REPORT No. 236/19
CASE 13.002
REPORT ON THE MERITS
CRISTINA BRITEZ ARCE AND FAMILY
ARGENTINA
December 6, 2019
I.

INTRODUCTION

1. On April 20, 2001, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Inter-American
Commission,” “the Commission,” or “the IACHR”) received a petition filed by Ezequiel Martín and Vanina
Verónica Avaro (hereinafter “the petitioners”) alleging international responsibility of Argentina (hereinafter
“the Argentine state,” “the state,” or “Argentina”) to the detriment of their mother, Cristina Britez Arce, for the
alleged irregularities in legal proceedings in the domestic court system as a result of her death.
2. The Commission approved admissibility report No. 46/15 of July 28, 2015. 1 On October 1, 2015, the
Commission forwarded said report to the parties and indicated its availability to reach a friendly settlement,
although the conditions to initiate said proceedings never materialized. The parties were given the statutory
time-limits to submit additional observations on the merits. All information received was duly forwarded to
the respective parties.
II. ALLEGATIONS OF THE PARTIES
A. Petitioners
3. The petitioners allege that, on June 1, 1992, medical malpractice by the medical staff of the Ramón Sardá
Mother’s and Children’s Public Hospital (Hospital Público Materno Infantil “Ramón Sardá,” hereinafter referred
to as “Hospital Público Sardá”) of the city of Buenos Aires had led to the death of Cristina Britez Arce, who was
pregnant at the time. Ms. Britez Arce appeared at the hospital where they informed her that the fetus had died,
and she died shortly after labor was induced so she could deliver the stillborn child. They contend that both
deaths took place as a result of preeclampsia-eclampsia that had not been duly diagnosed. As a result of these
incidents, a series of criminal proceedings were conducted, in which access to an independent and impartial
court was not provided, nor a duly substantiated ruling issued. Likewise, they stated that Cristina Britez’s death
took a toll, both physically and emotionally, on her two teenage children.
4. They indicate that a criminal complaint was filed against the medical staff who took care of Ms. Britez Arce
at the hospital and that, as part of the proceedings, forensic expertise was requested, which was provided by
the experts Poggi and Casavilla and included in the case file a year later. They allege that the expertise was false,
and therefore it was ruled null and void by the judge hearing the case, who filed a report ex officio on the
falsification of a public document.
5. Subsequently, a new expert report was ordered, which was submitted one day before the statute of
limitations for the criminal proceeding came into force. This report confirmed that Ms. Britez Arce was a highrisk patient and that she had been poorly taken care of. On the basis of this new expertise, the prosecutor
decided to charge the medical staff for manslaughter. They allege as well that, while the investigation was being
conducted, the medical record was altered.

IACHR. Report No. 46/15. Petition 315-01. Admissibility. Cristina Britez Arce. Argentina. July 28, 2015. The Commission ruled that the
petition was admissible with respect to Articles 4, 8, and 25 of the American Convention in connection with Article 1 of the same
instrument.
1

1

Select target paragraph3