REPORT Nº 95/06
PETITION 92-04
ADMISSIBILITY
JESÚS TRANQUILINO VÉLEZ LOOR
PANAMA
October 23, 2006
I.

SUMMARY

1. On February 10, 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter
referred to as “IACHR”) received, by e-mail, a petition lodged by Jesús Tranquilino Vélez Loor
(hereinafter referred to as “the alleged victim”) in which he claims to have undergone torture,
forced isolation, and mistreatment at the hands of Panamanian police officers at two
Panamanian detention centers without being given the opportunity to defend himself, without
the benefit of any court of law, without being allowed to make a telephone call, and while
being deprived of all medical care. The petition alleges violation by the Panamanian State
(hereinafter known as “the State”) of Articles 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), 7 (Right to
Personal Liberty), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 10 (Right to Compensation), 21 (Right to Property),
and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights in
conjunction with Article 1.1, and Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the Declaration on the
Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to the detriment of Mr. Vélez Loor.
2. Mr. Vélez Loor, who is an Ecuadorian citizen, states that the Panamanian border police
arrested him on November 10, 2002 because he was not in possession of valid papers and did
not have the necessary visa. He was deported ten months later, on September 10, 2003. He
says that he was stripped of his possessions and that these were never returned to him. He
also claims that he was kept in two different detention centers, and that he was mistreated in
both in a variety of ways. He alleges that while he was held in detention he was sometimes
tortured and that he did not receive the medical care necessary to treat the consequences of
the torture he had suffered. He adds that no legal investigation into the torture has been
initiated and that he has had no access to suitable and effective legal remedies that would
guarantee his right to justice.
3. The State informs that Mr. Vélez Loor was sentenced to a prison term for having repeatedly
entered Panama illegally. Consequently, the State emphasizes that his arrest was legal and
that the party alleging violation of his rights benefited from all the available guarantees to
safeguard his rights. The State points out that Panamanian law provides that foreign nationals,
who repeatedly enter Panama, without the necessary papers, will be imprisoned for two years
and then deported. In response to the official complaint lodged by Mr. Vélez Loor at the
Panamanian Embassy in Ecuador after he was deported, in which he claimed that he had been
mistreated in Panamanian prisons, the State emphasizes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
opened an investigation of the complaint both with the National Police and the National
Directorate of Immigration. At the same time, it rejects Mr. Vélez Loor’s allegations with
regard to his purported lack of medical care and provides details regarding the six occasions on
which Mr. Vélez Loor was attended to by the prison doctor.
4. After analyzing the positions of the parties, the Commission concluded that it has
jurisdiction to decide on the complaint made by the petitioners and that the case was
admissible, under Article 46 of the American Convention. The Commission has decided to
declare the case admissible under Articles 1.1, 2, 5, 8, 21, and 25 of the American Convention
as well as under Articles 1, 6, and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish
Torture. The Commission also declares inadmissible the alleged violation of Article 10 of the
American Convention. As a consequence, the Commission will serve notice of its decision to
the parties concerned and will publish the present admissibility report in its Annual Report.
II.

PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION

5. The original petition was received at the Commission on February 10, 2004 and was
registered as petition No. 92 of 2004. On August 3, 2004 the Commission received additional
information from Mr. Vélez Loor. On March 17, 2005 Mr. José Villagrán (hereinafter “the
petitioner”) was retained as Mr. Vélez Loor’s lawyer and presented arguments on April 12 and
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