Gutierrez Dorado and Dorado Ortiz v. Spain (Admissibility)
Admissibility | Statute of Limitations
The Court concluded that the complaint was introduced out of time and must therefore be rejected arguing that, where the death occurred before the entry into force of the Convention for the State, only procedural acts or omissions which occurred after that date fall within the Court’s temporal jurisdiction. It further held that, in such a case, there must exist a genuine connection between a death which occurred in 1936 and the entry into force of the Convention in 1979 for the procedural obligations imposed by Article 2 to come into effect. Departing from its previous case law on the matter, the Court added that, even assuming that the disappearance constituted a violation of a continuing nature, the complaint was in any case inadmissible because, even taking into account the context of internal armed conflict, the applicants did not display the diligence required to bring their case before the Court without undue delay by waiting 30 years for their application.
March 27, 2012
Facts of the Case
Mr. Dorado Luque, a member of the Spanish Parliament belonging to the socialist party, was forcibly taken away by military forces in July 1936 while he was travelling on a train and transferred to a garrison, where he was detained for at least 10 days. His family received no information as to his fate after 28 July 1936. In August 1936 a dead body with Mr. Luque's documents in the pockets was discovered, and initially registered as Mr. Luque's. Few days later, the entry was changed to “unknown man” due to lack of sufficient evidence. In 1979, Spain ratified the European Convention of Human Rights. In 1979, Mr. Luque’s wife started the procedure to obtain confirmation of his disappearance in order to obtain her widow’s pension. In 1993, a court confirmed that Mr. Luque had disappeared and that his fate and whereabouts were unknown, establishing his death as 30 July 1936. In May 2006, Mr. Luque's daughter brought a criminal complaint about the abduction and possible murder of his father, claiming it amounted to a war crime for which there was no statute of limitations, but the application was dismissed on grounds that the facts amounted to a simple crime subject to statute of limitations. In December 2006, Mr. Luque's daughter together with other victims’ families filed a complaint that their relatives had suffered systematic enforced disappearances as well as possible systematic killings as part of a deliberate and calculated plan to eliminate a sector of the population. The complaint was rejected for lack of jurisdiction. Mr. Luque's family initiated several other initiatives to clarify his disappearance. They applied to the European Court of Human Rights in June 2009.