De la Cruz-Flores v. Peru

De la Cruz-Flores v. Peru. Merits, Reparations, and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 115 (Nov. 18, 2004).
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Physician María Teresa De La Cruz Flores was detained on March 27, 1996, and charged with terrorism for providing medical services to members of Sendero Luminoso, a guerrilla group in Peru. She was prosecuted before a secret (“faceless”) judge and sentenced on November 21, 1996, to 20 years in prison under a provision that seven years later was declared null.  However, De La Cruz Flores was imprisoned for eight years, three months and twelve days (from March 27, 1996, to July 9, 2004). During her detention, De La Cruz Flores suffered a number of health conditions for which she received inadequate medical care. De La Cruz Flores was also held incommunicado during the first month and in continuous solitary confinement for the first year. Visitation privileges were extremely restricted.

The De La Cruz Flores filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which found in favor of the petitioner and recommended that the State take the necessary measures to “make comprehensive reparation” for the violations committed by the State. However, the State failed to adopt any such measures. The Inter-American Commission decided to submit the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, claiming violations of Articles 7 (Right to Personal Freedom), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 9 (Freedom from Ex Post Facto Laws) and 24 (Right to Equal Protection) of the American Convention, in relation to Article 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights).

The Court found that the victim had been subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of her right to humane treatment under Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Court held that prolonged isolation and compulsory incommunicado constitute forms of cruel and inhuman treatment, "harmful to the psychological and moral integrity" of the person and "the right of all those detained to respect for their inherent dignity as human beings." Pursuant to Art. 5, the Court recognized the State's duty to provide medical examinations and care  to inmates on a regular basis and provide the adequate treatment when required. The court observed that the State was expected to "allow and facilitate" the treatment of prisoners by physicians selected by the prisoners themselves or "by those who exercise their legal representation or guardianship".

The Court found the State to be in violation of  Article 9 (Freedom from Ex Post Facto Laws), as the victim had been convicted of crimes under a law that had not yet been enacted at the time of the alleged commission. The Court also concluded that there were violations of Articles 7 (Right to Personal Freedom), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), finding that the victim's detention to be arbitrary and the judicial proceedings in violation of the principle of legality.

The Court also held that the victim's representatives had failed to prove that there was a violation of Article 24 (Right to Equal Protection), as the Court did not believe it was competent to determine whether the circumstances of other similarly situated individuals that were acquitted or convicted were the same as the victims'.

violations of and 24 (Right to Equal Protection) of the American Convention, in relation to Article 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights).

"128: "'[T]he prolonged isolation and compulsory incommunicado to which the victim is subjected represent, in themselves, forms of cruel and inhuman treatment, harmful to the psychological and moral integrity of the individual and of the right of all those detained to respect for their inherent dignity as human beings.'"

"130: "The mere confirmation that the alleged victim was deprived of all communication with the external world for a month allows the Court to conclude that María Teresa De La Cruz Flores was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. During her incommunicado, she was confined in unhealthy conditions and could not change her clothes for a month […]. Moreover, under article 20 of Decree Law No. 25,475, during the year she was in isolation, she could only go out into the exercise yard for 30 minutes a day, had very limited possibilities of reading, and had an extremely restricted visiting regime. All these facts denote that the treatment to which Mrs. De La Cruz Flores was subjected was cruel, inhuman and degrading."

"131: "De La Cruz Flores suffered from various physical ailments during her detention, for which she received inadequate medical care […]; this does not satisfy the minimum material requirements of dignified treatment appropriate to her status as a human being, as established in Article 5 of the American Convention [on Human Rights]."

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