REPORT Nº 17/06 1
SEBASTIAN CLAUS FURLAN AND FAMILY
March 2, 2006
1. The present report addresses the admissibility of petition 531/01. The petition was opened by
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “Inter-American Commission,
“Commission” or “IACHR”) pursuant to the filing of a series of communications, starting on July
18, 2001, by Danilo Pedro Furlan, father of the presumed victim, Sebastian Furlan, (hereinafter
“the petitioner”) against the Republic of Argentina (hereinafter “Argentina” or “State”). The
petitioner alleges that the State bears responsibility under the American Convention for having
failed to provide timely justice in legal proceedings seeking compensation for an accident suffered
by his son.
2. The petitioner indicates that Sebastian Furlan, then 14 years old, suffered severe injuries as a
result of an accident that took place in an abandoned military training area in the locality of
Ciudadela, in the Province of Buenos Aires. He recounts that Sebastian and other boys were
playing in the area, used by local residents as a public space, when a heavy beam fell on his head.
His father affirms that Sebastian sustained a fractured skull and irreversible cognitive,
psychological and physical damage.
3. The petition recounts that, in view of the severity and permanence of the injuries and the need
for care and treatment for Sebastian, his father instituted judicial proceedings in 1990 seeking
compensation. Those proceedings were resolved at first instance in 2000. The decision concluded
that the State bore responsibility for having created a situation of risk, but that Sebastian bore
30% of the responsibility for having entered the area. The court allocated an award of damages
based on the 70% of the responsibility that corresponded to the State. That decision was
confirmed on appeal later in 2000, and executed in 2003. The petitioner complains that the
judicial proceedings were subject to unjustified delay, and that the compensation finally awarded
was minimal and disproportionate to the responsibility the State bears for the severity and
permanence of the harm.
4. The State, for its part, maintains that the petitioner had full access to effective judicial
remedies, which functioned with due guarantees to deliver a judgment in accordance with
applicable law. It argues that, if the petitioner disagreed with the compensation awarded, he
should have exhausted the further remedy of an extraordinary federal appeal before the Supreme
Court of Justice. The State maintains that, because he did not exhaust this remedy, the petition is
inadmissible. Further, the State maintains that the petitioner’s disagreement as to the amount of
the compensation is a question of domestic law, and that resolution of the petition would require
the Commission to act as a “fourth instance” of appeal, outside of its sphere of competence.
5. Pursuant to the following analysis, the Commission concluded that, while a disagreement as to
an amount of compensation would not, in and of itself, present a cognizable claim under the
American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “American Convention” or “Convention”),
other aspects of the petition raise claims within the scope of the Convention, and are admissible
pursuant to the terms of Articles 46 and 47 of the Convention. Consequently, during the merits
phase, the Commission will analyze the compatibility of the duration of the judicial proceedings
with the rights to timely judicial protection and guarantees (Articles 25 and 8); the compatibility
1 Pursuant to Article 17.2.a of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, Commissioner Víctor E. Abramovich, an Argentine
National, did not participate in the discussion or decision in the present case.