Press Release

IACHR Brings Chile Case before the IA Court

February 13, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - On September 6, 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) over case 13.039, Martina Rebeca Vera Rojas vs. Chile.

The case relates to the state’s responsibility regarding the lack of regulation, control, and adequate regulatory systems for supervising the medical care provided a health insurance company, to the detriment of the victim.

The IACHR found that the state allowed and legally endorsed a health insurance company’s decision to unilaterally and arbitrarily terminate the home-based hospitalization regime that was essential to the survival of Martina Vera, a girl who had been diagnosed with Leigh’s syndrome. In response to these events, Martina’s family filed an action for protection on October 26, 2010, which was ultimately heard by the Supreme Court of Justice, which ruled in favor of the insurance provider on January 26, 2011, without regard for the state’s special role as guarantor of the rights of children and people with disabilities. In December 2011, the family began a second, arbitration-type appeal before the Health Authority to call the suspension of Martina’s treatment into question. The Health Authority ruled in favor of the victim on August 27, 2012, on the basis of an economic study that found it to be more efficient to continue the treatment due to the subsequent economic consequences that suspending it could trigger.

In Merits Reports 107/18, the IACHR declared the state to be responsible for the lack of regulation, oversight, and appropriate monitoring of the decision to stop Martina’s treatment, which was compounded by the fact that the state did not protect a child’s rights, despite the fact that it has the duty to guarantee these, and instead put her life and health at risk, which runs counter to its social security obligations. The IACHR also found that the rulings of the Supreme Court of Justice and Health Authority were not based on the girl’s best interests or on her vulnerability given the state’s treaty obligations to her as a child with a disability. Finally, the IACHR declared that the right to personal integrity of the girl’s mother and father, Carolina Andrea del Pilar Rojas Farías and Ramiro Álvaro Vera Luza, had been violated due to the pain they were caused by their daughter’s fragile life being jeopardized by such unpredictable circumstances.

In sum, the IACHR concluded that the state was responsible for the violation of the rights to health, social security, life, integrity, judicial guarantees and legal protection, and the protection of children enshrined in articles 4.1, 5.1, 19, 26, 8.1 and 25.1 of the American Convention, and in relation to articles 1.1 and 2 of the same instrument.

In its Merits Reports, the IACHR made the following recommendations to the state of Chile:

1. Provide comprehensive tangible and intangible redress for the human rights violations set out in Merits Report 107/18 concerning Martina Rebeca Vera Rojas and her parents, including fair compensation.

2. Provide the physical and mental healthcare measures needed to help Ramiro Vera Luza and Carolina Rojas Farías with their recovery process, should they so wish. Any such measures should be agreed upon with them.

3. Ensure that the home-based hospitalization scheme for Martina Vera Rojas remains in force for as long as she requires. This reparation measure also stipulates that any future decision on this hospitalization scheme must comply with Chile’s international obligations in this area and that it should be guided by the victim’s best interests as a child with a disability.

Provide mechanisms for nonrepetition that include: i) ensuring that legal processes before the Health Authority regarding conflicts between Isapres and insured people over the withdrawal of medical benefits in cases of serious illness comply with the standards established in this report; and ii) ensuring that there are appropriate, expeditious judicial remedies which can be used to challenge possible decisions by Isapres that may affect a person’s right to health and social security and endanger their life and personal integrity.

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. 037/20