IACHR Takes Case Involving Argentina to Inter-American Court
June 29, 2011
Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 12.651, César Alberto Mendoza et al. (Juveniles Sentenced to Life Time Imprisonment), with respect to Argentina.
The case has to do with the arbitrary imposition of life sentences on César Alberto Mendoza, Lucas Matías Mendoza, Ricardo David Videla Fernández, Saúl Cristian Roldán Cajal, and Claudio David Núñez for events that occurred when they were still children. These sentences were imposed in application of a juvenile justice system in which adolescent offenders can be treated the same as adults. Moreover, the respective judicial authorities acted with blatant disregard for the international standards that apply in the case of juvenile criminal justice, particularly that imprisonment must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, as well as the obligation to ensure a regular review with a view to the possibility of release. The problem was compounded by the restrictive interpretation of the scope of the review possible through the motions of cassation filed by the victims, which meant that issues of fact and the weighing of evidence could not be examined by means of such motions. This sealed the injustice done with the sentencing of the adolescents to prison time and life imprisonment.
The case also involves a series of violations which took place while the victims were serving their sentences and in the custody of the State. Ricardo David Videla Fernández and Saúl Cristian Roldán Cajal were subjected to detention conditions incompatible with human dignity at the Mendoza Provincial Penitentiary. This situation resulted in the death of Ricardo David Videla Fernández, who suffered from mental health problems, without the State having taken reasonable measures to prevent his death and, once it happened, to properly investigate it. For his part, Lucas Matías Mendoza lost his sight because the State failed to provide him with medical treatment to prevent his vision from deteriorating further, while Claudio David Núñez and Lucas Matías Mendoza were victims of acts of torture which the State never properly investigated.
The case was sent to the Inter-American Court on June 17, 2011, because the Commission deemed that the State had not complied with the recommendations contained in its report on the merits.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.