THE PETITION AND CASE SYSTEM
This chapter refers to the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2009 in relation to the petition and case system.
Section B includes statistical tables on all the petitions received by the Commission in 2009, indicating the number of petitions received by country, as well as a comparison of the number of petitions received in 2009 in relation to each of the last eleven years. It also includes statistical information on the number of petitions it decided to transmit to the States, and the number of petitions being processed, also by country. The statistical information reflects as well the number of requests for precautionary requests received by the Commission in 2009, as well as the number of precautionary measures the Commission decided to grant during that same period. The statistics indicate how many reports on admissibility, inadmissibility, friendly settlement, archive, and the merits the Commission published in 2009. The section also includes statistical tables on the Commission’s activity before the Inter-American Court. Finally, statistics are included on the number of hearings the Commission held in 2009.
Section C has two parts. The first, section C.1, contains an overview of the precautionary measures granted or extended by the IACHR in 2009, in relation to the various member States, under Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure. The precautionary measures are presented in alphabetical order of the States addressed in the requests, indicating the name of the person or persons on whose behalf they were requested, a summary of the information that was the basis for the request, the rights of the persons exposed to serious and imminent danger, and finally the date of the request and the name of the State referred to, as well as other relevant information.
The second part, section C.2, includes all the reports on which the Commission adopted a decision on admissibility, inadmissibility, the merits, or friendly settlement during the period covered by this report. This section contains a total of 94 reports that include 62 cases found admissible; 15 reports on petitions found inadmissible; 4 reports on friendly settlements; and 13 reports on the merits.
Section D includes an analysis of compliance by the States with the recommendations contained in the reports on individual cases published in the Annual Reports for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, in keeping with Article 46 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure.
Section E refers to the Inter-American Commission’s work litigating before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It presents the provisional measures issued by the Court at the request of the Commission in cases of extreme gravity and urgency, under Article 63(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights; a synthesis of the Court’s decisions; and a summary of the Commission’s pleadings in the contentious cases. The provisional measures are also described in the order in which they were requested, and include the name of the person or persons on whose behalf they were sought, a summary of the facts and the rights involved, the date of the request, the name of the State in question, and the date on which the Court adopted the respective decision.
This chapter of the 2009 Annual Report contains statistical information to provide a general overview of the different activities carried out by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
First it presents data concerning the cases and petitions being processed. These comprise the greater volume of the Commission's work. “Cases” is taken as meaning all those petitions declared admissible by means of a report on admissibility. “Petitions” is taken as meaning all those complaints that have been forwarded to the state involved but in which no report on admissibility has been issued.
1. Petitions and cases
a. Total number of complaints received in the year 2009 by country
The preceding graph illustrates the total number of complaints received by the IACHR according to the OAS member States in respect of which the complaints were presented.
b. Total number of complaints received by year.
This graph illustrates the total number of complaints received by the Commission during the last eleven years. "Complaints" for the purposes of these statistics includes all complaints, presented in writing, concerning an alleged violation by an OAS member state of the Convention, the Declaration and/or other pertinent instrument.
* In the year 2002, the Commission received 3,783 complaints in addition to those represented in the graph, which refer to the human rights situation of persons affected by various banking measures (“corralito”) in Argentina.
** In the year 2009, petitions were received in addition to the number reflected in the graphic and which refer to the situation created by the Coup d’État in Honduras. The complete number of these petitions will be published in the future..
Total number of petitions evaluated by year
d. Total number of petitions evaluated during 2009 by country.
Petitions with refer to which there has been a decision to process during 2009, by country
In the previous graphic is shown the total number of petitions with regard to which there has been a decision to process, taken between January 1st and December 31st of 2009, organized by Country against which the petition was filed.
f. Total number of petitions with regard to which there has been a decision to process, by year.
The preceding graph shows the total number of petitions transmitted to the States by year since 1997.
g. Total number of cases and petitions pending to December 31, 2009 by country
This graph includes the total number of cases and petitions pending before the Commission and their breakdown by OAS Member State in descending order by country.
h. Total number of cases and petitions being processed by year.
The preceding graph shows a comparison of the number of cases and petitions pending over the past thirteen years.
2. Precautionary measures
a. Total number of precautionary measures requests received by year.
b. Total number of precautionary measures granted by country during 2009
This graph includes the total number of precautionary measures granted by country during the year 2009.
c. Total number of precautionary measures granted by year.
The preceding graph shows the total number and variation in the figure corresponding to precautionary measures granted by the IACHR in the past ten years. The number of precautionary measures granted does not necessarily reflect the number of persons protected when measures are adopted, since, on many occasions, several persons or entire communities receive protection.
a. Total number of admissibility/inadmissibility reports published.
The chart shows the figures corresponding to admissibility and inadmissibility reports published in the past eleven years. These reports reflect the final decision of the IACHR on fulfillment of the admissibility requirements of petitions.
b. Total number of reports on the merits published by year.
The graph illustrates the variation in the total number of reports on the merits of individual cases approved and published in the past thirteen years. The figures include reports in which the IACHR has rendered a decision on the alleged violation of the American Convention by the States parties and of the American Declaration by member States that have not yet ratified the Convention. It should be pointed out that a report on the merits of a case may include decisions on several individual cases that have been previously processed individually.
c. Total number of friendly settlement reports published by year.
The preceding chart shows the number of cases in which under the auspices of the Commission the petitioners and the State have reached a friendly settlement agreement.
d. Total number of cases archived by year.
The preceding graph presents data corresponding to the total number of cases closed by the IACHR in the past twelve years, when it was decided that grounds did not exist for the petition.
e. Total number of hearings held by year.
During its regular sessions, the Inter-American Commission held hearings on individual cases in order to receive information, evidence, and/or arguments regarding admissibility, merits, and fulfillment of obligations or in order to contribute to the friendly settlement of a case. The IACHR also held hearings in order to receive information on the general or specific human rights situation in member States.
4. Cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Cases submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by year
After a ruling on the merits of a case has been given pursuant to Article 50 of the American Convention, either the IACHR or the state(s) involved may submit a case to the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
b. Cases presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by country during the year 2009.
c. Cases in process before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2009
d. Cases in compliance stage per country in 2009.
e. Provisional measures in force in 2009.
C. Individual petitions and cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1. Precautionary measures granted by the IACHR in 2009
Article 25 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure establishes the mechanism for precautionary measures. The provision states that in serious and urgent cases, and wherever necessary according to the information available, the Commission may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request that the State concerned adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons. If the Commission is not in session, the President or, in his absence, one of the Vice-Presidents shall consult with the other members, through the Executive Secretariat, on the application of this provision. If, because of the circumstances, it is not possible to consult within a reasonable period of time, the President or, as need be, one of the Vice-Presidents shall make the decision on behalf of the Commission and shall inform its members immediately. In accordance with the established procedure, the IACHR may request information from the interested parties concerning any matter related to the adoption and observance of the precautionary measures. In any event, the granting of such measures and their adoption by the State shall not constitute any prejudgment on the merits of the case.
During its 137th period of sessions, held in October and November of 2009, the Inter-American Commission approved its new Rules of Procedure, which entered into effect on December 31, 2009. Article 25 of the new rules establishes the following:
Article 25. Precautionary Measures
1. In serious and urgent situations, the Commission may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request that a State adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons or to the subject matter of the proceedings in connection with a pending petition or case
2. In serious and urgent situations, the Commission may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request that a State adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons under the jurisdiction of the State concerned, independently of any pending petition or case.
3. The measures referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 above may be of a collective nature to prevent irreparable harm to persons due to their association with an organization, a group, or a community with identified or identifiable members.
4. The Commission shall consider the gravity and urgency of the situation, its context and the imminence of the harm in question when deciding whether to request that a State adopt precautionary measures. The Commission shall also take into account:
a. whether the situation of risk has been brought to the attention of the pertinent authorities or the reasons why it might not have been possible to do so;
b. the individual identification of the potential beneficiaries of the precautionary measures or the identification of the group to which they belong;
c. the express consent of the potential beneficiaries whenever the request is filed before the Commission by a third party unless the absence of consent is duly justified; and
5. Prior to the adoption of precautionary measures, the Commission shall request the State concerned relevant information, unless the urgency of the situation warrants the immediate granting of the measures.
6. The Commission shall evaluate periodically whether it is pertinent to maintain any precautionary measures granted.
7.A State may at any time file a duly grounded petition that the Commission withdraw its request that the State concerned adopt precautionary measures. Prior to the adoption of a decision on the State’s petition, the Commission shall request observations from the petitioners or their representatives. The submission of such a petition shall not suspend the enforcement of the precautionary measures granted.
8. The Commission may request relevant information from the interested parties on any matter related to the granting, observance, and maintenance of precautionary measures. Material non-compliance by the beneficiaries or their representatives with such a request may be considered a ground for the Commission to withdraw a request that the State adopt precautionary measures. With regard to precautionary measures of a collective nature, the Commission may establish other appropriate mechanisms of periodic follow-up and review.
9. The granting of such measures and their adoption by the State shall not constitute a prejudgment on the violation of the rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights or other applicable instruments.
The following is a summary of the precautionary measures granted in 2009, listed according to the member state concerned. It should be noted that the number of precautionary measures granted does not reflect the number of persons protected by their adoption; as will be seen below, many of the precautionary measures the Commission granted are for the purpose of protecting more than one person and, in some cases, groups of persons such as communities or indigenous peoples.
PM 236/08 – Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Polinter-Neves Penitentiary
On June 1, 2009, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for the persons deprived of liberty in the Polinter-Neves penitentiary, in the city of São Gonçalo, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The request seeking precautionary measures alleges that the inmates at the Polinter-Neves penitentiary do not have adequate access to medical attention. It is also alleged that inmates with tuberculosis and other contagious diseases share cells with other persons in a highly over-crowded situation and without sunlight. The Inter-American Commission asked the State of Brazil to adopt all measures necessary to guarantee the life, health and physical integrity of the beneficiaries; to ensure that they have adequate medical attention and to avoid the transmission of contagious diseases through a substantial reduction of the overpopulation in this penitentiary; as well as to inform the IACHR about the actions taken in response to this request.
PM 224/09 – Adolescents Deprived of Liberty in the Socio-Educational Internment
On November 25, 2009, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for adolescents deprived of liberty in the Socio-Educational Internment Facility (Unidad de Internación Socioeducativa, UNIS), in Brazil. The request for precautionary measures alleges that the life and physical integrity of some 290 adolescents deprived of liberty in the UNIS is at risk. It indicates that many of the inmates held have been subject to beatings and acts of aggression and torture, allegedly by State agents and by other adolescents, and that between April and July of 2009 three adolescents died in the facility as a result of these acts. The Inter-American Commission asked the State of Brazil to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the adolescents deprived of liberty in the UNIS and to keep deaths and acts of torture from occurring in the facility, as well as to inform the IACHR about the actions taken to judicially clarify the acts that warrant the adoption of these precautionary measures.
PM 301/08—Leaders of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC) and their Advisers
On January 14, 2009, the IACHR granted precautionary measures in favor of 32 leaders and advisers of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca, CRIC), in Colombia. The petition for precautionary measures alleges that the CRIC leaders and advisers have been the targets of acts of violence, threats, and stigmatization as a result of their activities as indigenous leaders. It also alleges that murders, threats, and acts of harassment against the CRIC leadership have increased since August 2008 and refers to, among others, the death of Edwin Legarda Vásquez, husband of the CRIC Senior Counselor Aída Marina Quilcué Vivas. The Inter-American Commission requested that the State of Colombia adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and personal integrity of the beneficiaries, as well as report on the actions taken to remove the risk factors that justify the adoption of these precautionary measures. The Commission continues to monitor the situation.
PM 91/08 – Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar (FEDEAGROMISBOL)
On May 1, 2009, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for the leaders of Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar (FEDEAGROMISBOL), in Colombia. The request seeking precautionary measures alleges that the leaders of FEDEAGROMISBOL have been the target of threats since April 2008, and that on April 22, 2009, a leader of the Federation, Mr. Edgar Martínez Ruiz, was killed. The Inter-American Commission asked the State of Colombia to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the beneficiaries, and to inform the IACHR about any actions taken to eliminate the risk factors to the beneficiaries.
PM 139/09 – Martha Lucía Giraldo Villano and others
On May 19, 2009, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for the following relatives of Mr. José Orlando Giraldo Barrera: his daughters, Martha Lucía Giraldo Villano and Ximena Giraldo Villano; his wife, Luz Marina Villano Morales; his siblings: Marcial Orlando Giraldo Barrera, José Wilson Orlando Giraldo Barrera and Jairo Giraldo Barrera Orlando Giraldo Barrera, as well as each of their families in Colombia. The request seeking precautionary measures alleges that these persons have been tailed and threatened, allegedly as a consequence of their participation as witnesses in the criminal proceedings on the death of Mr. José Orlando Giraldo Barrera, which occurred on March 11, 2006. The request also states that on April 28, 2009, persons wearing uniforms allegedly conducted surveillance on the residence of Mr. José Wilson Orlando Giraldo Barrera and asked for his whereabouts and that on May 10, 2009, he was the target of an attempt against his life with a firearm in the city of Cali. It also alleges that the General Attorney of the Nation has offered to include some beneficiaries on its program of protection to victims and witnesses, but that this measure would complicate the beneficiaries’ participation in the criminal proceedings on the death of Mr. José Orlando Giraldo Barrera. The Inter-American Commission asked the State of Colombia to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the beneficiaries, and to inform the IACHR about any actions taken to investigate these facts.
PM 270/09 – X and XX
On September 21, 2009, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for two individuals in Colombia whose identity the IACHR decided to withhold. The request for precautionary measures alleges that X and her 15-year-old daughter XX had been followed and subject to physical aggressions, threats, and a kidnapping attempt after they reported the sexual violation of XX, which allegedly occurred in December 2006. The request also indicates that XX showed after-effects of having been sexually violated and having carried a high-risk pregnancy. The request alleges that the adolescent's physical and mental health had deteriorated in recent months as a result of the acts of violence to which her immediate family had been victim and due to the alleged absence of adequate medical treatment. The Inter-American Commission asked the State of Colombia to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the beneficiaries; guarantee that XX can have proper medical treatment for the effects of having been sexually violated and having carried a pregnancy under allegedly risk circumstances; reach agreement with the beneficiaries and their representative on the measures to be adopted; inform the IACHR within a 20-day period about any actions taken to investigate the facts that led to the adoption of the precautionary measures and update the information periodically; and adopt all necessary measures so that the beneficiaries' identity is duly protected in the implementation of the precautionary measures.