Press Release

IACHR Brings Peru Case before the IA Court

August 4, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - On July 17, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) regarding the case of Carlos Benites Cabrera and others, concerning Peru. The case concerns the state’s international responsibility for the damage caused to 192 congressional workers who were dismissed in 1992 and whose rights to judicial protection and guarantees were violated.

In its admissibility and merits report, the IACHR deemed that the 192 victims were dismissed on the grounds of the regulations adopted at the end of 1992 as part of the so-called staff streamlining program implemented during former President Alberto Fujimori’s time in office. As a consequence, and as in two other cases that the IA Court has already ruled on—Dismissed Congress Workers (Aguado Alfaro and others) v. Peru and Carlos Alberto Canales Huapaya and others v. Peru—the victims were subject to the regulations of article 9 of Decree-Law No. 26540 and Resolution No. 1239-A-92-CACL, which prohibited the filing of amparo claims against their dismissal or claims against the results of the evaluation of the merits issued by the Administrative Commission, respectively. The IACHR concluded that the factual grounds for this case are the same as those of the aforementioned cases, which the inter-American system has already ruled on.

The IACHR observed that in the Dismissed Workers and Canales Huapaya cases, the victims began administrative and judicial proceedings to challenge their dismissals shortly after these had been established. Indeed, in the Dismissed Workers ruling, all the workers were joint litigants in amparo proceedings that reached the Constitutional Tribunal.

The IACHR noted that as the IA Court has already established that “there was a denial of justice in a context of widespread ineffectiveness among judicial institutions, an absence of guarantees of independence and impartiality, and a lack of clarity regarding how collective dismissals should be handled,” the conclusions reached in similar precedents apply to this case due to the structural nature of the widespread uncertainty around access to effective remedies and the denial of justice.

By virtue of the principle of procedural economy and given that this is a widespread problem that has already been solved by both bodies of the inter-American system, the IACHR found the state of Peru to be internationally responsible by referring to the legal analysis and articles of the American Convention that were applied in the IA Court ruling on Dismissed Congress Workers (Aguado Alfaro and others) v. Peru, Merits Report 162/12 regarding Carlos Alberto Canales Huapaya and others v. Peru, the ruling on preliminary objections, merits, reparations, and costs issued by the IA Court regarding that case, Merits Report 14/15 regarding Dismissed Workers (Petroperú, MEF, and Enapu), Dismissed Workers (Minedu), and the ruling on the latter that was referred to by the IA Court as Dismissed Petroperú Workers and others.

In view of this, after establishing the admissibility of the case, the IACHR concluded in its examination of the merits that the state of Peru violated the rights enshrined in article 8.1 (the right to a fair trial), 25.1 (the right to judicial protection), and 26 (the right to work) of the American Convention, and the obligations set out in article 1.1 (the obligation to respect rights) and 2 (domestic legal effects) of the American Convention, to the detriment of the 192 victims identified in the report.

In its admissibility and merits report, the IACHR made the following recommendations to the state of Peru:

Provide comprehensive reparation for the violations of rights described in the report. In accordance with the IA Court ruling on the Canales Huapaya and Dismissed Petroperú Workers cases, this comprehensive reparation must include measures of satisfaction and compensation for tangible and intangible damages that take into account the fact that no provision is being made for reinstating the workers’ jobs for the reasons described above. The compensation must also include a sum to cover the pension contributions that were not paid toward the workers’ pension funds due to their dismissal.

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. 190/20