Case of the "Five Pensioners" v. Perú

Complaint alleging violation of rights to property and judicial protection, as well as of obligation to achieve progressive realization. Violation of right to judicial protection through failure to comply with final court decisions. Violation of right to property through decrease in pension amount.

Date of the Ruling: 
Sep 12 2005
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Type of Forum: 

A group of retired citizens filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the State of Peru. The IACHR subsequently filed an action with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights alleging violation of rights to private property and judicial protection, and of the obligation to ensure progressive realization of social rights. During their active working life, the petitioners were employed as officials of a State agency that had its own pension fund. When the petitioners reached their retirement age, the said agency arbitrarily reduced their pensions to one fifth or one sixth of their nominal value. Although several court decisions acknowledged their rights, none was enforced. The IACHR denounced the State's failure and the Court decided Peru had violated the rights to private property and judicial protection by arbitrarily modifying the pension amounts and failing to enforce court decisions. However, the Court did not uphold the alleged violation of the obligation to ensure progressive realization of social rights, considering the right to social security had not been violated on a general basis, but only in respect of a given group of persons. Since the State had taken several measures towards enforcing the IACHR's and the victims's demands, the Court concluded that any consequences the violation of the right to private property could have on the financial status of the victims should be ascertained on the basis of domestic legislation by competent domestic agencies. Finally, the Court decided that the State had to apply relevant sanctions to those responsible for the failure to comply with court decisions and to pay victims compensation for the moral damage suffered.

Keywords: Case of the "Five Pensioners"  v. Perú, Social, Security, Welfare, Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

On September 12, 2005, the Court stated the State had failed to comply with the remedies ordered in the decision dated February 28 2003 and urged it to comply. Furthermore, the Court requested the State to submit a report on the enforcement of the remedies ordered by November 30, 2005.

Groups involved in the case: 

Applicants: Programa de Derechos Humanos del Centro de Asistencia Laboral del Perú (CEDAL) (, Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) ( and Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL) ( on behalf of Carlos Torres Benvenuto, Javier Mujica Ruiz-Huidobro, Guillermo Alvarez Fernández, Reymer Bartra Vásquez and Maximiliano Gamarra Ferreira. Defendant: State of Peru

Significance of the Case: 

The Court acknowledged that the degradation of the right to social security is a violation of the American Convention on Human Rights. This right is protected through the rights to property and judicial protection. Unfortunately, the Court interpreted the obligation to achieve the progressive realization of rights in a restrictive manner opposed to the interpretation issued by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.