237. With regard to Article 25 of the Convention, in relation to Article 1(1) thereof, the State:
a) accepted responsibility for the violation of Article 25(1) of the Convention owing to the ineffectiveness of the constitutional writ of habeas corpus that had ordered the juveniles transferred from the Center to a proper facility. It did not, however, accept responsibility for the violation of Article 7 erroneously alleged by the Commission;
b) petitioned the Court to take into consideration that the failure to comply with the court order was because of a lack of means; at the time the ruling was delivered, the State did not have an adequate place to which the inmates from the Center could be transferred;
c) stated that the acknowledgement of the violation of Article 25(1) of the Convention was with regard to the inmates named in Judgment 652 of July 31, 1998, which granted the writ of habeas corpus; that judgment also included the persons named in paragraph c) of the petitum in the brief answering the application, inasmuch as some of those persons may have been incarcerated in the Center in 1998, the year Judgment 652 was delivered;
d) the Commission’s allegation concerning the efficacy of the remedies to ascertain the respective authorities’ responsibilities for the human rights violations established in its application is vague since, rather than detail specific cases, it confines itself to making general accusations;
e) agents of the State, each within his particular area of competence, facilitated the investigations necessary to determine the cause of the fires;
f) the Commission did not sufficiently explore the judicial inquiries that were conducted into the events at the Center; the State had provided it with expert evidence, the reports prepared by the Volunteer Fire Brigade of Paraguay, and the court records and prosecution’s files. A criminal court judge already settled an investigation, one year after the fact, which is a reasonable period of time. Under the criminal justice system in force at the time, the judge in the February 2000 case decided to close it on the grounds that the author or authors of the fire were not identified; and
g) if no sentences have yet been handed out in the inquiries into the fires, it is because it is materially impossible for the judge to determine who set the fire. A basic rule of constitutional and criminal law holds that “no one may be forced to testify against himself.” Naturally, none of the witnesses who were former inmates in Cellblock No. 8 has provided any clues to identify the author or authors of the serious crime.
Considerations of the Court
238. Article 25 of the Convention reads as follows:
1. Everyone has the right to simple and prompt recourse, or any other effective recourse, to a competent court or tribunal for protection against acts that violate his fundamental rights recognized by the constitution or laws of the state concerned or by this Convention, even though such violation may have been committed by persons acting in the course of their official duties.
2. The States Parties undertake:
a. to ensure that any person claiming such remedy shall have his rights determined by the competent authority provided for by the legal system of the state;
b. to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; and
c. to ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.
239. This Court has held that the primary purpose of international protection of human rights is to defend the individual against the arbitrary exercise of State power.136
240. Working from the facts proven in the case sub judice, the Court must determine whether the petition of generic habeas corpus filed on November 12, 1993 on behalf of the inmates in the Center at that time and granted on July 31, 1998, on behalf of 239 inmates in the Center as of that date (supra paragraphs 134.27 and 134.28), met the requirements established in Article 25 of the Convention.
241. The State accepted responsibility for the violation of Article 25(1) of the Convention “owing to the ineffectiveness of the constitutional writ of habeas corpus that had ordered the juveniles transferred from the Center to a proper facility befitting their dignity as human beings.” However, the State acknowledged responsibility only in the case of those persons named in paragraph c) of the petitum in the brief answering the application, “inasmuch as some of those persons may have been incarcerated [in the Center] in 1998, the year Judgment 652 was delivered.”
242. The Court will now proceed to analyze Article 25, based on the proven facts and the State’s acknowledgement of responsibility.
243. In Paraguay, the petition of generic habeas corpus filed in this case can be used to seek rectification of circumstances that restrict liberty or that threaten personal security; the purpose of that remedy is to protect the rights and guarantees of lawfully detained persons whose predicament is exacerbated by the fact that they are subjected to physical, psychological or moral violence. In the case sub judice, the petition of generic habeas corpus was not filed in connection with the cases being prosecuted against the inmates to determine the lawfulness of their detention; instead, it was filed with regard to the conditions at the Center at which the inmates were being detained. This remedy, therefore, is one that individuals have a right to invoke under Article 25 of the Convention. The petition of habeas corpus described the Center as a “medieval-style prison” that did not meet the minimum standards for sanitation, privacy and hygiene, and was constantly overcrowded, fostering promiscuity and violence. The inmates endured deprivations of all kinds and lived in inhumane conditions.
244. The analysis of the alleged violation of Article 25 of the Convention will be done from two perspectives: a) the effectiveness of the remedy of generic habeas corpus filed on November 12, 1993, which includes the speed at which a decision on this petition was forthcoming; and b) the State’s compliance with the writ of habeas corpus.
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