RUTH GARCÉS VALLADARES
PROCEDURE BEFORE THE COMMISSION
March 3, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (herein after the
“Commission”) received a petition regarding the violation of rights
protected by the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Convention”) by the Republic of Ecuador (hereinafter “the State”, “the
Ecuadorian State” or “Ecuador”) against Mrs. Ruth Garcés Valladares. On
April 28 the Commission requested information on the facts alleged by the
petitioner. On July 28 a case was opened. On July 29, Ecuador submitted its
response. On September 24 and 30 both the petitioner and the State submitted
additional information. On October 29 the petitioner submitted observations.
THE CLAIMS OF THE PETITIONER AND THE DEFENSES PRESENTED BY THE STATE
petitioner alleges that Ruth Garcés Valladares was illegally deprived of her
liberty and held incommunicado by the Ecuadorian police; that she was not
promptly brought before a judge; that since 1992 she has been held in preventive
detention in a prison unit and thus, has not been tried within a reasonable
time; that her right to be presumed innocent has not been respected; that she
has been tried twice for the same facts by two different tribunals at the same
time; and that the time limits established by law to effectuate the consultation
requests, a requisite to execute her release, have not been observed and
therefore she is arbitrarily detained.
the petitioner has requested the Commission to declare that the State of Ecuador
has violated Articles 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, 24 and 25 of the Convention; to recommend
the State to release the alleged victim; and to adapt its domestic law to the
conventional rules on due process.
its response, the State presented a report prepared by the National Police where
it is argued that there has been no illegal detention and that the alleged
victim has had a criminal trial with all guarantees established in Ecuadorian
legislation and the Convention. It also presented a document issued by the
President of the Supreme Court of Justice commenting on the fact that the
resolution of criminal cases is generally delayed by the numerous petitions,
investigations, expert witness interventions and dilatory motions presented by
the accused themselves, such as judicial habeas corpus.
Commission reserves the analysis of the merits of the petitioner’s claims and
the State’s response for the corresponding phase of the proceedings.
it appears in the information presented by the petitioner and confirmed or not
contested by the State, Ruth Garcés Valladares was detained by the Ecuadorian
police on June 22, 1992. The police interrogated her for the first time on June
28, after she spent five days in isolation.
July 17, 1992 the corresponding police report was sent to the judiciary.
Finally, on November 30, 1992 –after five months of detention— she was
formally charged. Three judicial processes were instituted against her, jointly
with other individuals, for the offenses of: unjust enrichment, testaferrismo
(meaning appearing as a “front” in commercial transactions) and conversión
de bienes (fraudulent transfer of property). The President of the Quito
Superior Court issued an order for preventive detention against her for the
offences of testaferrismo and transfer of property. However, no
precautionary measure was issued in the process for unjust enrichment.
November 11 1992, the alleged victim was also charged with the offence of
transfer of property by the Fourth Criminal Judge of Pichincha. That trial
concluded on October 31 1994 with a judgment where she was found not guilty. The
sentence was put forward for consultation and was confirmed by the Third Chamber
of the Superior Court on March 20 1996. However, this tribunal does not
expressly refer in its judgment to the charges regarding transfer of property
but to the possible commission of money laundering.
April 21 1993, the President of the Superior Court lifted the order on
preventive detention in the process for testaferrismo. On March 26 1996,
the First Chamber of the Superior Court confirmed this measure.
September 30 1996, Ruth Garcés Valladares was provisionally acquitted in the
same decision that declared open the plenary phase of the process for transfer
of property opened by the President of the Superior Court. That acquittal was
sent to the Fourth Chamber for consultation. According to the information
available to the Commission, the Court has not as yet decided on the
November 22 1996, Ruth Garcés Valladares was also acquitted in the process for
unjust enrichment, in which she was subject to no precautionary measure
whatsoever. According to the information available to the Commission, the Fourth
Chamber of the Superior Court has not as yet decided on the corresponding
almost six years, and despite having been found innocent or acquitted of the
charges instituted against her in the proceedings this far, Ruth Garcés
Valladares is held in preventive detention.
TO EXAMINE THE PETITION
Commission has prima facie jurisdiction to examine the petition in
question. The petitioner has locus standi to appear and has presented
claims relating to compliance with the rules established in the Convention by
agents of a State Party. The facts alleged in the petition took place when the
obligation to respect and ensure the rights enshrined in the Convention was
already in force for the Ecuador.
ADMISSIBILITY OF THE PARTICULAR CASE
Exhaustion of Local Remedies
Petitioner has submitted that in May of 1996 a request for release or judicial habeas
corpus was filed on behalf of the victim before the President of the Supreme
Court of Ecuador. It was argued that Ruth Garcés Valladares was arbitrarily
detained due to the fact that she had been acquitted in the trials opened
against her in 1992. Apparently the Court has not as yet issued a decision on
November 7, 1996, the petitioner presented a second habeas corpus
request, now before the Mayor of Quito, which was denied on November 13, 1996.
State has not objected to the exhaustion of legal remedies in the case.
Therefore, the Commission deems satisfied the requirement set forth in article
46.1 (a) of the Convention.
TIMELINESS OF THE SUBMISSION
Commission considers that the petition was submitted within the 6 month time
limit set forth in Article 46.1(b) of the Convention.
Commission has no evidence that the subject matter of the petition is pending
before another proceeding for international settlement or that it reproduces a
petition already examined by this or any other international organ. Therefore,
it finds that the requirements established in Articles 46.1(c) and 47 (d) have
also been satisfied.
Factual and Legal Foundations of the Petition
Commission considers that, in principle, the account presented by the petitioner
refers to facts that could involve a violation of the rights enshrined in the
Convention. The petition does not appear to be manifestly ill founded, thus, the
Commission considers that the requirements set forth in Article 47(b) y (c) have
Commission considers that it is competent to hear the claim; and that the case
is admissible pursuant to the requirements set forth in Articles 46 and 47 of
the American Convention.
Based on the aforementioned factual and legal grounds,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
the present case admissible.
this report to the State of Ecuador and to the petitioner.
itself at the disposal of the parties with a view to facilitating the reaching
of a settlement based on the rights protected in the American Convention; and
invite the parties to decide within 30 days whether they wish to invoke this
procedure, established in Article 48.1 (f) of the Convention.
with the analysis of the merits.
this report and include it in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the