Committee Reports

Amicus Brief: Alfredo Jose Chirinos Salamanca and others vs. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

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1. The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice (“Vance Center” or “Amicus”) respectfully submits this brief to the Inter American Court of Human Rights (“Court”) as amicus curiae pursuant to Article 44 of the Court’s Rules of Procedure to urge the Court to uphold jurisdiction in this case submitted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Inter-American Commission”), and decide whether the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (“Venezuela”) is responsible for violating Articles 5.1, 5.2, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.6, 8.1, and 25.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”) related to the obligations established in its Article 1.1, as well as for the violation of Articles 1, 6, and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture to the detriment of the 14 petitioners.

2. In this brief, Amicus addresses two issues: First, whether the Court has jurisdiction over Venezuela as a result of the Guaido government’s ratification of the Convention and acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction in July 2019. Second, whether the Court may exercise retrospective jurisdiction over Venezuela with respect to alleged human rights violations committed after its original denunciation of the Convention became effective on 10 September 2013.

3. On the first issue, Amicus concludes that the Court has jurisdiction over Venezuela because the state validly ratified the Convention and consented to the Court’s decision-making power. To address the scope of its jurisdiction, the Court needs to look solely at the ratification records maintained by the General Secretariat. For the Court to further examine the validity of the ratification would contradict the plain text of the Convention, the role of the General Secretariat as treaty depositary, and the jurisdictional powers of the Court. In any event, a closer review of the Guaido government’s treaty-making powers further confirms that Venezuela met all conditions to rejoin the Inter-American system and to appear as respondent before the Court.

4. On the second issue, Amicus concludes that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over Venezuela with respect to human rights violations committed after President Chavez’s original denunciation became effective in September 2013 and before Venezuela re acceded to the Convention in July 2019. Venezuela unconditionally recognized the Court’s competence to hear all cases relating to the interpretation or application of the Convention, as if the original denunciation had never taken place. In doing so, Venezuela extended the Court’s jurisdiction backward to the moment the purported denunciation had become effective, in line with international norms and case law, including from the Court. The Court cannot second-guess Venezuela’s consent and must consequently assert jurisdiction ratione temporis in this case.

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