PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION
On October 6, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a complaint
against the Argentine State in connection with the situation of Mr.
Segundo Wenceslao Segura. The
Commission acknowledged receipt of the complaint on December 3 of that
year. On August 18, 1998, the
petitioners filed a chronological account of the facts.
The Commission acknowledged receipt of the information on October
11, 1998. On March 1, 1999, the petitioners presented to the Commission
their legal arguments and requested that the petition be admitted.
On June 10, 1999, the Commission asked the petitioners to provide a
copy of the sentence at first instance. On July 12, 1999, the petitioners submitted a copy of all
local court proceedings. Finally, on February 9 and August 8, 2000, the
petitioners requested information on the action taken on the petition.
The petitioners alleged violations of the rights protected under
Articles 8(1) (right to due process guarantees), 5(1) (right to respect
for one’s personal integrity) and 25 (right to judicial protection) of
the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the
FACTS AND ARGUMENTS
Since his youth, Segundo W. Segura, father of a low-income family,
had been partially disabled, as he was blind in the left eye.
He had, therefore, been receiving a pension from the National
Social Security Institute for Retirees and Pensioners [Instituto Nacional de Seguros Sociales para Jubilados y Pensionados]
(PAMI). In 1990, his right
eye, in which he had very little sight, suffered from neo-vascular
glaucoma, according to a November 8, 1990 diagnosis by Dr. Magrini. Because the eye required surgery, he was to be transported
immediately from the Province of Rio Negro to the federal capital.
On November 9, the petitioner went to PAMI to request transfer to
the capital, which was authorized on November 13.
That authorization covered travel expenses and accommodations.
The petitioner arrived in Buenos Aires on November 14.
The attending PAMI physician ordered tests, which were scheduled on
November 16. An
electroretinogram done on November 20 showed that the retina was not
functioning. The petitioners
allege that Mr. Segura suffered permanent, irreversible loss of sight in
his right eye, and with that was left completely blind and unable to work,
all because PAMI failed to provide Mr. Segura emergency treatment.
The petitioners went to the Argentine civil courts seeking
compensation for damages and injuries.
The lower court ruling of December 5, 1995, dismissed the suit and
ordered costs. After
examining and weighing the evidence tendered by the parties and the
experts, the judge concluded that PAMI had acted properly; that
hospitalization did not appear to be necessary; and that with surgery the
petitioner would have retained, at best, less than 5% of his sight, which
“would never have been enough to enable the [petitioner] to again become
a self-sufficient member of society.”
The Civil Appeals Court dismissed the appeal on June 19, 1996.
The Appeals Court also refused to hear the extraordinary appeal
that the attorneys for Mr. Segundo Segura filed.
The extraordinary appeal filed before the Supreme Court on March
18, 1997 was also declared inadmissible.
As indicated by the preamble of the American Convention on Human
Rights, the nature of the protection that the organs of the inter-American
system for the protection of human rights offer complements that afforded
under local law. Consequently,
while it is a function of the Commission to ensure the observance of the
obligations undertaken by the States parties to that international
instrument, it cannot perform the functions of an appeals court to examine
alleged errors of fact or law that the local courts may have committed
acting within the scope of their jurisdiction.
The Commission is not competent to investigate the actions of the
local courts or to review the evidence that the national courts have
weighed, unless there is unequivocal evidence that the guarantees of due
process recognized in the American Convention have been violated.
The petitioners allege that the absence of an objective
justification to explain why evidence fundamental to a fair decision was
ignored constitutes a miscarriage of due process prejudicial to the
alleged victim’s right of defense.
However, the information in the case file indicates that Mr.
Segundo Segura was given access to all levels of the judiciary in
Argentina, which, based on the evidence in the case, concluded that the
medical assistance afforded by the health care agency was adequate and
The Commission notes that the alleged victim was heard by
independent and impartial courts that, having examined and weighed the
evidence presented in the judicial proceedings, ruled in accordance with
the guarantees recognized in the American Convention, even though the
ruling was not in the alleged victim’s favor.
As for the alleged violations of Articles 5(1) and 21 of the
American Convention, the Commission considers that, as presented, they are
subsidiary to the alleged violations of Articles 8 and 25 of that
instrument. Therefore, as
there is no independent allegation of violations of those provisions, it
would not be appropriate for the Commission to examine them separately.
In accordance with the brief review above, the Commission considers
that the material facts in the petition under study do not tend to
characterize a violation of the American Convention.
It therefore declares the petition inadmissible, in accordance with
Article 47(b) of the American Convention.
Based on the analysis and the conclusions set out in the present
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
To declare the present petition inadmissible.
2. To notify the petitioner of this
3. To publish this decision and
include it in the Commission’s Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
Done and signed at the headquarters of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in the city of Washington, D.C., on October 10,
Claudio Grossman, President; Marta Altolaguirre, Second Vice-President; Commission members Hélio Bicudo, Robert K. Goldman, Peter
Laurie and Julio Prado Vallejo.
The First Vice President of the IACHR, Juan E. Méndez, an Argentine
national, did not participate in the discussion or vote on this
petition, in keeping with Article 17(2)(a) of the Commission’s Rules