Mónaco de Gallicchio v. Argentina

Mónaco de Gallicchio v. Arg., U.N. H.R. Comm., U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/53/D/400/1990 (Apr. 27, 1995).
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Grandmother of a child orphaned at the hands of the military government of Argentina who was then falsely adopted filed claims against the government citing ICCPR Articles 7 (freedom from torture, including psychological), 23 (family) and 24 (child protections) rights violations.

Ximena Vicario’s parents disappeared when she was 9 months old and she was cared for by a nurse, S.S. until 1984 when her Grandmother was able to trace her and S.S. was detained for offences relating to child concealment. In 1989, her grandmother was granted provisional guardianship rights while SS was granted visiting rights. Nine months later, her grandmother requested the court to withdraw SS’s visitation rights on the ground that they were having a psychologically detrimental effect on Vicario. Her action was dismissed on the grounds of lack of standing. The grandmother claimed that the decision violated Articles 23 – the right to family and 24 of the rights of the child (ICCPR). She also alleged amongst other things that her granddaughter suffered psychological torture which is in violation of Article 7 of the ICCPR.

The Committee held that the claim under Article 7 was inadmissible as it was unsubstantiated. However the committee also held that the apparently fraudulent behavior of S.S. in adopting Vicario, which was sanctioned by Argentina at the material time, probably breached the family rights of Vicario and her grandmother. But since the event occurred before the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR entered into force for Argentina and therefore claims in respect if those acts were not permissible ratione temporis. However, the acts continued after the Optional Protocol had entered into force for Argentina. The visits by SS were eventually terminated but the termination was inordinately delayed, bearing in mind that the child's initial circumstances of the loss of her parents was probably caused by Argentinean authorities, the state had not taken positive steps to comply with its duties under Article 24 (1) if the ICCPR as required by Vicario's status as a child. Argentina was therefore asked to provide Vicario and her grandmother with an appropriate remedy including compensation for the harm caused by its undue delay in resolving the child's predicament.

"10.4. En cuanto al derecho a la vida privada de Ximena Vicario y su abuela, es evidente que el secuestro de Ximena Vicario, la falsificación de su partida de nacimiento y su adopción por S. S. constituyen numerosos actos de injerencia arbitraria e ilegal en su vida privada y en su vida familiar, en violación de lo dispuesto en el artículo 17 del Pacto. Esos actos constituyen asimismo violaciones del párrafo 1 del artículo 23 y de los párrafos 1 y 2 del artículo 24 del Pacto. Sin embargo, esos actos se produjeron con anterioridad a la entrada en vigor para la Argentina, el 8 de noviembre de 1986 1/, del Pacto y del Protocolo Facultativo, por lo que el Comité no está en situación, ratione temporis, de dictar una decisión al respecto. Sin embargo, el Comité podría determinar que ha habido una violación del Pacto si se considerase que los efectos continuados de esas violaciones constituyen en cuanto tales violaciones del Pacto. El Comité observa que las graves violaciones del Pacto cometidas por el régimen militar de la Argentina en el caso que nos ocupa han sido objeto de numerosas actuaciones ante los tribunales del Estado Parte, los cuales han defendido, en definitiva, el derecho a la vida privada y a la vida familiar de Ximena Vicario y de su abuela."

"10.4 As to Ximena Vicario's and her grandmother's right to privacy, it is evident that the abduction of Ximena Vicario, the falsification of her birth certificate and her adoption by S.S. entailed numerous acts of arbitrary and unlawful interference with their privacy and family life, in violation of article 17 of the Covenant. The same acts also constituted violations of article 23, paragraph 1, and article 24, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Covenant. These acts, however, occurred prior to the entry into force of the Covenant and of the Optional Protocol for Argentina on 8 November 1986, See the Committee's decision on admissibility concerning communication No. 275/1988, S.E. v. Argentina, declared inadmissible ratione temporis on 26 March 1990, para. 5.3. and the Committee is not in a position ratione temporis to emit a decision in their respect. The Committee could, however, make a finding of a violation of the Covenant if the continuing effects of those violations were found themselves to constitute violations of the Covenant. The Committee notes that the grave violations of the Covenant committed by the military regime of Argentina in this case have been the subject of numerous proceedings before the courts of the State party, which have ultimately vindicated the right to privacy and family life of both Ximena Vicario and her grandmother."

"10.5. Si bien el Comité reconoce la seriedad con que los tribunales argentinos trataron de reparar los daños infligidos a Ximena Vicario y su abuela, observa que la duración de las distintas actuaciones judiciales se prolongó por más de 10 años, y que algunas de esas actuaciones aún no se encuentran terminadas. El Comité observa que, entretanto, Ximena Vicario, que tenía 7 años de edad cuando fue hallada, alcanzó la mayoría de edad (18 años) en 1994, y que no fue sino hasta 1993 que se reconoció oficialmente su identidad legal como Ximena Vicario. En las circunstancias concretas de este caso, el Comité estima que la protección de los niños que se estipula en el artículo 24 del Pacto exigía que el Estado Parte tomara medidas positivas para poner pronto y eficaz remedio a la difícil situación de Ximena Vicario. En este contexto, el Comité recuerda su Comentario General sobre el artículo 24 2/, en el que recalcaba que todo niño tiene derecho a las medidas especiales de protección que requiere su condición de menor; tales medidas especiales complementan las medidas que los Estados están obligados a tomar en virtud del artículo 2 para garantizar a toda persona el goce de los derechos reconocidos en el Pacto. Teniendo presentes los sufrimientos que ya ha padecido Ximena Vicario, quien perdió a sus padres en circunstancias trágicas imputables al Estado Parte, el Comité concluye que las medidas especiales requeridas en virtud del párrafo 1 del artículo 24 del Pacto no fueron aplicadas con prontitud por la Argentina, y que el no reconocimiento del derecho de la Sra. Mónaco a representar a su nieta en las actuaciones judiciales relativas a la tutela y los derechos de visita, así como la demora en establecer legalmente el verdadero nombre de la Srta. Vicario y en emitir documentos de identidad también constituyó una violación del párrafo 2 del artículo 24 del Pacto, que tiene por objeto fomentar el reconocimiento de la personalidad legal del niño."

"10.5 While the Committee appreciates the seriousness with which the Argentine courts endeavoured to redress the wrongs done to Ms. Vicario and her grandmother, it observes that the duration of the various judicial proceedings extended for over 10 years, and that some of the proceedings have not yet been completed. The Committee notes that in the meantime Ms. Vicario, who was 7 years of age when found, reached the age of maturity (18 years) in 1994, and that it was not until 1993 that her legal identity as Ximena Vicario was officially recognized. In the specific circumstances of this case, the Committee finds that the protection of children stipulated in article 24 of the Covenant required the State party to take affirmative action to grant Ms. Vicario prompt and effective relief from her predicament. In this context, the Committee recalls its General Comment on article 24, General Comment No. 17, adopted at the thirty–fifth session of the Committee, in 1989. in which it stressed that every child has a right to special measures of protection because of his/her status as a minor; those special measures are additional to the measures that States are required to take under article 2 to ensure that everyone enjoys the rights provided for in the Covenant. Bearing in mind the suffering already endured by Ms. Vicario, who lost both of her parents under tragic circumstances imputable to the State party, the Committee finds that the special measures required under article 24, paragraph 1, of the Covenant were not expeditiously applied by Argentina, and that the failure to recognize the standing of Mrs. Mónaco in the guardianship and visitation proceedings and the delay in legally establishing Ms. Vicario's real name and issuing identity papers also entailed a violation of article 24, paragraph 2, of the Covenant, which is designed to promote recognition of the child's legal personality."

 

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