I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
On November 13, 2003, and June 7, 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the Inter-American Commission,” “the Commission,” or “the IACHR”) received two petitions, filed
respectively by Carlos Fernández Gadea and Bonifacio Ríos Ávalos (“the petitioners”) alleging that the Republic
of Paraguay (“the Paraguayan State,” “the State,” or “Paraguay”) bears international responsibility for a series
of alleged violations committed against them in the context of the impeachment proceedings that led to their
removal as justices of the Supreme Court of Paraguay in 2003.
2.
The Commission approved Admissibility Reports No. 18/091 and 47/092 on March 19, 2009,
and notified the parties on April 20, 2009, when it also notified them of the decision to join the two petitions
because they raised similar issues. The Commission also made itself available to the parties to reach a friendly
settlement, though the circumstances were not such to resolve the case through that type of proceeding. The
parties were allocated the time limits provided in the Rules of Procedure to submit their additional
observations on the merits of the case.
II.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

A.

Petitioners

3.
By way of context, the petitioners indicated that in April 2003 the president-elect of Paraguay,
Nicanor Duarte Frutos, suggested that it was necessary to replace the justices of the Supreme Court to overhaul
the justice system, and when he took office, he said he would “pulverize the judiciary.” The petitioners claimed
that the president had met with the political parties and had reached an agreement to replace six of the nine
justices on the Supreme Court, and that it was agreed that the way to replace them would be to ask for their
resignations, under threat of impeachment if they did not resign. The petitioners said that on October 27, 2003,
two of the Supreme Court justices turned in their resignations.
4.
Thereafter, according to the petitioners, senators and political leaders began to look for
grounds on which to impeach the alleged victims. To that end, the petitioners said, an office was set up in the
Chamber of Deputies where the public could file complaints. They indicated that on November 18, 2003, the
party leaders in the Chamber of Deputies filed articles of impeachment against the two alleged victims, along
with Justices Luis Lezcano Claude and Felipe Santiago Paredes, citing 20 disciplinary counts. The petitioners
stated that these last two justices resigned rather than be impeached.
5.
The petitioners stated that on November 25, 2003, as there was no impeachment law setting
out the rules of procedure for carrying out the impeachment process contemplated in Article 225 of the
Paraguayan Constitution, the Senate passed Resolution No. 122, establishing a set of rules for the impeachment
trial. The rules did not allow for recusals and guaranteed only two business days to gather evidence to refute
the charges and three hours to present their defense.
6.
According to the petitioners, the impeachment of the alleged victims by the Paraguayan
Congress began on November 26, 2003. They indicated that on December 3, 2003, the alleged victims’ defense
attorneys offered evidence, and the representatives serving as prosecutors dropped 14 of the 20 original
charges. In the case of Carlos Fernández Gadea, the impeachment continued on counts 1, 2, and 4, related to a
supposed statement declaring that Supreme Court appointments are for life and violation of recusal
obligations; alleged deviation from the constitutional procedure for confirming judges, and interference with
the functions of another judicial body; and alleged interference in the Chamber of Deputies’ exercise of its
IACHR. Report No. 18/09, Petition 525-04, Carlos Fernández Gadea, March 19, 2009. In that report, the IACHR declared the petition
admissible with regard to the alleged violation of Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention, in connection with Articles 1(1) and 2
thereof, and inadmissible with regard to the alleged violation of Articles 11, 23(1)(c), and 24 of the American Convention.
2 IACHR. Report No. 47/09, Petition 963-03, Bonifacio Ríos Ávalos, March 19, 2009. In that report, the IACHR declared the petition
admissible with regard to the alleged violation of Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention, in connection with Articles 1(1) and 2
thereof, and inadmissible with regard to the alleged violation of Articles 11, 23(1)(c), and 24 of the American Convention.
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