judicial protection (Article 25), all in relation to the generic duties of the State to respect and
ensure the rights enshrined in the American Convention (Article 1(1)) and to adopt the
measures needed to give effect to the rights and freedoms provided for in the Convention
(Article 2). The IACHR decided to notify the parties of this decision, publish it, and include it in
its Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
II.

PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION

6. The petition was received at the IACHR on July 4, 2000 and was sent to the State, with a
request for information, on January 26, 2000; the State was given 90 days to respond. The
State requested a 30-day extension on April 17, 2001 which was granted on May 1, 2001. The
State responded on May 30, 2001 and sent additional information on June 21 and 27, 2001.
On July 20, 2001 the petitioners submitted their observations, and on August 8, 2001 they
sent additional information, and requested a hearing before the IACHR, which was turned
down on August 29, 2001. On September 26, 2001, the State sent its observations. On
November 9, 2001 the petitioners sent in their observations, and on December 13, 2001 the
State submitted its response. On January 31, 2002 the petitioners sent the IACHR their
observations. On March 10, 2002 the State indicated that additional comments related to the
instant case were pending. On July 3, 2002 the petitioners submitted additional information.
On July 9, a communication was received from the petitioners, and on August 9, 2002 the
State submitted its observations.
III. THE PARTIES’ POSITIONS
A.

The petitioners

a.
With respect to the interference, taping, and publication of a phone
conversation between Mr. Tristán Donoso and his client, and the subsequent criminal
investigation into the Attorney General
7. The petitioners allege arbitrary violation of the right to privacy and the lack of protection for
the exercise of the legal profession (Article 11(2)), due to the unlawful interference in the
phone conversations on July 8, 1996 between attorney Tristán Donoso and his client, Mr. Adel
Sayed, who was being investigated in a money-laundering case. The content of this
conversation was later released publicly by the Attorney General at least twice in July 1996.
The release of the cassette has been acknowledged by the Attorney General, but he stated
that it did not mean having “made public the contents of the tape.” 1
8. The petitioners also allege that the State has violated Articles 8 and 25 of the Convention in
its handling of the complaint lodged by Mr. Tristán Donoso against the Attorney General for
various criminal offenses. In response to the request by the Procuraduría de la Administración,
the Supreme Court dismissed the case, to the benefit of the Attorney General. On October 22,
1999 Mr. Tristán Donoso appealed this decision, which ignored several items of evidence that
show the violation of which he was the victim, and because they did not follow other lines of
investigation to determine responsibilities. On December 3, 1999 the Supreme Court affirmed
the dismissal with prejudice of the case against the Attorney General, and the complainant was
so notified on January 4, 2000; and the judgment became final the next day, January 5, 2000.
The petitioners consider that with that decision, domestic remedies were exhausted, and they
presume that the wiretaps were done by the State, since it has the means needed to take such
actions.
b.
With respect to the trial for slander and libel initiated by the Attorney General
against Mr. Tristán Donoso because of the press conference he called to denounce
the taping and publication of his telephone conversation with his client
9. The petitioners allege that the State has violated Article 13 of the Convention by the filing of
a complaint for slander and libel by the Attorney General against Mr. Tristán Donoso for having
called a press conference on March 26, 1999 in which he reported the interference in and
taping of his telephone conversations, as described above. The petitioners consider that the
1 See: Sworn statement by Attorney General José Antonio Sossa, May 24, 1999 before the Procuraduría de la
Administración, para. 12.

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