Velásquez Paiz et al. v. Guatemala

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Guarantees of Non-Repetition | Obligation to Prevent | Systemic Practice | Right to Know the Truth

Themes: Search | Persons and Groups Affected | Prevention | Justice and Truth

The Court determined that in the context of violence against women known to the State, the response of the State authorities was insufficient given the possibility that the personal integrity and life of the victim were in danger. The Court considered that the State did not demonstrate that it had implemented the necessary measures under the American Convention and the Convention of Belém do Pará. In particular, officials responsible for receiving reports of disappearances should have had the capacity and sensitivity to understand the seriousness of such reports in the context of violence against women; and the willingness and training to act immediately and effectively.

The Court also examined discrimination due to the application of stereotypes and the lack of a gender-sensitive perspective in the investigation. For the Court, there were three fundamental consequences of the lack of a gender focus in the criminal investigation:
1) The failure of the authorities to consider the circumstances before the death, when the evidence indicated the existence of an act of violence which occurred before the death.
2) The failure to consider the manner in which the death occurred, despite the evidence indicating the alleged commission of an act of violence which occurred after the death.
3) The failure to consider the possibility of sexual violence.
These investigative failings were seen by the Court as another form of violence perpetrated against the victims and their relatives.

Judgment Date

November 19, 2015

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 2 [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 11 [ACHR], Article 24 [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR], Article 7(b) [IACPPEVW]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 13 [ACHR], Article 11 [ACHR], Article 22 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

Ms. Claudina Isabel Velásquez Paiz disappeared after going to a party, and her body was found on 2 August 2005. The authorities had failed to take official steps to investigate the disappearance following requests by the family to search for her. She was 19 years old and a University of San Carlos de Guatemala student studying law and social sciences. The facts occurred between 2004 and 2005, during which time Guatemala saw an increase in homicidal violence against women, characterised by impunity and a tendency for investigators to discredit the victims and blame them.

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