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.
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