REPORT No. 72/15
CASE 12.896
MERITS
HERMANOS RAMÍREZ AND FAMILY
GUATEMALA
OCTOBER 28, 2015

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On August 1, 2006, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission,” “the IACHR,” or “the Inter-American Commission”) received a petition from Covenant House
Association, the Social Movement for the Rights of Children and Young People, and the Center for Justice and
International Law (CEJIL) (hereinafter “the petitioners”), alleging the international responsibility of the
Republic of Guatemala (hereinafter “the State,” “the Guatemalan State,” or “Guatemala”) for acts and
omissions that cause the minor children Osmín Ricardo Tobar Ramírez and J.R.1 to be removed from their
home and put up for international adoption.
2.
According to the petitioners, on January 9, 1997, seven-year-old Osmín Ricardo Tobar
Ramírez and two-year-old J.R. were removed from their home by agents from the Office of the Attorney
General of Guatemala based on the allegation of child abandonment. They maintained that the boys were
placed in a private institution, and turned over to two different U.S. families for adoption in June 1998, by
means of a notarial procedure. They stated that all of the steps—both administrative and judicial—taken by
the children’s mother and the father of one of them to try to get them back were unsuccessful.
3.
For its part, the State alleged that the judicial declaration of abandonment and the
subsequent adoption were carried out properly and in compliance with all of the respective procedures
under Guatemalan law. The State also maintained that the courts adjudicated the appeals filed by the mother
of both boys and the father of one of them. It asserted that ultimately the decision was made to shelve the
case because it was impossible to proceed with a letter rogatory to the United States for the children to
appear in Guatemala. The State maintained in general terms that it had taken various actions to fully enforce
the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and
the rights of children and adolescents enshrined in international law.
4.
Upon examining the positions of the parties, the Inter-American Commission concluded that
the State of Guatemala is responsible for the violation of the rights to humane treatment, personal liberty, the
right to a name, a fair trial, privacy, the rights of the family, equal protection, and judicial protection,
established in Articles 5, 7, 8, 11, 17, 18, 19, and 25 of the American Convention, in conjunction with the
obligations established in Articles 1.1 and 2 thereof, to the detriment of the individuals specified in each
section of this report.
II.

PROCEEDINGS BEFPRE THE COMMISSION

5.
The Commission received the initial petition on August 1, 2006. The proceedings conducted
from the filing of the petition to the decision on admissibility are detailed in Admissibility Report No. 8/13.2
In that report, the IACHR found that the facts alleged amounted to potential violations of the rights
established in Articles 5, 7, 8, 11, 17, 18, 19, 24, and 25 of the American Convention, in conjunction with
Articles 1.1 and 2 thereof.
6.
The parties were given notice of the admissibility report on May 16, 2013. In that
communication, the Commission made itself available to the parties for a friendly settlement procedure. On
1

Throughout this report, the Commission will refer to the “Ramírez brothers,” as that is the surname they both share.

IACHR, Report No. 8/13, Petition 793-06, Admissibility, Ramírez Brothers and Family, Guatemala, March 19, 2013. Available
at: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/docs/annual/2013/docs-en/GTAD793-06EN.pdf
2

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