Enforced Disappearance Legal Database

Goiburú et al. v. Paraguay

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Jus Cogens | Systemic Practice | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Extraterritorial Jurisdiction | Guarantees Against Impunity | Punishment | Reparations | Judicial Protection | Juridical Personality

The Court pronounced for the first time that the prohibition of enforced disappearances and the obligation to investigate and punish those responsible has attained the status of jus cogens. The facts of the case occurred within a context of systematic human rights violations, which included lack of investigation into such abuses, contributing to impunity, which the Court stated must be combatted by determining both the general responsibility of the state and the specific criminal responsibility of those involved. It also stated that access to justice is a peremptory norm of international law, giving rise to a state obligation to adopt all necessary measures to ensure that violations do not remain unpunished. The Court ordered the state to remove all the de facto and de jure obstacles that maintain impunity; to adopt all the necessary diplomatic and judicial measures to prosecute and punish those responsible; and to further extradition requests by all possible means.

Judgment Date

September 22, 2006

Country

Paraguay

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 25 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

This case concerned the disappearance of Dr. Agustín Goiburú, a surgeon and one of the most prominent activists opposing the dictatorship of General Stroessner in Paraguay. Dr. Goiburú made public statements speaking out against the practices perpetrated by security forces against civilians in Paraguay, following which he fled to Argentina due to a harassment campaign to which he was subjected. In 1977, he was detained by Paraguayan customs while trying to re-enter Paraguay from Argentina. This case also included the disappearances of Mr. Carlos José Mancuello Bareiro, as well as brothers Mr. Benjamín Ramírez Villalba and Mr. Rodolfo Ramírez Villalba, the latter two having been accused by state officers as having been part of an alleged "terrorist group", led by Dr. Goiburú. Following the dictatorship, General Stoessner fled the country but the state did not start extradition proceedings.

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