IACHR

Legal Assistance Fund

Who can apply to the Legal Assistance Fund?

The petitioners and alleged victims of complaints filed before the IACHR that are in the merits stage. This means that:

  • the IACHR has adopted an admissibility report;

        or

  • the IACHR has informed the parties of its decision to join the issue of admissibility to the merits.

What kind of expenses can be covered by the Legal Assistance Fund?

  • gathering and sending documentary evidence;
  • expenses derived of the appearance of the alleged victim, witnesses and experts in hearings held by the Commission; and
  • other expenses considered pertinent by the Commission for the processing of the case.

What are the eligibility requirements for the legal assistance benefit?

  • The applicant shall demonstrate that he or she lacks sufficient means to cover all or some of the expenses.
  • He or she shall specify the expenses to which the resources of the Fund will be applied, as well as its relation to the case.

How to prove lack of sufficient means?

By an affidavit and other pertinent methods of proof, such as a payroll or tax return.

How to apply to the Legal Assistance Fund?

By a written communication in the context of the case pending before the IACHR.

What to do if there are additional questions?

It is suggested to read the complete Rules on this same page. If the doubts on the functioning of the Fund persist, please send an electronic e-mail to Analia Banfi abanfi@oas.org

The legal assistance benefit shall be granted on condition of available resources.
Donations to the Fund are welcomed.

Rules of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Legal Assistance Fund of the Inter-American Human Rights System

Article 1. Purpose

The present Rules shall govern the functioning of the Legal Assistance Fund for Victims, regarding the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Article 2. Legal Assistance

The Commission may grant resources of the legal assistance Fund at the request of a petitioner after the Commission has declared the complaint admissible or has informed its decision to join the issue of admissibility to the merits.

Article 3. Criterion of necessity and availability of the Fund's resources

The legal assistance benefit shall be granted on condition of available resources, to those persons demonstrating the lack of sufficient means to afford all or some of the expenses described in Article 4 of these Rules.

Article 4. Purpose of the legal assistance

The legal assistance referred to in these Rules shall be used to defray the expenses derived from gathering and sending of documentary evidence, as well as the expenses derived from the appearance of the alleged victim, witnesses and experts in hearings held by the Commission and other expenses considered pertinent by the Commission for the processing of a petition or case.

Article 5. Requirements to apply for the legal assistance benefit

Any applicant to the legal assistance benefit shall demonstrate, by an affidavit and other pertinent methods of proof, that he or she lacks sufficient means to cover the expenses described in Article 4 of the present Rules, and shall specify the expenses to which the resources of the Fund will be applied, as well as its relation to the petition or case.

Article 6. Admittance of the request

The Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission shall carry out a preliminary review of the request and if necessary, will request additional information to the applicant. Once the preliminary examination has been completed, the Secretariat shall put the request to the consideration of the Directive Council of the Fund.

The Directive Council shall analyze each one of the applications filed, determine their admittance and establish which aspects of the processing of the claim may be covered by the Fund's resources.

The decision on the granting of resources to cover the expenses derived from the appearance of alleged victims, witnesses and experts in public hearings shall be taken at the moment of granting the hearing.

In case of granting the benefit, the beneficiary shall receive in advance the financial resources assigned to him or her and will be required to submit the support documentation of the expenses afterwards.

Article 7. Composition of the Directive Council of the legal assistance Fund

The Directive Council of the legal assistance Fund shall be composed by one representative of the Inter-American Commission and one representative of the General Secretariat of the OAS.

Article 8. Financial Administration of the Legal Assistance Fund

The financial administration of the Legal Assistance Fund, as far as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is concerned, shall be the responsibility of the Secretariat for Administration and Finances of the OAS.

Once the Directive Council of the Fund has approved a request and this decision has been notified to the beneficiary, the Secretariat for Administration and Finances of the OAS shall open an expenses file, in which will be documented all the expenses incurred in accordance with the parameters established by the Directive Board.

Article 9. Reimbursement of expenses to the Legal Assistance Fund

The Commission shall include among the recommendations of the report on the merits of a claim adopted pursuant to Articles 50 of the American Convention and 45 of its Rules, as the case may be, an estimate of the expenses incurred and charged to the Legal Assistance Fund so that the State concern may reimburse the amount to that Fund.

Article 10. Publication

The Commission will publish annually a brief report on the expenses charged to Legal Assistance Fund.

Article 11. Interpretation

Any questions regarding the interpretation of these rules shall be resolved by an absolute majority of the members of the Commission.

Article 12. Amendment of the Rules

The present Rules may be amended by the decision of the absolute majority of the Commission's members.

Article 13. Entry into force

The present Rules shall enter into force on March 1, 2011.

 

Case 12.738 - Opario Lemoth Morris et al (Miskitu Divers), Honduras

In Case 12.738 it is alleged the international responsibility of Honduras for the alleged violation, among others, of the right to life and personal integrity of the miskitu divers in the Gracias a Dios Department, who are allegedly subject to labor exploitation. This situation allegedly was the cause for more than 4,000 miskitu divers, a substantial part of the Miskitu indigenous people, to suffer decompresion syndrom, generating partial and permanent disability and even death. This situation is allegedly of such proportions and gravity that it endangers the integrity of the Miskitu people in Honduras.

In the public hearing that took place on October 24, 2011, the alleged victim, Armisterio Bans Valeriano, offered his testimony on the consequences of the alleged violations to human rights that the miskitu divers are suffering. Through the Legal Assistance Fund, financial assistance was used to make possible for Armisterio Bans Valeriano to be present in the hearing, in order to offer his testimony. The Fund also gave financial assistance so that Feliciano Pérez could travel accompanying Armisterio Bans Valeriano, considering he is a person with disabilities.

Read here Admissibility Report 121/09 of Case 12.738

Watch here the Hearing on Case 12.738 (October 24, 2011)

 

Case 12.791 - Jesus Angel Gutierrez Lovera, Mexico

In Case 12.791 it is alleged the international responsibility of the State of Mexico for the alleged arbitrary detention on MArch 14, 2002, and the subsequent forced disappearance of Jsus Angel Gutierrez Olvera, presumably committed by state agents, and for failure to conduct an investigation into and provide reparations for the denounced acts. 

In the public hearing held on October 27, 2011, Leonor Guadalupe Olvera, mother of Gutierrez Olvera and alleged victim in the case, offered her testimony on the facts of the case and on the harm caused by the alleged violations to human rights. Through the Legal Assistance Fund, financial assistance was used to make possible for Leonor Guadalupe Olvera to be present in the hearing, in order to offer her testimony.

Read here the Admissibility Report 147/10 of Case 12.791

Watch here the Hearing on Case 12.791 (October 27, 2011)