REPORT Nº 38/07 1 CASE 12.263 ADMISSIBILITY MARCIA BARBOSA DE SOUZA BRAZIL July 26, 2007 I. SUMMARY 1. On March 28, 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a petition submitted by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Movimento Nacional dos Direitos Humanos (MNDH)/Regional Office for Northeast Brazil (hereinafter “the petitioners”), and updated information on October 3, 2006, in which it is alleged that the Federative Republic of Brazil (hereinafter “Brazil” or “the State”) violated Articles 2, 4, 24, 25, and 1(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American Convention”), and Articles 3, 4, 5, and 7 of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, the “Convention of Belém do Pará” (hereinafter “the Convention of Belém do Pará”) to the detriment of Marcia Barbosa de Souza. 2. Through this petition, it is alleged that the State is responsible for violating the rights of Ms. Marcia Barbosa de Souza, whose corpse was found in a vacant lot on the outskirts of the city of Joao Pessoa, capital of the state of Paraíba, on June 18, 1998. An investigation was opened in this regard by the local police, which was concluded on August 27, 1998. Responsibility for the crime was attributed to a state legislator, said to be the alleged victim’s lover. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General in principle would have been impeded from bringing a criminal action against that person, given his legislative immunity, as the state legislature had not granted authorization for so proceeding. On December 20, 2001, with the adoption of Constitutional Amendment No. 35/2001, it was determined that criminal actions against legislators would be admitted independent of whether there was authorization by the Legislative Assembly. Nonetheless, the competent authorities in Paraíba did not take any new initiative in the criminal action until March 2003. More than four years since the last information was sent in, the case has still not gone to trial, as it has been processed with extreme sluggishness. Any decision may be subject to several types of review, and more than eight years have elapsed since the underlying facts, which would extend impunity in relation to the case. 3. On September 26, 2000, the State answered the petition; it forwarded additional information on the matter on October 31, 2000, stating that the Attorney General for the state of Paraíba and the Public Ministry lodged a complaint against the state legislator accused. On two occasions it was asked that he be stripped of immunity so that a criminal action could be brought against him; the requests were denied. 4. After examining the parties’ positions in light of the admissibility requirements established in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention, the Commission decided to find the case admissible in relation to Articles 4, 8(1), 24, and 25 of the American Convention, in conjunction with the general obligation contained in Article 1(1) of the same instrument, and Article 7 of the Convention of Belém do Pará. In addition, it decided to declare the petition 1 In keeping with Article 17(2)(a) of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, Commissioner Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, of Brazilian nationality, did not participate in the decision on this petition.