Enforced Disappearance Legal Database

Jurisprudence Database


The Jurisprudence Database sets out leading judgments and commentary by international and domestic legal mechanisms in the field of enforced disappearances. It summarises factual and legal findings and identifies common themes and search terms allowing for a comparative cross-jurisdictional analysis of this area of law. Users can search the source bank through a filter-based or key-term search and access text in English, Spanish, Russian and French.

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Román Jaimes v. Mexico

The Committee reiterated that disappearances of women are one of the most brutal manifestations of gender-based violence, emphasising that disappeared women suffer particular types of harm because of their gender and are disproportionately subjected to sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence. In light of the pattern of disappearances of women and the prevailing impunity in the relevant area, and taking into account the information suggesting that persons linked to criminal organisations benefited from the authorisation, support, acquiescence or omissions of the State, the Committee found the State responsible for the victim's alleged enforced disappearance. This was due to the State's lack of due diligence in preventing the violation and addressing it in accordance with the requirements imposed by law. The Committee also reiterated that all entities responsible for searching for women victims of enforced disappearances have an obligation to incorporate a gender perspective when conducting searches, finding that the absence of such a perspective in the present case was an obstacle to a gender-responsive investigation of the enforced disappearance of the victim.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

October 24, 2022

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Systemic Practice | State/Non-State Agents | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Obligation to Prevent | Women and Girls | Deprivation of Liberty

Amparo en Revisión 51/2020

The decision recognises the severity of enforced disappearance as a crime and a human rights violation for both the victims and their relatives, which therefore requires prevention. Further, on the right to truth, the amparo reiterated victims' right to be searched for using different approaches. Finally, it established criteria for the judicial actors responsible for amparo proceedings to meet the reduced standard of proof in the definition of enforced disappearances and determined that these authorities can impose reparation.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

August 10, 2022

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Supreme Court of Mexico

Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy | Reparations

Amparo en Revisión 1077/2019

The Supreme Court ruled that State authorities at the federal and the state levels are, under both judicial and constitutional control, obliged to comply with the content of urgent actions issued by the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The decision further recognises the right of every person to be searched for.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

July 12, 2021

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Supreme Court of Mexico

Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy

Guidelines to prevent and address intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups cooperating with the Committee

The guidelines aim to prevent and address intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups cooperating with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. It clarifies the mandate of the Rapporteur on reprisals, including the adoption of protection measures, and the procedure for reporting allegations of intimidation or reprisals.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

April 20, 2021

Country

Universal

Judicial Body

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Interim/Urgent Measures

Follow-up report on individual communications – Yrusta v. Argentina (2)

The Committee concluded that the measures taken by the state party do not amount to a satisfactory implementation of the recommendations contained in its Views and reiterated in the follow-up procedure.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

September 25, 2020

Country

Argentina

Judicial Body

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Guarantees of Non-Repetition

E.L.A. v. France

The Committee clarified that the risk of enforced disappearance at the country of origin/return should be linked to the personal circumstances of the applicant, as well as the general context of enforced disappearance in the respective country. The risk of enforced disappearance following return must be examined by the domestic courts in a comprehensive manner. A mere acknowledgment of the applicant’s arguments and a simple confirmation of the lower court’s findings does not satisfy this requirement.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

September 25, 2020

Country

France

Judicial Body

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Extraterritorial Jurisdiction | Admissibility | Refugees and Migrants

Key guidelines on enforced disappearances in the context of COVID-19

The Committee and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances recall that enforced disappearance is prohibited in all circumstances. They developed eight key guidelines to assist Member States to continue to respect their international obligations in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

September 18, 2020

Country

Universal

Judicial Body

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Children/Youth | Refugees and Migrants | Effective Remedy

Contradicción de Tesis 261/2018

Given that an enforced disappearance may be executed in more than one district, or may even begin to be executed in one, and continue in another, the Supreme Court concluded that amparo claims may be filed before any federal judge, and must be dealt with. The Supreme Court ruled that State authorities, both at the federal and the state levels, are, under judicial and constitutional control, obliged to comply with the content of urgent actions issued by the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The decision further recognises the right of every person to be searched for.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

January 7, 2020

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Supreme Court of Mexico

Effective Remedy | Right to Know the Truth

Radilla Pacheco v. Mexico

The Court affirmed that the military authorities who detained Mr. Radilla Pacheco were responsible for his custody and for the protection of his rights. It recalled that bringing detainees before repressive official bodies, agents of the State, or private individuals who act with their acquiescence or tolerance and who practice torture and homicide represents, in itself, a breach of the duty to prevent violations of the rights to humane treatment and to life. This is so even if the acts of torture and or deprivation of life cannot be proven. The Court reiterated that the "historical truth" documented in the reports and recommendations of bodies such as the National Commission, does not fulfil or replace the State's obligation to also establish the truth regarding the case through judicial proceedings.

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

November 23, 2019

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Deprivation of Liberty | Judicial Protection | Juridical Personality | Effective Remedy

Gómez Virula et al. v. Guatemala

The Court found that there were no elements in the facts to establish that State agents were responsible for the disappearance and death of Mr. Gómez Virula. It also stated that it had not been demonstrated that the State knew or should have known that there was a situation of real and imminent risk against the trade unionists prior to the report of Mr. Gómez Virula's disappearance.

Nonetheless, it did find Guatemala responsible for violating the right to judicial protection since the State failed to act with due diligence to investigate the disappearance even though it knew the victim was a trade union leader in conflict with his workplace. It also found that the State failed to preserve the scene of the crime or to obtain evidence during the initial proceedings; and the autopsy did not demonstrate that a rigorous examination of the body had been carried out. For the Court, the State did not exhaust all the lines of investigation diligently and thus it failed to comply with its obligation to investigate the facts within a reasonable time.

Judgment Date

November 21, 2019

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Judicial Protection