REPORT No. 146/18
JOSÉ DELFÍN ACOSTA MARTINEZ AND FAMILY
DECEMBER 7, 2018
On June 6, 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter "the InterAmerican Commission," "the Commission," or "the IACHR") received a petition lodged by the Comisión de
familiares de víctimas indefensas de la violencia social (COFAVI)1, the Centro de Investigaciones Sociales y
asesorías Legales Populares (CISALP), and Paola Gabriela Canova (hereinafter "the petitioners"), alleging that
the Republic of Argentina (hereinafter "the Argentine State," "the State," or "Argentina") is internationally
responsible for the harm done to José Delfín Acosta Martínez (hereinafter the "alleged victim").
The Commission approved admissibility report No. 36/13 on July 11, 2013. 2 On August 1,
2013, the Commission notified the parties of that report and placed itself at their disposal with a view to
reaching a friendly settlement. 3 The parties were allowed time, in accordance with regulations, to submit
additional observations on the merits. All the information received was duly relayed between the parties.
The petitioners alleged that on April 5, 1996 the alleged victim, José Delfín Acosta Martínez,
had been unjustifiably detained for being a foreigner and of African descent. They added that he had been
beaten by the police and had died from those injuries shortly afterwards. They alleged that no real investigation
of the facts was conducted because the investigating judge archived the case without even ruling on the legality
of the detention and without taking into consideration all the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs. They further
stated that higher courts simply repeated the resolution of the court of first instance.
The State presented no arguments at the merits stage. Nevertheless, during the admissibility
stage, it alleged that Mr. José Delfín Acosta had been detained because of a complaint that an armed and drugged
person was in the vicinity. It stated that during the investigation into the facts various witnesses had asserted
that José Delfín Acosta had been drunk and disturbing the peace, thereby justifying the fact that he had been
detained. The State claimed that it had transpired from the investigation that Mr. Acosta had died from a
combination of alcohol and cocaine and that the blows had come from him hitting himself. Finally, the State
maintained that the petitioners enjoyed ample guarantees under the internal legal system and wanted to use
the Commission as a "fourth instance."
Based on its determinations of fact and law, the Inter-American Commission concluded that
the State is responsible for violating the rights to life, humane treatment, and personal liberty, established in
Articles 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 24 of the American Convention, in conjunction with the obligations
established in Article 1.1 and 2 of the same instrument, to the detriment of José Delfín Acosta Martínez. The
Inter-American Commission likewise concluded that the Argentine State is responsible for violation of the
In a communication received on May 9, 2006, Mr. Ángel Acosta Martínez, a brother of the alleged victim, reported that COFAVI would no
longer sponsor the petition.
2 IACHR. Report No. 36/13. Case 12.906. Admissibility, José Delfín Acosta Martínez and family July 11, 2013. The Articles of the American
Convention declared admissible were: Articles 4 (right to life), 5 ( humane treatment/personal integrity), 7 (personal liberty), 8 (judicial
guarantees), 24 (equal protection before the law), and 25 (judicial protection).
3 In a communication dated August 22, 2013, the petitioners reported that they were willing to initiate a friendly settlement procedure.
The State was notified of that decision on January 14, 2014. In a communication dated April 3, 2014, the petitioners submitted a
comprehensive reparation proposal, which was remitted to the State on January 22, 2015. In a note date December 1, 2017, the State
proposed initiating a dialogue "without that implying acknowledgment of the deeds denounced." On April 19, 2018, the Commission
relayed the State's proposal to the petitioners and asked them to indicate, within one month, whether they were interested in starting the
aforementioned procedure. As of the date of this Report, the Commission had not received a reply from the petitioners.