REPORT Nº 33/02
18 August 1998, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
("The Inter-American Commission" or "the IACHR")
received a communication from the Center for Justice and
International Law ("CEJIL") imputing responsibility to
the Republic of Chile ("the State" or "the Chilean
State") for the decision of that country’s courts not to
punish abusive interference in the private life of Mónica
Carabantes Galleguillos, who filed suit against the decision of a
private school to expel her for having become pregnant.
The petitioners maintain that the State is internationally
responsible for violating the following rights guaranteed by the
American Convention on Human Rights ("the American
Convention"): the right to have one’s honor respected and
one’s dignity recognized (Article 11) and the right to equal
protection of the law (Article 24).
They also alleged violation of the general obligation to
respect and ensure the rights set forth in Article 1(1) and the
duty to adopt the domestic legal measures referred to in Article 2
of the aforementioned international instrument.
parties formalized their interest in reaching a friendly
settlement of the matter at hand at meetings held at IACHR
headquarters in March and November 2001.
Based on the signed minutes of these meetings, the State
proposed and carried out, with the victims’ assent, a series of
concrete measures. In
the present report, approved in accordance with Article 49 of the
American Convention, the IACHR summarizes the facts at issue, the
agreement of the parties, and compliance with that agreement; and
decides to publish it.
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE IACHR
petition was transmitted to the Chilean State on 24 August 1998,
with a deadline of 90 days for the presentation of its
Inter-American Commission reiterated this request on 29 March 1999
and set a new deadline of 30 days.
At the request of the State, the IACHR allowed an extension
of 60 days from 16 April 1999. The State requested an additional extension of 60 days on 28
6 July 1999, the petitioners requested the IACHR to apply Article
42 of the Rules of Procedure then in force and to presume the
veracity of the facts at issue, given the State's failure to
respond. On 8 July
1999, the Chilean State presented its observations, which were
transmitted to the petitioners on 2 August 1999. On 9 December 1999, the State transmitted additional
14 January 2000 the petitioners presented their observations on
the State's response. On
15 September 2000, the Chilean State presented its additional
observations; the Inter-American Commission transmitted the
document to the petitioners on 26 November 2000.
its 110th Regular Session, on 1 March 2001, the IACHR conducted a
meeting at its headquarters with representatives of the parties in
the case at hand. The
agreements reached at that time were recorded in minutes attached
to the case file and signed by the participants.
On 27 June 2001, the Inter-American Commission requested
up-to-date information from the parties with respect to the points
5 October 2001, the Chilean State remitted a proposal for a
friendly settlement; the Inter-American Commission responded that
a friendly settlement agreement could be formalized at a
forthcoming meeting. The
meeting was held on 15 November 2001 at the headquarters of the
Inter-American Commission, at which time minutes reflecting the
agreement reached by the parties were prepared.
The document signed by the participants at that meeting was
transmitted to the parties on 21 November 2001.
March 1992, Mónica Carabantes Galleguillos entered the fifth year
of basic education at a subsidized private school "Andrés
in the city of Coquimbo, Chile.
In February 1997, Mónica Carabantes’s doctor informed
her that she was pregnant; the following month she began her
student activities for the third year of middle school at the
aforementioned institution. Her parents personally brought the situation to the attention
of the school's director, who promised support and “arrangements
appropriate to the case". However, on 15 July 1997, the
director informed them that Mónica Carabantes could complete the
current school year at the “Andrés Bello” school but that
"according to internal regulatory provisions, her enrollment
could not be renewed for the 1998-1999 school year".
Carabanteses contacted the Regional Office of the Ministry of
Education, where they filed a complaint and requested that
educational authorities take the appropriate administrative or
judicial measures. On 24 July 1997, the Carabantes family attorney filed a
recourse for protection before the La Serena Court of Appeals
against the "Andrés Bello" school, asking the court to
find that Miss Carabantes had been arbitrarily and illegally
deprived of her constitutional rights", inasmuch as her
pregnancy was the basis for not renewing her enrollment, in
violation of the right to equality before the law enshrined in
Article 19(2) of the Political Constitution of Chile.
As the basis for illegality, the recourse cited Circular Nº
247, issued by the Ministry of Education in February 1991, which
refers to pregnant students.
petition alleges that while this judicial recourse was being
processed, the attitude of the school's authorities "became
considerably more hostile" toward Mónica Carabantes, to such
an extent that she was expelled during an examination for having
appeared seven months pregnant.
The school director’s report, which was submitted to the
La Serena Court of Appeals, justifies this action as consistent
with the institution’s internal regulations and appropriate, in
view of “the infraction against ethical and moral standards that
students in the establishment, given their age, should follow as a
general rule", and maintains that the constitutional
provision cited by the Carabantes family was not violated.
24 December 1997, in a unanimous lower court ruling, the Second
Chamber of the Court of Appeals of La Serena rejected the recourse
for protection. In
its decision, the court ruled that the actions of the school
director were legal and that the internal regulations of the
"Andrés Bello" school included a provision under which
students who became mothers during a school year could not renew
their enrollment the following year.
On 31 December 1997, Mónica Carabantes’s representative
appealed this judgment before the Supreme Court of Justice, which
upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeals of La Serena on 18
THE FRIENDLY SETTLEMENT
the meeting held on this matter on 1 March 2001, the
Inter-American Commission duly noted the good will demonstrated by
the parties with a view to reaching a friendly settlement.
The minutes signed by the parties at that time explain the
The Government of Chile agrees to take steps for the
purpose of obtaining the “President of the Republic
Scholarship” to cover the costs of higher education for Mrs. Mónica
Carabantes Galleguillos and the secondary and higher education of
petitioners undertake to provide information as soon as possible
concerning Mrs. Carabantes Galleguillos and her daughter in order
to help Chilean authorities find her for the purposes indicated in
the preceding paragraph.
Government will take all steps necessary for an act of public
redress for the discrimination suffered by Mrs. Mónica Carabantes
Galleguillos to be performed by the highest regional authorities
of La Serena. If
possible, this act will be conducted during the IACHR’s visit to
Chile in April 2001.
Government will communicate with the petitioners two weeks after
the date of 5 March 2001 to discuss progress in completing the
steps indicated in these minutes.
parties will make every concerted effort to sign a friendly
settlement agreement during the first week of April 2001.
7 April 2001, during the 111th special session held in Chile, the
Inter-American Commission met with Mónica Carabantes and her
representatives in La Serena to discuss progress in implementing
the friendly settlement.
5 October 2001, the Chilean State sent a communication with a
proposal for a friendly settlement of the matter.
It indicated that the proposal had been approved by the
Ministries of the Interior and Education of Chile, and that the
petitioner had approved it without any objection.
The proposal is as follows:
The Government undertakes to award a special scholarship of 1.24
Monthly Tax Units (UTM) to Mrs. Mónica Carabantes Galleguillos
while she is enrolled in higher education.
basic elements of the proposal are as follows:
The scholarship consists of a monthly subsidy equivalent to
1.24 UTMs for higher education.
Under current provisions, the President of the Republic
Scholarship Board may, in special situations, awards special
scholarships not to exceed 0.5 percent of new scholarships.
It is still not possible to award a scholarship to the
daughter of Mrs. Carabantes, now three years of age, inasmuch as
basic public education is mandatory and free of charge in Chile.
The Government would publicize the compensatory measures by means
of an official communication on the matter, to be issued jointly
with regional authorities, recognizing that rights of the
petitioner enshrined in the American Convention on Human
Rights–freedom from arbitrary or abusive interference with her
private life and equal protection of the law–were violated when
her enrollment was not renewed and she was obliged to leave the
educational establishment where she was pursuing her studies,
“Andrés Bello” school in Coquimbo, a private school
subsidized with cofinancing, for the sole reason that she had
become pregnant. In
addition, steps would be taken to disseminate recent legislation
(Law Nº 19,688), amending the Education Act, which contains
provisions on the rights of pregnant students or nursing mothers
to have access to educational establishments.
15 November 2001, another meeting was held on the matter.
The IACHR again took note of the willingness of both
parties to settle the matter amicably, and minutes containing the
following points were signed:
parties discussed the terms of the friendly settlement proposal
presented by the Government of Chile in its communication of 5
October 2001. With
respect to the starting date for the special scholarship mentioned
in that proposal, Mónica Carabantes’s representative initially
expressed interest in making the scholarship retroactive to 1
March 2001, and if this should not prove possible, with effect
from the date of signature of the friendly settlement agreement,
i.e. 1 December 2001.
representative of the Government of Chile indicated that he had
received instructions to the effect that, if the agreement were
signed, his Government would award the scholarship with effect as
from March 2002. The
petitioner indicated that she needed to consult with Mónica
Carabantes in order to respond to the Government’s proposal.
The Government representative reiterated the favorable
predisposition of Chile and would await the petitioner’s
communication during the week of 26 November 2001.
IACHR pointed out that the minutes of the previous meeting in
pursuit of a friendly settlement of this matter, signed by both
parties on 1 March 2001, reflected the willingness of the State to
take steps to obtain the President of the Republic Scholarship and
the intention of both parties to sign a friendly settlement
agreement during the first week of April 2001.
on the foregoing, the IACHR indicated that a concrete sign of the
Government of Chile’s good will could be the express commitment
to complete all of the steps necessary to ensure that Mónica
Carabantes would obtain the aforementioned scholarship with effect
as from March 2002, irrespective of the signature of a friendly
petitioners remitted to the Inter-American Commission a copy of
the communication of 13 December 2001 to the Director of Human
Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Chile.
This communication expresses, inter
alia, the willingness of Mónica Carabantes and her family to
settle the present matter amicably, and their acceptance of the
initiation of the scholarship during the 2002 academic year.
on the particular characteristics of the case at hand, the
Inter-American Commission has actively pursued the friendly
settlement procedure. This
report summarizes the activity of the parties and reflects the
agreement reached in concluding the matter.
Inter-American Commission notes that the mechanism contemplated in
Article 48(1) (f) of the American Convention permits the
conclusion of individual petitions in a noncontentious matter, as
demonstrated in cases from various countries in the region.
on the foregoing considerations of fact and law,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
approve the friendly settlement agreement reached in the present
set a deadline of three months, reckoned from the date of
transmittal of this report, for the Chilean State to report on the
symbolic redress measures agreed to by the parties in the present
make this report public and include it in its Annual Report to the
OAS General Assembly.
and signed at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights in the city of Washington, D.C., on March 12, 2002.
(Signed): Juan E. Méndez, President; Marta Altolaguirre, First
Vice-President; Robert K. Goldman, Julio Prado Vallejo and Clare K.