REPORT No. 2/15
CASE 12.270
MERITS REPORT
JOHAN ALEXIS ORTIZ HERNÁNDEZ
VENEZUELA
JANUARY 29, 2015

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On March 15, 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Inter-American Commission,” “the Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a petition lodged by Edgar
Humberto Ortiz Ruiz and Zaida Hernández de Arellano (hereinafter “the petitioners”)1alleging that the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter “the State” or “the Venezuelan State”) is responsible for the
death of their son Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández (hereinafter “the alleged victim” or “Mr. Ortiz”), which took
place at the facilities of the Rural Commandos of Caño Negro on February 15, 1998. According to the
petitioners, at the time of his death, Mr. Ortiz was in the final phase of the National Guard Training Academy
(hereinafter “ESGURNAC”) of Cordero and, while he was taking part in a combat training exercise, he was hit
by gunshots, which ultimately causedhis death. His parents also contended that several officers of the
Venezuelan National Guard (hereinafter “the National Guard” or “the NG”) are liable and that neither the
circumstances surrounding his death nor those responsible for it have been clarified before a court of law.
2.
On February 25, 2005, the IACHR approved Admissibility Report No. 22/05, deciding therein
to proceed to the examination of the merits of the matter as to the allegations pertaining to Articles 4, 8 and
25 of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” or “the American
Convention”), in connection with the obligations set forth in Article 1.1 of this same instrument.
3.
During the merits stage, the petitioners alleged that the State is responsible for violation of
the right to life and humane treatment of Johan Alexis Ortiz. They claimed that the body of their son
presented signs of torture and that the evidence makes it possible to establish that the death of the alleged
victim was not accidental. They argued that in the initial investigation conducted by the military authorities,
a number of irregularities were committed, which contributed to impunity forthe crimes; the case had been
ordered back to the investigation stage several timesby the court;and that there were errors of omission and
delays in the regular investigation. Accordingly, they also argued violations of the right to a fair trial and
judicial protection to the detriment of the next-of-kin of the alleged victim, as well as to humane treatment of
the next-of-kin of Mr. Ortiz as a result of the suffering inflicted on them by his death and, in particular, the
threats and harassment of which they became the targets as retaliation for their quest for justice.
4.
The Venezuelan State submitted information on domestic proceedings to investigate the
facts,as provided for under the Constitution and criminal procedural law. According to the State, its judicial
and investigatory authorities have acted in keeping with due process requirements and have taken every
pertinent measure to clarify the incidents, which are the subject of the petition.
5.
After examining the positions of the parties, the established facts and the applicable human
rightsframework, the Commission concluded in the instant report that the Venezuelan State is responsible for
the violation of the rights enshrined in Article 4 and 5 of the American Convention, in connection with Article
1.1 thereof, to the detriment of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández. The IACHR further concludes that the State is
responsible for the violation of Article 5, 8 and 25 of the Convention, in conjunction with the obligations set
forth in Articles 1.1 and 2 of this same instrument to the detriment of the family members. Based on these
conclusions, the Commission made the respective recommendations.

1 In the merits stage, the Inter-American Association of Public Defenders (AIDEF) became the legal representative in the case,
seeinfra II (16) “Proceedings before the IACHR subsequent to the Admissibility Report.”

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