Provisional measures are an instrument used by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Their purpose is to prevent irreparable harm to the rights and freedoms ensured under the American Convention on Human Rights of persons, who are in a situation of extreme gravity and urgency. The measures, ordered ex officio or at the request of a party, result in protection offered by the respondent State to alleged victims. Those can include family members of alleged victims, witnesses, journalists, political candidates, human rights defenders, members of indigenous communities, prisoners who live in deplorable conditions, the seriously ill or those on hunger strikes, officials of the justice system, aliens under orders of deportation or extradition and those sentenced to capital punishment. This does not in any way result in prejudging the merits of the matter before the Inter-American Court.
Today, interim measures have a key role in many of the cases that are brought before the Inter-American Human Rights System. Surely, neither the judges, academia, nor the international community in general had imagined the dimensions that this institution would acquire in the jurisprudence over the years. This book analyses the complete case-law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with regard to provisional measures. It deals with the jurisdiction of the Court (ratione personae, materiae, temporis and loci) to order such measures and the admissibility questions respectively. This is followed by an analysis of the evidentiary issues, the processing of the request for provisional measures, the delay within which interim measures are usually adopted by the Court and the duration of the measures. Finally, the legal nature of the provisional measures and the legal consequences in case of incompliance by States are examined, as well as the compliance rate and the factors that may be considered the main obstacles to some measures being effective. This study attempts to exalt the work of the measures and explore responses so that they might better meet their function of protecting rights effectively. Beyond its academic value, this book hopes to have a practical utility, a social visibility. It is an invitation to each individual to get acquainted with the power that the case law of the Inter-American Court has given to the figure of interim measures measures. He or she may then use it, as a useful tool that has the virtue of avoiding the irreparable violation of rights in situations of extreme gravity and urgency.
The book has been updated until November 2009.
About the author
Clara Burbano Herrera (Ph.D. in Law, LL.M. in Fundamental Rights, Postgraduate Degree in Constitutional Law, Master in Law) is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Fund Flanders (FWO Flanders) at Ghent University, Human Rights Centre (Ghent, Belgium), where she also teaches human rights, and is a former Professor at the University of Los Andes (Bogota, Colombia).
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