Press Release

IACHR Takes Case involving Guatemala to the Inter-American Court

December 19, 2016

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 12.484, Cuscul Pivaral et al., with regard to Guatemala.

The case involves the State’s international responsibility for violating various rights established in the American Convention, to the detriment of 49 victims who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS between 1992 and 2003. Until 2006 or 2007, there was a total lack of public medical care for these individuals with HIV/AIDS who were living in poverty. This omission had a serious impact on their situation of health, life, and personal integrity. Moreover, the deaths of eight of the victims—Alberto Quiché Cuxeva, Reina López Mujica, Ismar Ramírez Chajón, Rita Bubón Orozco, Facundo Gómez Reyes, José Rubén Delgado, Luis Edwin Cruz Gramau, and María Vail—resulted from what are known as opportunistic diseases, during a time in which they did not receive the care they needed from the State, or received inadequate care. While the State began implementing in the public sector some treatment for people with HIV/AIDS after 2006 and 2007, this medical care did not meet the minimum standards to be considered comprehensive and acceptable, and these deficiencies thus continued to violate the surviving victims’ rights to health, life, and personal integrity. Moreover, the appeal for legal protection (amparo) filed on July 26, 2002, in the Constitutional Court did not provide effective judicial protection to the victims. Finally, family members and others with close ties to the victims also suffered harm to their mental and moral integrity.

In its Merits Report on the case, the Commission recommended that the State provide full compensation to the surviving victims, and to the family members and loved ones of the victims who died, for the human rights violations laid out in the report, both for material and moral damages. It also recommended that the State take the necessary measures to ensure that all the surviving victims in the case are provided with comprehensive medical attention, in accordance with international standards, and to ensure that the victims do not have to encounter obstacles of accessibility or other obstacles to comprehensive treatment. The IACHR also asked the State to put mechanisms of non-repetition in place including, among others, the provision of free, comprehensive, and uninterrupted treatment and health care to those with HIV/AIDS who do not have the resources for such medical attention.

The Inter-American Commission took the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on December 2, 2016, because it deemed that the State had failed to comply with the recommendations contained in the Merits Report. Specifically, the State did not inform the Commission regarding measures of individual compensation for the family members of the victims who died and for the surviving victims.

This case will enable the Inter-American Court to develop case law on States’ international obligations stemming from the right to life, integrity, and health with respect to people under its jurisdiction who are living with HIV/AIDS. The case will enable the Court to delve more deeply into the specific needs for comprehensive health care to which these individuals are entitled, including the performance of tests for diagnostic and follow-up purposes, the provision of antiretroviral medications, and any necessary physical and psychological follow-up. The Inter-American Court will also be able to take a position on the characteristics that a remedy to protect the life, personal integrity, and health of people living with HIV/AIDS should include to be considered a simple and effective recourse under the terms of the American Convention.

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 area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 191/16