Gelman v. Uruguay

Key Judgment

Legal Relevance

Keywords: Juridical Personality | Right to Know the Truth | Reparations | Children/Youth | Women and Girls

Themes: Persons and Groups Affected | Justice and Truth | Related Crimes | Memory and Reparations

The Court found that a child born while her mother and father were victims of enforced disappearance was herself a victim of enforced disappearance from the time of her birth until the moment she discovered her true and legitimate identity. The Court found that the violation of her right to psychological integrity occurred when she discovered her true identity and had to face the truth of what happened to her and her parents.

The Court noted that the child's mother was in a condition of particular vulnerability which caused her to be affected in a differential way, as she was pregnant when she was detained. In addition to being separated from her husband, her body was instrumentalised: she was kept alive for the sole purpose of giving birth to her daughter and feeding her. The Court considered that the acts committed against her constituted one of the most grave and objectionable forms of violence against women, an attack of such magnitude that it must be qualified as the most severe form of violation of her psychological integrity. Among the reparations, the Court called on the State to adopt measures to guarantee technical and systematised access to information about the serious human rights violations which occurred during the dictatorship, which is held in State archives.

Judgment Date

February 24, 2011



Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 3 [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7(1) [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 17 [ACHR], Article 18 [ACHR], Article 19 [ACHR], Article 20(3) [ACHR], Article 25 [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR], Article 1 [IACFDP], Article 1(b) [IACFDP], Article 3 [IACFDP], Article 4 [IACFDP], Article 5 [IACFDP], Article 11 [IACFDP]

Facts of the Case

Ms. María Claudia García Iruretagoyena de Gelman (an Argentinean national who was 19 years old and seven months pregnant) and her husband, Mr. Marcelo Ariel Gelman Schubaroff, were detained with other family members and friends on 24 August 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were detained by Uruguayan and Argentinean military personnel in the context of "Operation Condor", the alliance between the security and military forces and intelligence services of the Southern Cone dictatorships during the 1970s in their fight against and repression of people designated as "subversive elements". Among the activities they coordinated were clandestine operations involving the abduction, removal or appropriation of children (including the substitution of their identity); pregnant women were detained in pursuit of these operations and kept alive until they gave birth.

In October 1976, the first victim was clandestinely transferred to Montevideo, Uruguay, where she gave birth to a baby girl in the Military Hospital. Her new-born daughter was abducted and illegally given to a Uruguayan policeman and his wife, who registered her as their child and gave her a new name. Mr. Gelman Schubaroff's parents searched for their son, daughter-in-law and grandchild and in late 1999 received unofficial information about the identity and location of their grandchild. They took legal action to recover her true identity. On 22 December 1986, the Uruguayan Parliament had passed the Expiry Law regarding punitive claims against the State, which, among other things, granted an amnesty in respect of crimes committed up to 1 March 1985 by military and police officers. This law prevented the investigation into the facts of the case from being carried out for several years.

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