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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1609-073X

Afr. hum. rights law j. vol.11 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2011

 

The Inter-American human rights protection system: Structure, functioning and effectiveness in Brazilian law

 

 

Valerio de Oliveira Mazzuoli

Professor of Public International Law and Human Rights and Co-ordinator, Master in Law Programme, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil

 

 


ABSTRACT

The article provides a brief background to the Inter-American system of human rights and its monitoring organs, the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It then focuses on the relationship between the two institutions, looking in particular at how cases are instituted before the Court. Against this background, the process of ensuring effective domestic enforcement of the Court's judgments in Brazil is investigated with reference to two decided cases and a draft Bill pending before Congress.


 

 

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* Juris Doctor (Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)), Master in International Law (Sao Paulo State University (Brazil)); mazzuoli@ufmt.br
1 See V de O Mazzuoli Curso de direito internacional público (2010) 824-842.
2For the text in Portuguese, see V de O Mazzuoli Coletánea de direito internacional (2010) 233.
3 A complete study of the Inter-American system of human rights can be found in the book Comments on the American Convention on Human Rights that the author has written in collaboration with Luiz Flávio Gomes, and which was published in Brazil by Revista dos Tribunais Publishing (2009), to which we refer the interested reader. See LF Gomes & V de O Mazzuoli Comentários à Convenção Americana sobre Direitos Humanos (Pacto de San Jose da Costa Rica) (2009).
4 For a study on the European system of human rights protection, see JES Fawcett The application of the European Convention on Human Rights (1987); J-F Flauss 'Le droit de recours individuel devant la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme: Le Protocole No 9 a la Convention Européenne des Droits de l'Homme' (1990) 36 Annuaire Français de Droit International 507-519; P Mahoney & S Prebensen 'The European Court of Human Rights' in R St J MacDonald et al (eds) The European system for the protection of human rights (1993) 621-643; D Harris & G Janssen-Pevtschin 'Le Protocole No 11 a la Convention Européenne des Droits de l'Homme' (1994) 20 Revue Trimestrielle des Droits de l'Homme 483-500; M O'boyle & C Warbrick Law of the European Convention on Human Rights (1995); D Gomien et al Law and practice of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter (1996); J Rideau 'Le rôle de l'Union Européenne en matière de protection des droits de l'homme' (1997) 265 Recueil des Cours 9-480; F Matscher 'Quarante ans d'activités de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme' (1997) 270 Recueil des Cours 237-398; and E Lambert Les effets des arrêts de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme: Contribution a une approche pluraliste du droit européen des droits de l'homme (1999).
5 About the African regional system, see BS Ngom Les droits de l'homme et l'Afrique (1984); EG Bello 'The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights: A legal analysis' (1985) 194 Recueil des Cours 9-268; K M'Baye Les droits de l'homme en Afrique (1992); F Ouguergouz La Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Hhomme et des Peuples: Une approche juridique des droits de l'homme entre tradition et modernité (1993); UO Umozurike The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (1997); and M Evans & R Murray (eds) The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights: The system in practice, 1986-2006 (2008).
6 See HF Ledezma El sistema interamericano de protección de los derechos humanos: Aspectos institucionales y procesales (1999).
7 See JC Hitters Derecho internacional de los derechos humanos (1993); R Nieto Navia Introducción al sistema interamericano de protección a los derechos humanos (1993); A Dulitzky 'Una mirada al sistema interamericano de derechos humanos' (1998) 20 América Latina Hoy 9-19; and F Andreu-Guzmán '30 años de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos: todavía hay mucho camino por recorrer' (2001) 1 El sistema interamericano de protección de los derechos humanos en el umbral del siglo XXI 301-307.
8 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 261.
9 For a study on the precedents of human rights protection in the OAS Charter, see H Gros Espiell 'Le systême interaméricain comme régime régional de protection internationale des droits de l'homme' (1975) 145 Recueil des Cours 13-20.         [ Links ]
10 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 1006. For a study on the interpretation of this kind of international provision, see V de O Mazzuoli Tratados internacionais de direitos humanos e direito interno (2010) 116-128.
11 See E Márquez 'Documentos internacionales sobre los derechos humanos: La Carta de la OEA' México y las declaraciones de derechos humanos México, DF: Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM (1999) 217-232.
12 See T Buergenthal & D Cassel 'The future of the Inter-American human rights system' El futuro del sistema interamericano de protección de los derechos humanos (1998) 539-572; C Ayala Corao 'El sistema interamericano de promoción y protección de los derechos humanos' México y las declaraciones de derechos humanos, México, DF: Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM (1999) 99-118; and C Ayala Corao 'Reflexiones sobre el futuro del sistema interamericano de derechos humanos' (2001) 30/31 Revista IIDH 91-128.
13 See AA Cançado Tratado de direito internacional dos direitos humanos (2003) 33-34.
14 See Gros Espiell (n 9 above) 35-37; A de C Ramos Direitos humanos em juízo: comentários aos casos contenciosos e consultivos da Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos (2001) 57-58.
15 The official Brazilian version of the American Convention on Human Rights can be found published in Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 998-1015.
16 See F Piovesan Direitos humanos e o direito constitucional internacional (2006) 228.
17 Brazil made the following statement at the signing of the Protocol: 'In ratifying the Protocol to Abolish the Death Penalty, adopted in Asunción on June 8, 1990, I declare that, due to constitutional obligations, I make a reservation in terms set out in Article 2 of the Protocol in question, which guarantees to the States Parties the right to apply death penalty in wartime in accordance with the international law, for extremely serious crimes of a military nature.'
18 See Gros Espiell (n 9 above) 23; Cançado Trindade (n 13 above) 34-35.
19 See JM Arrighi OEA: Organização dos Estados Americanos (2004) 52.
20 See Gros Espiell (n 9 above) 23-34.
21 See Gros Espiell (n 9 above) 27-30; A de C Ramos Processo internacional de direitos humanos: Análise dos sistemas de apuração de violações dos direitos humanos e a implementagao das decisóes no Brasi (2002) 229-238; and Piovesan (n 16 above) 232233. For an overview of the cases against Brazil in the Inter-American Commission until 2005, see LF Gomes & V de O Mazzuoli 'O Brasil e o sistema interamericano de proteção dos direitos humanos' in AZ Schmidt (ed) Novos rumos do direito penal contemporáneo: livro em homenagem ao Prof Dr Cezar Roberto Bitencourt (2006) 427-437.
22 Art 50(1) American Convention.
23 Arts 50(1) to (3).
24 See Arrighi (n 19 above) 108.
25 See Piovesan (n 16 above) 236.
26 Art 51(1) American Convention.
27 See Gomes & Mazzuoli (n 3 above) 255.
28 See Gros Espiell (n 9 above) 30-31.
29 See Ramos (n 14 above) 68-69; and also his Processo internacional de direitos humanos (n 21 above) 221-224. (In these two works, the author refers to art 53 of the OAS Charter, when he means art 54 of the Charter).
30 H Bicudo 'Defesa dos direitos humanos: sistemas regionais' (2003) 17 Estudos Avançados 231.
31 See Ramos (n 14 above) 71.
32 For details, see CA Dunshee de Abranches 'The Inter-American Court of Human Rights' (1980) 30 American University Law Review 79-125; T Buergenthal 'The Inter-American Court of Human Rights' (1982) 76 American journal of International Law 1-27; AS Dwyer 'The Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Towards establishing an effective regional contentious jurisdiction' (1990) 13 Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 127-166.
33 For a detailed comparison between the two systems, see H Gros Espiell 'La Convention Américaine et la Convention Européenne des Droits de l'Homme: Analyse comparative' (1989) 218 Recueil des Cours 167-412.
34 See T Buergenthal 'Recordando los inicios de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos' (2004) 39 Revista IIDH 11-31; Arrighi (n 19 above) 105-107.
35 See T Buergenthal 'The advisory practice of the Inter-American Human Rights Court' (1985) 79 American Journal of International Law 1-27; CR Miguel 'La función consultiva en el sistema interamericano de derechos humanos: Crisálida de una jurisdicción supra-constitucional? (1998) II Liber amicorum: Héctor Fix Zamudio 1345-1363.
36 See H Gros Espiell 'El procedimiento contencioso ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos' (1986) 19 Boletín Mexicano de Derecho Comparado 511-548.
37 See Ramos (n 14 above) 61.
38 See, in this regard, AA Cangado Trindade Evolution du droit international au droit des gens: l'accès des individus a la justice internationale (le regard d'un juge) (2008).
39 See JF Rezek Direito internacional público: curso elementa (2002) 215.
40 See Cangado Trindade (n 13 above) 52. About the authority of international judgments, see LNC Brant L'autorité de la chose jugée en droit international public (2003).
41 See Ramos (n 14 above) 88-99.
42 It was approved by the Court in its 85th ordinary period of sessions. This is the 5th regulation of the Inter-American Court since its establishment.
43 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 1010.
44 See Gomes & Mazzuoli (n 3 above) 279-280.
45 See Ramos (n 14 above) 90-91.
46 Art 42 of the Rules.
47 Art 45 of the Rules.
48 On the probative question in the Inter-American Court, see A Bovino A atividade probatória perante a Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos, SUR - Revista Internacional de Direitos Humanos (2005) 61-83.
49 See VMR Rescia Las reparaciones en el sistema interamericano de protección de los derechos humanos, Revista IIDH (1996) 129-150.
50 Before the entry into force of Constitutional Amendment 45/2004, the jurisdiction for homologation of foreign judgments was subjected to the Supreme Court. See, in this regard, V de O Mazzuoli 'Sentengas internacionais no Supremo Tribunal Federal' (2002) Jornal Correio Braziliense, Supplement 'Law and Justice', Brasília, 3.
51 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 1562.
52 I Brownlie Principios de direito internacional público (1997) 603.
53 JC Magalhães O Supremo Tribunal Federal e o direito internacional: uma análise crítica (2000) 102. In this same sense, see Ramos (n 14 above) 496-497; and his Processo internacional (n 21 above) 331-336.
54 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 1013 on enforcement/ implementation.
55 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 1012. In this regard, see Arrighi (n 19 above) 108; VMR Rescia 'La ejecución de sentencias de la Corte' in JE Méndez & F Cox (eds) El futuro del sistema interamericano de protección de los derechos humanos (1998) 449-490; Gomes & Mazzuoli (n 3 above) 308-310.
56 See the sentence in http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_161_por.pdf (accessed 30 September 2010).
57 See AA Cançado Trindade O direito internacional em um mundo em transformação (2002) 612-613.
58 For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 93.
59 See Piovesan (n 16 above) 241.
60 For criticism of the OAS work in these cases, see Gomes & Mazzuoli (n 3 above) 309-310.
61 Thus states art 100 of the Constitution (amended by Constitutional Amendment 62 of 9 December 2009): 'The payments owed by the Federal, State, District and Municipal Public Treasuries, by virtue of a court decision, are to be issued solely in chronological order of submission of the judicial requests, and to the respective credits account, being it prohibited the designation of cases or people in budgetary appropriations and additional credits opened for this purpose. (1) The debts of alimony include those derived from salaries, wages, pensions and their complements, pension benefits and compensation for death or disability, based on civil liability due to force of res judicata, and shall be paid with precedence over all other debts, except those referred to in (2) of this article. (2) The debts of alimony whose holders are sixty (60) years old, or even older, on the date of issuance of the judicial request, or are patients of serious disease, defined according to the law, shall be paid with precedence over all other debts, even to the triple value of the equivalent set by law for the purposes of the provision of (3) of this article, admitted the fractioning for this purpose, while the remainder will be paid in chronological order of submission of the judicial request.' For the text in Portuguese, see Mazzuoli (n 2 above) 84-85.
62 See, in this regard, Ramos (n 14 above) 499.
63 In this regard, see Mazzuoli (n 1 above) 334-346; Mazzuoli (n 10 above) 125-126.
64 For a pioneer study on this theme in Brazil, see V de O Mazzuoli O controle jurisdicional da convencionalidade das leis (2009).

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