Press Release

IACHR refers case on Uruguay to the Inter-American Court

May 28, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - Washington, D.C. - On May 24, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) referred the case of Diana Maidanik y otros, regarding Uruguay, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The case with relates to the international responsibility of the State for the extrajudicial executions of Diana Maidanik, Silvia Reyes and Laura Raggio Odizzio, the forced disappearances of Luis Eduardo González González and Oscar Tassino Asteazu, as well as the lack of an adequate investigation.

The facts of the case occurred within the framework of the civic-military dictatorship in Uruguay, during which serious human rights violations were committed by state agents. In the early morning of 21 April 1974 Diana Maidanik, Silvia Reyes and Laura Raggio, aged between 19 and 21, were killed in the house where they were staying by several rounds of bullets in an operation carried out by members of the Armed Forces and the police. On the other hand, in the early morning of December 13, 1974, two members of the joint forces dressed as private individuals, together with a group of soldiers armed with machine guns, broke into the home of Luis Eduardo González, a medical student and member of the Communist and Revolutionary Party of Uruguay. Luis Eduardo González and his wife, who was pregnant, were arrested and taken to the 6th Cavalry Regiment of Army Division No. 1. Mr. González was last seen in that military compound on 24 December 1974 with signs of torture, and has been missing since then. Lastly, Oscar Tassino Asteazu, a trade union leader and member of the Communist Party of Uruguay, was arrested on 19 July 1977 by three armed persons in civilian clothes who identified themselves as members of the Joint Forces. The next day he was beaten and his face covered to a clandestine detention facility, where he was seen with signs of torture. From that moment on his whereabouts are unknown.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission determined, with respect to Diana Maidanik, Silvia Reyes and Laura Raggio Odizzio, that their deaths constituted extrajudicial executions due to the existence of a series of indications that the use of force was not justified. In relation to the cases of Luis Eduardo González González and Oscar Tassino Asteazu, the Commission concluded that the constituent elements of forced disappearance were met, and that these disappearances continue to be committed to date.

On the other hand, the Commission emphasized that the application of the Law on the Expiry of the Punitive Claims of the State constituted an obstacle to the investigation of the facts at different times, since it had the effect of seeking impunity. It also noted that there is no evidence that the State has promoted judicial proceedings or taken measures to clarify the death of the young women and to search for and identify the remains of the two disappeared persons, and therefore concluded that the State did not comply with its obligation of due diligence in the investigations. The Commission established that the Uruguayan State violated the reasonable time limit in the investigation given that, more than 40 years after the events of the present case, the facts of the case continue in impunity. Finally, it concluded that the State of Uruguay is responsible for the violation of the right to personal integrity of the family members as a result of the pain, anguish and uncertainty caused by the serious violations and the long search for justice.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission recommended that the State

1. Investigate fully, impartially, diligently, effectively, and within a reasonable time with the objective of clarifying the facts completely, and identify all possible material and intellectual responsibilities and impose the corresponding sanctions. Taking into account the seriousness of the declared violations and the inter-American standards in this regard, the Commission stressed that the State may not invoke the guarantee of non bis in idem, res judicata or prescription, to justify non-compliance with this recommendation.
2. With regard to the victims of forced disappearance, investigate their whereabouts in a complete, impartial and effective manner, and if necessary, adopt the measures necessary to identify and deliver the mortal remains to their families according to their wishes.
3. Adequately repair the human rights violations declared in the Report on the Merits, both in the material and moral aspects, including fair compensation, the establishment and dissemination of the historical truth of the facts, and the implementation of an adequate program of care for their relatives.
4. Adopt the legislative and other measures necessary to ensure that in practice and through judicial decisions the imprescriptibility of serious human rights violations is guaranteed, in accordance with inter-American standards. The State must guarantee that the Law on the Expiry of the Punitive Claims of the State does not once again represent an obstacle to the investigation of the facts of the case.

The Commission referred the case to the Court because of State actions and omissions that occurred or continued to occur after April 19, 1985, the date on which the State of Uruguay accepted the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court. Therefore, the facts relating to the forced disappearance of Luis Eduardo González González and Oscar Tassino Asteazu, which continue to this day, the lack of investigation and punishment of those disappearances, as well as the extrajudicial executions of Diana Maidanik, Silvia Reyes and Laura Raggio Odizzio, and the lack of adequate reparation, are within the jurisdiction of the Court. 

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. 122/20