IACHR Grants Precautionary Protection Measures in Favor of Intersex Adolescent in Colombia

December 28, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 106/2021 on December 24, 2021, to grant precautionary protection measures in favor of the adolescent N.V.E. in Colombia, in the belief that she faces a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to her rights to life, personal integrity, and health.

The party who requested these precautionary measures reported that the proposed beneficiary had been diagnosed with "classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia" (a salt-wasting variety), which is considered an incurable orphan disease that may cause adrenal crisis, hypovolemic shock, and variations in the sexual characteristics of individuals who are assigned female at birth. The requesting party further noted that there had been delays in delivery of prescribed medications that were considered vital, as well as hurdles to schedule surgeries to modify the sexual characteristics of N.V.E. The requesting party said that N.V.E. required urgent surgical procedures to prevent her health from deteriorating further and noted that lack of access to appropriate medication was life-threatening for her.

The State reported on the action it had taken to deliver healthcare services to the proposed beneficiary, noting the dates on which medication deliveries had been authorized. The State said that the proposed beneficiary had health insurance through Capital Salud EPS-S and that her supply of hormones had never been cut off. The State also noted that, concerning surgery, measures were being taken to launch a comprehensive care and surgical medical assistance protocol.

As it considered this request for precautionary measures, the Commission noted with concern delays in the provision to N.V.E. of vital prescribed medication, which required her to be hospitalized. The IACHR further noted that the proposed beneficiary had had no access to specialist and multidisciplinary care, and that she remained in serious danger. The Commission said that several intersectional vulnerability factors converged in the proposed beneficiary, particularly concerning her intersex character and the need to ensure her informed consent for all surgery or any other procedures conducted to change her sexual characteristics, focusing on her best interests and gradual autonomy.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Colombia to: (a) adopt any measures necessary to protect the rights to life, personal integrity, and health of N.V.E. (in particular, continuing to ensure she has access to timely medical and psychological care, reflecting the prescriptions and assessments of competent doctors and the applicable international standards—including those concerning intersex persons—and the need to incorporate the beneficiary's free, prior, and informed consent); and (b) agree on any measures that need to be taken with the beneficiary and her representatives, as well as (when required) her father, mother, or guardian, given her age.

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

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. 350/21

5:50 PM