Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Case of Montero-Aranguren et al (Detention Center of Catia) v.
Judgment of July 5, 2006
(Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations and Costs)
In the Case of Montero-Aranguren et al (Detention Center of Catia),
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Inter-American Court”, **or “the Court”,) composed of the following judges:
Sergio García-Ramírez, President;
Alirio Abreu-Burelli, Vice-President;
Antônio A. Cançado Trindade, Judge;
Cecilia Medina-Quiroga, Judge;
Manuel E. Ventura-Robles, Judge; and
Pablo Saavedra-Alessandry, Secretary; and
Emilia Segares-Rodríguez, Deputy Secretary;
pursuant to Articles 62(3) and 63(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” or “the American Convention”) and Articles 29, 31, 53(2), 55, 56 and 58 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court (hereinafter “the Rules of Procedure”,) delivers the following Judgment.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CASE
1. On February 24, 2005, pursuant to the provisions of Articles 50 and 61 of the American Convention, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission” or “the Inter-American Commission”) filed before the Court an
application against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter “the State” or “Venezuela”), originated in Petition number 11,699, received by the Secretariat of the Commission on November 12, 1996.
2. The Commission filed the application in the instant case in order for the Court to determine whether the State violated the rights embodied in Article 4 (Right to Life) and Article 5 (Right to Humane Treatment) of the American Convention as regards to Article 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights) of the same, in detriment of the detainees that allegedly died in an operation carried out on November 27, 1992 in the Retén e Internado Judicial de “los Flores de Catia” (Judicial Detention Center
of the Flores of Catia) (hereinafter called “Detention Center of Catia”.) Furthermore, the Commission requested the Court to determine that the State violated the rights
** Judges Oliver Jackman and Diego García-Sayán informed the Court that, due to reasons beyond their control, they would not be able to attend the deliberation and signing of this Judgment.
embodied in Article 8 (Right to Fair Trial) and Article 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention as regards to the obligation set forth in Article 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights) of the same, in detriment of the alleged victims and their next of kin. Finally, the Commission requested the Inter-American Court to declare Venezuela responsible for the compliance of the general obligation set forth in Article 2 of the American Convention, for failure to supress from its legislation those provisions that confer military courts jurisdiction to investigate violations to human rights, and further for failure to develop policies to reform the penitentiary system.
3. The application refers to the alleged extrajudicial execution of 37 detainees at the Detention Center of Catia, located in the city of Caracas, Venezuela, at dawn, on November 27, 1992. These facts might have occurred after the second attempt of a coup d’etat in Venezuela, causing trouble in the aforesaid Detention Center. Allegedly, ththe guards of the Detention Center and the troops of the Comando Regional 5 (5
Regional Commander‟s Office) of the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) and of the
Policía Metropolitana (Metropolitan Police) massively intervened exercising excessive force and shooting indiscriminately at the detainees lodged therein. The versions of the facts provided by some of the survivors state that the guards of the Center opened the cell doors telling the detainees that they were released, and waited for them to go out in order to shoot them. It was further alleged that the detainees were enduring inhuman detention conditions.
4. The Commission alleged that, after the facts, an investigation was carried out by the Ministerio Público (Prosecutor‟s Office) and the judicial authorities, which investigation was characterized by the obstacles and lack of collaboration showed by police, military and penitentiary authorities. As from August 1994, no action was taken to gather information, nor was any procedural act performed regarding the instant case. During almost 8 years the next of kin of the alleged victims were denied access to the records of the case. Currently, the case is in the preliminary investigation stage, which is conducted by the Fiscalía Sexagésima Octava del Área thMetropolitana de Caracas (68 District Attorney‟s Office of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas) under record number 4582.
5. Furthermore, the Commission requested the Inter-American Court that, pursuant to Article 63(1) of the Convention, the State be ordered to adopt certain reparation measures requested in the application. Finally, it requested the Court to order the State to pay the costs and expenses arising from the litigation of the case in the domestic courts and in the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights.
6. The Inter-American Court has jurisdiction to hear the instant case pursuant to Article 62(3) of the Convention, given that Venezuela has been a State Party to the Convention since August 9, 1977 and accepted the contentious jurisdiction of the Court on June 24, 1981.
PROCEEDING BEFORE THE COMMISSION
7. On March 12, 1996, the Comité de Familiares de Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (Committee of Next of Kin of the Victims of the Events of February-March 1989) (hereinafter “COFAVIC”) and the Centro por la Justicia y el
Derecho Internacional (Center for Justice and International Law) (hereinafter “CEJIL”) filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission, which was admitted under number 11,699, regarding the “[alleged] serious events occurred in the Judicial Detention Center of Catia on November 27, 1992.”
st8. On October 20, 2004 during its 121 Period of Ordinary Sessions, the
Commission approved the report on Admissibility and Merits Nº 79/04, by means of which it concluded, inter alia, that the State violated the rights embodied in Article 4 (Right to Life), Article 5 (Right to Humane Treatment), Article 8 (Right to Fair Trial) and Article 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention, regarding Articles 1(1) and 2 of the same, for the massacre occurring in the Detention Center of Catia on November 27, 1992, and for the lack of investigation, trial and punishment of the responsible persons and of effective reparation to the victims of those violations and their next of kin. The Commission recommended the State to adopt a series of measures to repair the aforesaid violations.
9. On November 24, 2004, the Commission sent the State the Report Nº 79/04 and granted it a term of two months to inform about the measures adopted in order to comply with the recommendations made. On that same date, the Commission, pursuant to Article 43(3) of the Rules of Procedure, notified the petitioners about the adoption of the report and the notice given to the State and requested them to submit their comments regarding the possible submission of the case before the Inter-American Court; such comments were submitted on January 3, 2005.
10. On January 24, 2005, the State requested an extension of the term granted for the submission of the report regarding the compliance with the recommendations of Report Nº 79/04. The Commission granted the extension; however, the State did not file the requested information.
11. On February 18, 2005, the Inter-American Commission decided to submit the instant case to the jurisdiction of the Court, in view of “the failure to satisfactorily implement the recommendations stated in Report Nº 79/04.”
PROCEEDING BEFORE THE COURT
12. On February 24, 2005, the Commission filed an application before the Court regarding the instant case. The Appendixes to such application were sent on March 14, 2005. The Commission appointed Commissioners Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and Florentín Meléndez and Executive Secretariat Santiago A. Canton as Delegates before the Court and Juan Pablo Albán, Débora Benchoam and Víctor H. Madrigal as legal counsel.
13. On April 1, 2005, the Secretariat of the Court (hereinafter “the Secretariat”,)
after a preliminary examination of the application by the President of the Court (hereinafter “the President”,) served the said application and its Appendixes on the State and also notified the State of the term within which it had to answer the application and to appoint its attorneys in the proceedings. On April 5, 2005, pursuant to Article 35(1)(d) and (e) of the Rules of Procedure, the Secretariat served notice of the application on CEJIL and COFAVIC, representatives of the alleged
victims and their next of kin (hereinafter “the representatives”,) according to the terms of the application; the Secretariat further informed the said representatives that they would have a term of two months to file their brief of requests, arguments and evidence (hereinafter “brief of requests and arguments”.)
14. On June 7, 2005, the representatives filed a brief of requests and arguments. In addition to the statements made by the Commission in its application (supra paras.
2, 3, 4 and 5), the representatives requested the Court to decide whether the State violated the “right to the truth [...] embodied in Articles 8, 13, 25 and 1(1) of the American Convention, in detriment of each of the victims identified in the application it filed on behalf of the Venezuelan society.” On June 14, 2005, the representatives submitted the Appendixes to the brief of requests and arguments.
15. On July 27, 2005, the State requested “an extended period to submit the answer to the application filed by the Inter-American Commission.” On July 28, 2005,
the Secretariat, following instructions of the President, informed Venezuela that no extension could be granted on the basis of Article 38 of the Rules of Procedure, which establish that the period to answer cannot be extended.
16. On August 1, 2005, the State filed a brief containing preliminary objections, and it also filed an answer to the application and its comments to the brief of requests and arguments (hereinafter “answer to the application”). The preliminary objection refers to the failure to exhaust local remedies within the domestic jurisdiction.
17. On August 1, 2005, the Secretariat, pursuant to Article 37(4) of the Rules of Procedure, granted the Commission and the representatives a term of thirty days to submit their written briefs on the preliminary objections.
18. On August 19, 2005, the Commission filed its brief on the preliminary objection filed by the State and requested the Court to dismiss the same. On August 26, 2005, the representatives filed their briefs on the said preliminary objection and requested the same to be dismissed.
19. On December 9, 2005, the Commission requested the “admission of
authenticated copies of 16 death records of [alleged] victims, as additional evidence” regarding the instant case. In this aspect, the Commission pointed out that “said evidence is offered in this procedural stage since it was made available to the Commission on September 15, 2005, that is to say, after the filing of the application before the Court.” On December 16 and 19, following instructions of the President, the Secretariat requested the representatives and the State to submit the objections that they might consider appropriate regarding the request for admission of “additional evidence” made by the Inter-American Commission.
20. On December 22, 2005, the representatives pointed out that they “did not have any objections to the evidence furnished by the [...] Commission.” On January 4, 2006, the State communicated that “it formally objected the admission of such
evidence, since the same was not filed together with the application and it is not contemplated in any of the grounds that might allow its admission by way of exception.”
21. On February 7, 2006, the President issued an Order requesting Pedro Ramón Castro and Carmen Yolanda Pérez-Santoya, witnesses proposed by the Commission
and the representatives, and Mireya Josefina Ayala-Gualdrón, Inocenta del Valle Marín, Nazario Ruiz, María Auxiliadora Zerpa de Moreno, Osmar Martínez, Douglas Lizano and Edgar López, witnesses proposed by the representatives, to render testimony by affidavit. The President further ordered that expert witness Pieter Van Reener, proposed by the Commission, and Expert witnesses Magdalena Ibañez, Christopher Birkbeck and Magaly Vásquez, proposed by the representatives, had to render their testimonies by affidavit. Likewise, the President convened the representatives and the State to a public hearing to be held in the Hearing Room of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina as from April 4, 2006, to hear the final oral arguments regarding the preliminary and contingent objection, on the merits, reparations and costs of the instant case, as well as the testimony of witnesses and expert witnesses proposed by the Commission and the representatives. Additionally, through such order the President informed the parties that they had to file their final written arguments regarding the preliminary and contingent objections, and on the merits, reparations and costs on or before May 19, 2006. Finally, the President requested the State to submit evidence to facilitate de adjudication of the case.
22. On February 22, 2006, the Inter-American Commission informed that it would exclude the testimony of Pedro Ramón Castro, because due to “health problems” he could not comply with the request made by the President in the Order dated February 7, 2006 (supra para. 21)
23. On February 23 and 24, 2006, the Inter-American Commission and the representatives submitted the affidavits with testimonies and expert reports requested by the President (supra para. 21.) On March 10, 2006, the Inter-American
Commission sent the affidavit of expert witness Pieter Van Reenen.
24. On March 23, 2006, the Commission reported that, due to reasons beyond her control, witness Ana María González, who had been subpoenaed to appear before the Inter-American Court at a public hearing (supra para. 21,) could not travel to the
city of Buenos Aires, and therefore, she could not render testimony. For this reason, the Commission requested the Court to allow the testimony of Giovanni Gaviria-Velásquez instead. On March 27, 2006, the representatives stated their acceptance to the request of the Commission. The State did not file any objections whatsoever.
25. On March 28, 2006, the Inter-American Court issued an Order admitting the substitution of witnesses proposed by the Commission and decided to call Giovanni Gaviria-Velásquez to render testimony at a public hearing, substituting Ana María González.
26. On April 4, 2006, the public hearing was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the following persons were present thereat: a) for the Inter-American Commission: Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and Santiago Canton, as Delegates; Víctor H. Madrigal, Juan Pablo Albán, Debora Benchoam, Lilly Ching and Camilo Sánchez, Legal Counsel; b) for the representatives: Liliana Ortega, Carlos Ayala-Corao and Willy Chang, on behalf of COFAVIC, and Viviana Krsticevic, Tatiana Rincón and Pedro Díaz, on behalf of CEJIL, and c) for the State: María Auxiliadora Monagas, Agent; Iskrey Pérez, Alis Boscán and Boris Bosio, Legal Counsel. Also present, Giovanni Gaviria-Velásquez, as witness offered by the Commission, and Nellys María Madriz and Arturo Peraza, witnesses offered by the representatives. During said public hearing, the State acknowledged its international responsibility for the events, and admitted the claims made by the Inter-American Commission in its application and those made by the
representatives in their brief of requests and arguments. During the public hearing, the State submitted a brief in which it made a detailed reference to its acknowledgment of international responsibility.
27. On May 18 and 19, 2006, the Commission and the representatives submitted their final written arguments, respectively. The State did not submit any final arguments whatsoever.
28. On May 25, 2006, the Secretariat, following instructions of the President of the Court, requested the representatives to submit evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case; said representatives after an extension had been granted, submitted part of such evidence on June 13, 2006. On even date, the Secretariat requested the representatives to complete the submission of the remaining evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case and also requested the State to submit its evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case. On June 13 and 21, 2006, the representatives, after having been granted an extension, filed part of the requested evidence.
29. In the application filed, the Inter-American Commission included a list of 37 alleged victims of the events dealt with in the instant case. Such list coincides with that included in its report about the admissibility and merits (supra para. 8). In their
brief of requests and arguments, the representatives submitted a list including the names of 31 alleged victims that coincide with those reported by the Commission. Likewise, the representatives identified several of the next of kin of 12 alleged victims. Afterwards, the representatives included in their final arguments an additional alleged victim, who had not been included in the initial list filed by the Commission, and also certain next of kin of six of the alleged victims. Finally, in the two briefs filed containing the evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case, (supra para. 28), the representatives identified other next of kin of some of the alleged victims.
30. The Court shall apply the following criteria to define those it would consider as alleged victims and their next of kin in the instant case: a) the procedural stage in which they were identified; b) the admission by the State, and c) the characteristics of this case.
31. In that sense, the Court shall consider as alleged victims those persons who were identified by the Commission in its application, as well as those next of kin of the alleged victims identified by the representatives in their brief of requests and arguments (infra para. 60(26)). All of which ocurred before the answer to the petition filed by the State and before the State?s admission of the facts.
32. On the other hand, the Court notices that neither the Inter-American Commission nor the representatives have identified in the application and the brief of requests and arguments, respectively, Jesús Rafael Navarro as an alleged victim. It is only in the brief containing the final arguments that the representatives identify such victim and his next of kin, which brief has been filed after the admission made by the State. The representatives have not properly justifed such inclusion.
Therefore, the Court will not consider Jesús Rafael Navarro and his next of kin as victims in the instant case.
33. As regards to the next of kin of the alleged victims that had been identified by the representatives in their brief of requests and arguments and their briefs of evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case, the Court considers that though “it 1was difficult for them to contact all the next of kin of the [alleged] victims,” this
explanation is not enough. The inclusion of new people as alleged victims or their next of kin, after the State has answered the application, must be duly justified, to preserve legal certainty and the right of defense of the State; this must be taken into account since in the instant case, the inclusion of new people has taken place during the last stage of the proceeding before the Court and after the admission made by the State. Consequently, the situation of the following next of kin shall not be analyzed in the instant case:
a) Carlos Armando Flores, Mimina Velásquez de Flores, Josefa María
Rodríguez de Velásquez, Iris Wuilmeri Flores-Velásquez, Darwir Alberto
Coronado-Velásquez, Karelia Nacari Coronado-Velásquez and Deigli
Yanini Flores-Pellicer, next of kin of Deyvis Armando Flores-Velásquez;
b) Alpidia Ramos de Figueroa, Juan Cruz Figueroa, Rufino Figueroa,
Sebastiana Figueroa-Ramos, Anicacio Figueroa, Rosalía Margarita
Figueroa-Ramos, José Figueroa, Nicolasa Figueroa-Ramos, Calixta
María Figueroa-Ramos, María Gregoria Figueroa-Ramos, Yanaiker
Figueroa and Junior Figueroa, next of kin of Gabriel Antonio Figueroa-
c) Yudith Rizzo de Henríquez, Jaime Henríquez, Luz Marina Henríquez-
Rizzo, Yutmar Azujai Ramos-Rizzo, Kachira Dayazu Ramos-Henríquez
and Armando José Ramos-Henríquez, next of kin of Jaime Arturo
d) Eladio Alexis Ayala-Gualdron and Ayari Ayala-Gualdron, next of kin of
José León Ayala-Gualdron;
e) Armanda Isabel Escobar-Rodríguez, Ramón José Peña-Escobar, Nancy
Isabel Peña and Enrique José Peña, next of kin of Nancy Ramón Peña;
f) Pastora Velásquez, José Gregorio Gaviria, José Gregorio Gavidia-
Velásquez, Iraida Josefina Gavidia-Velásquez, Nancy Coromoto
Gavidia-Velásquez, Zoraida del Valle Gavidia-Velásquez, Gisela Matilde
Gavidia-Velásquez and Néstor Gavidia-Zulbaran, next of kin of Néstor
Luis Gaviria-Velásquez, and
g) Luis Alberto Pérez-Santoya, next of kin of Wilcon Alberto Pérez-
34. As regards to Giovanni Alfredo Gavidia-Velásquez, brother of Néstor Luis Gavidia-Velázquez, the Court notices that even though the representatives did not mention him in the brief of requests and arguments, they proposed him as a witness
1 Brief of requests, arguments and evidence of the representatives, page 4, footnote 5 (record of proceedings on the merits, reparations and costs, Volume I, folio 224.)
and he appeared as a witness at the public hearing held regarding the instant case, (supra para. 26), where the State made its admission and presented its public apology to Gavidia for the events that are analyzed in this Judgment (infra para 42).
Therefore, the Court shall consider him as a next of kin of the aforesaid alleged victim (infra para 60(26)(29)).
35. On the other hand, the Court notices that the representatives did not submit all the evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case as requested by the Court (supra para. 28). Therefore, there is not full evidence of the family relationship of the following next of kin of the alleged victims:
a) Wladimir Martínez and Belkys Martínez, next of kin of Alexis Antonio
2b) Envidia, next of kin of Edgar José Peña-Marín.
c) Yolanda Andrea Gallardo, next of kin of Juan Carlos Saavedra-Rincón.
d) Alexis Pérez, José Gregorio Pérez and Yomaris, next of kin of Wilcon
e) Maritza Rojas, Mireya del Carmen and Franlis Marilis, next of kin of
f) Silvia Elena, next of kin of Leonel Chirinos-Hernández.
g) Tiburcio Ayala-Gualdron and Yelitza Figueroa, next of kin of José León
36. In this aspect, the Court takes into account that such persons were mentioned by the representatives in their brief of requests and arguments, before the State filed its answer to the application and admission, that is to say, they were included in such admission. Consequently, this Court shall consider them as next of kin of the alleged victims (infra paras. 60(26)(1), 60(26)(9), 60(26)(25), 60(26)(36);
60(26)(11), 60(26)(13) and 60(26)(22).)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
37. The Court shall address now the acknowledgment of international responsibility made by the State (supra para. 26).
38. Article 53(2) of the Rules of Procedure provides as follows:
If the respondent informs the Court of its acquiescence to the claims of the party that has brought the case as well as to the claims of the representatives of the alleged victims, their next of kin or representatives, the Court, after hearing the opinions of the other parties to the case, shall decide whether such acquiescence and its juridical effects are acceptable. In that event, the Court shall determine the appropriate reparations and indemnities.
2 According to the brief of requests, arguments and evidence, this person is referred to as Envidia and in a brief submitting evidence to facilitate the adjudication of the case, she is referred to as Eneida (record of proceedings on the merits, reparations and costs, Volume III, folio 982.)
39. The Court, exercising its powers inherent to the international judicial protection of human rights, may determine whether an acknowledgement of international responsibility made by a respondent State provides sufficient ground, pursuant to the terms of the American Convention, to proceed with the merits and the determination of the reparations and costs. To such effect, the Court shall 3analyze each particular case.
40. On April 4, 2006, at the beginning of the public hearing held, the State alleged, inter alia, that:
The Venezuelan State has come today to this hearing to express the acknowledgement of the facts, to [...] honor the memory of those that have died, to acknowledge the truth and to seek justice. The State considers that it is its obligation to acknowledge all the facts as charged, this is a formal admission.
41. After the statements above, Venezuela, in response to the questions asked by the President, expressly stated: a) that it acknowledges its responsibility for the events as described in the application and in the brief of requests and arguments, and b) it “totally” admits without any objection, all the claims, as expressed in the application, including those related to the reparations. The State pointed out that “there is no reserve whatsoever [in the admission], since the detainees were under [its] custody.”
42. Afterwards, the State offered a public apology to the next of kin of the victims in the instant case and requested the Court for a minute of silence in their memory:
Mrs. Nelly Madrid and Mr. Gavidia, the Venezuelan State wants to offer a minute of silence to the memory of your next of kin. [The State] deeply [...] regrets all the vicissitudes that might have occurred and the pain you have endured during these years [...] because you spent thirteen years waiting for justice to be done. On this day, [...] the Venezuelan State is willing to accept all the allegations that have been made and acknowledge and repair all the pain that you have suffered.
43. During said public hearing, in the submission of the final oral arguments, the Commission made reference to the acknowledgement of responsibility made by the State and stated as follows:
The Commission appreciates the acknowledgement of responsibility made by Venezuela in its declaration made on this date. The Inter-American Commission notices that Venezuela accepts all the facts of the case and the legal claims, and therefore, it requests [...] the Court to consider them proved and to include the same in the Judgment on the merits, because to establish the truth of the facts is important for the victims of human rights violations and for their the next of kin and, in the instant case, for the Venezuelan society as a whole.
44. The representatives, “like the Commission, recognized the value of the
admission made by the State” and requested the Court to include in the Judgment a determination regarding “the excessive use of force” by the security forces of the State.
45. In a brief submitted by the State during the public hearing (supra para. 26,)
Venezuela pointed out that:
3 Cf. Case of Baldeón-García. Judgment of April 6, 2006. Series C No. 147, para. 38; Case of Acevedo-Jaramillo et al. Judgment of February 7, 2006. Series C No. 144, para. 173, and Case of Blanco-Romero et al. Judgment of November 28, 2005. Series C No. 138, para. 55.
Regarding item “a” of the prayer for relief included in the application against the State filed before the Court by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, [...] though after the events occurred, the competent local authorities started an investigation, up to this date, there have not been any precise results that may lead to establish the identity of those responsible for the crimes, nor the manner in which the events occurred; there also exists a delay which the State acknowledges and regrets; Regarding item “b” of the prayer for relief included in the application, [...] by the time the events occurred, the situation in the Retén e Internado Judicial de “los Flores de Catia” (Judicial Detention Center of the Flores of Catia) showed serious flaws, which became worse due to the facts occurred on November 27, 1992, when there was a civil riot extending nationwide which influenced the disorder occurred amongst the detainees. In this sense, the [...] Venezuelan State alleges that it is currently developing public policies tending to improve the situation at the penitentiaries, and points out the Executive Order on Penitentiary System Emergency; the Penitentiary System Humanization Programme and the promotion and dissemination through workshops, of the [h]uman [r]ights of persons deprived of their liberty. However, the State acknowledges that by the time the sad events occurred, the situation at the Retén e Internado Judicial de “los Flores de Catia” (Judicial Detention Center of the Flores of Catia) was precarious. Regarding item “c” of the prayer for relief included in the application, [...] although it is true, there is a delay in the judicial investigation due to the criminal procedural system in force at the time the events occurred, since given the fact that the investigation was at the investigative stage, the access to the records of the case by the victims was legally limited. By that time, the Código de Enjuiciamiento Criminal (Code of Criminal Procedure) established the secrecy of the records, and this prevented the parties from getting information about their situation. After the Código Orgánico Procesal Penal (Organic Code of Criminal Procedure) was in force, this situation was corrected, as stated in section 280, by allowing the parties to freely access the records of the case [,and] (bold type omitted) as regards to item “d” of the prayer for relief included in the application, it is admitted that by the time the events occurred, the legislation in force allowed the courts having special jurisdiction, such as the military courts, to hear cases related to the violation of human rights. Despite that, currently, after the Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) came in force in 1999, these matters are subject to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts as stated by section 25 eiusdem, upon stating that regarding the violations of human rights and crimes against humanity, the same shall be investigated and prosecuted in the ordinary courts. Thus, any possibility for court of special jurisdiction to hear cases of such nature has been eliminated. This further evidences that the legislative change requested by the Inter-American Commission on human rights was taken into account.
46. On the other hand, the Court notices that the State made several statements during the pendency of this case before the Inter-American Commission, which have been considered as acts of acknowledgement of its international responsibility for the events and the violations to human rights alleged by the petitioners. In its application, the Commission requested the Court “to take into account the acknowledgement of the facts and the assumption of responsibility” made by the
State, and further that the same be included in the corresponding judgment. In its final written arguments, the Commission pointed out that the admission made by the State before the Court amounts to a ratification and extension of the acknowledgement of international responsibility made by the State during the pendency of this case before the Commission on October 1, 1999, March 3, 2000 and March 27, 2003.”
47. Indeed, on March 3, 2000, during the pendency of the instant case before the Commission, Venezuela acknowledged its international responsibility at a conference held between the State, the petitioners and the representatives of the Inter-