IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Announces the Publication of Report No. 71/19 on Case 12.942, Emilia Morales Campos, concerning Costa Rica

Jun 5, 2019

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María Isabel Rivero
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Washington, DC—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve the friendly settlement of Case 12.942, Emilia Morales Campos, concerning Costa Rica, and to publish its Approval Report. The IACHR also announced its decision to declare full compliance with the agreement, end supervision of the matter, and bring it to closure. The IACHR wishes to congratulate the state and the petitioner for their hard work.

The case concerns Costa Rica’s international responsibility for violations of due process, personal integrity, and guarantees of judicial protection to the detriment of Emilia Morales Campos, an elderly woman with a disability, during the process of applying for a family housing certificate, which she filed in 1991 but on which a decision had yet to be reached 22 years later. The petitioner alleges that as a result of these circumstances, she and her daughter, who was then a child, lived in precarious conditions for several years in a house that private individuals gave to her in 1997, which was 1.5 m from an irrigation ditch. According to the allegations in the petition, the proximity of this ditch led to severe damp and soil erosion. This had brought the house into a terrible state of repair and made it unstable, which posed risks to Emilia Morales Campos and her daughter. Furthermore, the living conditions were not suitable for someone with a disability.

On September 3, 2015, the parties began to seek a friendly settlement, which they reached and signed on July 20, 2018. The agreement addressed the petitioner’s main claim, which was to obtain a solution to the housing problem that she and her family had been experiencing. To this end, the parties included the following reparation measures in the friendly settlement agreement:

A. Individual Reparation Measure.

I. The first measure of reparation is the fact that through the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship, the state of Costa Rica wishes to acknowledge how closely engaged the petitioner, 63-year-old Emilia Morales Campos, has been in the collaboration process for reaching a friendly settlement for Case 12.942. It also wishes to acknowledge her human rights–oriented activism that has always respected the principle of legality and the democratic system of Costa Rica.

II. The second reparation measure is the granting of a house that forms part of the SFNV Family Housing Certificate scheme, which will be built in Lot No. 4 of the Calle La Cedeña Project. This lot was chosen and accepted by the petitioner based on the following characteristics:

• excellent climatic conditions in a burgeoning residential area.

• proximity to public health services (the Grecia Basic Comprehensive Healthcare Team [EBAIS]).

• appropriateness to Ms. Morales’s age and health conditions, including the fact that the property is wheelchair-accessible should she later require the use of one.

• Location in an area that is easy for people without private vehicles to reach.

• Proximity to bus stops. Bus services are currently infrequent because Calle La Cedeña is currently being extended to Calle Los Rosales in Puente Piedra de Grecia. However, the petitioners agreed that this shortcoming was temporary and was due to the extension of the public thoroughfare.

The IACHR monitored the development of this friendly settlement closely and praised the two parties for the efforts they made during the negotiations toward reaching a friendly settlement agreement that would be compatible with the objectives of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR also congratulated the state of Costa Rica on having signed its first friendly settlement agreement (see press release) and wishes to draw attention to the state’s hard work in articulating different areas of government to ensure full compliance with the agreement. For this reason, in its approval report, the IACHR deemed that the friendly settlement agreement had been fully complied with and issued a ruling to this end.

In this regard, Commissioner Arosemena said that “the state of Costa Rica took positive steps toward reaching a friendly settlement. This the first time the state has signed a friendly settlement agreement, but it is also emblematic because it is the first agreement that refers to the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Rights of the Elderly.”

Finally, the IACHR applauds the efforts made by the state of Costa Rica to reach solutions that respond to the inter-American system through the friendly settlement mechanism, and for having created a policy for reaching friendly settlements and complying with the decisions of the Inter-American System of Human Rights. The IACHR hopes that the state of Costa Rica will continue to use the friendly settlement mechanism in other cases and is at the country’s disposition whenever it wishes to do so. It also wishes to congratulate the petitioner on the role she played in the process of achieving the friendly settlement.

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. 140/19