REPORT No. 46/16
REPORT ON ADMISSIBILITY AND MERITS
MARÍA EUGENIA VILLASEÑOR AND FAMILY
NOVEMBER 29, 2016
On September 22, 1994, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the
“Commission,” the “Inter-American Commission,” or the “IACHR”) received a petition lodged by the Human
Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala1 (hereinafter "the petitioners"), which claimed that the
Republic of Guatemala (hereinafter the “State,” the “Guatemalan State,” or Guatemala) bore international
responsibility for alleged threatening and intimidating acts against María Eugenia Villaseñor in the course of
that year because of her status as a judge, as well as for failing to investigate those acts and to identify and
punish those responsible. The petition was presented months after the Commission granted precautionary
measures in relation to the alleged situation. With respect to admissibility requirements, they invoked the
unwarranted delay exception established in Article 46.2.c of the American Convention on Human Rights
(hereinafter "the Convention" or "the American Convention").
For its part, the Guatemalan State argued that the petition was inadmissible because the
investigations into the alleged acts were ongoing. As to merits, it maintained that it had not been
demonstrated that state agents had a hand in the threats against Mrs. Villaseñor. It pointed it that since 1996
it had adopted security measures to protect Mrs. Villaseñor and her family. In particular, it had ordered
security personnel to protect their home.
After analyzing the information available, the Commission determined that the admissibility
requirements set forth in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention had been met, and concluded that
the State was responsible for violation of the rights to humane treatment (personal integrity), a fair trial (due
guarantees), and judicial protection recognized under Article 5.1, 8.1, and 25.1 of the American Convention
taken in conjunction with the obligations enshrined in Article 1 (1) of that instrument, to the detriment of the
persons named throughout this report. Bearing in mind Mrs. Villaseñor's status as a judge, in respect of all
the violations established, the Commission also considered the State's obligations derived from the principle
of the independence of the judiciary established in Article 8.1 of the American Convention.
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE IACHR
Processing of the case
The Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala presented the initial petition on
September 22, 1994. The next day, the IACHR forwarded that communication to the State with a request that
it provide information on the alleged acts and on whether domestic remedies had been exhausted. The State
submitted its response on September 27, 1994. Between that date and October 2001, the IACHR received
written communications from the petitioners and the State, which were duly forwarded to the parties.
On December 18, 2002, the Commission informed the State of Guatemala and the petitioners
that it had decided to invoke Article 37.3 of its Rules of Procedure then in force and defer its treatment of
admissibility until the debate and decision on the merits. Following that decision, the State presented
observations in writing on February 28, 2005. In a communication dated June 13, 2013, Mrs. Villaseñor
indicated that she would continue defending herself in this case. On May 7, 2014, Mrs. Villaseñor presented
Mrs. Villaseñor subsequently notified the IACHE that she would continue representing herself in the instant case.