Veliz Franco v. Guatemala

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Right to Know the Truth | Duty to Investigate | Reparations | Obligation to Prevent | Children/Youth | Women and Girls | Evidence

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

The Court held that the duty to guarantee human rights takes on special significance concerning girls, giving rise to a duty on the part of the State to act with strict diligence to fulfil that obligation. The Court determined that the State knew or should have known that the reported disappearance was part of increasing homicidal violence against women; as such, its failure to carry out search actions amounted to a breach of the State's duty to prevent rights violations of girls. The Court established that the authorities failed to collect relevant evidence to establish sexual violence or collected it late. It also found that gender stereotypes negatively influenced the investigation; in particular, authorities shifted the blame for what happened to the victim and her relatives, closing off other possible lines of inquiry. Moreover, the Court noted that the girl's mother was subjected to derogatory and disrespectful treatment by State agents during the investigation, which further affected her personal integrity. Finally, regarding reparations, the Court called on the State to implement programmes and courses on standards of prevention, punishment and eradication for public officials involved in investigating acts of femicide.

Judgment Date

May 19, 2014

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 19 [ACHR], Article 22 [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 7 [ACHR], Article 19 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

Ms. Marfa Isabel Veliz Franco disappeared on 17 December 2001 on her way to work. Her body was found with signs of violence the following day. The investigation showed several irregularities. She was 15 years old. At the time of the events, there was no specific legislation or procedures in place to investigate cases of violence against women.

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