REPORT No. 55/16
PETITION 4949-02
ADMISSIBILITY REPORT
GUILLERMO ANTONIO ÁLVAREZ
ARGENTINA
DECEMBER 6, 2016

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On April 15, 2002 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter, “the InterAmerican Commission,” “the Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a petition filed by Guillermo Antonio
Álvarez (hereinafter, “the alleged victim” or “Mr. Álvarez”) against Argentina (hereinafter, “Argentina” or “the
State”). Later, the Public Defender’s Office before the National Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina appeared
as the petitioner (hereinafter, “the petitioner”).
2.
The petitioner argues that the State violated the rights to legal representation and due process,
in detriment of the alleged victim, as it did not give him adequate time to appoint a defense counsel of his own
choosing but appointed a public defender on the same date that the hearing in the criminal proceedings against
him began. As a result, she says, it was impossible to adequately prepare both the accused’s preliminary
examination statement and the cross-examination of witnesses and expert witnesses during the hearing. She
affirms that the competent authorities did not assess the merits of the judicial remedies lodged and that the
accused was handcuffed throughout the hearing, which violated the right to dignity and was a prejudgment of
his case.
3.
In turn, the State argues that it decided not to extend the deadline for the accused to name a
defense counsel of his own choosing but instead appointed a public defender on the date of the hearing –whose
complexity did not allow for a postponement– in order to protect the accused’s right to adequate legal
representation. The State says that the accused was handcuffed on reasonable grounds, as he had previously
tried to run away. Finally, the State affirms that the merits of all judicial remedies were duly examined by the
competent authorities.
4.
Without prejudging the merits of the complaint, after examining the position of the parties
and pursuant to the requirements established in Articles 31 to 34 of the IACHR’s Rules of Procedure
(hereinafter, “the Rules”) and in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter,
“the American Convention" or “the Convention"), the Commission decides to declare the petition admissible in
order to assess the allegations regarding the alleged violation of the rights set forth in Articles 8 (Right to a Fair
Trial), 11 (Right to have his honor respected and his dignity recognized) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection)
of the American Convention. The Commission moreover decides to notify the parties of its decision, to publish
this report and include it in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.
II.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE IACHR

5.
The IACHR received the petition filed by the alleged victim on April 15, 2002, which was
supplemented by the petitioner on April 26 of the same year. At first, this petition was attached to petition
number 270-02, as it included allegations concerning the life-imprisonment of teenagers. On June 30, 2004 the
State requested that the case of Guillermo Antonio Álvarez was separated from petition 270-02, since he was
not a teenager at the time when he committed the offenses for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
On March 14, 2008 the Commission passed the Admissibility Report 26/08 in which Mr. Álvarez’s petition was
separated from petition no. 270-02, registered under petition number 4949-02.
6.
On May 26, 2009 the Commission transmitted to the State the pertinent parts of the complaint,
and granted it a two-month period to submit its observations, in accordance with Article 30.3 of its Rules then
in force. On January 6, 2012, the Commission received the reply from the State, which was transmitted to the
1

Select target paragraph3