By petition submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (hereinafter “the Commission,” “the Inter-American
Commission,” or “IACHR”) on December 1, 1997, and amended on
December 16, 1997, the non-governmental organizations Centro de
Estudios y Acción para la Paz (“CEAPAZ”), the Instituto de
Defensa Legal (“IDL”), the Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y
la Paz (“FEDEPAZ”), the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos
(“APRODEH”), the Grupo de Iniciativa Nacional para los Derechos del
Niño (“GIN”), and the Center for Justice and International Law
(“CEJIL”) (hereinafter “the petitioners”), alleged that the
Republic of Peru (hereinafter “Peru,” “the State,” or “the
Peruvian State”) violated the human rights of youths Leoncio Florian López
(18 years old), Félix Augusto Acuachi Espino (18), Hans Percy Burgos
Castañeda (15), Henry Alejandro Gonzáles Gonzáles (18), David Wilfredo
Carpio Cueva (18), Roberto Carlos Flores Valdivia (18), César Manuel
Huaccha Ramos (17), Mario Antonio Cajavilca de la Cruz (20), Alex Romero
Tirado (20), Jorge Romero Tirado (18), Wilfredo Arroyo Gines (17),
Williams Palomino López (17), Wilson Quispe Rodríguez (18), Elvis Rodríguez
Guillén (18), Juan Carlos Vila Plascencia (18), Roger Suárez Soto (16),
Moisés Ruiz Laguna (17), and Gabino Sánchez Narciso (18), on taking
them, on March 14, 1997, from the Center for Diagnostics and
Rehabilitation of Lima to the Quencoro Maximum Security Prison for Adults
at Cuzco, and subjecting them, once there, to precarious conditions of
confinement, without any possibility of visits given the distance, with
very poor diet, and without any regular medical or psychological
assistance. The petitioners
alleged that these events constitute a violation of the rights of personal
liberty, a fair trial, humane treatment, and measures of protection set
forth at Articles 7, 8, 5, and 19 of the American Convention on Human
Rights (hereinafter the “Convention” or the “American
Convention”). The State
adduced that the case is inadmissible since the facts stated do not tend
to establish a violation of rights guaranteed by the American Convention
on Human Rights; it later alleged that the case should be archived since
the facts that gave rise to the request do not subsist.
The Commission decides to admit the case and to proceed to analyze
the merits issues.
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION
On December 12, 1997, the Commission opened the case, forwarded the
pertinent parts of the complaint to the Peruvian State, and requested that
it provide information within 90 days.
The petitioners submitted additional information on December 16,
1997. Peru answered on March
5, 1998. The petitioners
submitted observations on the State’s response on January 11, 1999.
The State submitted final comments on March 25, 1999.
Both parties submitted several additional briefs.
POSITION OF THE PARTIES
Position of the petitioners
The petitioners indicate that on March 14, 1997, and due to an
escape attempt, the Executive Committee of the Judiciary ruled that the
presumed victims be transferred from the Youth Center for Diagnostics and
Rehabilitation, located in the city of Lima, to the Quencoro Maximum
Security Prison, located in the city of Cuzco.
They allege that the Quencoro Center for Diagnostics and
Rehabilitation was established at a new locale, in Cuzco, which did not
have the infrastructure needed to carry out the work activities,
educational programs, or recreational activities for adolescents.
They add that the Center did not have a permanent medical service,
though nine of the alleged victims suffered diseases such as bronchial
affections, parasitosis, and acute depression, among others.
They note that the situation of the alleged victims at Quencoro was
characterized by the lack of the rehabilitation function provided for in
the Code on the Minor; deficient food; difficulties in the regime of
visits, since the youths’ family members generally did not have the
economic resources needed to travel to Cuzco; and conditions of
confinement even worse than those applied to the adult convicts, for these
youths, on average, had only six hours a week in the yard.
They state that the transfer of the youths is a violation of their
right to personal liberty, for it was based on an administrative decision,
not a judicial decision, as required by domestic law, thereby constituting
arbitrary imprisonment. They argue that this transfer also entails a violation of the
youths’ right to a fair trial, as a punitive measure was applied to them
outside of any judicial process, in which the judge with jurisdiction was
the family judge, at that time, for the Judicial District of Lima.
They add that as a result of the transfer, the youths who had
judicial proceedings pending suffered a violation of the right to be
assisted by counsel; and with the transfer of the persons allegedly
implicated in the escape attempt, they were unable to exercise their right
They allege that the way in which the transfer occurred; the
confinement in the maximum security prison; and the regime imposed on them
there constituted inhuman treatment, in violation of the youths’ right
to humane treatment. They add
that the youths’ transfer implied that they were not receiving
rehabilitative treatment and were not adequately separated from the
adults, in violation of the right to measures of protection set forth in
the American Convention.
They note that on March 24, 1997, they filed a habeas corpus action
in relation to the transfer of the youths to the Quencoro Rehabilitation
Center, but that this action was declared inadmissible in the first
instance and on appeal. They
add that once the judgment on appeal was handed down, it was challenged by
a motion for nullity before the Constitutional Court, which on August 22,
1997, confirmed the inadmissibility of the habeas corpus action.
Position of the State
In its initial answer, the State alleges that the youths were
transferred temporarily, as part of security measures to protect the rest
of the prison population. It
notes that it was a measure ordered by the competent authority, properly
exercising its functions. It
adds that through judicial inspection it was found that the transfer of
the youths included the presence of medical personnel, until they were
located in a pavilion specially designed and adapted for them.
It further argues that according to the foregoing, and pursuant to
Article 47(b) and (c), the case is inadmissible since the facts alleged do
not tend to establish a violation of rights guaranteed by the American
It further adduces, in subsequent communications, that the Quencoro
Youth Rehabilitation Center in Cuzco was deactivated on January 11, 1999,
and that as of March 25, 1999, only two of the youths included in the
original complaint were confined, as a socio-educational
measure, and at a different Rehabilitation Center.
It notes that in consideration thereof, the case should be
archived, pursuant to Article 48(1)(b ) of the American Convention and
Article 35(c) of the Commission’s Regulations, as the motives that gave
rise to it no longer subsist.
The Commission will now analyze the admissibility requirements of a
petition, established in the American Convention, and the request by the
State to archive the case.
Competence of the Commission ratione
materiae, ratione personae,
The petitioners are authorized by Article 44 of the American
Convention to present complaints to the IACHR.
The petition indicates that the alleged victims are individuals,
with respect to whom Peru undertook to respect and guarantee the rights
set forth in the American Convention.
As regards the State, the Commission observes that Peru is a state
party to the American Convention, having ratified it on July 28, 1978.
Therefore, the Commission is competent ratione
personae to examine the complaint.
In addition, the Commission is competent ratione
materiae since the facts alleged in the petition could be violative of
rights protected by the American Convention.
The IACHR is also competent ratione
temporis since the facts in question are alleged to have taken place
as of 1997, when the obligation to respect and ensure the rights
established in the American Convention had already entered into force for
the Peruvian State.
Admissibility requirements of the petition
Exhaustion of domestic remedies
Petitioners allege that on March 24, 1997, they filed a habeas
corpus action in relation to the transfer of the youths to the Quencoro
Rehabilitation Center. That
action was declared inadmissible in the first instance and on appeal.
Once the decision on appeal was rendered, it was challenged via a
motion for nullity before the Constitutional Court, which, on August 22,
1997, confirmed the inadmissibility of the habeas corpus action.
For its part, the State has not made any objection related to the
requirement of exhaustion of domestic remedies.
In this respect, the Inter-American Court has noted that “the
objection asserting the non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, to be timely,
must be made at an early stage of the proceedings by the State entitled to
make it, lest a waiver of the requirement be presumed.”
For the foregoing reasons, the Commission concludes that the
requirement concerning exhaustion of domestic remedies has been met.
Time period for submission
As regards the requirement set forth at Article 46(1)(b) of the
Convention, according to which the petition must be submitted within six
months from notification to the victim of the final decision that
exhausted domestic remedies, it has been met in this case since the
judgment of the Constitutional Court that concluded the judicial process
was reported on October 9, 1997, and the petition was submitted to the
IACHR on December 1, 1997.
Duplicity of procedures and res
The Commission understands that the subject matter of the petition
is not pending before any other international body for settlement, nor
does it reproduce a petition already examined by this or any other
international organization. Therefore,
the requirements of Articles 46(1)(c) and 47(d) are found to have been
Characterization of the facts
In the first stages of the proceedings before the IACHR, the State,
as mentioned supra, indicated
that the transfer of the youths was done as a temporary measure, and that
it was done in the context of security measures to protect the rest of the
prison population. It added
that it was a measure ordered by the competent authority and in the full
exercise of its functions, and that through judicial inspection it was
found that the transfer of the youths was done with the presence of
medical personnel, until their placement in a pavilion specially designed
and adapted for them. In view
of the foregoing, Peru asked that the case be declared inadmissible, for
failing to tend to establish a violation of the rights protected in the
Convention. The Commission
decides to address this issue when analyzing the merits, as it considers
that the petitioners’ presentation refers prima facie to facts which, if true, tend to establish a violation
of rights guaranteed in the Convention.
Request to archive the case
With respect to the request to archive the case, made by the State
in the subsequent stages of proceedings before the IACHR, based on the
grounds that the motives that gave rise to it no longer subsist, since the
youths are free or outside of the Quencoro Rehabilitation Center at Cuzco,
the Commission observes that, as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
has established, the obligation to guarantee to all persons under their
jurisdiction the free and full exercise of the rights recognized in the
Convention, provided for at Article 1(1) of the American Convention, means
that the States
prevent, investigate and punish any violation of the rights recognized by
the Convention and, moreover, if possible attempt to restore the right
violated and provide compensation as warranted for damages resulting from
In this respect, from the parties’ arguments it does not appear
that there has been an investigation into and punishment of the human
rights violations alleged in this case, nor does it appear that any
reparation has been made for the possible damages that said violations, if
they occurred, may have caused. Therefore,
the Inter-American Commission does not have a basis at this stage in the
proceeding to archive the case based on the argument that the reasons that
gave rise to it no longer subsist.
The Commission considers that it is competent to hear this case and
that the petition is admissible, under Articles 46 and 47 of the American
Convention, in the terms set forth above.
Based on the arguments of fact and of law set forth above, and
without prejudging on the merits,
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare this case admissible with respect to the alleged
violations of Articles 7, 8, 5, and 19 of the American Convention.
2. To give notice
of this decision to the petitioners and to the State.
3. To continue to
analyze the merits of the case.
4. To publish this
decision and include it in its Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
Done and signed by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 2000.
(Signed): Hélio Bicudo, Chairman; Juan E. Méndez, Second Vice-
Chairman; Members: Marta Altolaguirre, Robert K.
Goldman, Peter Laurie, and Julio Prado Vallejo.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case of Velásquez Rodríguez,
Preliminary Objections, Judgment of June 26, 1987, Series C No. 1,
para. 88; Case of Fairén Garbi and Solís Corrales, Preliminary
Objections, Judgment of June 26, 1987, Series C No. 2, para. 87; Case
of Godínez Cruz, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of June 26, 1987,
Series C No. 3, para. 90; Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case
of Gangaram Panday, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of December 4,
1991, Series C No. 12, para. 38; Inter-American Court of Human Rights,
Case of Neira Alegría et al., Preliminary Objections, Judgment of
December 11, 1991, Series C No. 13, para. 30; Inter-American Court of
Human Rights, Case of Castillo Páez, Preliminary Objections, Judgment
of January 30, 1996, Series C No. 24, para. 40; and Inter-American
Court of Human Rights, Case of Loayza Tamayo, Preliminary Objections,
Judgment of January 31, 1996, Series C No. 25, para. 40.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case of Velásquez Rodríguez,
Judgment of July 29, 1988, para. 166.