REPORT No. 136/09 PETITION 321-05 ADMISSIBILITY MARIA INES CHINCHILLA SANDOVAL GUATEMALA November 13, 2009 I. SUMMARY 1. On March 23, 2005, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the “Commission,” the “Inter-American Commission,” or the “IACHR) received a complaint lodged by the Guatemalan Institute for Comparative Studies in Criminal and Social Science (ICCPG), represented by Alejandro Rodríguez Barillas (hereinafter “the petitioners”), alleging the international responsibility of the State of Guatemala (hereinafter “the State,” “Guatemala” or the “Guatemalan State”), for the death of María Inés Chinchilla (hereinafter the “alleged victim”) on May 25, 2004, presumably, as a result of negligent conduct on the part of the staff of the correctional institution where she was serving her sentence. 2. The petitioners allege that María Inés Chinchilla, who was an inmate at the Female Orientation Center [Centro de Orientación Femenino (COF)], located in Fraijanes, Department of Guatemala, suffered from an illness that had become more serious due to the lack of appropriate medical care which, in addition to the effects of a fall from the wheelchair that she used to get around and for which she received no immediate medical attention, allegedly, caused her death. With regard to admissibility requirements, the petitioners allege that the facts described in the complaint constituted a crime against public order and, therefore, should have been officially investigated by the competent authorities, and that, consequently, the poorly executed investigation carried out by the Prosecutors Office and the subsequent closing of the case had exhausted the domestic remedies. Furthermore, the petitioners allege that filing a civil complaint would be unproductive given the excessive amount of time it would take to reach a resolution of the matter and, therefore, they consider that, under the provisions of Articles 46.2(b) and 46.2(c) of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the “Convention” or the “American Convention”), it is not necessary to exhaust remedies such as those because they lack the requirements of due process and are ineffective. 3. For its part, the State contends that the alleged victim received proper medical care both inside the Female Orientation Center and outside of the correctional institution when required, and argues that, in certain instances, the alleged victim herself refused to follow medical advice. With regard to the investigation of the death of the alleged victim, the State also argues that the Prosecutors Office followed the law and that it requested the Judge to dismiss the complaint and to close the case, due to the fact that the alleged victim had died of natural causes, and that it did not constitute a crime. The State points out that although the domestic legislation provides for joint plaintiffs or private prosecutors, no one took on that role, nor did anyone question the decision or made any effort to continue the investigation or to request that it be extended. With regard to possible compensation, the State points out that since no action was filed to claim compensation for loss or damages in connection with the death of Mrs. Chinchilla, the domestic remedies had not been exhausted; therefore, in accordance with Article 46.1of the Convention and Article 31 of the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the “Rules of Procedure of the Commission”), the petition should be declared inadmissible. 4. After analyzing the position of the parties and the requirements established in Articles 46 and 47 of the Convention, and without prejudging the merits of the complaint, the Commission concludes that the petition is admissible with regard to alleged violations of Articles 4, 5, 8, and 25 of the American Convention in connection with Articles 1.1 and 2 of the same instrument. The IACHR also decides to notify the parties of this decision, to publish this report and to include it in its Annual Report to the General Assembly. 1

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