Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Argentina to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

June 22, 2018

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) in Case 12,984, Raúl Rolando Romero Feris, with regard to Argentina.

The case deals with the illegal and arbitrary detention in 1999 of Raúl Rolando Romero Feris, and with violations of due process in criminal proceedings against him for the alleged crimes of fraudulent administration and illicit gain, among others. The Commission considered that Raúl Rolando Romero Feris was deprived of his liberty for five months, in addition to his extended pretrial detention. Such pretrial detention therefore exceeded the maximum time allowed by applicable laws. The IACHR further considered that the application and extension of his pretrial detention were arbitrary and violated the presumption of innocence principle. The Commission further deemed that the August 1, 2001 decision on Raúl Rolando Romero Feris’ request to be released was not an effective remedy to question his deprivation of liberty, since it was based on grounds that are not compatible with the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission also concluded that, in criminal proceedings against him, the defense filed, using various remedies, multiple challenges to establish his right to be tried by a competent, independent and impartial authority. His appeals were rejected, in decisions that either invoked the law generically or argued that the issue could not be examined using the remedy that had been put forward by the defense. The IACHR therefore concluded that the State of Argentina had violated his rights to a fair trial and to judicial protection.

In its Merits Report, the Commission recommended that Argentina provide comprehensive reparations violations of Raúl Rolando Romero Feris’ human rights held in that report, both material and non-material, including fair compensation. The IACHR further recommended the adoption of any measures necessary to prevent the repetition of the violations held in the report and, in particular, the adoption of administrative and other measures to ensure strict compliance with maximum legal pretrial detention periods, along with adequate reasoning for the application of pretrial detention by court officials, in line with the standards that are detailed in the Merits Report. Finally, the IACHR noted that the State will need to ensure the availability of adequate effective mechanisms that allow a person who is being subjected to criminal prosecution to challenge, simply and quickly, the competence, independence and impartiality of prosecuting authorities.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on June 20, 2018, in the understanding that Argentina had failed to comply with the recommendations held in the Merits Report.

This case will enable the Court to keep applying its jurisprudence on pretrial detention and due process in criminal proceedings. Specifically, the case puts to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights the issue of the characteristics a legal remedy must have to challenge potential violations of the right to a competent, independent and impartial judge, particularly in a federal intervention context that could put such guarantees at risk.

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 and to defend 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. 133/18