Iuris Dictio 20 (2017), 53-86. ISSN 1390-6402 / e-ISSN 2528-7834. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18272/iu.v20i20. 932
then President of the Inter-American Court
Miguel Castro-Castro Prison v. Perú
1. Preliminary remarks
e Inter-American Court of Human Rights has been adjudicating for nearly forty years. In this
lapse of time it has developed a wide case law that, due to the Court’s system of interpretation,
has somewhat transformed the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) to such
an extent, that nowadays it is impossible to grasp its scope without referring to the Court’s
rulings4. Because of this interpretation, non-specialized readers of the ACHR miss much of
the breadth of this treaty. is reality encouraged us to provide an “up to date” version of the
ACHR. As a result, we oer the common reader a treaty-like document, where we include
the Inter-American Court’s case law, so that it is possible to have an instant grasp of what the
Inter-American Court requires of States. We limited our work to the rst three chapters of the
ACHR, because they include what is most relevant to the readers of the ACHR.
Of course, since this work has a simple format, it cannot be assessed as an in-depth
academic paper. e specic strength of this work is not to provide a detailed and comprehensive
analysis of each Article of the ACHR, but to present the Inter-American Court’s case law at a
glance. Hence, there are many nuances that cannot be registered in this work. Furthermore, the
methodology for selecting the cases that are presented as sources would not be suitable for an
in-depth academic Article. In part, this methodological choice arose because of length concerns
that prevented us from including all the relevant judgments that “updated” the ACHR (this is
also the reason why we excluded references to academic papers). As a result of this restriction,
when we were faced with the need to provide sources for each “update” of the ACHR, we
decided to choose a single judgment on the merits or a single advisory opinion. In order to
choose this source, we took into account dierent qualities of the decision, such as its clarity,
its completeness (when establishing requisites), and even if their English translation had an
adequate wording. We also tried to include a signicant number of cases, but we could not
consider them all. e reader should, however, know that this paper is only the rst approach
to having an ACHR “up to date”; particularly, because it is part of a larger project, where it will
be possible to analyze each Article more in depth.
We are aware that, even though the Inter-American Court has the practice of
supporting its decisions by referring to its previous judgments, the principle of stare decisis has
no standing before the Court, as it is often the case with international courts5. Nevertheless,
consistent application of legal instruments allows for legal certainty, so it is a goal that courts
should try to achieve. erefore, case law will always be important, particularly before the
Inter-American Court, since it created the doctrine of conventionality control, which attempts
to require States and its domestic bodies to directly apply the Court’s rulings, even if they were
issued in judgments against third States6.
When “updating” the American Convention, we did not only use the ratio decidendi
of cases, because the Court often quotes its obiter dicta in subsequent cases. Similarly, we did not
4 Due to the nature of this work, we will not address the legal value of the Court’s interpretations. All the translations from
Spanish to English are mine.
See, e.g., Statute of the International Court of Justice (1945), Art. 59.
This doctrine is, in and of itself, a complex issue that could not be addressed in depth in our paper, even though we included
it in Article 1C. For a good account of this doctrine, see Ariel E. Dulitzky (2015).