Military justice systems

Palamara Iribarne / Chile

Libro de Humberto Palamara. Ética y servicios de inteligencia. Humberto Palamara Iribarne, an ex-Chilean naval intelligence official, wrote a book in 1992 about the ethics and purposes of intelligence services. All of the information that was used to write the book was available to the public. Due to the publication, Mr. Palamara was subjected to various military justice processes for disobeying and failing to follow orders.

The Chilean Navy prohibited the book from being sold and a military patrol entered the printing house and took 1,000 sample editions, because they made “national security and defense vulnerable.” They also entered Mr. Palamara’s home with an order to arrest him and take his computer documents.

In the trial before the Court, it was shown that during the summery, neither he nor his attorney had access to the court records to prepare his defense, until the Naval Prosecutor gave his statement. They couldn’t present witnesses’ statements or Mr. Palamara’s statement that was taken behind closed doors. He received a sentence of one and a half years in prison from the Martial Court. The efforts by the defense to appeal and annul the decision before the Chilean Supreme Court of Justice were rejected.

Mr. Palamara lost his employment and the money for the book’s printing, he was arrested in front of his children and imprisoned for writing. He was forced to move to the city Punta Arenas and he was separated from his family.

In January 1996, CEJIL and Human Rights Watch-Americas brought the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and, in 2004, the case was taken before the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

In November 2005, the Court established that Chile was guilty of having violated Mr. Palamara’s right to the freedom of expression, private property, judicial guarantees, judicial protection, and to personal freedom. It ordered the government to return the materials he used to write the book and the edition that was taken.

On top of that, Chile was ordered to compensate Mr. Palamara, to drop the charges against him, and to adopt more appropriate internal laws to be in line with international standards when it comes to freedom of expression and military punishment.

According to the Court, “in case the existence of a military penal court is considered necessary, it needs to be limited solely to working on known crimes that were committed by active military service members. Therefore, the government needs to establish, within its legislation, limits to personal and material responsibility in the military tribunals, in a form so that no civil circumstance will see itself subjected to the jurisdiction of military tribunals.”

In 2006, the Navy’s publishing house printed the book, “Ethics and Services of Intelligence.” The charges against Mr. Palamara were left without effect and he received an economic reimbursement.

However, the government has not completed the obligations of bringing their laws in line with international standards.

Inés Fernández / México

Organizaciones indígenas reunidas para apoyar el caso de Inés Fernández.

In 2002, the indigenous woman Inés Fernández was raped by Mexican soldiers. The case was referred to the jurisdiction of the military courts, where no diligent investigation was conducted. Finally, the case was recommended for closure by the district attorney.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found the Mexican Government responsible for the violation of the human rights of Fernández, and brought the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in June 2009.

On March 22, 2002, Ines Fernandez Ortega, an indigenous Tlapeneca woman from Guerrero, Mexico, was in her house with her children. Three soldiers from the Mexican army entered looking for her husband, who they accused of a suspected robbery.

The frightened children fled the home. The soldiers were frustrated by Ines’s silence, who was unable to respond to their questions as she did not speak Spanish. They threatened her with their guns, beat her and threw her to the floor where one of the soldiers raped her as the others watched. After the attack, they escaped into the mountains.

Ines Fernández presented the case before the Public Ministry; however the district attorney declared himself incompetent and submitted the case to the jurisdiction of the military courts.

In June 2004, Inés Fernández, The Organization of the Indigenous Tlapanecos AC and the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, presented the case before the Inter-American Commission. This petition was later joined by CEJIL.

The organizations denounced the rape and torture committed by members of the army, the application of military jurisdiction for the investigation and judgment of common crimes, and the lack of due diligence in the investigation. Furthermore, they condemned the impunity in which those responsible remained, and denounced the impediments to justice faced by female victims of violence, and in particular those faced by indigenous women.

In June 2009, the case was submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In October 2010, the Court issued a judgment declaring Mexico´s responsibility for the violation of the rights protected by the American Convention of Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women "Convención Belém do Pará", to the detriment of Inés Fernández, her family and her community. The Court ordered Mexico to revise its Military Code to exclude the application of military jurisdiction to the judgment of common crimes, and fixed integral reparations for all of those affected. This decision, alongside those of other international bodies, reflects a significant contribution to the work of human rights organizations, who support the revision of Mexican military jurisdiction to ensure that it meets with the international obligations assumed by the State.

 

Further Information:

Images from the Public Hearing before the Inter-American Court. Source: Flicker - CorteIDH

Civil Society Organizations Condemn Incomplete and Counterproductive Official Proposal to Reform Military Jurisdiction in Mexico

Amnesty law must not prevent investigation of gross human rights violations in El Salvador

Historic ruling by Inter-American Court thirty one years after massacre in El Mozote

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador (Tutela Legal), legal representatives of the victims in the case “The Massacres at El Mozote and Neighboring Locations” welcome this week´s ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The judgment condemns El Salvador for the crimes committed and establishes that the country´s Amnesty law cannot be invoked in cases concerning human rights violations perpetrated during the armed conflict. The ruling was issued on Monday December 10, coinciding with International Human Rights Day and the 31st anniversary of the massacre.

 

 

Thu, 12/13/2012

 

Washington D.C, December 13, 2012 The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador (Tutela Legal), legal representatives of the victims in the case “The Massacres at El Mozote and Neighboring Locations” welcome this week´s ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The judgment condemns El Salvador for the crimes committed and establishes that the country´s Amnesty law cannot be invoked in cases concerning human rights violations perpetrated during the armed conflict. The ruling was issued on Monday December 10, coinciding with International Human Rights Day and the 31st anniversary of the massacre.

 

As asserted by Viviana Krsticevic, CEJIL´s Executive Director: “This historic sentence represents a real milestone. It is the first time that the highest Tribunal in the Americas has ruled that El Salvador´s Amnesty law is incompatible with the American Convention on Human Rights. As such, we hope that in the coming months El Salvador will move forward with criminal processes to bring justice to the victims of one of the most tragic episodes in our region’s history. Hope must be returned to Salvadoran society.”

“El Mozote” is the largest massacre to have been committed in Latin America. The massacre killed in the range of 1000 people from at least six villages and led to hundreds of forced displacements. The families of victims and those who survived have fought for justice for many years. The judgment of the Inter-American Court is an opportunity for their voices to finally be heard.

“For decades, the suffering of the survivors was met with indifference and impunity. The Court’s sentence should be viewed with caution, but provides hope for justice and truth in El Mozote,” commented Tutela Legal in El Salvador.

In January 2012, the Salvadoran State accepted its responsibility for the events of the massacre, committing itself to adopt all necessary measures to ensure reparations for the damage caused. CEJIL calls on El Salvador to fulfill this commitment with all due haste, adopting all measures necessary to reopen the relevant investigations and ensure that the Amnesty Law ceases to prevent the investigation and prosecution in this case, and others of a similar nature.

Gisela de León, Senior Lawyer for CEJIL, stressed that “the judgment of the Inter-American Court is not open to appeal, and the Salvadoran State is obliged to comply with the terms of the judgment, within the timeframes established by the Court.”

 

 

Background information

The massacre at El Mozote and neighboring locations was perpetrated by members of Battalion Atlacatl and other units of the Salvadoran Armed forces between December 9 and 13, 1981, in the context of a military operation entitled “Operation Rescue”. The Salvadoran Army tortured many of the victims and murdered hundreds of the inhabitants of the various communities in the municipality of Meanguera, located in the department of Morazán. Amongst these communities were Arambala, El Mozote, La Joya, Ranchería, Toriles, Cerro Pando and Jocote Amarillo. The events also led to the displacement of hundreds of people.

Tutela Legal carried out efforts to promote the investigation of the crimes domestically. However, the case was archived in September 1993 after the passing of the General Amnesty law for the Consolidation of peace. This law exempted from responsibility those who perpetrated crimes during the armed conflict, including those relating to gross human rights violations. To date, these crimes remain in total impunity.

 

 

Contact in Washington D.C

CEJIL

Milli Legrain

mlegrain@cejil.org

1-202 319 3000 ext 15

 

 

IACHR visit to Colombia

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will carry out an in loco visit to Colombia from December 3 - 7 2012, following an invitation by the Colombian government.

This will be the first IACHR in loco visit to Colombia since 2004.


IACHR press release here.

 

Fri, 11/30/2012

 

 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will carry out an in loco visit to Colombia between the December 3 and 7, 2012, following an invitation by the Colombian government.

 

This will be the first IACHR in loco visit to Colombia since 2004.


IACHR press release here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Human Rights Day

Mon, 12/10/2012 (All day)
Globally
Globally

Hearings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Mon, 02/20/2012 (All day) - Fri, 03/02/2012 (All day)
Inter-American Commission of Human Rights
San Jose

CEJIL Activities Report - 20 years

Since its foundation in 1991 the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) has contributed significantly to the enjoyment of rights in the region. The present report outlines some of CEJIL’s milestones, achievements, and challenges over these two decades. It attempts to illustrate some notable actions in order to document the efforts of the work of that period.


Type of publication:Activities report
Full version available in:
Year: 2011
Your opinion is very important and let us keep up to date ours tools. If you had the chance to use this publication please complete the evaluation form. Thanks in advance.

CEJIL is awarded the Thomas J.Dodd Prize in international justice and human rights

The ceremony was presided over by the Honorable Christopher J. Dodd

Washington D.C, October 3, 2011.- Today, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) was awarded the  fifth annual Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights. The Ceremony took place at 4pm at the University of Connecticut and was presided over by UConn President Susan Herbst as well as the Honorable Christopher J. Dodd.

Mon, 10/03/2011

 

Washington D.C, October 3, 2011.- Today, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) was awarded the  fifth annual Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights. The Ceremony took place at 4pm at the University of Connecticut and was presided over by UConn President Susan Herbst as well as the Honorable Christopher J. Dodd.

 

The Dodd Prize commemorates the distinguished career in public service of Thomas J. Dodd, who served as Executive Trial Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, U.S. Representative from 1953 to 1957, and Connecticut Senator from 1959 to 1971.  Thomas Dodd dedicated his entire public life to fighting against infringement and suppression of human rights in the United States and abroad.

 

Upon receiving the prize, Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL said: “The work of CEJIL stands on the legacy of the Nuremberg trials and the work of Thomas J. Dodd. Focusing our efforts on the Americas, a region notorious for its setbacks in human rights and the rule of law, we stand firmly in our beliefs in the dignity of all, the importance of honoring all human beings, and the need to strengthen and apply the rule of law to ensure the rights of all individuals”.

Krsticevic concluded: “On behalf of everyone at CEJIL, thank you very much for this wonderful honor. This award will encourage us to continue the fight for justice and equality. It will give us the hope necessary to create many more success stories in the Americas and reminds us of the importance of preserving the legacy and principles of Nuremberg.”

 

The award will be invested in CEJIL’s strategic litigation in the Western Hemisphere, advocacy before the Inter-American System of Human Rights and training of human rights defenders throughout the region.

 

For more information:

Milli  Legrain

Communications coordinator

mlegrain@cejil.org

202 319 3000

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