IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. - On May 28, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) submitted Case 12.672, concerning Argentina, for the violation of various of the rights set out in the American Convention to the detriment of Guillermo Patricio Lynn, who was serving his sentence at a penitentiary in the Province of Buenos Aires.
Guillermo Patricio Lynn was sentenced to life imprisonment for aggravated homicide on March 26, 1990. While at the Ezeiza Penitentiary, he was granted temporary release, meaning that he could leave the prison for short periods. According to the State's version, which is disputed by the petitioners, after one such outing, he returned under the influence of alcohol and was notified the next day that he would be placed in solitary confinement. Fifteen minutes after he was notified of this decision, a hearing was held before the director of the penitentiary, at which Mr. Lynn was not accompanied by an attorney nor was he able to present evidence. As a result of this disciplinary sanction, the director revoked the benefit of temporary release, which was confirmed by a judge two days later.
In its Merits Report, the IACHR found that the disciplinary process against Mr. Lynn did not respect due process guarantees, since he was not informed of the cause of the sanction, nor was he given sufficient time to prepare his defense. In addition, he was not provided with a technical defense during the hearing, nor was he allowed to present defense arguments during the proceedings to revoke the benefit of temporary release.
The IACHR concluded that the Argentine State violated Mr. Lynn's right to be heard, to be notified of the charges against him, and to be assisted by a counsel with adequate time and means to prepare his defense during both the disciplinary process and in the procedure for revocation of the benefit.
Likewise, the IACHR deemed that the director of the penitentiary and the judge did not clarify the possible exculpatory elements that arose during the disciplinary process and did not gather minimum corroborating evidence, which goes against the principle of the presumption of innocence. The IACHR also noted that the decisions of both authorities lacked sufficient motivation and that the burden of proof was reversed, in that it was indicated that Mr. Lynn did not provide grounds to exempt him from the sanction.
Furthermore, the IACHR observed that the appeals filed against the revocation of the benefit of transitional departures were summarily rejected without analyzing the merits of the case, which prevented an effective review of the decision.
In view of this, the IACHR concluded that the State was responsible for the violation of articles 5.6 (personal integrity); 7.1 and 7.3 (personal liberty); 8.1, 8.2, 8.2b), 8.2c), 8.2d), and h) (judicial guarantees), and 25.1 (judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights in relation to the obligation established in article 1.1 of the same instrument.
The IACHR recommended that the State take the following reparation measures:
The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.