CONCURRING OPINION OF
JUDGE L. PATRICIO PAZMIÑO FREIRE
CASE OF URRUTIA LAUBREAUX V. CHILE
JUDGMENT OF AUGUST 27, 2020

1.

In its judgment in the Case of Urrutia Laubreaux v. Chile, the Court has developed and
reinforced the standards for judicial independence and, in particular, the guarantees against
internal and external pressure that are required to ensure this.

2.

Regarding internal independence, the Court, citing the Statute of the Iberoamerican Judge,
indicated that the State must ensure that “judges are not subject to superior judicial
authorities, notwithstanding the power of the said authorities to review jurisdictional decisions
using legally established remedies, or the weight that each national legal system accords to
the jurisprudence and precedents emanating from the Supreme Courts and Tribunals.” 1 In
this specific case, this guarantee is particularly relevant because the rule used to sanction Mr.
Urrutia Laubreaux prohibited judicial officials from “[p]ublishing, without the authorization of
the President of the Supreme Court, documents defending their official conduct, or attacking,
in any way, that of other judges or justices.”

3.

In the words of the Court, this prohibition “signifies opting for a hierarchized model of the
Judiciary in the form of a corporation in which judges lack internal independence, with a
propensity towards unconditional subordination to the authority of their own collegiate organs
and although, formally, the intention may be to limit this to the disciplinary sphere, in practice,
owing to inherent fear of this power, it results in subjugation to so-called “superior”
jurisprudence and paralyzes the interpretive dynamic in the application of the law.”2

4.

Judges should only be subject to the law and to decide the matter submitted to them on this
basis. The Court has indicated that judges “should not feel compelled to avoid dissenting with
the organ that reviews their decisions, which, ultimately, only exercises a distinct judicial
function limited to dealing with issues raised on appeal by the parties who disagree with the
original ruling.”3 Similarly, the European Court of Human Rights has indicated that judges
should be “free from directives or pressures from the fellow judges or those who have
administrative responsibilities in the court such as the president of the court or the president
of a division in the court.”4

5.

The existence of laws that promote a culture of hierarchies and of respect for the higher
authorities of the Judiciary creates an environment conducive to judges being obliged to act
in a certain way and, consequently, undermines the internal independence of judges.

1

Case of Urrutia Laubreax v. Chile. Preliminary objections, merits, reparations and costs. Judgment of August
27, 2020. Series C No. 409, para. 107, citing Iberoamerican Summit of Presidents of Supreme Courts. Statute of the
Iberoamerican Judge. Adopted at the Sixth Summit held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, on May
23, 24 and 25 2001, article 4.
Case of Urrutia Laubreax v. Chile. Preliminary objections, merits, reparations and costs. Judgment of August
27, 2020. Series C No. 409, para. 138.
2

Case of Apitz Barbera et al. (“First Court of Administrative Disputes”) v. Venezuela. Preliminary objection,
merits, reparations and costs. Judgment of August 5, 2008. Series C No. 182. para. 84.
3

4

86.

ECHR. Case of Parlov-Tkalčić v. Croatia. No. 24810/06 [First Section]. Judgment of December 22, 2009, para.

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