Valentín Carillo Saldaña v. Mexico, Case 11.808, Report No. 107/00, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.111 Doc. 20 rev. at 574 (2000).
VALENTÍN CARRILLO SALDAÑA
December 4, 2000
On September 22, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter the Inter-American Commission or the IACHR)
received a note from the Commission for Solidarity and Defense of Human
Rights, A.C. (COSYDDHAC or the petitioners) in
which it complained that Mr. Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, a Tepehuan Indian,
had been detained, tortured, and extrajudicially executed by the military
in Chihuahua, Mexico, in October 1996. Mr. Carrillo Saldaña left his home
for work on October 12, 1996, and was missing until his body was found
buried on October 17, 1996, showing clear indications of torture. The
petitioners allege that the Mexican authorities refused to provide any
information to the relatives of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña during the time
that the latter was presumably being detained by members of the armed
forces of Mexico and that the investigation begun by the military authorities
lacks the independence required to establish the facts and punish those
responsible. The complaint imputes to the United Mexican States (the
State) international responsibility for the violation of the following
rights, which are guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights
(the American Convention): right to life (Article 4), right
to humane treatment (Article 5), right to personal liberty (Article 7),
right to a fair trial (Article 8) and right to judicial protection (Article
25). They also allege violation of the general obligation set out in Article
1(1) to respect and guarantee the rights recognized in the American Convention,
and the duty provided for in Article 2 for States Parties to adopt legislative
measures to give effect to those rights and freedoms.
The parties signed a friendly settlement agreement on March 1,
1999, and an agreement for the implementation of the friendly settlement
on December 2, 1999. In this report, which has been approved in conformity with
Article 49 of the American Convention, the IACHR summarizes the acts that
are the object of the petition, takes note of the agreement reached by
the parties, and decides to publish the case.
PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION
On October 1, 1997, the Inter-American Commission transmitted the
relevant parts of the petition to the State of Mexico and requested the
corresponding information. The parties were notified of the States response and
an exchange of information and observations was begun, as provided for
in the American Convention and in the Commissions Regulations.
On March 10, 1998, the Center for Justice and International Law
(CEJIL) joined the case as a co-petitioner. Subsequent to
that date, CEJIL and COSYDDHAC submitted joint communications and were
represented in the working meetings held to consider the present case.
On November 23, 1998, the Inter-American Commission placed itself
at the disposal of the parties with a view to initiating the proceeding
provided for in Article 48(1)(f) of the American Convention.
On December 2, 1998, a meeting was held at the Office of the State
Secretariat for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, in the capital of that country,
to try to reach a friendly settlement.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the parties, the
then Chairman of the Inter-American Commission, and the attorney representing
the Executive Secretariat responsible for the case. In its communication
of December 22, 1998, the State formally undertook to resolve the case
in a friendly settlement. In that communication, it informed the IACHR
of the start of meetings between the Mexican authorities and the petitioners
for the aforementioned purpose. On January 20, 1999, the parties met in
Mexico to try to move ahead with the friendly settlement procedure in
On March 1, 1999, a meeting to follow up that initiative was held
at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission, at which time the
representatives of the parties and the IACHR signed the agreement for
a friendly settlement. On October 4, 1999, another meeting was held at
the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission as part of the process
provided for in Article 48(1)(f) of the American Convention. The questions
that remained to be settled were discussed at that meeting, particularly
those concerning the delivery of a copy of the judgment handed down against
the military personnel who had been found responsible for the extrajudicial
killing of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, and the calculation of the compensation
to be paid to the relatives of the victim.
On December 2, 1999, the parties and the representatives of the
Inter-American Commission signed at the Commissions headquarters
an agreement for implementation of the friendly settlement,
which was aimed at defining the issues that remained pending in the document
signed on March 1, 1999.
On June 15, 1999, the State submitted additional information, which
was communicated to the petitioners on June 29, 1999.
The State of Mexico reported on September 1, 2000, that scholarships
had been awarded to the children of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña. That information
was communicated to the petitioners on September 2, 2000, and the response
of the petitioners was submitted on October 2, 2000.
The response of the petitioners was transmitted to the State of
Mexico on October 3, 2000. The State submitted its observations on October
18, 2000, the pertinent parts of which were transmitted to the petitioners.
On November 22, 2000, a communication was received with the final comments
of the petitioners.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The lifeless body of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña was found on October
17, 1996, five days after he had disappeared. His mother and his wife
were told that he had been seen in the hands of the military of that area
and that it was obvious that he had been badly beaten. His family began
to ask questions of the military and, when the latter failed to provide
information about his whereabouts, took the initiative to organize various
searches. Finally, based on the accounts of the witnesses who had seen
him in the hands of the military, the body of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña was
found buried some 45 minutes away from the locality of San Juan Nepomuceno.
The autopsy revealed that the victim had suffered multiple injuries
to his internal organs, infarction and death by asphyxiation, blows to
the chest, internal bleeding from the kidneys and liver. His tongue was
out of his mouth and his eyes out of their sockets, signs of hanging by
the neck, and blows to the arms and legs.
His family brought a complaint to the Office of the Public Prosecutor
of the state of Chihuahua on October 17, 1996, for the acts alleged in
the petition. At the request of the Office of the Military Prosecutor,
once it had been determined that members of the armed forces were involved
in the acts, the Office of the Public Prosecutor declared on October 22,
1996, that it did not have the competence to investigate the case.
On March 16, 1999, the presiding military judge handed down a sentence
condemning to 30 years in prison Cavalry Captain Gustavo Aviña Gutiérrez
as guilty and criminally liable as the material and voluntary perpetrator
of violence against individuals, resulting in an aggravated homicide,
the victim of which was Valentín Carrillo Saldaña. However, the Supreme
Military Tribunal found Sergeant Angel Durón Marmolejo, Second Lieutenant
Edgar Ricardo Ramírez Fuentes, Corporal Evaristo Hernández García, Corporal
Serafín Vásquez Paredes, and Private Héctor Manuel Borja Rodríguez not
guilty. On appeal, the Supreme Military Tribunal reduced the sentence
of Captain Aviña Gutiérrez to 20 years. Challenging that decision, the
officers defense counsel filed an application for amparo on September 19, 2000.
The friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties and the
representatives of the Inter-American Commission on December 2, 1999,
reads as follows:
between the United Mexican States (hereinafter the State)
and the Commission for Solidarity and Defense of Human Rights, A.C. (hereinafter
COSYDDHAC) and the Center for Justice and International Law
(hereinafter CEJIL) in their capacity as representatives of
the interests of the family of Mr. Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, for the
purpose of resolving by friendly settlement case 11.808, now before the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the Commission
or the IACHR), in accordance with the provisions of Articles
48, 49, and 50 of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter
the American Convention), with the parties agreeing to comply
with the following provisions:
At the invitation of the IACHR, on December 1, 1998, the State, on the
one hand, and COSYDDHAC and CEJIL (hereinafter the petitioners),
on the other, began a dialogue aimed at reaching a friendly settlement
of case 11.808 (Valentín Carrillo Saldaña), now before the Commission.
The corresponding agreement was signed by the parties on March 1, 1999.
The parties have agreed as follows:
To continue and conclude by a judgment of the court the criminal
proceeding instituted against Cavalry Captain First Class Gustavo Aviña
Gutiérrez, a proceeding in which the accused was sentenced to 30 years
incarceration in an ordinary prison, dismissal from his job, and disqualification
from ever again serving in the Mexican army or air force;
That the representatives of the State would provide the petitioners
with a copy of the above-mentioned judgment, as well as the judgments
handed down against the other military personnel involved in the acts;
That the necessary formalities would be started with a view to
compensating the family of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, in conformity with
the applicable domestic laws, but that this would not imply a tacit acceptance
of international responsibility by the State.
on the following terms was reached subsequently:
Award of scholarships to the victims minor children in an
amount sufficient to provide for their schooling, until they reach the
age of majority, and the provision of medical care and health services
to the victims widow and children;
By way of compensation for the moral damage caused, the State and
the petitioners will issue a joint public statement.
Considering that item A has been covered by the lower court
judgment handed down on March 16, 1999, by the Military Court of the III
Military Region, in which the accused was condemned to incarceration in
an ordinary prison, dismissal from his employment, and disqualification;
that the requirements under B, C, and E
would be met in this agreement; and that the State will notify the IACHR
within a reasonable period of the details of the implementation of item
D, the parties request that, in conformity with the provisions
of Article 49 of the American Convention, the IACHR should conclude this
case and issue the corresponding report of a friendly settlement.
For the purpose of fulfillment of item B, the State shall
make available to the petitioners a copy of the aforementioned judgment
handed down against Captain Aviña Gutiérrez and copies of the judgments
handed down against the following persons: Cavalry Sergeant Second Class
Angel Durón Marmolejo, Cavalry Second Lieutenant Edgar Ricardo Ramírez
Fuentes, Signal Corporal Evaristo Hernández García, Corporal (cook) Serafín
Vásquez Paredes and Private (sanitation) Héctor Manuel Borja Rodríguez.
In fulfillment of item C, the State shall deliver to
the petitioners a check made out to Ms. Elena Chaparro, the widow of Carrillo,
in the amount of $102,661.00 (one hundred and two thousand, six hundred
and sixty one Mexican pesos) as compensation for the material damage,
which includes indemnization and funeral expenses, in conformity with
the provisions of domestic law.
Mr. Carrillo Saldañas widow and children shall be given, through
the document attached hereto, guarantees of medical assistance and health
services. Guarantees shall also be provided for the award of scholarships
to the victims minor children until they reach the age of majority.
In addition, by way of compensation for the moral damage suffered, the
State and the petitioners shall issue a joint public statement, which
they shall sign together with the present document.
In this act, the representative of the State of Mexico hereby delivers
to the representatives of the victim check Nº 8270251, drawn on the Banco
International (BITAL) and made out to Mrs. Elena Chaparro, the widow of
Carrillo, in the amount of $102,661.00 (one hundred and two thousand,
six hundred and sixty one Mexican pesos), together with a copy of the
judgments handed down in criminal case Nº 1758/96, which was brought on
the basis of preliminary investigation AP 52M/26/96.
FULFILLMENT OF THE AGREEMENT
The State of Mexico has informed the Commission that since
the formalities required for the minor children of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña
to be registered as beneficiaries of PROGRESA have not been completed,
a few days ago the authorities of the state of Chihuahua granted the minors
the amount of $3,000.00 (three thousand pesos) to pay the cost of their
On September 1, 2000, the State communicated that it had awarded
individual scholarships to the minors Cristina, Florentino, Gerónimo,
and Valentina, the children of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña, consisting of an
annual amount of $6,000 Mexican pesos, as well as food assistance. On
that same date, the IACHR communicated this information to the petitioners
and requested any observations that the petitioners might care to make.
In response, the petitioners communicated the following:
December 2, 1999, when the Friendly Settlement Agreement for this case
was signed, the seventh item was still pending, concerning the provision
to the widow and children of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña of guarantees of medical
care and health services as well as the award of scholarships to the victims
minor children until they reached the age of majority.
the matter of the scholarships remains pending to this date, we wish to
inform you that the annual award of the amount of $6,000.00 (six thousand
Mexican pesos) for each of the minor children, plus monthly food provisions,
so far has not been given to the minors nor has any arrangement been made
to ensure that they receive the aforementioned benefits in a timely manner.
Moreover, the staff of the State Office for the Protection of Minors and
the Family has informed members of COSYDDHAC that a single annual payment
of six thousand Mexican pesos will be made for all the minors.
these circumstances, we consider to be inaccurate the claim of the Government
of Mexico that it has fully complied with the terms of the Agreement of
December 2, 1999. Consequently, we have still not met the requirements
set out in Article 49 of the American Convention for the Commission to
report a friendly settlement of this case.
The petitioners requested the State of Mexico, through the IACHR,
to provide information on the manner, place, and date in which it
will guarantee the timely delivery of the financial award and food provisions
to be granted as a scholarship to Mr. Carrillo Saldañas children,
thereby establishing a mechanism that is both prompt and accessible to
the petitioners. They also requested the issuance of a document
as proof of the beneficiaries entitlement during the years
in which they are entitled to the financial award and food provisions.
The document should state the equivalent amount in dollars in order to
preserve the purchasing power of the scholarship. Finally, they requested
the Mexican authorities to provide that the food provisions
should not be worth less than 150 dollars per month.
The State notified the IACHR that the amount of 6,000 pesos per
year offered under the friendly settlement to each of the minor children
of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña was an appropriate and even generous amount,
when it is considered that education in Mexico was free of cost
and gave details about the manner in which the amount would be paid.
It added that the amount of the indemnization had been set in local
currency and that, as a result, the intention to change that amount
into its dollar equivalent was inappropriate, especially on the basis
of adverse economic forecasts. It further described the delivery
of the monthly food provisions to Mr. Carrillo Saldañas
family until his children reached the age of majority as a unilateral,
good-faith gesture by the Mexican State, which, in its view, should
therefore not be converted into a cash amount.
With regard to the criminal proceeding instituted against Captain
Gustavo Aviña Gutiérrez, the State informed the Commission as follows:
September 19, 2000, the convicted officer filed an appeal of amparo
against the judgment of the High Court by which he had been sentenced
to 20 years in prison for the crime of violence against individuals, resulting
in homicide. In this regard, it should be recalled that, as the Friendly
Settlement Agreement very clearly indicates, the commitment with regard
to the punishment of those responsible for the homicide was fully honored
with the judgment of the lower court convicting the said army officer.
In their final observations on the case, the petitioners accept
the amount offered by the State of Mexico by way of scholarships, with
the express reservation that their decision was dictated by the economic
need of the victims family.
They also express their concern about the subsequent payment of
the scholarships, since the official who paid the first part of the scholarships
is alleged to have stated that they were under instructions to do
so for only one year and that she did not know what would happen after
the change in government administration.
Finally, the petitioners reiterate their position regarding the
punishment of Captain Aviña Gutiérrez and express concern at other recent
acts committed in the area.
The Inter-American Commission has closely followed the implementation
of the friendly settlement reached in this case. The foregoing information
shows that for the most part the terms of the friendly settlement have
been honored, in a manner consistent with the provisions of the American
Convention. The IACHR highly appreciates the efforts made by both parties
to reach the agreement and to implement it.
Without prejudice to the agreement reached by the parties or to
the approval of the present report, the IACHR considers it appropriate
to reaffirm its position regarding the competence of the ordinary courts
to hear cases involving the violation of human rights. The Inter-American
Commission also reserves the right to monitor the serving of the sentence
of Captain Gustavo Aviña, as well as the continuing award of the benefits
provided for in the seventh basis for agreement set out above.
Based on the above considerations of fact and of law,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To approve the friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties
on March 1, 1999, as well as the Agreement for Implementation of the Friendly
Settlement signed on December 2, 1999.
To monitor those provisions of the Agreement that have not been
To certify the delivery of the benefits to the family of Valentín
Carrillo Saldaña, when such deliveries take place.
To publish the present report and to include it in its annual report
to the General Assembly of the OAS.
and signed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the city
of Washington D.C., on December 4, 2000. (Signed): Hélio Bicudo, Chairman;
Claudio Grossman, First Vice-Chairman; Juan E. Méndez, Second Vice-Chairman;
Members: Robert K. Goldman, Peter Laurie, and Julio Prado Vallejo.
At the signing of the aforementioned agreement, the IACHR issued a
press release in which it stated:
Commission congratulates the parties for the initiatives taken during
this first successful step towards a friendly settlement. The IACHR
also expresses its satisfaction at the significant progress made towards
ensuring observance of the human rights of the population of Mexico,
as part of the international obligations assumed by Mexico within
the inter-American system.
Press Release Nº 29/99, December 3, 1999.
Communication dated June 15, 2000, from the State.
Communication dated October 2, 2000, from the petitioners.
In this regard, the State agreed as follows:
of the amount due will be made every four months, so that each minor
will receive the amount of $2,000.00 (two thousand Mexican pesos)
every four months. The payments will be delivered by Claudia Pérez
Aguilar, the State Coordinator of the Program, to the widow of Mr.
Valentín Carrillo in the offices of the State Office for the Protection
of Minors and the Family, which is located in Calle Tamborel y 12,
número 4800, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, C.P. 31050.
scholarships were processed and approved with effect from September
of this year, which means that the amounts corresponding to the months
of September to December 2000 will be paid during the current month
and subsequent payments will be made every four months beginning in
dated October 18, 2000, from the State.
In this regard, the petitioners state as follows:
basic education in Mexico means that the public school does not charge
tuition for children to receive instruction, but the State does not
provide the ... necessary school materials, nor does it pay for the
cost of transportation that children such as the children of Mr. Carrillo
Saldaña must pay to travel to the place where the nearest public school
is located. Nor does it pay for the food that the students need during
the school day, or for clothing or shoes
because of the extreme need which caused her to accept the amount
offered by the Government, Mrs. Elena Chaparro, the widow of the victim,
has accepted the first installment of the amount that was paid in
Baborigame, in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua, through
the DIF, together with two deliveries of food provisions.
dated November 22, 2000, from the petitioners.
It should be recalled in that connection that the Inter-American Court,
in the Maqueda case, concurred with the withdrawal of the IACHR on
the grounds that a friendly settlement had been reached resulting
in the pardon and release of the victim, who had been sentenced in
violation of his right to a fair trial. The Court, however, expressed
the following specific reservation:
that the central issue in the case is the violation of the right to
freedom of Mr. Maqueda and that this right has been restored through
the agreement reached by the parties, the Court is of the view that
the agreement violates neither the letter nor spirit of the American
Convention. Although the application, which the Commission brought
before the Court, cites other rights that are enshrined in the Convention,
as well as mechanisms and provisions of internal law, these have been
raised in connection with the right to freedom. This notwithstanding,
the Court, bearing in mind the responsibility that it has to protect
human rights, reserves the right to reopen and to continue proceedings
in the case if there were in the future any change in the circumstances
on which the agreement was based.
Court of Human Rights, Maqueda case, judgment of January 27, 1995,