Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Ecuador to Inter-American Court

February 8, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court HR) in Case No 12.683, Melba del Carmen Suárez Peralta, Ecuador.

The case deals with the lack of judicial guarantees and judicial protection in the criminal proceedings against the persons allegedly responsible for a case of medical malpractice denounced by Melba del Carmen Suárez Peralta. In July 2000, Melba del Carmen Suárez Peralta had surgery for appendicitis at the Minchala private clinic, which caused her severe and permanent after-effects. The criminal proceedings had not been moved forward by the relevant judicial authorities and lacked even minimum guarantees of due diligence for the victim. The passive role played by the Prosecutor’s Office in the criminal proceedings and the delay in pursuing the case meant that those possibly responsible went unpunished, when the statute of limitations was applied to the claims in 2005.

The case was sent to the IA Court HR on January 26, 2012, because the Commission considered that the State had not complied with the recommendations contained in its Report on the Merits. In that report, the IACHR concluded that the State of Ecuador violated the rights to a fair trial and to judicial protection with respect to Melba del Carmen Suárez Peralta and her mother, Melba Peralta Mendoza.

In addition, the case involves issues of inter-American public order, given that the facts are related to the obligations of States regarding the regulation of health services. The case will allow the Court to develop standards of access to justice, judicial protection and due diligence in cases of medical malpractice. In addition, the Court would be able to develop its jurisprudence with regard to the obligation to avoid situations of impunity in relation to the liability incurred by health professionals.

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 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. 14/12