Press Release

IACHR Announces the Publication of Report No. 106/19 on Case 12.986, José Antonio Bolaños Juárez, Concerning Mexico

August 15, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve the friendly settlement of Case 12.986, José Antonio Bolaños Juárez, signed on June 27, 2018, and to publish the Approval Report for the case. It also announced its decision to include the case in its Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly and to continue supervising the implementation of the agreement until it has been fully complied with, as stipulated in the Approval Report. The IACHR wishes to congratulate the United Mexican States, the victim, and the petitioners for their hard work toward achieving this outcome.

The case concerns the petition presented to the IACHR by José Antonio Bolaños Juárez on May 4, 2004, which alleged that Mexico was internationally responsible for the violation of rights that are enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights as a result of the illegal arrest, torture, and violation of the right to fair trial of José Antonio Bolaños Juárez by agents of the Mexican State.

On September 6, 2016, the parties began to seek a friendly settlement, and the IACHR facilitated working meetings to negotiate an agreement on April 25 and August 31, 2017. Following these meetings, the parties were able to reach a consensus which materialized with the signature of the friendly settlement agreement on June 27, 2018.

The agreement signed between the victims and the Mexican State includes public recognition of the state’s responsibility for violations of the rights to personal integrity, personal freedom, due process, fair trial, and judicial protection. It also sets out the state’s commitment to ensuring that the relevant investigations take place, prioritizing the victims’ best interests, and avoiding any possible form of revictimization. The agreement signed also includes the following reparation measures, some of which have already been fully implemented.

    Rehabilitation measures:

Regarding health rehabilitation, the State included the victims in the People’s Insurance program to guarantee them access to the pharmaceutical goods and services that are covered by this. In the same vein, the State also undertook to provide one of the victims with appropriate, priority medical and psychological care free of charge through a private institution and has taken major steps to ensure they can access this service.

The agreement stipulates that should victims require medical or psychological care at facilities that are outside their area of residence but within Mexico, the State must cover all travel costs and related expenses and must also guarantee that their needs for care are covered through the Popular Insurance program or any other similar program that provides the same level of care.

    Measures of satisfaction:

To comply with the agreement, on June 27, 2018, the Mexican State held a private ceremony to acknowledge its international responsibility and apologize for its actions. This took place at the Ministry of the Interior and was attended by the victims and their representative; as well as the Head of the Unit for the Defense of Human Rights at the Mexican Office for Domestic Affairs; the Director-General of Human Rights and Democracy of the Ministry of Foreign Relations; and the Coordinator of International Affairs and Attachés’ Offices of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic. In compliance with the agreement, the victims were given a written document in which the State acknowledged responsibility for the events that took place and apologized to them.

As a measure of satisfaction, the Mexican State worked with the relevant authorities to expunge José Antonio Bolaños Juárez’s criminal record, which derived from the violation of his right to a fair trial and judicial protection. The Mexican State also took steps to eliminate references to his alleged criminal responsibility in the media, which included sending letters urging all major Mexican dailies.

    Guarantees of non-repetition:

The parties agreed that on October 29, 30, and 31 and November 26, 2018, the Authority for the Promotion of Human Rights Culture, Complaints, and Inspections at the Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Human Rights, Crime Prevention, and Community Services, which was at the time part of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic, would run a course entitled “Compliance with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Friendly Settlement Agreement 12.986.” This included a training workshop on the abolition of torture for 28 officials working at the Office of the Assistant Special Prosecutor for the Investigation of Organized Crime (SEIDO), who examined a case study with similar framework to that of the case in question but that did not make specific reference to the victims, as they had requested.

    Financial compensation:

In reparation for the pecuniary and nonpecuniary damages that were caused to Mr. Bolaños, the Mexican State paid out a sum for consequential damages that had been approved by the Technical Committee of the Trust Fund for Compliance with Human Rights Obligations and a sum for pecuniary damages that was established in accordance with the standards contained in the jurisprudence of the Inter-American System of Human Rights for similar cases. The State has yet to compensate the victim for lost profits, which the parties agreed would be fulfilled after the friendly settlement agreement has been approved and published by the IACHR.

The IACHR monitored the development of this friendly settlement closely and praised the two parties for the efforts they made during the negotiations toward reaching a friendly settlement agreement that would be compatible with the objectives of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR wishes to congratulate the Mexican State for complying fully with five of the seven measures in the friendly settlement agreement relating to satisfaction, rehabilitation, and non-repetition, as mentioned above; and for complying partially with the two remaining points relating to compensation for pecuniary damages and healthcare.

Finally, the IACHR commended both parties for their willingness to move toward settling this issue through non-adversarial means and will continue to monitor implementation of the remaining measures until they have been fully complied with.

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. 202/19