REPORT No. 172/10
CASE 12.561
CÉSAR ALBERTO MENDOZA ET AL.
(JUVENILES SENTENCED TO LIFE TIME IMPRISONMENT)
MERITS
ARGENTINA
nd
November 2 , 2010

I.

SUMMARY

1.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Inter-American
Commission,” “the Commission,” or “the IACHR”) began processing the petition in this case after receiving
a series of complaints filed between April 9, 2002 and December 30, 2003, on behalf of: Guillermo Antonio
Álvarez, César Alberto Mendoza, Claudio David Núñez, Lucas Matías Mendoza, Saúl Cristián Roldán
Cajal and Ricardo David Videla Fernández (hereinafter “the alleged victims”). Because the complaints
received were all premised on the same allegation, i.e., that an adolescent had been sentenced to life in
1
prison, the complaints were joined into a single petition classified as P-270-02. Mr. Fernando Peñaloza
served as petitioner in the case of Ricardo David Videla Fernández; the petitioner for the other
complainants was the Chief National Public Defender, Stella Maris Martínez.
2.
The petitioners alleged that the Argentine Republic (hereinafter “the State,” “the
Argentine State” or “Argentina”) incurred international responsibility for violation of the rights recognized in
articles 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair trial), and 19 (rights of
the child), in relation to articles 1(1) (obligation to respect rights) and 2 (duty to adopt domestic legal
measures) of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American Convention,” “the
Convention” or “the ACHR”). The petitioners alleged that: i) the alleged victims were sentenced to life in
prison for events that occurred when they were between 16 and 17 years old, in other words, when they
2
were still children; ii) the cassation motions filed to challenge the life sentences were not the proper
remedies to guarantee the right to appeal a court ruling; iii) the alleged victims did not have adequate
defense counsel; iv) two of the alleged victims were subjected to torture by guards at the penal institution
where they were being held; v) one of the alleged victims, Ricardo David Videla Fernández, died in the
Mendoza Penitentiary under circumstances in which his death could have been prevented; and vi) the
death of Ricardo David Videla Fernández has never been duely investigated. They further alleged
violation of the right to education, recognized in Article 13 of the Additional Protocol to the American
Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights “Protocol of San
Salvador.”
3.
For its part, on several occasions the State expressed its willingness to arrive at a friendly
3
settlement. The petitioners, however, closed off any possibility of a friendly settlement. Furthermore, the
State refrained from submitting any arguments to defend the merits of the life sentence given to César
Alberto Mendoza, Claudio David Núñez, Lucas Matías Mendoza, Saúl Cristián Roldán Cajal and Ricardo
David Videla Fernández. Nor did the State answer the allegations regarding the rights to appeal the court
ruling and the right to an effective defense. The State did, however, present information related to the
injuries sustained by Claudio David Núñez and Lucas Matías Mendoza, and the death of Ricardo David
Videla Fernández.

1
The petition concerning Guillermo Antonio Álvarez was subsequently separated when it was found that he was not under
18 at the time of the events for which he was criminally convicted.
2
Hereinafter, the Commission will use the terms “children” and “adolescents” interchangeably when referring to the
situation of the alleged victims when they were under 18 years of age.
3
The Admissibility Report on this case includes a detailed account of the efforts to arrive at a friendly settlement. See,
IACHR. Report No. 26/08, Petition 270-02. Admissibility. César Alberto Mendoza et al. Argentina. March 14, 2008, paragraphs 730.

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