REPORT Nº 77/01
CASE 11.571
HUMBERTO ANTONIO PALAMARA IRIBARNE
CHILE
October 10, 2001
I.

SUMMARY

1. On January 16, 1996, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Inter-American Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a complaint submitted by Humberto
Palamara Iribarne, represented by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and
Human Rights Watch/Americas (together, “the petitioners”), which alleged the international
responsibility of the Republic of Chile (“the State”) for having prohibited the publication of the
book “Ética y Servicios de Inteligencia” (“Ethics and Intelligence Services”) by Mr. Palamara
Iribarne, and for having convicted him of contempt of a public authority (desacato) in a trial
without due process guarantees.
2. The petitioners argue that the facts alleged constitute violations of the following provisions
of the American Convention on Human Rights (the “American Convention”): the right to a fair
trial (Article 8), the right to freedom of expression (Article 13), and the right to property
(Article 21). They also argue that the case meets all the admissibility requirements set forth in
the American Convention. The State argues that the human rights of Mr. Palamara Iribarne
have not been violated, as he was judged in keeping with Chilean legislation, which is
compatible with the due process standards of the American Convention; and that domestic
remedies in Chile were not exhausted.
3. Without prejudging on the merits, the IACHR concludes in this report that the case is
admissible, as it meets the requirements set forth in Articles 46 and 47 of the American
Convention. By virtue of the foregoing, the Inter-American Commission decides to notify the
parties of this decision and to continue with the analysis of the merits regarding the alleged
violations of Articles 8, 13, and 21 of the American Convention.
II.

PROCESSING BEFORE THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION

4. Mr. Palamara’s petition was registered under number 11.571 and forwarded to the Chilean
State on January 26, 1996. The State presented its observations on July 3, 1996. The
petitioners responded to these observations on September 13, 1996, and later submitted
further observations and additional information on April 15, 1997 and March 24, 1998. The
State presented observations on February 13, 1997, July 30, 1997, and August 4, 1998. The
IACHR held hearings on the matter on October 7, 1997, and October 6, 1998, during its 97th
and 100th sessions, respectively. The petitioners and Mr. Palamara Iribarne filed briefs on May
11, 1999 and December 22, 2000, urging that there be a decision in the case. On March 1,
2001, during the Inter-American Commission’s 110th regular session, a working meeting was
held with the parties at Commission headquarters.
III.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES ON ADMISSIBILITY

A.

The petitioners

5. The complaint indicates that Mr. Palamara Iribarne wrote and tried to publish a book called
“Ética y Servicios de Inteligencia” (“Ethics and Intelligence Services”) in which he addressed
issues related to military intelligence and the need to bring it into line with certain ethical
standards. Mr. Palamara Iribarne, a retired Chilean Navy officer, was at the time of the events
a civil servant hired as a contractor by the Chilean Navy in the city of Punta Arenas. The
petitioners allege that the text cited could be considered a press article, and that it did not

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