Press Release

IACHR Brings Argentina Case before the IA Court

March 23, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) over case 12.925, Oscar Raul Gorigoitia, involving Argentina.

This case concerns the lack of an ordinary remedy that would enable a comprehensive review of the sentence that was imposed for the crime of simple homicide as part of a criminal prosecution that took place in Mendoza Province, Argentina, in 1997. The IACHR concluded that Oscar Raul Gorigoitia was not granted a comprehensive review of his sentence before an appropriate authority, one that included the questions of fact and evidentiary value alleged by the defense in the cassation appeal. In this sense, the IACHR concluded that the state of Argentina violated Oscar Raul Gorigoitia’s right to appeal his sentence. The IACHR concluded that as a consequence of the limited scope of the cassation appeal, and the even more limited scope of the extraordinary appeal, the victim did not have access to simple and effective legal remedies during the criminal proceedings that led to his conviction, which violated his right to a fair trial.

In the Merits Report, the IACHR recommended that Argentina provide the necessary means for Mr. Gorigoitia, should he so wish, to file an appeal whereby he can obtain a broad review of his conviction, provide comprehensive reparations for the violations described in the report, covering both tangible and intangible damages, and to provide the legislative measures needed to bring domestic law on cassation appeals in line with the inter-American standards on the right to a fair trial that are enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. Independently of such potential changes to legislation, the IACHR also recommended that Argentina ensure that its judicial authorities review laws to ensure that they comply with inter-American standards when ruling on appeals against convictions, in keeping with the standards established in the report.

The IACHR filed the application to the court on March 16, 2018, as it judged that Argentina had not complied with the recommendations set out in the Merits Report.

This case will give the IA Court an opportunity to develop and consolidate its jurisprudence on criminal due process and, particularly, the right to appeal a conviction. The procedural law in several of Argentina’s provinces establishes first instance appeals, specifically motions for cassation, as being the only possible recourse against a conviction, the grounds for which are limited to mistakes of law and mistakes of fact. The IACHR has requested that Argentina undertake a comprehensive review of its internal legislation in this regard, which to date it has not implemented.

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. 061/18