UN Expert consultation on human rights consideration relating to the
administration of justice through military tribunals and role of the integral
judicial system in combating human rights violations
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SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION OF
MILITARY COURTS IN THE AMERICAS
Christina M. Cerna
GENEVA, November 24, 2014
THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
35 Member States of the OAS
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Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, The Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada,
Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba(*),
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti,
Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and
Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago,
United States of America, Uruguay,
Venezuela
Map of the Americas
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2014
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
2014
The evolution of the inter-American human rights system
DECLARATION MEMBER STATES
CONVENTION MEMBER STATES
COURT MEMBER STATES
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Bolivia
Canada
Brazil
Brazil
Cuba
Chile
Chile
Guyana
Colombia
Colombia
St. Lucia
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Dominica
Dominican Republic
St. Kitts and Nevis
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Trinidad and Tobago
Ecuador
El Salvador
United States
El Salvador
Guatemala
Venezuela
Grenada
Haiti
Guatemala
Honduras
Haiti
Mexico
Honduras
Nicaragua
Jamaica
Panama
Mexico
Paraguay
Nicaragua
Peru
Panama
Suriname
Paraguay
Uruguay
Peru
Suriname
Uruguay
Hearings (http://www.cidh.oas.org)
On-Site Visits
The Commission prepares country reports on the
situation of human rights in member states
COUNTRYREPORTS
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Colombia 2014
Jamaica 2012
Honduras 2010
Venezuela 2009
Honduras 2009
Haiti 2008
Colombia 2004
Guatemala 2003
Venezuela 2003
Guatemala 2001
Paraguay 2001
Peru 2000
Canada 2000
Dominican Republic 1999
Colombia 1999
Mexico 1998
Brazil 1997
Bolivia 1996
Ecuador 1997
Haiti 1995
El Salvador 1994
Haiti 1994
Communities of Peoples in Resistance in
Guatemala 1994
Colombia 1993
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Guatemala 1993
Haiti 1993
Peru 1993
CAYARA
Haiti 1990
Panama 1989
Haiti 1988
Paraguay 1987
Chile 1985
Guatemala 1985
Suriname 1985
Guatemala 1983
Cuba 1983 (Seventh)
Nicaraguan population of Miskito origin 1983
Suriname 1983
Colombia 1981
Guatemala 1981
Bolivia 1981
Nicaragua 1981
Argentina 1980
INTER-AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS
INSTRUMENTS
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CHARTER OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
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AMERICAN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MAN
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AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
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ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE
AREA OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS "PROTOCOL OF SAN SALVADOR"
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PROTOCOL TO THE AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO ABOLISH THE
DEATH PENALTY
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INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION TO PREVENT AND PUNISH TORTURE
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INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF PERSONS
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INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON THE PREVENTION, PUNISHMENT AND ERADICATION
OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN "CONVENTION OF BELÉM DO PARÁ"
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INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS MANDATE THE
IACHR:
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Processes cases from individuals alleging violations of their human
rights (as defined by the American Declaration or the American
Convention) against Member States of the OAS;
Holds public or closed hearings (on cases, precautionary measures
or thematic issues);
prepares and publishes country, thematic and follow-up reports as
well as individual case reports;
Issues precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm;
conducts in-loco visits to Member States and prepares reports;
issues press communiqués on matters of concern;
organizes country and thematic Rapporteurships;
organizes and participates in conferences and seminars;
Litigates contentious cases before the Inter-American Court;
requests advisory opinions from the Inter-American Court.
Comparison between petitions accepted for processing and those not accepted for
processing
Requirements for the admissibility of a
petition
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Exhaustion of domestic remedies;
Six-months rule (that the petition be lodged 6
months from the date of notification of the final
judgment;
Duplication (that the petition is not pending in
another international proceeding for settlement);
Characterization (that the facts characterize a
violation of the American Declaration or the
American Convention).
The concept of “natural judge” in the American Convention
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Article 8. Right to a Fair Trial
1. Every person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees and within a reasonable time, by a
competent, independent, and impartial tribunal, previously established by law, in the substantiation of any
accusation of a criminal nature made against him or for the determination of his rights and obligations of a
civil, labor, fiscal, or any other nature.
2. Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to be presumed innocent so long as his guilt
has not been proven according to law. During the proceedings, every person is entitled, with full equality, to
the following minimum guarantees:
a. the right of the accused to be assisted without charge by a translator or interpreter, if he does not
understand or does not speak the language of the tribunal or court;
b. prior notification in detail to the accused of the charges against him;
c. adequate time and means for the preparation of his defense;
d. the right of the accused to defend himself personally or to be assisted by legal counsel of his own
choosing, and to communicate freely and privately with his counsel;
e. the inalienable right to be assisted by counsel provided by the state, paid or not as the domestic law
provides, if the accused does not defend himself personally or engage his own counsel within the time period
established by law;
f. the right of the defense to examine witnesses present in the court and to obtain the appearance, as
witnesses, of experts or other persons who may throw light on the facts;
g. the right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself or to plead guilty; and
h. the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court.
3. A confession of guilt by the accused shall be valid only if it is made without coercion of any kind.
4. An accused person acquitted by a non-appealable judgment shall not be subjected to a new trial for the
same cause.
5. Criminal proceedings shall be public, except insofar as may be necessary to protect the interests of justice.
Issues of military jurisdiction generally
involved two situations
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1) Questions relating to the treatment of civilians
by military courts;
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2) Military court proceedings, or the lack thereof,
against military officials charged with violations of
human rights.
The Peruvian “terrorism” and “treason against the fatherland” cases
The case of Lori Berenson v. Peru, Nov. 25, 2004
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Prohibition on military courts trying civilians labeled as
“terrorists”
Scope of military jurisdiction
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“Under the democratic rule of law, the military
criminal jurisdiction should have a very
restricted and exceptional scope and be designed
to protect special juridical interests associated
with the functions assigned by law to the
military forces. Hence, it should only try
military personnel for committing crimes or
misdemeanors that, due to their nature, harm
the juridical interests of the military system.”
Estado peruano no indemnizará a terrorista Chileno Castillo Petruzzi
(‘The Peruvian State will not indemnify the Chilean terrorist Castillo
Petruzzi’)
Guantanamo Detainees
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Precautionary measures- March 12, 2002
Cesti Hurtado v. Peru, (September 29, 1999)
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Retired military officials are civilians and cannot be tried in a
military court.
Palamara Iribarne v. Chile, (November 22, 2005)
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Ética y Servicios de Inteligencia' ('Ethics and Intelligence
Services'),
Reforma a la Justicia Militar
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Military court proceedings, or the lack thereof, against
military officials charged with violations of human rights.
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The problem of Impunity
“The total lack of investigation, prosecution, capture, trial and
conviction of those responsible for violations of the rights
protected by the American Convention.”
“Amnesty Law” cases
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Barrios Altos v. Peru Case, Judgment of March 14, 2001
Almonacid-Arellano et al. v. Chile, Judgment of
September 26, 2006
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Case of Gomez-Lund et al. (Guerrilha do Araguaia)
v. Brazil, Judgment of November 24, 2010
Case of Gelman v. Uruguay, Judgment of February 24,
2011
The Simon Case (2005 Argentina)
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Fallo de la Corte Suprema de la Nación
declarando inconstitucionales las leyes de
Obediencia Debida y el Punto Final
14 de Junio de 2005
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The Mexican forced disappearance and rape cases
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Radilla Pacheco v. Mexico (November 23, 2009)
Rape is to be investigated by civilian not military courts
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Ines Fernandez Ortega et al. v. Mexico, (August 30, 2010)
Valentina Rosendo Cantu et al. v. Mexico (August 31, 2010)
The abolition of military jurisdiction (2007)
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The case of Rodolfo Correa Belisle v Argentina
Friendly Settlement Report Nº 15/10
Exposición de motivos [Reasons for the change in the law]
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Exposición Código de Justicia Militar BUENOS AIRES,AL HONORABLE CONGRESO
DE LA NACIÓN:
Tengo el agrado de dirigirme a Vuestra Honorabilidad a fin de someter a su consideración el
proyecto de ley tendiente a la reforma integral del sistema de justicia militar vigente (Ley N°
14.029 y modificatorias), que hace necesaria su derogación a la luz de las exigencias propias del
proceso de transformación institucional democrática que se encuentran atravesando las
FUERZAS ARMADAS, del que no pueden mantenerse excluidas las reglas mediante las que se
juzgan y definen las conductas disciplinarias y delictivas de quienes las integran.
Si bien la transformación que aquí se propone es una asignatura pendiente hacia el sector militar
desde el momento mismo de la recuperación de la vida democrática, fueron antecedentes
inmediatos de este Proyecto que hoy proponemos, los compromisos asumidos por el Estado
Argentino en los casos Nº 11.758 — caratulado “Rodolfo Correa Belisle v. Argentina”— y Nº
12.167 — caratulado “Argüelles y otros vs. Argentina”— del registro de la COMISIÓN
INTERAMERICANA DE DERECHOS HUMANOS.
En ambos casos, el ESTADO NACIONAL se comprometió, como parte del proceso de solución
amistosa, a impulsar la reforma integral del sistema de administración de justicia penal en el
ámbito castrense, a fin de adecuarlo a los estándares internacionales de derechos humanos
aplicables a la materia.
Repeal of the Argentine
Code of Military Justice (2007)
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The new system of military justice in Argentina–
Law 26.394 (2008)
-modernization of the Armed Forces;
 -a new system of military justice which recognizes
fundamental rights of military personnel;
 -agile mechanisms for dealing with disciplinary cases.
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Emerging trend towards abolition or restriction of military
jurisdiction to a very narrow scope
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Counter indications – Peru and Colombia
Colombian Senate approves draft law in the second
of eight debates on military jurisdiction
By way of conclusion
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The civilianization of the Armed Forces
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Slide 1 by Christina Cerna