María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001
San José, Costa Rica/Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) values the recognition of international responsibility made by the State of Venezuela during a public hearing on February 9, 2017, at the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in the case of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández.
The case involves the death of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández when he was 20 years old and was finishing up his training at the National Guard Training School located in the state of Táchira, in Venezuela. On February 15, 1998, the victim was taken to participate in simulation exercises in which real bullets were used and no safety measures were implemented. In that context, Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández died of gunshot wounds in circumstances that have yet to be clarified by the authorities.
During the hearing before the Inter-American Court, the parents of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández testified about their efforts to seek justice and learn the truth about what happened to their son, and about how his death had affected them.
The Venezuelan State, in turn, recognized before the Inter-American Court that the deprivation of the life of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández had been arbitrary, and apologized to the victims for what had happened. The State’s representative also paid homage to the memory of the victim and asked for a moment of silence for him. In its declaration, the State expressly referred to the content of the Report on the Merits approved by the Inter-American Commission in this case, and assumed its responsibility for the violations of the rights to life, personal integrity, judicial guarantees, and judicial protection that were set forth in that report.
The Commission underscores the importance of the declaration made by the Venezuelan State in the hearing and believes that it constitutes the first step toward dignifying the victims for their suffering and the violations they have endured. The IACHR also recognizes the commitment the State made to comply with any measures of reparation ordered in this case, as well as its express offer of symbolic measures in memory of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández.
A principal, autonomous body of the 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.