Buffalo Human Rights Law Review


Álvaro Paúl

First Page


Document Type



The Spanish version of the case law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights often states that this tribunal's as- sessment of evidence is ruled by saia crilica, a notion which has received several translations in the English ver- sion of the Court's case law. This concept has a clear mean- ing in the Hispanic civil law tradition. Sana critica is a system for evaluating the weight of evidence whereby a court or tribunal is not constrained by the evidentiary rules of legal proo but must judge in accordance with the rules of logic and experience, and state the grounds for its evalu- ation. For a better understanding of sana critica or sound judicial discretion, this paper will refer to the other systems used for the weighing of evidence in the Hispanic legal tra- dition, especially to the oft-loathed method of legal proof, which requires the judge to give a previously defined weight to specific items of evidence. Reference will be made also to the differences between the systems used for weighing evidence and other related concepts, such as the standards of proof. The above description of the concept of sana critica will be illuminated with some comments on how the Inter-American Court applies this system.