REPORT Nº 90/01
CASE 12.256
OSCAR JOSÉ BLANCO ROMERO
VENEZUELA
October 10, 2001
I.

SUMMARY

1. On February 3, 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Inter-American Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a complaint submitted by the Comité de
Familiares de Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC) and the Center for
Justice and International Law (CEJIL) (“the petitioners”) alleging the international responsibility
of the Venezuelan State (“the State”) for the illegal detention, incommunicado detention, and
forced disappearance of Oscar José Blanco Romero. The petitioners argue that the facts
alleged constitute the violation of several provisions of the American Convention on Human
Rights (hereinafter “American Convention”), such as the general duty to respect the rights
(Article 1(1)); the right to life (Article 4); the right to humane treatment (Article 5); the right
to personal liberty (Article 7); the right to a fair trial (Article 8(1)), and the right to effective
judicial protection (Article 25); and Article 1 of the Inter-American Convention on Forced
Disappearance of Persons.
2. The State is of the view that domestic remedies have not been exhausted, considering that
the facts are being investigated by the Public Ministry and the Office of the Human Rights
Ombudsman, together with the Venezuelan courts; that habeas corpus is not the adequate
means to investigate the facts alleged; and that the duty to investigate is an obligation of
means, not of results. Accordingly, Venezuela argues, there is no violation of the duty to
investigate when the desired result is not produced.
3. Without pre-judging on the merits, the IACHR concludes in this report that the case is
admissible, as it meets the requirements set forth in Articles 46 and 47 of the American
Convention. Therefore, the Inter-American Commission decides to notify the parties of the
decision and to continue with the analysis of the merits in relation to the alleged violation of
Articles 1(1), 4, 5, 7, 8(1), and 25 of the American Convention, and Article 1 of the InterAmerican Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.
II.

PROCESSING BEFORE THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION

4. The petition was submitted on February 3, 2000, and transmitted to the Venezuelan State
on March 15, 2000, as petition number 12.256; the State was asked to provide information on
the petition. The IACHR sent a note reiterating the request for information to the Venezuelan
State on July 19, 2000, giving it 30 days to respond. The State presented its observations on
August 24, 2000; these were transmitted to the petitioners on September 8, 2000. The
petitioners presented their observations on October 25, 2000. The respective additional
observations to the State’s response were sent by the IACHR on December 5, 2000. The InterAmerican Commission held a hearing on the case with both parties on February 27, 2001,
during its 110th session. On March 23, 2001, the petitioners sent the IACHR additional
information, which was transmitted to the Venezuelan government on May 9, 2000. On August
20, 2000, the Venezuelan State forwarded the report of the Public Ministry of Venezuela on
case No. 12.307, José Francisco Rivas Fernández (who was disappeared in the state of
Vargas), which made reference to the status of the case involving Oscar José Blanco Romero.
III.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES ON ADMISSIBILITY

A.

The petitioners

5. On December 15, 1999, when the referendum was held approving the draft of the
Constitution, in both the state of Vargas and elsewhere in Venezuela, the magnitude of the
rains was an issue of concern. During those days, Venezuela experienced the consequences of
the worst natural disaster in its contemporary history.
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