Press Release

IACHR Announces Publication of Report No. 85/20 on Case 12.374, Jorge Enrique Patiño Palacios, Concerning Paraguay

June 10, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve the friendly settlement agreement for Case 12.374, Jorge Enrique Patiño Palacios, concerning Paraguay, which was signed by the parties on November 30, 2012, during a working meeting that was facilitated by the IACHR.

On February 26, 2001, the IACHR received a petition presented by César Patiño Mignone and Alba Palacios de Patiño, in which they alleged that the Republic of Paraguay was internationally responsible for the violation of the human rights enshrined in articles 8 (the right to a fair trial) and 25 (the right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, in connection with article 1 (the obligation to respect rights), to the detriment of their 20-year-old son, Jorge Enrique Palacios, who died from a gunshot wound allegedly inflicted by civilians, and in connection with the subsequent lack of investigation and punishment of those responsible as a result of irregularities in police and judicial authorities’ investigations of these events.

On November 30, 2012, the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement in which the Paraguayan state committed to the following:

·        Request reports on the procedural status of cases from all courts in the country every six months to ascertain whether the deadlines and timeframes established in procedural laws are being complied with. If these principles are being violated, the state will apply the corresponding sanctions and, where the seriousness of the situation merits this, file a complaint with the Judicial Misconduct Jury;

·        Hold an official ceremony to acknowledge responsibility;

·        Implement a course or seminar on international standards of due diligence during investigations and regarding the gathering and evaluation of forensic evidence as part of a program of specialized courses on state responsibility for negligence or malpractice on the part of its judiciary. This course should be aimed at judges in the criminal justice system, members of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the criminal investigation department;

·        Create the necessary regulatory instruments to establish the procedures that must be observed to guarantee the chain of custody for any evidence that is obtained, collected, produced, or received in the course of a criminal investigation and establish sanctions for noncompliance with these procedures;

·        Name a courtroom at the Palace of Justice and rename the Ñemity Educational Community Center run by the Secretariat of Children and Adolescents in honor of the victim within six months;

·        Publish the full text of the friendly settlement agreement on the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the judiciary and include an announcement on the website of the Office of the President for a year. Publish the Approval Report in the Official Gazette;

·        Provide medical, psychological, and psychosocial attention and support for the victims;

·        Publish the IACHR friendly settlement report in the Official States Gazette and on the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the judiciary.

The IACHR noted in its friendly settlement report that full compliance had been reached with clause 3.2, which concerns training on due diligence during investigations and the gathering and evaluation of evidence. It noted that the Workshop on Gathering and Evaluating Evidence during Criminal Procedures in Compliance with the Friendly Settlement Agreement in the Jorge Enrique Patiño Palacios Case was held on June 7, 8, 14, and 15, 2018 and was attended by prosecutors, magistrates, and staff from the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary.

The IACHR deemed that the measures of satisfaction had been fully complied with, given that on July 5, 2013, a ceremony was held to unveil a commemorative plaque on Courtroom No. 1 at the Palace of Justice. With regard to the renaming of the Ñemity Community Center, the IACHR noted that the parties agreed to add the victim’s name to that of the facility, which will now be known as the Jorge Patiño Palacios Ñemity Educational Community Center. The IACHR also noted that a ceremony was held on October 25, 2013, to unveil signage and a plaque in memory of Jorge Patiño Palacios at this community center.

The IACHR deemed that Paraguay had complied partially with international acknowledgment as it was able to corroborate that information on the friendly settlement agreement has been published on the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the judiciary, as per the agreement. However, the IACHR found that the approval report had not yet been published in the Official State Gazette or on the websites of the judiciary or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as established in the friendly settlement agreement.

In its approval report, the IACHR stated that two of the five measures in the friendly settlement agreement had been fully complied with, namely those concerning satisfaction measures and training on due diligence during investigations and the gathering and evaluation of evidence. It also stated that the measures concerning protocols for good practices on the chain of custody and international acknowledgement have been partially complied with. The IACHR decided to continue monitoring the friendly settlement agreement until it has been fully implemented.

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 commended both parties for their willingness to move toward settling this issue through nonadversarial means. It will continue to monitor implementation of the remaining measures until they have been fully complied with. The IACHR also congratulated the state of Paraguay for its efforts to develop public policy on friendly settlements and alternative forms of dispute resolution.

Friendly Settlement Report No. 85/20 on Case 12.374 is available here.

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. 134/20