Inter-American Court of Human Rights judgment of 06 March 2019 in Muelle Flores v. Peru (Series C case no. 375).
The applicant was assisted in preparing a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Washington, USA).
Subsequently, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights referred the applicant's complaint to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica). The complaint was then communicated to Peru.
In the case, a complaint about violation of the right to social protection in connection with the refusal to pay a pension was successfully considered.
Violation of the right to social protection in connection with the refusal to pay a pension is being appealed in the case.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
On 30 September 1990 the applicant, Oscar Muel Flores, retired from his job at the state-owned Minera Especial Tintaya Ltd (hereinafter “the company”). On January 27, 1991, the company suspended his pension payments. Following the suspension, the applicant lodged a complaint with amparo with the Lima Fifth Civil Court, which ordered the company to resume pension payments. The decision of the court was upheld by the appeal court and then by the Supreme Court in its ruling of 2 February 1993, which invalidated the suspension of the payment of the pension.
On 17 February 1993 the company renewed the suspension of pension payments to several former employees, including the applicant. The latter again lodged a complaint with amparo, seeking retirement benefits and damages. The Peruvian Constitutional Court ordered the company to continue paying the applicant's pension, but dismissed the applicant's claim for damages. The company requested a judicial review of the administrative decision and that the applicant's reintegration into the pension regime be declared inadmissible. The trial court granted the company's claims, but its decision was overturned on the applicant's complaint by the Peruvian Supreme Court, which concluded that the claims were unfounded. The supervisory proceedings regarding the enforcement of the first amparo complaint filed by the applicant are still pending. Moreover, in 1994 the company was privatized in accordance with Decree-Law no.674, which established additional obstacles for the company to comply with court orders ordering the payment of the applicant's pension.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter - the Inter-American Court) decided that the Peruvian authorities had an obligation to pay the pension, as the courts found, immediately, efficiently and quickly, since it was a right that addressed basic needs and replaced the right to receive wages ... In addition, the Inter-American Court noted that the Peruvian authorities were also required to establish explicitly and clearly which organization was responsible for the enforcement of the judgment, which was not done in the present case. The Inter-American Court indicated that in the present case the burden was shifted to the victim. Moreover, the Inter-American Court of Justice noted that 26 and 19 years have elapsed, respectively, since the 1993 and 1999 judgments. This period influenced the legal status of the victim, given that he was an elderly person with limited financial capabilities. Taking into account the above facts, the Inter-American Court concluded that the Peruvian authorities did not act promptly, which was necessary in view of the applicant's vulnerable position and the fact that the time limit was unreasonable. Thus, the Peruvian authorities have violated the requirements of Article 8, paragraph 1 of Article 25 and subparagraph "c" of paragraph 2 of Article 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights in conjunction with paragraph 1 of Article 1 and Article 2 of this Convention.
In addition, the Inter-American Court has for the first time expressed its opinion on the right to social protection. He referred to the autonomous right to receive a pension as part of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. He also pointed out that the constituent elements of this right could be derived from Article 45 of the Charter of the Organization of American States in the light of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and other international human rights treaties and documents. Due to the failure to enforce the decisions of the domestic courts, the applicant's right to a pension was not adequately protected. In addition, these decisions have not been executed to date, since the proceedings on the case are still pending. Moreover, the Inter-American Court has found that in the context of non-payment of a legally recognized pension, the rights to social protection, security of person and respect for human dignity are linked and in some cases violation of one of them can directly affect the other, in in particular in cases involving the elderly. The Inter-American Court found that the denial of the right to social protection for 27 years caused serious damage to the quality of life and medical reimbursement of the applicant, who was in need of social protection due to the fact that he was an elderly person with disabilities. The irregularities caused by the lack of pension benefits were not limited to those caused by unreasonable delay, since the pension was the applicant's only source of income. The continued non-payment of the pension inevitably led to instability in the applicant's financial situation, which affected his ability to meet his basic needs, which in turn had consequences for his psychological and moral state, as well as respect for human dignity. Thus, the existing mechanisms were unable to guarantee the relevant right and the authorities of the respondent State violated Article 26 in conjunction with Article 5, Article 8 paragraph 1, Article 11 paragraph 1, Article 25 paragraph 2 (c) and Article 1 paragraph 1, and article 2 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
In addition, given that the lack of judicial protection affected the victim's right to a pension that became part of his property, the Inter-American Court ruled that the Peruvian authorities violated the right to private property guaranteed by article 21, paragraph 1, and article 21, paragraph 2, in conjunction with article 25, paragraph 1, article 25, paragraph 2 (c), article 26 and article 1, paragraph 1 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
In view of the violations it found, the Inter-American Court ordered the Peruvian authorities:
(i) reinstate the applicant's receipt of the pension, which also included the obligation of the State to guarantee the provision of medical care to him through the Peruvian Social Health Plan (Es Salud);
(ii) publish this Regulation and its official summary;
(iii) pay the amounts specified in the judgment in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, loss of retirement income and costs, and pay the costs incurred by the Victim Legal Assistance Fund.