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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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 ...click to read more

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

November 23, 2019

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Prevention, Justice and Truth, Related Crimes

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 ...click to read more

Judgment Date

November 21, 2019

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Justice and Truth, Persons and Groups Affected, Prevention

Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Judicial Protection

Alvarado Espinoza et al. v. Mexico

The Court reiterated that it is legitimate to rely upon circumstantial evidence, suggestions and presumptions in order to prove the elements of an enforced disappearance. The Court also reaffirmed that maintaining internal public order and safety should be primarily reserved for civil police forces, and that when the armed forces exceptionally intervene in security tasks, their participation must be: (a) Exceptional, justified, temporary and restricted to what is strictly necessary in the circumstances of the case; b) Subordinate and supplementary to the work of civil forces; c) Regulated through legal mechanisms and protocols on using force; and d) Supervised by competent, independent and technically ...click to read more

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

September 30, 2019

Country

Mexico

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Prevention, Justice and Truth

Obligation to Prevent | Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | Duty to Investigate

Arrom Suhurt et al. v. Paraguay

The Court did not establish the international responsibility of the State as it considered that the evidence presented before it was insufficient to conclude that the victims were deprived of their liberty by State agents or with their acquiescence. On the duty to initiate an investigation ex officio, the Court found that this case did not fall within the context of a systemic and generalised practice of enforced disappearances. There was also no evidence to demonstrate that the alleged victims were in the hands of State agents before the alleged events occurred. The Court emphasised that the authorities had initiated ...click to read more

Judgment Date

May 13, 2019

Country

Paraguay

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Characteristics of the Crime

Deprivation of Liberty

Omeara Carrascal et al. v. Colombia

The Court concluded that when conducting its investigation, the State did not act with due diligence to follow through on logical lines of inquiry. Furthermore, even though it should have known that the relatives of the victims were at risk, the State failed to provide or offer them protection. The Court found that this omission undermined the victims' participation in the investigative proceedings.

Judgment Date

November 21, 2018

Country

Colombia

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Prevention, Justice and Truth, Related Crimes

State/Non-State Agents | Effective Remedy | Judicial Protection | Relatives as Victims

Isaza Uribe et al. v. Colombia

The Court determined that the disappearance occurred from the moment the victim was taken from the prison and not from the very beginning of the detention, which had been formally and legally ordered by a judge. The Court recalled the particular duties States have regarding the protection of persons in the custody of State agents. It also recalled the obligation of States to provide an explanation in cases where the rights of those in custody are violated, such as through sustaining injuries. The Court considered that the lack of a convincing explanation, which would disprove any allegations regarding the responsibility ...click to read more

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

November 20, 2018

Country

Colombia

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Characteristics of the Crime, Prevention, Justice and Truth

Right to Know the Truth | State/Non-State Agents | Deprivation of Liberty | Judicial Protection | Juridical Personality

Terrones Silva et al. v. Peru

The Court confirmed that the security force agents had provided support and acquiescence to the perpetrating paramilitary group in relation to the events in this case. The Court found that the guarantee of reasonable time in the investigations was violated in all cases due to unjustified delays. In addition, the State violated its duty to initiate ex officio investigations. Moreover, the Court found that the State was not diligent in the search for the whereabouts of the disappeared victims since it only made sporadic requests for information to different State institutions rather than a systematic investigation. In addition, the State ...click to read more

Judgment Date

September 26, 2018

Country

Peru

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Search, Justice and Truth

Right to Know the Truth | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Deprivation of Liberty | Judicial Protection | Systemic Practice | Relatives as Victims

Munárriz Escobar et al. v. Peru

The Court emphasised that the State was in the position of a guarantor, given that the last available information on Mr. Munárriz Escobar was that he was in the custody of the State. Therefore, the State had the burden of providing a satisfactory and convincing explanation of what happened to the victim and to refute the presumption of its responsibility. The Court highlighted that the authorities did not provide information regarding the fate of the victim after his detention, and concluded that the State did not carry out investigations or searches with due diligence or within a reasonable time.

Judgment Date

September 20, 2018

Country

Peru

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Search, Prevention, Justice and Truth

Burden of Proof | Obligation to Prevent | Deprivation of Liberty | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate

Gutiérrez Hernández et al. v. Guatemala

The Court recalled that when a person disappears because their whereabouts are unknown, this is not the same as an enforced disappearance, which is a phenomenon constituted of specific elements including the involvement or acquiescence of State agents. In this case, however, the Court found that as the investigations were not carried out with due diligence, it was impossible to rule out the possibility that what happened to the victim had been an enforced disappearance. The Court highlighted that the State made a stereotyped assessment of Ms. Mayra Gutiérrez and prejudged the motive for the disappearance, focusing the investigation on her ...click to read more

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

September 24, 2017

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Persons and Groups Affected, Justice and Truth, Related Crimes

Judicial Protection | Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy

Vereda La Esperanza v. Colombia

The Court confirmed that the events occurred with the support and acquiescence provided by agents of the security forces to the paramilitary group. The State acknowledged its international responsibility for the failure to guarantee the rights to recognition as a person before the law; life; personal integrity; and personal liberty of 12 disappeared victims, including three children. After having considered the Prosecutor’s Office’s approach to the disappearance (namely, its use of a “prioritisation” mechanism in the case), the Court concluded that the Office had not proceeded with the investigation inappropriately. The Court also concluded that it did not have sufficient ...click to read more

Key Judgment

Judgment Date

July 31, 2017

Country

Colombia

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Theme

Justice and Truth, Related Crimes

Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy | Judicial Protection | Relatives as Victims