Defensor del Pueblo de la Nación v. Estado Nacional et al.

Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación [CSJN] [National Supreme Court of Justice], 18/9/2007, "Defensor del Pueblo de la Nación c/ Estado Nacional y otra (Provincia del Chaco) s/proceso de conocimiento," (D. 587. XLIII) (Arg.).
Download Judgment: English Spanish

Argentina’s Human Rights Ombudsman brought a claim against the National Government and the Province of Chaco to force Respondents to take the necessary measures to improve the deleterious living conditions of an indigenous community in Chaco that amounted to circumstances of extreme emergency. The Ombudsman claimed that the community lacked fundamental and basic necessities as a result of Respondents’ failure to ensure the rights guaranteed under the National Constitution, international instruments, and Constitution of the Province of Chaco. The majority of the population suffered from endemic diseases related to extreme poverty, such as malnutrition, chagas disease, tuberculosis, donovaniosis, broncopathy, parasitosis, and scabies. The community lacked food, access to potable water, housing, and the necessary medical assistance. The Ombudsman requested the Court to order, as precautionary measures, the fulfillment of the community members’ rights to life, health, social and medical assistance, food, potable water, education, housing, general welfare, work, social integration, among others, and that both Respondents work together to fulfill the rights in a continuous and permanent manner.

The Supreme Court granted the requested precautionary measures, ordering Respondents to provide potable water and food to the affected indigenous community in the region, as well provide adequate transportation and means of communication to public health posts. The Court observed that the serious nature of the situation called on the Court to inquire into the activities of the other governmental powers and adopt the measures necessary to uphold the Constitution. Accordingly, it recognized that it is the judicial power's responsibility to safeguard  and prevent the violation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution, particularly the right to life and the bodily integrity of the person.

The Supreme Court requested the Respondents to submit information within 30 days of the order on 1) communities living in the region and the number of inhabitants in each; 2) budget directed at indigenous community affairs and the resources allocated for this; 3) implementation of health care programs, food programs, and medical assistance; 4) implementation of programs providing access to potable water, fumigation, and disinfection; 5) implementation of education programs; 6) implementation of housing programs.  The Court also ordered a hearing for both sets of parties.

3°) Que la gravedad y urgencia de los hechos que se denuncian exigen de esta Corte el ejercicio del control encomendado a la justicia sobre las actividades de los otros poderes del Estado y, en ese marco, la adopción de las medidas conducentes que, sin menoscabar las atribuciones de estos últimos, tiendan a sostener la observancia de la Constitución Nacional, más allá de la decisión que pueda recaer en el momento que se expida sobre su competencia para entender en el caso por vía de la instancia prevista en el art. 117 de la Constitución Nacional […] Ello es así, pues le corresponde al Poder Judicial de la Nación buscar los caminos que permitan garantizar la eficacia de los derechos, y evitar que estos sean vulnerados, como objetivo fundamental y rector a la hora de administrar justicia y de tomar decisiones en los procesos que se someten a su conocimiento, sobre todo cuando está en juego el derecho a la vida y a la integridad física de las personas. No debe verse en ello una intromisión indebida del Poder Judicial cuando lo único que se hace es tender a tutelar derechos, o suplir omisiones en la medida en que dichos derechos puedan estar lesionados […].

3º) […T]oda vez que en el caso media suficiente verosimilitud en el derecho y en particular la posibilidad de perjuicio inminente o irreparable, de conformidad con lo establecido en el art. 232 del Código Procesal Civil y Comercial de la Nación, corresponde hacer lugar a la medida cautelar solicitada, con los alcances que se dispondrán a continuación […].

View full summary and print   |   Download summary as PDF