Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo et al v. Guatemala, Case 9111, Report No. 60/01, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.111 Doc. 20 rev. at 903 (2000).
DEL ROSARIO SOLARES CASTILLO
ANA LÓPEZ RODRÍGUEZ
On May 23, 1983, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter the Commission) received a complaint from Mr.
Clementino Solares Castillo and Mrs. Olimpia Castillo de Solares (hereinafter
the petitioners) about the disappearance of their daughter
Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo (hereinafter the victim)
in the Republic of Guatemala (hereinafter the State or the
Guatemalan State). On September 13, 1983, the petitioners expanded
their complaint to cover María Ana López Rodríguez and Luz Leticia Hernández.
petitioners claim that on September 25, 1982, the victim was abducted
by agents of the Guatemalan Statespecifically, members of the
armys intelligence service (G2)at the junction of 7th Street
and 16th Avenue in Zone 11 of Guatemala City. This complaint was later
expanded to cover María Ana López Rodríguez and Luz Leticia Hernández,
who were abducted on November 21, 1982, by security forces from the
Special Operations Reaction Battalion (BROE) and the Military Intelligence
Service (SIM) while they were at the house located on Lot 13, Block
4E, in the Monte Real II district of Mixcos Zone 4.
Ever since the victims were taken into custody their whereabouts
has remained unknown, even though the applicable judicial remedies have
been pursued and numerous efforts have been made to locate them. In
addition, as regards the victim Ileana Solares Castillo, her parents
sent several open letters to the then President of the Republic.
analyzing the evidence submitted by the petitioners, and given the Guatemalan
States failure to provide information in spite of having been
warned about the possible application of Article 42 of the IACHRs
Regulations, this case is declared admissible. It is further concluded
that the incidents that gave rise to the complaint are true and that
with respect to Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo, María Ana López
Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández, the Guatemalan State violated
their right to life (Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights),
to humane treatment (Article 5), to personal liberty (Article 7), to
a fair trial (Article 8), and to judicial protection (Article 25), together
with the obligation of ensuring the rights protected by the Convention
as set forth in Article 1(1) thereof.
On November 4, 1983, the Commission opened this case as Number
9.111; it then transmitted the relevant parts of the complaint to the
Guatemalan State and asked it to furnish information on the incidents
described in that communication within a period of 90 days.
On September 13, 1983, the petitioners sent a note to the Commission
expanding the original complaint to cover María Ana López Rodríguez
and Luz Leticia Hernández. The Commission asked the petitioners for
additional information about these victims, which they submitted on
December 31, 1983.
On November 3, 1983, the Commission once again sent the Guatemalan
State a request for information regarding the original complaint.
No reply from the Guatemalan State having been received, the
Commission repeated its request for information on April 4, 1984, and
granted the State an additional 60-day period in which to respond. It
also informed the State that the original complaint had been expanded
to cover Ms. María Ana López Rodríguez and Ms. Luz Leticia Hernández
and asked it to provide information about their situation.
On February 19, 1985, when no reply had been received from the
Guatemalan State, the Commission repeated its request for information.
On June 26, 1985, with no reply having been received from the
Guatemalan State, the Commission wrote anew to inform it that if the
information was not forthcoming in the following 30 days, it would consider
the possibility of applying Article 42 of the Regulations, under which
the incidents reported in the complaint would be presumed true.
On 2 December, 1998, the Commission asked the petitioners and
the State of Guatemala to submit, within the following 30 days, any
updated, relevant information that there might be pertaining to the
case at hand. On that same date, the Commission made itself available
to the parties to reach a friendly settlement. At the end of the allotted
period, the parties did not accept the initiation of friendly settlement
On February 11, 1999, at the verbal request of the Guatemalan
State, the Commission sent the State a copy of this cases file.
On August 31, 2000, the Commission resent its requests for information
to the Guatemalan State, granting it a non extendable period of 30 days
in which to reply. To date, the State has not replied.
III POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
A. The Petitioners
The petitioners claim that on September 25, 1982, members of
the Guatemalan security forcesspecifically, members of the armys
intelligence section (G-2)abducted their daughter, Ileana del
Rosario Solares. As indicated by the complaint and other background
information included in the case file, the victim was taken to a clandestine
prison that was operating within the premises of the armys Polytechnic
School, where she was held along with María Ana López Rodríguez, Luz
Leticia Hernández Agustín, and Ana Cruz López Rodríguez. Additional
information provided by the petitioners indicates that the parents of
Ileana del Rosario Solares were told that she had been sentenced to
30 years in prison by the Special Jurisdiction Courts.
The victims parents searched for her in different detention
centers, hospitals, police stations, and military facilities; they also
attempted to ascertain whether she had been arraigned at any court of
law, but they were unable to locate her. They also filed for habeas
corpus relief, but this action was never resolved by the judicial authorities.
The petitioners published four open letters, in different newspapers,
addressed to the President of Guatemala at that time, Efraín Ríos Montt.
None of these efforts served to reveal the whereabouts of Ileana del
Rosario Solares Castillo. As a result of their constant searching, the
petitioners received threats of different kinds and suffered blackmail
On November 21, 1982, the other victims, María Ana López Rodríguez
and Luz Leticia Hernández Agustín, were abducted from the house located
on Lot 13, Block 4E, in the Monte Real II district in Zone 4 of Mixco.
They were taken into custody along with María Cruz López Rodríguez
and Gabriel Calaté Temú (who, as indicated by the evidence, later died).
This arrest was carried out by members of the Military Intelligence
Service (SIM) and of the Special Operations Reaction Battalion (BROE).
Chapter III of the Commissions 1985 Report on the
Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala states that: the
problem of the ineffectivess of writs of habeas corpus is especially
acute in Guatemala. He
gravity of the situation is confirmed by the hundreds of disapperaed
person that were ignored by the Guatemalan judiciary during the administration
of General Mejía Victores. This report also lists a series of
habeas corpus remedies that had been presented but had not borne
fruit, including those filed on behalf of Luz Leticia Hernández Agustín
(submitted on March 29, 1984), María Cruz López Rodríguez (May 15, 1984),
and Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo (April 19, 1984).
Ever since the victims were taken into custody by state agents,
their whereabouts has remained unknown; the last time they were seen
was during their detention in the clandestine jail that operated inside
the armys Polytechnic School.
Position of the State
The Guatemalan State has never submitted any information regarding
this case, in spite of requests being made on three occasions. On one
occasion the Guatemalan State was told that if it failed to supply information
regarding the allegations of this complaints, the Commission could invoke
Article 42 of its Regulations, which rules that the Commission can presume
facts to be true when the state in question fails to provide information
ANALYSIS OF ADMISSIBILITY
20. The Commission is, prima
facie, competent to examine this complaint. The incidents alleged
in the petition took place when the obligation of respecting and guaranteeing
the rights enshrined in the American Convention was already in force
for the Guatemalan State.
Exhaustion of Domestic Remedies and Timeliness of the Petition
The information submitted indicates that with respect to Ileana
del Rosario Solares Castillo, her parents presented at least two suits
for habeas corpus relief, which were fruitless. They also pursued other
measures to discover her whereabouts, such as visiting different courts
of law and detention centers, paying for insertions to be published
in newspapers, visiting police facilities and ministries, none of which
Regarding the other victims, María Ana López Rodríguez and Luz
Leticia Hernández Agustín, the information indicates that their families
filed habeas corpus remedies to reveal their whereabouts, which were
The State of Guatemala has not replied to any of the Commissions
requests for information on the exhaustion of domestic remedies. The
rule requiring that domestic remedies be exhausted is intended to allow
the State to resolve the problem under its domestic law before having
to face international proceedings. The silence of the Guatemalan State
leads the Commission to assume that it has tacitly waived the exhaustion
Above and beyond this waiver of the requirement that domestic
remedies be exhausted, the Commission believes that at the time these
incidents occurred, the remedies provided by domestic law in Guatemala
were not effective and did not satisfy the minimum guarantees of due
These exceptional circumstances, set forth in Article 46(2) of the Convention,
also preclude enforcement of the requirement that domestic remedies
be exhausted contained in Article 46(1)(a).
Duplication of Proceedings
Nothing in the case file indicates that the substance of the
petition is pending in any other international settlement proceeding
or that it is substantially the same as any other petition already examined
by this Commission or another international body. Hence, the requirements
set forth in Articles 46(1)(c) and 47(d) of the Convention have been
Characterization of the Alleged Facts
The Commission believes that the petitioners allegations
regarding the forced disappearance of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo,
María Ana Rodríguez López, and Luz Leticia Hernández at the hands of
agents of the State, together with the failure to investigate those
incidents and punish the perpetrators of that crime, could tend to establish
a violation of the rights enshrined in Articles 4, 5, 7, 8, 25, and
1(1) of the American Convention. Since these aspects of the petition
are not manifestly groundless or obviously out of order, the Commission
deems them to be admissible in accordance with the requirements set
forth in Articles 47(b) and 47(c) of the American Convention.
27. In considering the admissibility of this case, it should be noted that the State of Guatemala has never disputed the arrest, detention in clandestine jails, and subsequent disappearance of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo, María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández Agustín, or the circumstances under which agents of the State carried out those actions. Ever since the relevant parts of the complaint were first transmitted to it, and in spite of successive requests being made, the State has provided no information regarding this case, thus failing to meet the international obligation set forth in Article 48 of the American Convention. The Commission therefore holds that the provisions of Article 42 of its Regulations apply: namely, that facts reported in a petition whose pertinent parts have been transmitted to the government of the state in question shall be presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission, said state has not provided pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not lead to a different conclusion. In this case, the existing information does not indicate a version of events different from that set forth in the complaint; on the contrary, it tends to support that version.
on Competence and Admissibility
The Commission believes that is has jurisdiction to hear the
substance of the petition in this case and that, in principle, the case
is admissible according to the requirements set forth in Articles 46
and 47 of the American Convention.
ANALYSIS OF MERITS
Right to Life (Article 4), Right to Humane Treatment (Article
5), and Right to Personal Liberty (Article 7)
The disappearance of the victims Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo,
María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández Agustín has continued
to date and the last time they were seen alive was at the clandestine
prison that operated at the army Polytechnic School; further, those
facts have never been disputed by the Guatemalan State.
The section on Guatemalas clandestine prisons in the report
of the Commission for Historical Clarification reads as follows: The
old Polytechnic School was another clandestine detention and torture
center, from the 1980s up until the early 1990s . . .
María Cruz López Rodríguez, arrested in 1983, also testified that she
had been tortured at the old Polytechnic School, where she was held
along with another four detaineesher sister Ana María, Ileana
del Rosario Solares Castillo, Luz Leticia Hernández, and Gabriel Calatéall
of whom are still missing. According to her version of events, she and
her fellow detainees could hear the cries of other people being tortured
in the building.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has stated that the
forced disappearance of human beings is a multiple and continuous violation
of many rights under the Convention that the States Parties are obligated
to respect and guarantee. Those violations begin with the abduction
of a person, which implies an arbitrary denial of freedom and violates
the detainees right to be taken promptly before a judge. In most
instances they also involve prolonged isolation and incommunicado confinement,
which constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment, and the secret execution
of the detainees without trial, followed by concealment of the bodies
to eliminate any material evidence of the crime and to ensure the impunity
of those responsible.
In addition, the Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
have defined forced disappearance as a permanent or successively occurring
crime, in that its commission continues until the victim appears, either
alive or dead, and it is considered a crime against humanity. Article
7(1)(i) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted
by the Rome Conference on July 17, 1998, defines it in the same terms.
The abductions of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo, María
Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández Agustín took place during
the period of Guatemalas armed conflict when forced disappearances
were at their most frequent.
Moreover, the backdrop against which these disappearances took
place, the refusal of the Guatemalan State to supply information regarding
this case, the fact that the last time the victims were seen alive was
in a clandestine prison, and the fact that more than 18 years later
their whereabouts is still unknown mean that it is reasonable to conclude
that a multiple violation of the Convention took place, with respect
to Articles 7, 5, and 4 thereof.
Article 7 of the American Convention protects the right to personal
liberty and security.
According to the facts of this case, Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo,
María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández Agustín were illegally
arrested by agents of the Guatemalan State, without an arrest warrant
and without being brought immediately before a judge or other competent
authority, and they were incarcerated in clandestine prison cells. Those
facts constitute a serious violation of Article 7 of the American Convention.
Article 5 of the American Convention stipulates that every
person has the right to have his physical, mental, and moral integrity
respected. As the Inter-American Court has ruled: prolonged
isolation and deprivation of communication are in themselves cruel and
inhuman treatment, harmful to the psychological and moral integrity
of the [disappeared] person and a violation of the right of any detainee
to respect for his inherent dignity as a human being. Such treatment,
therefore, violates Article 5 of the Convention, which recognizes the
right to the integrity of the person.
The facts of this case constitute a serious violation of Article 5 of
the American Convention.
Article 4(1) of the American Convention enshrines the right to
life by saying that every person has the right to have his life respected
and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
Eighteen years after the disappearances, the victims whereabouts
have not been identified. Considering the time that has passed, the
silence of the Guatemalan State, and the context in which these incidents
took place, it is reasonable to assume that the victims are no longer
alive. That fact constitutes a grave violation of Article 4 of the American
For the above reasons, the Commission concludes that in accordance
with the facts as denounced and the silence of the State, state agents
caused the victims to disappear, thus violating their right to life,
liberty, and humane treatment as set forth in Articles 4, 5, and 7 of
the American Convention.
The States Obligation to Investigate, Judge, and Punish
the Perpetrators, and the Victims Right to Judicial Protection
Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention establish the obligation
of providing access to justice with guarantees of legality, independence,
and impartiality, within a reasonable period and with the applicable
protection mechanisms, together with the general obligation of providing
effective judicial recourse following the violation of basic rights.
In cases involving forced disappearance, when individuals are
kept incommunicado and the authorities conceal the truth about their
arrest, such persons are denied legal protection. That keeps detainees
from filing for habeas corpus relief, which is the normal method for
securing judicial protection following an illegal arrest. Since the
victim is in no fit state to pursue judicial protection, the right to
file such remedies necessarily passes on to the victims relatives
or to third parties. In the case at hand, the last time the victims
were seen alive was in the clandestine prison that operated on the premises
of the armys Polytechnic School.
was the duty of the Guatemalan State to conduct a serious and effective
investigation into the complaint claiming that Ileana del Rosario Solares
Castillo, María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández had disappeared.
The absence of an effective remedy to the violation of rights protected
by the Convention in itself constitutes a violation of the Convention.
Remedies and judicial mechanisms must not only be formally provided
for in law; they must also be effective for establishing whether a human
rights violation has occurred and for repairing its consequences.
In this regard the Court has noted that:
the Convention, States Parties have an obligation to provide effective
judicial remedies to victims of human rights violations (Art. 25), remedies
that must be substantiated in accordance with the rules of due process
of law (Art. 8(1)), all in keeping with the general obligation of such
States to guarantee the free and full exercise of the rights recognized
by the Convention to all persons subject to their jurisdiction.
Guatemalas domestic remedies have not served as an adequate
and effective mechanism for enforcing the guarantees of due legal process,
enabling the whereabouts of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo, María
Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández to be determined, investigating
the facts, and punishing the individuals responsible for the disappearances.
In this respect, the Commission for Historical Clarification analyzed
the situation prevailing in Guatemalas justice system between
1982 and 1986 and concluded that:
This was the period that saw the culmination of the executives assumption of powers that normally belonged to the courts, including the function of handing down judgments; the result was increased human rights violations and more widespread impunity.
The CEH concludes that during the internal armed conflict, the courts proved incapable of investigating, processing, judging, and punishing even a small number of those who perpetrated the most serious human rights violations or of providing the victims with protection.
Actions and omissions by the judiciarysuch as the systematic dismissal of personal appearance suits, interpretations that constantly favored the government, ineffectiveness vis-à-vis the torture of detainees, and restricting the right to a defensewere among the behaviors that underscored the lack of independence of judges and which led to serious violations of the right of due process and major failures to comply with the States duty of investigating, judging, and punishing human rights violations...
The fact that the victims were last seen in a clandestine prison,
the shortcomings prevailing in Guatemalas justice system at the
time, the illusory nature of the countrys domestic remedies, and
the States silence on this matter justify the petitioners
claim that they are not required to pursue and exhaust the remedies
offered by domestic law; moreover, they also make the Guatemalan State
internationally responsible in that they constitute a violation of the
right to judicial protection and the right to a fair trial, as guaranteed
by Articles 25 and 8 of the American Convention.
Obligation of Respecting and Ensuring the Rights Enshrined in
Article 1(1) establishes the states parties obligation
to ensure enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized by the Convention.
This obligation implies that they must organize the governmental apparatus
and, in general, all the structures through which public power is exercised,
so that they are capable of juridically ensuring the free and full enjoyment
of human rights. As a consequence of this obligation, states must prevent,
investigate, and punish all violations of the rights recognized by the
Specifically, in forced disappearance cases, it is the States
duty to determine the victims whereabouts and condition, to punish
the guilty, and to make amends to the relatives. The Court has further
State has a legal duty to . . . use the means at its
disposal to carry out a serious investigation of violations committed
within its jurisdiction, to identify those responsible, to impose the
appropriate punishment and to ensure the victim adequate compensation.
The Court has also said the following: the practice of
disappearances, in addition to directly violating many provisions of
the Convention, . . . constitutes a radical breach of
the treaty in that it shows a crass abandonment of the values which
emanate from the concept of human dignity and of the most basic principles
of the inter-American system and the Convention. During the period
to which this case refers, disappearances were commonly practiced by
state agents in Guatemala and the state bodies responsible for preventing,
correcting, and halting that practice failed to act appropriately.
In the case at hand the Guatemalan State has not effectively
complied with its obligations of clarifying the circumstances of the
forced disappearance of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo, María Ana
López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández, of judging and punishing
the guilty, and of making amends to the victims families. The
Commission concludes that the Guatemalan State has failed to observe
its obligation of ensuring the victims right to life, liberty,
and humane treatment, together with the right to a fair trial of the
victims and their families, pursuant to Article 1(1) of the Convention.
DEVELOPMENTS FOLLOWING THE ARTICLE 50 REPORT
On October 5, 2000, under the terms of Article 50 of the American
Convention, the Commission adopted Report 86/00 in connection with this
case. The report was transmitted to the Guatemalan State on October
20, 2000, along with a request for it to provide information, within
the following two months, about the steps taken to comply with the Commissions
47. On January 29, 2001, after that period had expired, the Guatemalan State told the Commission that: The actions deemed appropriate for implementing the recommendations set forth in the aforesaid confidential reports were carried outincluding a search for information, records, and judicial case filesbut no positive results were obtained. The Government of Guatemala therefore believes that the Commission should provide information about the names and addresses of the families and the petitioners in order to begin implementing the recommendations because, in order to conduct an exhaustive investigation and compensate the victims, their identities and locations need to be established in order to set up communications channels for furthering compliance with the recommendations contained in the aforesaid confidential reports. The Government of Guatemala regrets not having met the limit date for reporting on the confidential reports; however, this occurred because when the time allotted expired, major efforts were still being made to gather together information about those cases. In addition, the work required to attend to the cases undergoing friendly settlement proceedings meant an increased workload that made it impossible for us to communicate on date set by the honorable Commission.
The Commission believes that the Guatemalan States comment
that the actions deemed appropriate for implementing the recommendations
set forth in the aforesaid confidential reports were carried outincluding
a search for information, records, and judicial case filesbut
no positive results were obtained confirms this reports
conclusion regarding the disappearance of Ileana del Rosario Solares
Castillo, María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández and the
failure of the State of Guatemala to conduct a serious and effective
investigation to reveal the victims whereabouts and to punish
those responsible for their disappearance.
Furthermore, the Commission does not share the Guatemalan States
opinion that the Commission should provide information about the
names and addresses of the families and the petitioners in order to
begin implementing the recommendations because, in order to conduct
an exhaustive investigation and compensate the victims, identities and
locations need to be established in order to set up communications channels
for furthering compliance with the recommendations contained in the
aforesaid confidential reports. In this regard, the Commission
points out that it is the inherent duty of the Guatemalan State to initiate
and pursue legal investigations and that the State cannot rely on information
provided by the Commission to conduct an exhaustive investigation
in order to reveal the whereabouts of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo,
María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández and to judge and
punish those responsible for his disappearance. The Commission believes
that the fact that more than 17 years after the events described herein
the State still lacks even the most basic information about the identity
and whereabouts of the victims families reinforces all the Commissions
conclusions in this report.
In light of the information submitted by the Guatemalan State,
the Commission concludes that it has not complied with the recommendations
set forth in Report 14/01 of March 2, 2001, and it reiterates its conclusions
Based on the above factual and legal considerations, the Commission
concludes that with respect to Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo,
María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández, the State of Guatemala
has violated their right to life (Article 4), to humane treatment (Article
5), to personal liberty (article 7), to a fair trial (Article 8), and
to judicial protection (Article 25), in conjunction with the obligation
of ensuring the rights protected by the Convention set forth in Article
Based on the foregoing analysis, the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights recommends that the State of Guatemala:
Conduct an impartial and effective investigation into the facts
of this complaint to determine the whereabouts and condition of Ileana
del Rosario Solares Castillo, María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia
Hernández, to identify the persons responsible for their disappearance,
and to punish them in accordance with the rules of due legal process.
Take steps to make full amends for the proven violations, including
measures to locate the remains of Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo,
María Ana López Rodríguez, and Luz Leticia Hernández, the arrangements
necessary to fulfill their families wishes regarding the final
resting place of their remains, and adequate and timely compensation
for the victims relatives.
On March 2, 2001, the Commission sent Report Nº 14/01 to the
Guatemalan State and to the petitioners in compliance with Article 51.2
of the American Convention. It also gave the State one month in which
to comply with the above recommendations.
The day that the period expired, Guatemala requested two month
extension to report on its compliance with the recommendations.
Given the length of time that has transpired since the occurrence
of the facts in this case which we brought to the Commission's attention
in 1983 and given the nature of the case at hand, the Commission decided
to deny the extension requested by the Government of Guatemala.
In light of the above considerations and pursuant to Article
51(3) of the Convention and Article 48 of its Regulations, the Commission
decides to repeat this reports conclusions and recommendations,
to publish it, and to include it in its Annual Report to the OAS General
Assembly. The Commission, in compliance with its mandate, will continue
to monitor the steps taken by the Guatemalan State in connection with
the aforesaid recommendations until such time as they have been carried
out in full.
Done and signed in Santiago, Chile, on the fourth day of April 4, 2001 Signed: Claudio Grossman, Chairman; Juan E. Méndez, First Vice-Chairman; Hélio Bicudo, Robert K. Goldman, Peter Laurie, and Julio Prado Vallejo, Commissioners.
Commissioner Marta Altolaguirre, a Guatemalan national, did not
participate in discussing and deciding on this case in accordance
with Article 19(2) of the Commissions Regulations.
On December 5, 1983, the petitioner requested an extension of the
habeas corpus action, based on new information. Part of the new
information submitted to the courts stated that: . . .
in the suit for personal appearance that I have filed on behalf
of my daughter Ileana del Rosario Solares Castillo, I respectfully
submit the following . . . I have learned that Mrs.
María Cruz López Rodríguez, detained at the Female Orientation Center,
has been called on to give the Honorable Court a statement in the
proceedings I have brought and that she has ratified the content
of a complaint I submitted with this relief . . .
informing me that she had seen my daughter in the prison that, through
her declarations and those of others, was known to exist in the
Polytechnic School building in this city. In addition, Mrs.
López Rodríguez has reported and maintained that the officers who
arrested her, her sister Ana María López Rodríguez, their friend
Luz Leticia Hernández, and Gabriel Calaté (RIP), locked them up
with my daughter in the aforesaid secret cells.
The petitioners published paid spreads in Guatemalan newspapers
on March 3, 1983, April 15, 1983, May 2, 1983, and in February 1984.
On April 15, 1983, the newspaper El
Gráfico published the following paid insert, addressed to President
Efraín Ríos Montt:
President: Today marks the passage of two hundred and two long and
anguish-filled days since our daughter, ILEANA
DEL ROSARIO SOLARES CASTILLO, aged only 22, was
abducted by the governments security forces, during
which time she has not been arraigned before any court of law,
heightening the immense burden of uncertainty, sorrow, pain, and
suffering that we, as responsible parents, have borne since that
unhappy September 25, 1982. . . . Mr. President,
ever since our daughter was abducted, we have been visiting the
usual detention facilities
to inquire about her situation, with regrettably fruitless results . . .
we have exhausted practically every procedure and taken countless
steps to cast light on our daughters arrest and current situation,
Submission of a request
for an audience with you on February 23, 1983; this was denied
and, by means of a telegram dated February 24 and received on February
28 of this year, we were referred to the Interior Ministry.
In accordance with those instructions, on that same day (February
28) we reported to the Ministry.
There we were refused a hearing, which was postponed until
the following week.
Open letter to
you, published on March 4, 1983, the original of which was submitted
to the reception desk of the Office of the President, including,
inter alia, your governments tacit recognition of our daughters detention.
In addition, one week after February 28, we once again went
to the Interior Ministry, where we were received by the first official,
who asked us for, inter alia,
our daughters personal details and told us to return one week
later, during which time he was going to investigate the matter.
Eight days later, Mr. President, we once again went to the
Interior Ministry where the same official received us once again;
he told us that he had had to leave the capital and had been able
to conduct the investigation only in a few localities, and asked
us to give him more time.
On March 26 we received a letter dated March 22, 1983, which
read as follows: With respect to the request you have sent this
Ministry, I am to inform you that it was today referred to the General
Directorate of the National Police for them to conduct promptly,
through the offices of the Technical Investigations Department,
the relevant inquiries, the results of which will be reported to
you by that agency.
As responsible Guatemalans, Mr. President, we understand
that in certain cases the referral to the courts of people who have
been arrested must necessarily be somewhat slow. Cases
of individuals arrested by the security forces in which their detention
is not at first admitted by those forces are common knowledge.
Mr. President, we repeat our concern and we deeply regret
that our daughter ILEANA
DEL ROSARIO has been mentioned in connection with the kidnapping
of your nephew Jorge Mario Ríos Muñoz, since
that must have further complicated the already difficult situation
surrounding our daughter.
On previous occasions we have stated that our daughter suffers
from serious health problems. That situation requires the permanent administration of medicine and
effective control at the hands of specialists (a gastroenterologist
and a neurologist), and if that attention and those drugs are
not given to her, at the very least she will suffer injuries
that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Mr. President, we believe that the time that has gone by
since our daughters arrest is enough to have conducted the
necessary investigations. So, if in the past she did take actions
that were against the law (the product of idealism and driven on
by the moral decay and abject behavior of previous regimes), in
this New Guatemala she has the right to be brought before a court
of law, thus putting into practice the principles of justice
expressed by your government.
May 2, 1983, a paid insert (open telegram), addressed to President
Efraín Ríos Montt, was published. Its claims included the following:
. . . Two hundred and twenty days have gone by since our
daughter was, as has been
tacitly acknowledged by your government, arrested without being
taken before a judge: an extremely long, anguish-filled, and
unjustifiable period of time.
In February 1984 a Guatemalan newspaper published the following
Prisons Do Exist In Guatemala!
marks the passage of one year and 88 days since our daughter Ileana
del Rosario Solares Castillo was detained by government security
forces and, in spite of the time that has gone by, she
still has not been brought before a court of law or released in
accordance with the law. 435
days during which our daughter has been illegally
detained and kept incommunicado in a sinister illegal prison,
representing a clear and total abuse of power by those who mock the national laws that they swore to uphold faithfully. 435
days during which the statements made about unconditional respect
for human rights have run contrary to the facts and must now be
seen as hypocritical pronunciations, lacking in content and, consequently,
in credibility. 453 days during which we have presented clear, conclusive,
and reliable proof of our daughters abduction and detention,
tacit acknowledgment of our daughters abduction.
The testimony of Mrs.
María Cruz López Rodríguez, stating that at the secret prison where
she was detained, before being taken before the special jurisdiction
courts, she was confronted with our daughter ILEANA DEL ROSARIO,
who was being held there.
responsible, aware citizens who have always, throughout their lives,
behaved in total accordance with the law and truth, we now denounce
the existence of secret prisons: we also denounce the illegal and
arbitrary arrest of our daughter and of other people at this time.
It is clear that Mrs. María Cruz López Rodríguez WAS DETAINED
IN A SECRET PRISON, along with her sister María Ana López Rodríguez
and Luz Leticia Hernández, THE SECRET PRISON IN WHICH OUR DAUGHTER
ILEANA DEL ROSARIO WAS ALSO HELD AND WITH WHOM THOSE PERSONS WERE
More than one year after the arrest of our daughter Ileana
del Rosario Solares Castillo, of Luz Leticia Hernández, and of María
Ana López Rodríguez, during which they have not appeared at any
regular detention center, there
can be no doubt about the existence of secret prisons in our country,
a fact that renders the habeas corpus relief provided for in
our legislation and recognized universally both
invalid and academic. . . .
. . the time has come for those responsible for administering justice
in our country to do so in practice, restoring the full and legitimate
exercise of our daughters rights, initiating criminal action
against those responsible for the continued concealment of our daughter
Ileana del Rosario, of Luz Leticia Hernández, and of María Ana López
Rodríguez, be they officials of the executive branch, officers of
the security forces, or members of the special courts. In addition,
as was requested, the EXPANSION
OF THE PRESENTATION REMEDY filed on December 5, 1983, should also
be carried out.
The case file contains a habeas corpus suit, submitted on December
15, 1983, by Luz Leticia Hernández Agustíns father, in which
he indicates that his daughter was arrested on November 21, 1983,
by members of the military and taken, along with María Cruz López
Rodríguez and Ana María López Rodríguez, to the clandestine prison
located on the premises of the Polytechnic School.
A judicial ruling included with the case file indicates that Mrs.
María Cruz López Rodríguez was sentenced by a Special Jurisdiction
Court to a 30-year prison term for possessing and bearing arms and
for her responsibility in the kidnapping of Jorge Mario Ríos Muñoz,
nephew of Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt.
In this list, the habeas corpus action brought on behalf of Rosario
Solares Castillo is marked with an asterisk; according to the Report,
this means the following: . . . in which the names
of persons contained in earlier complaints are marked with an asterisk,
transmitted to the Guatemalan government by means of an IACHR communication
of January 3, 1985, the contents thereof having been reiterated
by means of a communication of April 2 of that year, for it to explain
the reasons for it not having been implemented. To date no response
regarding this matter has been received.
Article 42 of the Statute of the Commission provides: The
facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts have been transmitted
to the government of the State in reference shall be presumed to
be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission under
the provisions of Article 34 paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does
not lead to a different conclusion.
Guatemala ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on May
The Commission, in its 1985 Report
on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, said: It
is a common fact that when a country experiences illegal detentions,
kidnappings and disappearances, these are neither investigated nor
prosecuted while the writ of habeas corpus is rendered virtually
useless in combating these violations.
This has been the case in Guatemala for many years where
the writ of habeas corpus, the only legal instrument available
under the Constitution, the Fundamental Government Statute, to protect
the liberty, security and life of individuals, has become totally
ineffetive and inefficacious.
The report of the Commission for Historical Clarification states
the following: Systematic and generalized torture in Guatemala
led to the establishment of special, illegal detention centers,
which were commonly known as clandestine prisons. These illegal
interrogation centers were located in public buildings, such as
police stations, military barracks, or other facilities belonging
to the military or the security forces . . . the
military units involved in the armed conflict arrested countless
people in order to obtain information and, as has been seen, one
of the most common interrogation techniques was torture. . . .
These interrogation centers were intended to hold prisoners and
torture victims in the closest secrecy. Efforts were even made to
deny their clandestine existence to soldiers who had no direct ties
to military intelligence. These places had a number of facilities
intended to soften up prisoners of war. See: Guatemala:
Memory of Silence, Volume II (Human Rights Violations and
Acts of Violence), Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification
(CEH), p. 499.
Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Judgment of July 29, 1988, paragraph 145
See: Report 7/00 Case 10.337, Amparo Tordecilla Trujillo, Colombia,
February 24, 2000.
See: Guatemala: Memory of Silence, Volume II (Human
Rights Violations and Acts of Violence), Report of the Commission
for Historical Clarification.
Article 7. Right to Personal Liberty
Every person has the right to personal liberty and security.
No one shall be deprived of his physical liberty except for
the reasons and under the conditions established beforehand by the
constitution of the State Party concerned or by a law established
No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment.
Anyone who is detained shall be informed of the reasons for
his detention and shall be promptly notified of the charge or charges
Any person detained shall be brought promptly before a judge
or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and
shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to be released
without prejudice to the continuation of the proceedings. His release
may be subject to guarantees to assure his appearance for trial.
Anyone who is deprived of his liberty shall be entitled to
recourse to a competent court, in order that the court may decide
without delay on the lawfulness of his arrest or detention and order
his release if the arrest or detention is unlawful. In States Parties
whose laws provide that anyone who believes himself to be threatened
with deprivation of his liberty is entitled to recourse to a competent
court in order that it may decide on the lawfulness of such threat,
this remedy may not be restricted or abolished. The interested party
or another person in his behalf is entitled to seek these remedies.
Article 5. Right to Humane Treatment
Every person has the right to have his physical, mental,
and moral integrity respected.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman,
or degrading punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of their
liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of
the human person.
Punishment shall not be extended to any person other than
Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances,
be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to separate
treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons.
Minors while subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated
from adults and brought before specialized tribunals, as speedily
as possible, so that they may be treated in accordance with their
status as minors.
Punishments consisting of deprivation of liberty shall have
as an essential aim the reform and social readaptation of the prisoners.
Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Judgment of July 29, 1988, paragraph 156.
Article 4. Right to Life
Every person has the right to have his life respected. This
right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment
of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, it
may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to
a final judgment rendered by a competent court and in accordance
with a law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the commission
of the crime. The application of such punishment shall not be extended
to crimes to which it does not presently apply.
The death penalty shall not be reestablished in states that
have abolished it.
In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political
offenses or related common crimes.
Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who,
at the time the crime was committed, were under 18 years of age
or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women.
Every person condemned to death shall have the right to apply
for amnesty, pardon, or commutation of sentence, which may be granted
in all cases. Capital punishment shall not be imposed while such
a petition is pending decision by the competent authority.
See: Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Velásquez Rodríguez Case,
Preliminary Objections, Judgment of June 26, 1987; Fairén Garbi
and Solís Corrales Case, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of June
26, 1987, paragraph 90; and Godínez Cruz Case, Preliminary Objections,
Judgment of June 26, 1987, paragraph 93.
Inter-Am.Ct.H.R., Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Preliminary Objections,
Judgment of June 26, 1987, paragraph 91.
CEH, op. cit.
Inter-Am.Ct.H.R., Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Judgment of July 26,
1988, paragraph 166.
 Ibid., paragraph 174.