IACHR Files Case with IA Court on Collective Dismissal of Workers, Concerning Peru

August 29, 2023

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Washington, D.C.—On June 22, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed Case 12.666–B with the Inter-American Court (IA Court) regarding the irregular dismissal of César Bravo Garvich, Ernesto Yovera Álvarez, and Gloria Cahua Ríos from their jobs at the Empresa Nacional de Puertos S.A. (ENAPU, the National Ports Company) in Peru, one of the mass dismissals that took place in the country in the 1990s.

In November 1992, Decree Law No. 25582 was published. It concerned ENAPU and the promotion of private investment, and voluntary retirement programs were implemented to reduce staff. In January 1996, a policy was adopted that allowed the dismissal of workers who did not opt for voluntary retirement. ENAPU informed its personnel that they had five days to decide whether to accept voluntary retirement or seek a solution from the Ministry of Labor. Three of the individuals in question decided not to accept the voluntary retirement program and were thus dismissed.

In January 1996, the Fentenapu Federation filed a lawsuit for the protection of rights before the Civil Court of Callao to prevent the unconstitutional termination of ENAPU's labor contracts. However, the court in question, the Civil Chamber of the Superior Court of Callao, and the Constitutional Court denied the request, arguing that ENAPU had followed the procedure established by law.

With the establishment of the interim government in 2000, laws and administrative regulations were passed that provided for the review of collective dismissals and created special review commissions that found several of these dismissals to be arbitrary, including those of César Bravo Garvich, Ernesto Yovera Álvarez, and Gloria Cahua Ríos. Subsequently, between 2003 and 2004, the three victims were rehired by ENAPU.

The IACHR analyzed the case and found that the Peruvian State violated the victims' rights to judicial guarantees and protection. In this regard, it noted that the State did not guarantee an effective judicial remedy to challenge the dismissals and that the use of collective dismissals was associated with a lack of protection of the labor rights of a large number of workers.

The IACHR also found that the measures adopted by the State after the review of the collective dismissals were not applied to the three victims in this case, revealing deficiencies in the legal procedures and judicial protection of their right to work.

In view of the above, the IACHR concluded that the State of Peru is responsible for the violation of articles 8 (judicial guarantees), 25 (judicial protection), and 26 (the right to work) of the American Convention, in relation to the obligations established in Article 1.1 (obligation to respect rights) of this instrument, to the detriment of Ernesto Yovera Álvarez, Gloria Cahua Ríos, and César Bravo Garvich.

Consequently, it recommended that the State provide full reparation to the victims, which should include the payment of compensation taking into account material damages, the payment of contributions to the pension system, loss of earnings, and nonpecuniary damages, for which the State should take into account the parameters dictated by the court in the case of Dismissed Petroperú Workers and others.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 200/23

11:30 AM