REPORT No. 47/09
PETITION 969-03
ADMISSIBILITY
BONIFACIO RÍOS AVALOS
PARAGUAY
March 19, 2009
I.

SUMMARY

1.
The present report concerns the admissibility of petition 969-03. The InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the “Inter-American Commission,” the
“Commission” or the “IACHR”) began processing a petition that Bonifacio Ríos Ávalos
(hereinafter “the petitioner”), then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of
Paraguay, filed against the Republic of Paraguay (hereinafter “Paraguay,” the “Paraguayan
State” or “the State”) on November 13, 2003, in connection with the impeachment
proceedings conducted against him to remove him from the Supreme Court bench.
2.
The petitioner contends that the impeachment trial that ousted him from
the Supreme Court was a violation of the independence of the judicial branch of government
since the justices were impeached for decisions they took in exercise of their judicial
powers. He asserts that the impeachment trial did not afford him with the independence and
impartiality of the judging bodies, that he was not given sufficient opportunity to prepare or
present his defense, that the impeachment decision had no legal reasoning and that he did
not have access to a simple and prompt recourse for protection of his rights, all of which, he
alleges, were violations of the rights to a fair trial and to judicial protection. He further
contends that even before the impeachment trial got underway, a political agreement had
already been made to remove him, and that other justices who had voted as he had in the
court rulings cited as grounds for his impeachment were not impeached, which he argues is
a violation of his right to equal protection. The petitioner makes the point that these events
were part of a campaign of harassment waged against him and that his dignity and honor and
that of his family were violated “for the sake of ‘pulverizing’ the Supreme Court of Paraguay.”
3.
The State argues that the procedure followed, the authorities that set the
petitioner’s impeachment proceedings in motion, and the grounds invoked for his removal
from the Supreme Court bench were those that the Constitution prescribes for
impeachment. It contends that the people were clamoring to have the corruption in the
Supreme Court cleaned up. It also claims that the petition does not state facts that tend to
establish a violation of the rights guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights
(hereinafter the “American Convention” or the “Convention”). The State argues that the
petitioner’s right to a fair trial and his right to have his honor respected and dignity recognized
have been protected at all times, as have his right to have access, under general conditions
of equality, to the public service of his country, his right to equal protection of the law and
his right to judicial protection.
4.
Without prejudging the merits of the complaint, in this report the
Commission concludes that it is competent to examine the petition concerning the process
whereby Bonifacio Ríos Ávalos was removed as a Justice on the Supreme Court, examining it
for the alleged violations of his right to a fair trial and to judicial protection, guaranteed under
articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention, in relation to articles 1(1) and 2 thereof. It
further decides that the present petition does not state facts that tend to establish violations
of Articles 11, 23(1)(c) and 24 of the Convention. The Commission decides further to notify

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