11, December, 2014

Measuring Compliance with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: The Ongoing Challenge of Judicial Independence in Latin America

In this paper, published in the Nordic Journal of Human Rights, Dr. Cecilia Bailliet examines the implementation of resolutions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights relating to the accountability of the military for human rights violations in Latin America.

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Latin American democratic institutions are currently under stress due to a weakening of the rule of law, high levels of crime, corruption and impunity and opaque separation of powers. The judiciary remains weak in relation to the military in spite of the transition to democracy. This context negatively impacts compliance with orders issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This article assesses the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 2012 resolutions on compliance in order to illustrate ongoing problems with judicial independence in cases involving accountability of the military for human rights violations. The article confirms that states are able to publish the Court’s decisions but are unable to fully implement orders calling for criminal prosecution of military actors. Furthermore, some states are also failing to implement softer aspects of orders. However, some cases reveal increased Court deference to the national jurisdiction when interpreting compliance. The article concludes that the Court’s decisions provide a partly symbolic function and this, in turn, may be affected by larger questions regarding the legitimacy of the Organization of American States (OAS) as a whole.

Authors: Cecilia Marcela Bailliet
Orginal publication date: April, 2013
Publisher: Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (University of Oslo: Faculty of Law)

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