The purpose of the Fund is to facilitate access to the Inter-American Human Rights System to those persons who, at the present time, do not have the necessary resources to bring their case before the Court. When a case has been submitted to the Court, any victim who does not have the necessary financial resources to cover the costs arising from the proceedings may expressly request access to the Fund.
On February 4, 2010, the Court’s Rules for the Operation of the Victims’ Legal Assistance Fund (hereinafter, “the Fund”) were issued and they entered into force on June 1, 2010. The purpose of the Fund is to facilitate access to the Inter-American Human Rights System to those persons who, at the present time, do not have the necessary resources to bring their case before the Court.
When a case has been submitted to the Court, any victim who does not have the necessary financial resources to cover the costs arising from the proceedings may expressly request access to the Fund. According to the Rules, the presumed victims who wish to avail themselves of the Fund must inform the Court in their brief with pleadings, motions and evidence. In addition, they must authenticate, by means of a sworn declaration or other appropriate means of proof satisfactory to the Court, that they lack sufficient financial resources to cover the costs of litigation before the Court and indicate precisely which aspects of their participation require the use of resources from the Fund. The President is responsible for evaluating each application to determine whether or not it is admissible, and will indicate which aspects of the participation can be covered by the Victims’ Legal Assistance Fund.
The Court’s Secretariat is in charge of administering the Fund. When the President has determined that the request is admissible and his decision has been notified, the Court’s Secretariat opens a file of expenditures for each specific case, in which it records each disbursement made, in accordance with the parameters authorized by the President. Subsequently, the Court’s Secretariat informs the respondent State of the disbursements made from the Fund, so that it can submit any observations it wishes within the time frame established to this effect. As indicated above, when delivering judgment, the Court will assess the admissibility of ordering the respondent State to reimburse the Fund any disbursement made and will indicate the amount owed.
It should be underlined that this Fund does not receive resources from the regular budget of the OAS. This has led the Court to seek voluntary contributions to ensure its existence and operation. To date, the funds have come from several cooperation projects and from voluntary contributions from States.
Initially, the funds only came from a cooperation project signed with Norway for the period 2010-2012, which provided US$210,000.00 and from the donation of US$25,000.00 to the Fund by Colombia. During 2012, based on new cooperation agreements signed with Norway and Denmark, the Court obtained commitments for additional funding for 2013-2015 of US$65,518.32 and US$55,072.46 respectively In 2016, the Court received US$15,000.00 from Norway, in 2017, US$24,616.07, in 2018, US$24,764.92 and finally, for execution of the 2019 budget a contribution of US$24,539.80.