REPORT Nº 38/07 1
CASE 12.263
July 26, 2007


On March 28, 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a petition submitted by the Center
for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Movimento Nacional dos Direitos Humanos
(MNDH)/Regional Office for Northeast Brazil (hereinafter “the petitioners”), and updated
information on October 3, 2006, in which it is alleged that the Federative Republic of Brazil
(hereinafter “Brazil” or “the State”) violated Articles 2, 4, 24, 25, and 1(1) of the American
Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American Convention”), and Articles 3, 4, 5,
and 7 of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of
Violence against Women, the “Convention of Belém do Pará” (hereinafter “the Convention of
Belém do Pará”) to the detriment of Marcia Barbosa de Souza.
Through this petition, it is alleged that the State is responsible for violating
the rights of Ms. Marcia Barbosa de Souza, whose corpse was found in a vacant lot on the
outskirts of the city of Joao Pessoa, capital of the state of Paraíba, on June 18, 1998. An
investigation was opened in this regard by the local police, which was concluded on August
27, 1998. Responsibility for the crime was attributed to a state legislator, said to be the
alleged victim’s lover. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General in principle would
have been impeded from bringing a criminal action against that person, given his legislative
immunity, as the state legislature had not granted authorization for so proceeding. On
December 20, 2001, with the adoption of Constitutional Amendment No. 35/2001, it was
determined that criminal actions against legislators would be admitted independent of
whether there was authorization by the Legislative Assembly. Nonetheless, the competent
authorities in Paraíba did not take any new initiative in the criminal action until March 2003.
More than four years since the last information was sent in, the case has still not gone to trial,
as it has been processed with extreme sluggishness. Any decision may be subject to several
types of review, and more than eight years have elapsed since the underlying facts, which
would extend impunity in relation to the case.
On September 26, 2000, the State answered the petition; it forwarded
additional information on the matter on October 31, 2000, stating that the Attorney General
for the state of Paraíba and the Public Ministry lodged a complaint against the state legislator
accused. On two occasions it was asked that he be stripped of immunity so that a criminal
action could be brought against him; the requests were denied.
After examining the parties’ positions in light of the admissibility requirements
established in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention, the Commission decided to find
the case admissible in relation to Articles 4, 8(1), 24, and 25 of the American Convention, in
conjunction with the general obligation contained in Article 1(1) of the same instrument, and
Article 7 of the Convention of Belém do Pará. In addition, it decided to declare the petition

1 In keeping with Article 17(2)(a) of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, Commissioner Paulo Sérgio
Pinheiro, of Brazilian nationality, did not participate in the decision on this petition.

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