Ramos, Marta Roxana, et al. v. Province of Buenos Aires, et al.

Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación [CSJN] [National Supreme Court of Justice], 12/3/2002, "Ramos, Marta Roxana y otros c/ Buenos Aires, Provincia de y Otros s/Amparo," (R. 1012. XXXVI) (Arg.).
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Woman living in extreme poverty brought an action against the Ministry of Social Development and Environment of the Nation, the Province of Buenos Aires, and Hospital of Pediatrics Profesor Juan P. Garrahan on behalf of her eight children and herself, seeking, among others, the protection of their rights to food, health, education, and housing; the necessary medical care for her daughter suffering from second degree mental retardation and congenital cardiopathy and removal of any impediments that had thus far inhibited the provision of health care to her daughter; the declaration of unconstitutionality of any norm that would impede the resolution of the measure requested and the unconstitutionality of acts and omissions committed by Respondents for failure to ensure the rights invoked; and the declaration of constitutionality of the right to receive the necessary food rations to ensure the enjoyment of the right to food of children and all those with no economic resources.  Petitioner claimed that, due to lack of economic resources, her daughter had suffered from malnutrition, which had rendered her unable to undergo surgery in the past.  Petitioner brought her action under arts. 18 (Right to fair trial), 31 (Constitution’s hierarchy), 33 (non-enumerated rights), 43 (writ of amparo), 75 (constitutional incorporation of human rights instruments) and 116 (Judiciary power jurisdiction) of the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the Constitution of the Province of Buenos Aires, Law Nº 27; Law Nº48, Law Nº 16986 and the Civil Code.  The federal judge declared itself incompetent and submitted the case to the Supreme Court.

The Court denied the appeal for legal protection, finding no arbitrary or illegal act or omission on the part of State that endangered or violated the rights of the Petitioner and her children enshrined.  The Court held that that it could not resolve Petitioners' situation because the Court was not competent to evaluate or issue judgments on general situations outside its constitutional mandate or discretionarily assign budgetary allocations, since the Court is not constitutionally charged with ensuring general welfare under art. 75(18) and (32).  Additionally, the Court found that the Petitioner did not sufficiently show a direct violation of the right to health since the Petitioner did not seem to have taken advantage of the surgery offered to her daughter and the inability of transfer did not appear to be an impediment that could not be overcome. The Court found that given the unfortunate conditions of the Petitioner, she should have sought assistance from social programs offered by the national and provincial governments.  The Court also found that Petitioner did not meet her burden of proof in showing a specific benefit that could help resolve her situation, through which the Court could provide a remedy. The court, suggested that the Petiotioner, under the Federal Law 23,746, has the right to ask for a benefit to the Federal Government, since she has seven children.
On the other hand, the dissenting opinion (ruled by the Judges Fayt and Boggiano) held that the Court can not deny the appeal, since Mrs. Ramos and her family were victims of a serious violation to their basics human rights. Thus the Court should provide a minimum standard of rights. The Judges added that the Argentine Court ruled over the particular case and this did not mean a competence conflict with the others spheres of the Government.

"1º) […] Funda su derecho en la Constitución Nacional (arts. 18, 31, 33, 43, 75 y 116), la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, la declaración Americana de los Derechos y Deberes del Hombre, la Convención Americana de Derechos Humanos, el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño, la Convención de Viena sobre el Derecho de los Tratados y la Constitución de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, como así también en diversas normas de las leyes 27, 48, 16.986 y del Código Civil."

"3°) Que el amparo es un proceso excepcional, utilizable en delicadas y extremas situaciones en las que, por carencia de otras vías aptas peligra la salvaguarda de derechos fundamentales, y exige para su apertura circunstancias muy particulares caracterizadas por la presencia de arbitrariedad o ilegalidad manifiestas que ante la ineficacia de los procedimientos ordinarios, originan un daño concreto y grave, sólo eventualmente reparable por esta vía urgente y expeditiva […]."

"4°) […] En efecto, de los propios términos de la demanda así como de la documentación acompañada no surge que los accionados hayan negado en forma directa el acceso a la educación o a las prestaciones médicas requeridas. […]Tampoco se desprende del escrito incial que se hubiese frustrado el derecho a la salud que asiste, en concreto, a la menor Mariana Salomé Ramos por denegación de las prácticas médicas específicas que su patología requiere. Antes bien, su progenitora reconoció que aquélla es atendida por su cardiopatía congenital en el Hospital Garrahan -atención cuya gratuidad no controvierte-, y que se le había asignado un turno quirúrgico que desaprovechó por motivos no debidamente aclarados en la presentación, en tanto que la alegada imposibilidad de traslado no aparece prima facie como un impedimento insuperable, atento a la notoria existencia de móviles en el citado centro asistencial."

"6°) Que, precisamente, es en el ámbito de la administración de los planes asistenciales del Estado Nacional y provincial, donde la demandante debe acudir -en subsidio- para tratar de subvenir su afligente situación, canalizando sus apremiantes reclamos por las vías del sistema de la seguridad social. En este sentido, por lo demás, la demandante no ha demostrado -como era a su cargo- la inexistencia de algún beneficio específico que alcance a su situación de desamparo, omisión que no puede ser subsanada por la actividad oficiosa de esta Corte, a la cual no corresponde la asunción de su defensa tutelar, función ésta que se encuentra asignada a otros órganos específicos del Estado Nacional."

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