THE ROLE OF THE COMPLIANCE OF REPARATIONS
ORDERED BY THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF
HUMAN RIGHTS IN COUNTERING STATE IMPUNITY IN
CASES OF GRAVE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
In its case law, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,
as a supranational human rights tribunal in the Americas, has
declared the international responsibility of States in cases of grave
human rights violations. Consequently, the Inter-American Court
has ordered reparations to guarantee the rights infringed, redress
the consequences of the infringements, and determine payment of
indemnification as compensation for damage caused. The
compliance of these judgments, even when partial, has helped
counter State impunity in cases of grave human rights violations,
such as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Inter-American Human Rights System is composed by
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-
American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Inter-American
Court”, “the Court”, or “the I/A Court H.R.”). The Inter-American
Court, installed in 1979 through the American Convention on
Human Rights, is an autonomous judicial institution whose
purpose is the application and interpretation of the American
Convention. It has both contentious and advisory jurisdiction.
* Human rights lawyer with a Master's in International Human Rights Law from
Georgetown Law, sponsored by the Fulbright Foreign Student Program of the
U.S. Department of State. Raimy obtained her law degree from the P ontificia
Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Sa nto Domingo, and is also a
Specialist in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law from the
Ministry of Defense of the Dominican Republic. She curre ntly works as a Public
Policy Analyst at the National Institute of Mi gration of the Dominican Republic.
Her human rights practice focuses mainly on the protectio n of the rights of
2 REV. DE DERECHO INT’L & COMP. (REDIC) [Vol. 2:1
American Convention on Human Rights has been ratified by 23 of
the 35 member States of the Organization of American States.
States Parties to the American Convention must guarantee
compliance with the provisions thereof and their effectiveness
within their domestic legal systems. This principle applies not only
to the substantive provisions of human rights treaties, but also to
procedural provisions, such as those concerning compliance with
the Court’s decisions. These obligations should be interpreted and
enforced in such a manner that the protected guarantee is truly
practical and effective, bearing in mind the special nature of
human rights treaties.
In various cases (Barrios Altos v. Peru, Almonacid
Arellano et al. v. Chile, Guerrilha do Araguaia v. Brasil,
Massacres of El Mozote v. El Salvador, Gelman v. Uruguay), the
Inter-American Court has established that acts that meet the
elements of crimes against humanity and war crimes must be
investigated, prosecuted, and punished in keeping with the
American Convention on Human Rights. The Court has ordered
States that were found internationally responsible of such
migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, internally displaced
persons, victims of human trafficking and other persons in need of international
protection. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Convention on Human Rights, arts. 63 and 64.
The 23 OAS member States that have rati fied the American Convention are:
Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti,
Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, P araguay, Peru, Suriname, and
Uruguay. Trinidad and T obago and Venezuela also rat ified the American
Convention but later denounced having effects such complaints in 1999 and
2013 respectively. See: IACHR, Annual Report 2015, Introduction: Status of
Ratification of Inter-American Instruments, available at:
I/A Court H.R., Case of Ivcher Bronstein v. Peru. Competence. Judgment of
September 24, 1999. Series C No. 54, para. 33; Case of De la Cruz Flores v.
Peru. Monitoring Compliance with Judgment Order of the Court of September
1, 2010, Considering Clause six, and Case of Tristán Donoso v. Panama.
Monitoring Compliance with Judgment Order of the Court of September 1,
2010, Considering Clause six.