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:
What kind of expenses can be covered by the Legal Assistance Fund?
What are the eligibility requirements for the legal assistance benefit?
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 Paulina Corominas email@example.com
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 12.994 – Bernardo Aban Tercero, United States
Mr. Bernardo Aban Tercero is a Nicaraguan national deprived of his liberty on death row in Texas, United States. On April 4, 2013, the Commission granted precautionary measures to protect his life and physical integrity and asked the United States to refrain from carrying out the death penalty until the IACHR had the opportunity to issue a decision on the case.
The IACHR decided the case was admissible on June 24, 2015. On July 4, 2015, the petitioners filed an application to the Legal Assistance Fund requesting funds to “be employed to finally perform a proper investigation on the mitigating evidence for Mr. Tercero´s case […] and further clarify the extent of the ineffective nature of Tercero´s trial and habeas counsel.” The Directive Council of the Fund decided to approve the request and granted the amount of $US 2,561.60 to cover part of the expenses of the investigation.
On August 18, 2015, the IACHR adopted Report No. 79/15 on the merits of the case and concluded that the State’s failure to inform Bernardo Aban Tercero of his right to consular notification and assistance deprived him of a criminal process that satisfied the minimum standards of due process and a fair trial. The IACHR also concluded that his court-appointed counsel committed serious mistakes that affected his right to defense. The Commission also concluded that he did not have a possibility to have his sentence effectively reviewed due to the limitations imposed by federal laws and the interpretation of the national courts. On its merits report, the Commission recommended the United States to reimburse to the Legal Assistance Fund, the amount given to the petitioners.
Case 12.797 – Linda Loaiza López Soto and Next of Kin
Case 12.797 claims that the State of Venezuela is internationally responsible for the alleged abduction, torture, and rape suffered by Linda Loaiza López Soto at the hands of an individual. It is alleged that the criminal proceedings were plagued by gender stereotypes that placed the blame on the alleged victim and by threats made against her, her family, and the judges and prosecutors who handled the case, since the accused was said to belong to an influential family in Venezuela.
In the public hearing that took place on March 17, 2015, the alleged victim offered testimony concerning the physical, psychological, and sexual violence to which she said she was a victim; the manner in which she apparently was rescued; and the irregularities, re-victimization, and discrimination she allegedly suffered throughout the criminal proceedings. Financial assistance was provided through the Legal Assistance Fund so that Linda Loaiza López Soto could attend the hearing to give her testimony.
Amount of the Legal Assistance Fund, in US dollars, used to provide financial support in expenditures related to the attendance of the victim(s) (and petitioners) to the public hearing/working meeting: $3.573
Case 12.709 – Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal
Case 12.709 claims that the State of Bolivia is internationally responsible for the alleged forced disappearance of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal during the coup d’état led by Luis García Meza on July 17, 1980. The petitioners allege that even though his next of kin have sought redress at all levels, both in the courts and other branches of government, the case remains in impunity because the circumstances of his disappearance have not been clarified, those responsible have not been punished, and Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal’s remains have never been found.
On October 29, 2014, during its 153rd session, the IACHR held a working meeting so that the parties could move forward in the friendly settlement process. The Legal Assistance Fund provided financial assistance so that petitioners Olga Flores Bedregal and Verónica Flores Bedregal, sisters of the alleged victim, could attend the meeting.
Amount of the Legal Assistance Fund, in US dollars, used to provide financial support in expenditures related to the attendance of the victim(s) (and petitioners) to the public hearing/working meeting: $4.295
Case 12.329 – Vicente Ariel Noguera
Case 12.239 claims that the State of Paraguay is internationally responsible for the death of Vicente Ariel Noguera, who at the time of the events in question was 17 years old. The alleged victim reportedly died “under unclear circumstances” while he was fulfilling his second period of mandatory military service, as a candidate for corporal. Even though complaints were filed, a proper investigation into the facts was reportedly never carried out. The military judicial system dismissed the inquiry into the alleged victim’s death “because there is no crime to investigate or criminal to punish,” while the regular justice system decided to discontinue the case because the perpetrator had not been able to be identified and due to a failure on the part of the plaintiff to move the case forward.
On March 26, 2014, during its 150th session, the IACHR held a working meeting, at the State’s request, so that the parties could move forward in the friendly settlement process. The Legal Assistance Fund provided financial assistance so that petitioner Raquel Talavera Giménez and co-petitioner and alleged victim Ramona Isabel Noguera Domínguez could attend the meeting.
Amount of the Legal Assistance Fund, in US dollars, used to provide financial support in expenditures related to the attendance of the victim(s) (and petitioners) to the public hearing/working meeting: $4.206
Case 12.791 - Jesus Angel Gutierrez Olvera, 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 Jesus 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.
Amount of the Legal Assistance Fund, in US dollars, used to provide financial support in expenditures related to the attendance of the victim(s) (and petitioners) to the public hearing/working meeting: $1.519
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.
Amount of the Legal Assistance Fund, in US dollars, used to provide financial support in expenditures related to the attendance of the victim(s) (and petitioners) to the public hearing/working meeting: $3.909