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Justice 25 years after?

Dante Leguizamón, Santiago's oldest son, is pictured during a protest calling for justice in the killing of journalist Pablo Medina, 22 October 2014
Dante Leguizamón, Santiago's oldest son, is pictured during a protest calling for justice in the killing of journalist Pablo Medina, 22 October 2014

REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has declared the complaint presented by relatives of Santiago Leguizamón – a journalist assassinated in 1991 in Pedro Juan Caballero – to be admissible, owing to violations of the rights to life and freedom of expression, as well as judicial guarantees and judicial protection. Dante Leguizamón, the journalist's son, announced the IACHR's decision.

The IACHR concluded that the case fulfills the requirements for consideration since there are indications that human rights violations have taken place pertaining to both Leguizamón himself and to his family, given that 25 years after the journalist's murder the crime remains unpunished and there has been no conclusion to the investigation. The IACHR will conduct an in-depth study examining State responsibilities in the case. Following presentation of the complainants' reports, the State must respond and present its arguments.

In its decision, the IACHR said the petitioners noted that their investigation of the case reveals possible complicity between those involved in the assassination and the government of then president Andrés Rodríguez (who died in 1997). As such, there are indications pointing to possible involvement of local entrepreneurs and President Rodríguez in the crime. The petitioners stated that the investigation into these links was not adequately investigated, that relatives of the victim were hindered in participating in the criminal proceedings for security reasons and that the crime remains unpunished to date.

The State, for its part, has claimed that the allegations do not represent human rights violations, that no State agent has been accused of involvement in the crime, that the State did not carry out actions to hinder Leguizamón's work and that the assassination has been investigated and the suspects brought to justice “to the limits of their jurisdiction.”

If it concludes that the State was involved in human rights violations in the case, the IACHR must make recommendations regarding the application of measures against impunity, reparations (whether it be via compensation or public acknowledgement of responsibility), measures to prevent a recurrence of the circumstances and the implementation of public policies to protect journalists. If the State fails to comply with the recommendations, the case will then be referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

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