Press Release

IACHR Takes Case involving Chile to the Inter-American Court

April 22, 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. 12.500, Omar Humberto Maldonado et al. v. Chile

This case involves a denial of justice to the detriment of Omar Humberto Maldonado Vargas, Álvaro Yañez del Villar, Mario Antonio Cornejo Barahona, Belarmino Constanzo Merino, Manuel Osvaldo López Ovanedel, Ernesto Augusto Galaz Guzmán, Mario González Rifo, Jaime Donoso Parra, Alberto Salustio Bustamante Rojas, Gustavo Raúl Lastra Saavedra, Víctor Hugo Adriazola Meza, and Ivar Onoldo Rojas Ravanal. The denial of justice arose from the failure to proactively and diligently investigate the acts of torture suffered by the victims in the context of the Chilean military dictatorship. Moreover, in rejecting appeals for review and reversal filed on September 10, 2001, and September 7, 2002, respectively, the State of Chile failed to comply with its obligation to provide effective recourse to the victims to overturn a criminal case that had taken into account evidence obtained under torture. As a result, the victims did not have any mechanism at their disposal to lay claim to the exclusionary rule as an essential corollary to the absolute ban on torture.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on April 12, 2014, because the Commission believed that the State of Chile had not complied with the recommendations included in the Report on the Merits. In that report, the Commission had recommended that the State investigate and criminally prosecute and punish the acts of torture perpetrated against the victims; establish any relevant criminal or administrative responsibility over the failure to investigate the acts of torture suffered that were made known to the Chilean judicial authorities; adopt the necessary measures to provide effective legal recourse for the protection of the rights of the victims and their relatives that were contravened, particularly as regards the probative value assigned to the confessions obtained under the effects of torture; provide full reparation to the victims and their relatives, including both moral and material aspects, over the human rights violations they suffered; adopt legislative, administrative, and any other measures to bring Chilean laws and practices in line with inter-American standards on torture and judicial protection; and take steps to prevent similar events from happening again.

This case will enable the Court to issue an opinion on judicial avenues a State should provide to effectively apply the exclusionary rule, that is, to ensure that no case or conviction that took into consideration evidence obtained under torture can take legal effect.

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. 42/14