Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Peru to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

September 16, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed on August 6, 2019 an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) in Case 12,975, Julio Casa Nina, with regard to Peru.

This case refers to a series of human rights violations in the context of disciplinary proceedings that led to Julio Casa Nina’s dismissal as temporary assistant public prosecutor in the second criminal district in the province of Huamanga Ayacucho, Peru. The Commission considered that the State had violated the victim’s right to be heard, his right to a defense, and the legality principle. The victim had been appointed with an open-ended, unconditional contract, restricted only with general reference to service needs. This proved incompatible with the increased stability safeguards required to protect public prosecutors, who should only be dismissed for serious disciplinary reasons, when their contract formally expires, or when the conditions stated in their appointment no longer apply. Further, given how he was dismissed, the victim did not have access to a procedure that provided the minimum safeguards required to respect his right to a defense.

The Commission also considered that the State had violated the victim’s right to duly substantiated decisions and to the principle of presumption of innocence. The Commission stressed that the decision to dismiss the victim from his position was unsubstantiated and failed to explain the reasons behind the dismissal. The decision says that it “does not preclude legal action that might be relevant given the complaint and the request for redress that are being processed.” This was also mentioned in the decision to reject the victim’s request for reconsideration, which affected the principle of presumption of innocence.

The IACHR further concluded that the State had violated the victim’s right to judicial protection, since he had filed an administrative request for reconsideration (rejected by the Attorney General on February 14, 2003, arguing that the victim’s appointment had been temporary), filed a writ of amparo before Huamanga’s First Civil-Law District Court, and appealed the decision that denied this amparo. None of the actions taken by the victim enabled him to effectively challenge his dismissal. Finally, the Commission said that the State had violated the victim’s political rights, which protect his right to access a public-service position and to hold such a position in fair conditions, considering that the victim had been dismissed from that position through a procedure that failed to enforce minimum safeguards.

The Commission recommended that the State adopt the following reparation measures:

1. Reinstating the victim in a similar position to the one he held, with the same compensation, social benefits, and standing he would currently hold if he had not been dismissed. If the victim does not wish to be reinstated or if there are objective reasons that prevent his reinstatement, the State should pay him adequate compensation, regardless of any reparations due for material and moral damages included in recommendation 2.

2. Providing comprehensive reparations for the consequences of the human rights violations mentioned in the Merits Report, including both material and immaterial damage.

3. Adopting the necessary non-repetition measures to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. In particular, enforcing due process in the context of procedures to dismiss public prosecutors, whether or not their appointments had been temporary.

4. Taking any measures necessary to ensure that internal rules and relevant practice comply with clear criteria and ensure safeguards in procedures to appoint, keep, and dismiss public prosecutors, based on the criteria held in the Merits Report.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Inter-American Court’s jurisdiction on August 6, 2019, in the understanding that the State had failed to comply with the recommendations held in the Merits Report.

This case would provide the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with an opportunity to address whether the reinforced safeguards of due process and legality that must prevail in proceedings to dismiss judges are applicable to public prosecutors, taking into consideration that—given the nature of their work—the lack of adequate safeguards may favor external pressure that hampers their independence.

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. 229/19