Press Release

IACHR Takes Case involving Ecuador to the Inter-American Court

April 2, 2014

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case No. 12.723, TGGL and Family v. Ecuador.

This case has to do with the State’s international responsibility for violating the right to a life of dignity and humane treatment of the child TGGL, as a result of her being infected with HIV through a blood transfusion on June 22, 1998, when she was 3 years old. The blood used for the transfusion came from the Azuay Red Cross Blood Bank, without the State having properly fulfilled its guarantee obligation, specifically its supervisory and oversight role over private entities that provide health services. Moreover, the Commission concluded that the State’s failure to properly respond to the situation created, particularly by failing to provide the victim with the specialized medical care she needed, continued as yet to affect the exercise of her rights. Finally, the Commission deemed that the investigation and domestic criminal proceedings, which culminated with a declaration that the time for legal action had lapsed, did not meet the minimum standards of due diligence to offer effective redress to the child TGGL and her family members. The Commission found that the totality of the case demonstrated the State’s failure to comply with its special obligation to protect TGGL because she was a child.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on March 18, 2014, after having granted an extension to the State when Ecuador had not complied with the Commission’s recommendations. The Commission had recommended that the State: fully compensate TGGL and her mother for the human rights violations stated in the report on the merits, including both material and moral aspects; immediately and permanently provide, in consultation with TGGL, any specialized medical treatment she may need; provide, in consultation with TGGL, free education at the primary, higher, and university level; conduct a full and effective investigation into the human rights violations stated in the report on the merits; and order non-repetition measures that include: i) implementing serious and effective mechanisms for regular supervision and oversight of the operations and record-keeping systems of the blood banks, both private and public, operating in Ecuador; ii) implementing serious and effective mechanisms for regular supervision and oversight of public and private hospitals, to ensure that they operate with the necessary safeguards in place to verify the safety of the blood products used for transfusion services; iii) implementing training programs for personnel at the blood banks operating in Ecuador, to ensure that they carry out their work in a way that is compatible with minimum, internally recognized technical safety standards; and iv) providing treatment and health care free of charge to children with HIV who do not have the resources for such care.

This case gives the Court the chance to expand its case law on States’ guarantee, oversight, and supervision obligation when it comes to private entities that provide health services and consequently could give rise to violations of the rights to life and humane treatment. In this case, the Court will be able to express its opinion on States’ special obligation when it comes to certain activities related to human health that, by their very nature, imply a high risk, such as the management of blood banks and transfusion services. Moreover, the case offers the Inter-American Court the chance to develop case law on State obligations when it comes to people who carry the human immunodeficiency virus and who are particularly vulnerable.

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. 33/14