REPORT Nº 26/08 1 PETITION 270-02 ADMISSIBILITY CÉSAR ALBERTO MENDOZA ET AL. ARGENTINA March 14, 2008 I. SUMMARY 1. This report addresses the admissibility of petition 270-02. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the “Inter-American Commission,” “Commission,” or “IACHR”) opened this petition after receiving a series of complaints lodged between April 9, 2002 and December 30, 2003, on behalf of six individuals: Guillermo Antonio Álvarez 2, César Alberto Mendoza, Claudio David Núñez, Lucas Matías Mendoza, Saúl Cristián Roldán Cajal, and Ricardo David Videla Fernández. Given the great similarity in the allegations of facts and law submitted, it was decided to join the cases into a single file assigned the number 270-02 (hereinafter “the petition”). Mr. Fernando Peñaloza has served as petitioner in the case of Ricardo David Videla Fernández, and Ms. Stella Maris Martínez, currently head of the Office of the National Public Defender of Argentina, has served as petitioner for the rest of the complaints lodged. 2. The petitioners allege that the Republic of Argentina (hereinafter “the State,” the Argentine State,” or “Argentina”) has incurred in liability under the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American Convention” or “the Convention”) by allegedly violating Articles 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair trial), and 19 (rights of the child), pursuant to Articles 1(1) (obligation to respect rights) and 2 (duty to adopt domestic legal measures) for having imposed life sentences on the alleged victims for crimes committed before they had reached 18 years of age;3 for not allowing a complete review of the convictions by higher courts; and for confining them to maximum security prisons which, according to the petitioners, has violated their right to humane treatment and limited their personal development. 3. The petition indicates that the alleged victims were between 16 and 17 years of age when they committed the crimes for which they were given life sentences. 4 It also indicates that in the domestic jurisdiction, the defense attorneys of the now young men filed the respective motions for cassation against the convictions, which were denied for procedural reasons. Therefore, the petitioners argue that the alleged victims did not benefit from a higher court’s review of the judgments that condemned them to life in prison. The petition also indicates that the defense attorneys of the youths also filed various appeals questioning the Constitutionality of the sentences imposed, since they were under age 18 at the time the crimes were committed. These remedies were 1 Commission member Víctor E. Abramovich, an Argentine national, participated in neither the deliberations nor the decision in this case, pursuant to Article 17(2) of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission. 2 The petition of Guillermo Antonio Álvarez was subsequently separated from the petition, as detailed in paragraph 11 infra. 3 The American Convention on Human Rights does not define who is a child. Therefore, according to the terms of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the inter-American system of human rights applies the concept established in international law by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states: “a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” 4 At the time that this report is being drafted, the alleged victims are between 27 and 29 years of age.