Washington D.C., April 26, 2010
On April 25th, CEJIL took before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights legal action against Uruguay for the forced disappearance of Maria Claudia Garcia de Gelman occurred in 1976. This is the first case for human rights violations against Uruguay to reach the Inter-American Court.
The presentation of the lawsuit occurs after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) transferred the case to the Inter-American Court in January. The state of Uruguay having not implemented yet, and after a year, the recommendations emitted in the final report prepared by the IACHR.
"The case against Uruguay before the Inter-American Court, the first in history, will challenge the laws prohibiting the truth and allow the investigation and punishment of the perpetrators of human rights," said Liliana Tojo, the CEJIL Program Director for Bolivia and the Southern Cone.
Maria Claudia Garcia Iruretagoyena and Marcelo Gelman were kidnapped by armed men on August 24, 1976 at their home of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maria Claudia, 19 years old and seven months pregnant, was taken by Uruguayan military men to Montevideo where she gave birth to her daughter on November 1st.
The mother stayed with the baby until December 1976 and since then, her fate is unknown. The baby girl appeared in a basket on the doorstep of a Uruguayan police officer on January 14, 1977 and was then baptized Maria Macarena.
Marcelo Gelman was tortured in a clandestine detention center in Buenos Aires where he remained until October 1976. His body was found in 1989 along with seven other bodies buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery of Buenos Aires.
Marcelo's father, the Argentine writer Juan Gelman, never stopped looking for her granddaughter and found her 23 years later, after tireless efforts in Uruguay and the world.
The validity in Uruguay of the Ley de la Caducidad de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado (amnesty law) has been an obstacle to investigate the disappearance, to know the truth about what happened and to do justice and combat impunity. This law unconstitutionally confers the possibility to the Executive Power to decide which cases are covered by this standard. Therefore, the law restricts the opening and the investigation of causes for which the aim is to acknowledge the facts and to punish those responsible for having participated in illegal operations under the past dictatorship (1973-1985).
CEJIL, which represents the victim, wishes the dispute of this case makes the amnesty law to stop to come into effect. This fact would be in accordance with the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court that had ruled that the States can not invoke domestic law to exempt from the obligation to investigate and punish those responsible for serious human rights violations. CEJIL also hopes that the Court orders the State to adopt measures to fully compensate the victims and to protect the right to know the truth of the whole society.
"It is an opportunity to do justice to the Gelman family and to the thousands of relatives of victims of enforced disappearance that came up against legal walls erected to perpetuate impunity," said Ariela Peralta, Deputy Director of CEJIL.
Contact in Washington D.C,
Deputy Director of CEJIL
Tel (202) 538-22-40, (202) 319-30-00
(202) 319 30-00, (202) 445-46-76
Contact in Buenos Aires
Program Director for Bolivia and the Southern Cone
The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) is an advocacy of human rights in the Americas. CEJIL's main objective is to ensure full implementation of international human rights standards in the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), through the effective use of the Inter-american human rights system and other international protection mechanisms. CEJIL is a nongovernmental nonprofit with consultative status at the OAS, the Organization of the United Nations (UN) and observer status with the African Commission on Human Rights.