs 134.29, 134.33 and 134.34).

134.26 Because it was a juvenile detention facility, a number of international organizations, national nongovernmental organizations, and individuals reported the dangerous situation at the ‘Panchito López’ Center to the Senate Human Rights Commission, the Paraguayan Ambassador in Washington, D.C., and to the Ministry of Justice and Labor.40 However, those complaints failed to bring about any significant change in the conditions under which the children were held.41

134.27 On November 12, 1993, the Tekojojá Foundation filed a petition of generic habeas corpus to denounce the conditions at the Institute and to get the inmates relocated to adequate facilities.42 The petition did not address any internment proceedings conducted in the case of these inmates.43

134.28 In Final Judgment No. 652, delivered on July 31, 1998, the Civil and Commercial Law Judge of First Instance, Ninth Rotation, granted the writ of generic habeas corpus filed by the Tekojojá Foundation on behalf of the inmates at the Center, and ordered the State to take the measures necessary to relocate the inmates to adequate facilities.44 Despite the court order, the inmates on whose behalf the writ of habeas corpus was granted remained at the Center.45
1) The fire on February 11, 2000
134.29 A fire at the Center on February 11, 200046 left nine inmates dead: Elvio Epifanio Acosta Ocampos, Marco Antonio Jiménez, Diego Walter Valdez, Sergio Daniel Vega Figueredo, Sergio David Poletti Domínguez, Mario del Pilar Álvarez Pérez, Juan Alcides Román Barrios, Antonio Damián Escobar Morinigo and Carlos Raúl de la Cruz47.
134.30 The following inmates sustained injuries or burns during that same fire: Abel Achar Acuña, José Milciades Cañete Chamorro, Ever Ramón Molinas Zárate, Arsenio Joel Barrios Báez, 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 Ángel Coronel Ramírez, César Fidelino Ojeda Acevedo, Heriberto Zarate, Francisco Noé Andrada, Jorge Daniel Toledo, Pablo Emmanuel Rojas, Franco Sixto González, Francisco Ramón Adorno, Antonio Delgado, Carlos Román Feris Almirón, Pablo Ayala Azola, Juan Ramón Lugo and Rolando Benítez.48

134.31 Those injured in that fire were taken to emergency treatment centers.49

134.32 Well before the February 11, 2000, the Center was grossly unprepared to respond to a fire, even though inmates frequently lit fires in the cellblocks to warm their food or to tattoo themselves.50 To begin with, there was no apparatus or fire extinguisher near the cellblocks at the Center.51 And despite the crisis situation, the Center’s administrative authorities failed to provide the guards with any kind of instruction.52

Directory: docs -> casos -> articulos
docs -> #17622 Relational Leadership: New Developments in Theory and Practice
docs -> Leadership Development Programs and ecq-based Readings
articulos -> Inter-American Court of Human Rights Case of Loayza-Tamayo v. Peru Judgment of November 27, 1998
articulos -> Inter-American Court of Human Rights Case of DaCosta Cadogan v. Barbados Judgment of September 24, 2009
articulos -> Inter-American Court of Human Rights Case of Albán-Cornejo et al v. Ecuador Judgment of August 5, 2008
articulos -> Inter-American Court of Human Rights Case of Baldeón-García v. Perú Judgment of April 6, 2006
casos -> Operation Condor
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articulos -> Official summary issued by the inter-american court

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