Valle Jaramillo et al. v. Colombia. Series C No. 192.

Key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.


96. In addition, the Court observes that the death of a human rights defender of the caliber of Jesús María Valle Jaramillo can have an intimidating effect on other human rights defenders. The fear caused by such an event can directly reduce the possibility of human rights defenders exercising their right to perform their work by means of denunciations. Furthermore, the Court reiterates that the threats and attacks on the lives and personal integrity of human rights defenders, as well as the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for such acts, are particularly grave because they have not only individual, but also collective effects, inasmuch as society is prevented from learning the truth concerning the observance or the violation of the rights of those subject to the jurisdiction of a specific State.

119. In this regard, the Court finds it pertinent to clarify some aspects of its case law concerning the determination of violations of the personal integrity of the next of kin of victims of certain human rights violations, or other persons with close ties to such victims. For instance, the Court considers that a violation of the right to mental and moral integrity of the direct next of kin of victims of certain human rights violations can be declared, applying a presumption iuris tantum with regard to mothers and father, daughters and sons, husbands and wives, permanent companions (hereinafter “direct next of kin”), provided this responds to the specific circumstances of a case, as has happened, for example, in the cases of various massacres, forced disappearance of persons, and extrajudicial executions. With regard to these direct next of kin, it is for the State to disprove their claim. In other cases, the Court must analyze if the evidence in the case file proves a violation of the right to personal integrity of the alleged victim, whether he/she is a next of kin of another victim in the case or not. In relation to those persons regarding whom the Court does not presume that the right to personal integrity has been harmed, because they are not direct next of kin, the Court must assess, for example, whether there is a particularly close tie between them and the victims in the case that would allow the Court to declare a violation of their right to personal integrity. The Court can also assess whether the alleged victims have been involved in seeking justice in the specific case, or whether they have endured special suffering as a result of the facts of the case or of subsequent acts or omissions of the State authorities in relation to the facts.



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