COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Initial reports of States parties due in 1991
* This document supplements the initial report submitted by the Government
of Guatemala on 24 November 1994 and reproduced in document CAT/C/12/Add.5.
1. In the report on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which the State of
Guatemala transmitted to the Committee against Torture in November
1994, it was stated that the torture of persons in Guatemalan territory
is not permitted. There is extensive national legislation on the
subject, although it is recognized that some human rights violations
do continue to take place - albeit to a lesser extent than before
- because of the persistent low-intensity war that has been afflicting
the people of Guatemala for more than 30 years. We also acknowledge
the "ineffectiveness of the police, judges, prosecutors and
other personnel of the justice system in carrying out duties essential
to order and security", as stated in the 1994 annual report
of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. We do, however,
declare that the State of Guatemala does not practise impunity or
human rights violations, either government-backed or encouraged
by governmental sectors.
2. This document was prepared by a committee made up of representatives
of the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defence and
representatives of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Nation
and Public Prosecutor's Office, together with advisers from the
Office of the President of the Republic. The members of the committee
listed the following aspects as important: the political and social
situation in Guatemala; the legal framework surrounding the offence
of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
the situation regarding torture in Guatemala, as seen by the independent
experts of the United Nations; legal and administrative measures
for the prevention of torture; measures under the responsibility
of the Ministry of the Interior; and cases within the competence
of the judiciary.
3. This submission is an attempt to demonstrate to the international
community the efforts being made by Guatemala to improve the situation
with regard to respect for human rights.
I. THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SITUATION 1985-1995
4. The latter half of the 1980s was a period that raised hopes
for democratic co-existence, and respect for and realization of
human rights. This period, known as the "democratic transition",
was reflected in the assumption of office by two civilian Governments,
the first from 1986 to 1991 and the second from 1991 to 1996.
5. However, halfway through the term of the second civilian Government,
there was a crisis when the then President attempted to dissolve
the Congress of the Republic and introduce de facto changes in the
membership of the Supreme Court of Justice. The crisis was overcome
through the workings of the legal mechanisms, which enabled the
constitutional order to prevail.
6. This political and social crisis led to an intensification of
the peace negotiations, and also of the State's concern to ensure
respect for human rights, so much so that the Government of Guatemala
considers it of the utmost importance to fulfil its commitments
to the international community regarding the Covenants and Conventions
of which Guatemala is a signatory.
7. Guatemala's ratification of the Convention against Torture and
Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as an
international legal instrument, which focuses its attention on the
elimination of this violation of human rights, took place as part
of a process of change aiming at the permanent abolition of practices
that violate human rights. These practices were without doubt a
feature of political and social developments in preceding years.
8. Of significance during the period under review has been the
work of the Procurator for Human Rights, which has been instrumental
in strengthening the rule of law.
9. The Civil Society Assembly has been strengthened during this
period, and its recommendations have been taken into consideration
in the peace negotiation process. Grass-roots organizations enjoy
freedom to express themselves in all the media available to them
on matters considered to be in their interest.
10. This period saw the beginning of the process of return of Guatemalan
families who had taken refuge in Mexico. This process is supervised
by the Ad Hoc Committee for Aid to Returnees (CEAR), with the support
of international agencies.
11. Our legislation has been modernized with the entry into force
of the new Code of Penal Procedure.
12. Amendments are being made to the Constitution to bring it into
line with current political and social conditions,
13. Since 1987, the Commission on Human Rights has provided three
expert advisers to assist the Government in the field of human rights.
14. The reports of the advisory services in the field of human
rights have highlighted the fact that the Government of the Republic
as such does not advocate a governmental policy of violation of
human rights. However, it must be acknowledged that acts involving
impunity and human rights violations do occur in spite of the Government's
desire to end this de facto situation.
15. The cases of impunity are a matter of concern in Guatemala.
Impunity is a result of the low-intensity war that has been waged
on national territory for more than 30 years. Efforts are being
made to eliminate this practice, and to this end the Government
enjoys the assistance and cooperation of the United Nations Human
Rights Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA).
II. THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK SURROUNDING THE OFFENCE OF TORTURE AND OTHER
CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT
OR PUNISHMENT IN GUATEMALA
A. Constitutional law
16. The Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, promulgated
on 31 May 1985, is eminently humanistic, as is apparent from both
its preamble and its operative part. The preamble is considered
by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala to be the source of interpretation
of the Constitution since it contains "a declaration of principles
expressing the values which the drafters of the Constitution set
out in the text" Constitutional Court, judgement of 17
September 1986, Case No. 12-86, Gaceta I,
p. 3. (of the Constitution), affirming the primacy of the human
person as the subject and object of the social order, recognizing
the family to be the primary and fundamental source of the spiritual
and moral values of society, and the responsibility of the State
for promoting the common good and strengthening the rule of law,
security, justice, equality, freedom and peace.
17. This declaration of principles was strengthened throughout
the Constitution, principally in Title I "The human person;
the aims and duties of the State" and Title II "Human
rights", which contain an extensive list of the rights of the
18. Another specific feature of the Guatemalan Constitution is
its ius naturalista approach, establishing in article 44
that the rights and guarantees granted by the Constitution do not
exclude others which, although not expressly referred to therein,
are laid down in the international covenants and conventions of
which Guatemala is a signatory.
19. In addition to this extensive legislation, there has been significant
progress with respect to constitutional guarantees, such as the
establishment of a permanent court with exclusive jurisdiction over
matters of amparo (enforcement of constitutional rights)
and constitutionality of the laws in general and in specific cases,
whose basic function is to safeguard the constitutional order; the
establishment, at the constitutional level, of the Human Rights
Commission and the office of Procurator for Human Rights, with the
stipulation that the Procurator has been mandated by Congress and
that his primary function is to defend the human rights guaranteed
by the Constitution; and at the legislative level, a law with constitutional
rank, the Amparo, Habeas Corpus and Constitutionality Act,
passed by the same constituent body of 1985, which establishes regulations
governing all matters relating to the exercise of amparo,
unconstitutionality and the remedy of habeas corpus.
20. A corollary of the foregoing is the constitutional provision
to the effect that action brought against violators of human rights
is public and may be brought simply by lodging a complaint, without
bond or formality of any kind. Constitution, art. 45.
21. Similarly, the provision establishing the general principle
that, in matters of human rights, treaties and conventions accepted
and ratified by Guatemala take precedence over internal law
Constitution, art. 46. makes it possible for those international
instruments to be incorporated into the Guatemalan legal system
and gives them a higher rank than ordinary or derivative legislation.
As a result, under Guatemalan legislation an ordinary law may be
contested on the grounds that it is at variance with a human rights
treaty or convention through one of the constitutional guarantees,
i.e. through an action for unconstitutionality regarding laws, regulations
and provisions of a general nature, which can be brought by anyone
with the help of three qualified and practising lawyers.
22. The constitutional legal framework for the protection of the
individual against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment is thus made up of the preamble of the Constitution,
which is the source for interpretation of the constitutional provisions,
and articles 1 and 2, which stipulate that the State of Guatemala
is established to protect the individual and the family, that its
supreme aim is the achievement of the common good, and that it is
the duty of the State to guarantee, for the inhabitants of the Republic,
life, liberty, justice, security, peace and the full development
of the individual, and article 4, which states that no one may be
subjected to servitude or any other condition which impairs his
23. In this connection, and in accordance with the Guatemalan constitutional
approach, constitutional regulations concerning the legal detention
of individuals have been laid down from the outset and have since
undergone extensive development. The Constitution has thus established
an entire procedure that must be observed when individuals are detained
or arrested, for the purpose of protecting them against possible
abuses by the authorities. Thus it is stipulated that: "no
one may be arrested or imprisoned except for a crime or misdemeanour
and by virtue of an order issued pursuant to the law by a competent
judicial authority"; "no one shall be obliged to carry
out orders which are not based on, and issued in accordance with,
the law"; "Persons arrested shall be placed at the disposal
of the competent judicial authority within a period of not more
than six hours and may not be subordinated to any other authority.
Any official or employee of the public authorities who infringes
the provisions of this article shall be punished in accordance with
the law, and the courts shall automatically institute appropriate
proceedings". This constitutional provision has been
developed in article 424 of the Penal Code, which establishes the
offence of unlawful detention, carrying a penalty of one to five
24. In the case of misdemeanours or breaches of regulations, if
the person detained cannot be identified, the time-limit set by
the Constitution for the representatives of the authorities to bring
the detainee before the competent judicial authority is even shorter:
one hour. "Every person arrested shall be immediately informed
of his rights in a manner understandable to him, and particularly
of the fact that he may avail himself of a legal counsel, who shall
be present at all police and judicial proceedings. An arrested person
shall not be obliged to make a statement, except before a competent
judicial authority ... the judicial authorities alone are competent
to interrogate arrested persons and prisoners. Their interrogation
shall take place within a period not exceeding 24 hours. Extrajudicial
interrogation shall not have probative value."
25. As to the prison system, the Constitution stipulates that its
goal shall be the social rehabilitation and re-education of prisoners,
and certain compulsory minimum standards of treatment are established.
Thus, prisoners must be treated as human beings and may not be subjected
to cruel treatment, physical, emotional or psychological torture,
coercion or harassment, work that is not compatible with their physical
condition, degrading acts, extortion or scientific experiments.
Violation of any of the established rules gives a detainee the right
to claim compensation from the State for the injury suffered and
the Supreme Court of Justice will order immediate protection for
him. Similarly, the Constitution lays down penalties for public
officials or employees who issue or carry out orders in violation
of the provisions of the Constitution. These consist of the penalties
laid down by ordinary legislation, in addition to immediate dismissal
and permanent debarment from public office or employment. Offences
committed in such circumstances are imprescriptible.
26. Again in accordance with article 46 of the Constitution, Guatemalan
constitutional and ordinary legislation concerning torture and cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has gradually been
expanded as Guatemala has acceded to several international legal
instruments such as: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
article 5 of which prohibits such acts; the American Declaration
of the Rights and Duties of Man; the Inter-American Convention to
Prevent and Punish Torture, adopted at Cartegena de Indias, Colombia,
on 9 December 1985 and incorporated into domestic law by Congressional
Decree of Ratification No. 64-86 of 11 November 1986; and more recently
the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by Congressional Decree No.
52-89 of 12 October 1989.
B. Ordinary legislation relating to torture
27. Unlike the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Guatemalan domestic legislation
does not define the offence of torture. However, pursuant to the
signing and ratification of the Convention by Guatemala, the definition
it contains has become part of domestic law, in accordance with
the principle of "the primacy of international law" mentioned
above and provided for in article 46 of the Constitution.
28. In fulfilment of the obligations entered into by Guatemala
with respect to the system for the protection of human rights, the
Penal Code (Congressional Decree No. 17-73 of 5 July 1973) lays
down the following constitutional provisions. Article 423 establishes
the offence of decisions infringing the Constitution as follows:
"Any public official or employee who issues decisions or orders
that are contrary to explicit provisions of the Constitution, or
knowingly carries out orders or decisions of such nature issued
by another official, or fails to comply with laws whose execution
is incumbent on him shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of
one to two years and a fine of 200 to 2,000 quetzales." Article
424 of the Penal Code establishes the offence of unlawful detention
in the following terms:
"Any official or person responsible for a custodial establishment
who permits the entry of an individual without a lawful warrant
from a competent authority, does not place the detainee at the
disposal of the judge or competent authority or does not give
proper and immediate effect to a legally issued release warrant
shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of one to five years."
29. The same penalty shall be incurred by any public official or
employee who conceals or orders the concealment of a detainee.
30. Article 425 of the Code establishes the offence of abuse against
private individuals stating: "Any public official or employee
who orders undue coercion, torture, degrading punishment, harassment
or measures not authorized by law against a prisoner or detainee
shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of two to five years
and general disqualification. Any person who carries out such orders
shall be liable to the same penalty."
III. THE DE FACTO SITUATION REGARDING TORTURE IN GUATEMALA
31. For an objective understanding of the situation, reference
should be made to the documents produced by the expert advisers
whom the United Nations assigned to Guatemala from 1987 to 1984.
32. The cases of torture reported by Independent Experts Hector
Gros Espiell and Cristian Tomuschat were assumed to be associated
with enforced disappearances and so-called extrajudicial killings;
cases specifically involving torture were not quantified.
33. In her 1993 report, Independent Expert Monica Pinto makes use
of the statistics contained in the reports of the Procurator for
Human Rights, the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala
and the Department of State of the United States of America, referring
to 34 complaints of alleged torture submitted that year. For 1994
she refers to only 18 cases reported by the same sources.
34. Each of the Experts refers in his or her report to complaints
concerning ill-treatment of street children and states that in most
cases warrants issued by the courts have not been complied with.
35. In this connection, it should be pointed out that the NGOs
concerned with the situation of Guatemalan street children have
informed the international community that in 1994 there were no
cases of alleged violation of the integrity and security of street
children by members of the armed forces or the National Police,
but only cases involving members of private security forces.
36. The first report of the Director of MINUGUA states that, of
the 288 complaints of alleged human rights violations submitted
to the Mission from 21 November 1994 to 21 February 1995, only 9
related to cases of torture. These complaints are being verified,
as stipulated in the Mission's mandate.
IV. LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES FOR THE
PREVENTION OF TORTURE
A. Amendments to the Code of Penal Procedure
37. With a view to promoting greater efficiency in the judicial
sector, amendments were made to the Code of Penal Procedure, the
Public Prosecutor's Office Organization Act was promulgated (Decree-Law
No. 40-94 of 3 May 1994) and the new Code of Penal Procedure entered
into force. With these innovations Guatemala has made important
changes in its criminal procedure.
38. The Public Prosecutor's Office has become a body for the investigation
of publicly actionable offences. It has the capacity to bring charges
and conduct the prosecution, thereby becoming a defender of society
and supervisor of proceedings. It is accordingly hoped that it will
usher in the rule of law and end the possibility of impunity, although
there are still a few obstacles preventing its full implementation.
39. With the incorporation of the new Code of Penal Procedure into
Guatemalan legislation, the concern of the Public Prosecutor's Office
to prosecute and punish persons guilty of a punishable offence may
be divided into two main areas:
Indictment, on society's behalf, in the case of public offences
of individual or social importance;
Effective enforcement of the substantive criminal laws in specific
cases through the effective investigation of the punishable acts.
40. Through these actions pursuant to the law, the Public Prosecutor's
Office helps to ensure that criminal proceedings will have a convincing
basis for the judge to order punishment for unlawful acts. Among
which torture and other human rights violations are of crucial importance.
41. The new Code of Penal Procedure provides for special investigations
in cases where an application for habeas corpus fails, in order
to ascertain that the person on whose behalf the application was
made is being held in one of the country's prisons, or has been
arrested by a public official, police officer or members of the
regular forces of the Republic. Code of Penal Procedure, art.
467. In this respect, anyone may request the Supreme Court
of Justice to order the Public Prosecutor's Office to initiate an
investigation within a five-day period and to order the necessary
measures for the immediate release of the unlawfully detained or
arrested person or persons. This innovation in criminal procedure
is aimed at preventing the inhabitants of the Republic from being
unlawfully detained and safeguarding victims of that practice, in
order to provide genuine protection of individuals' human rights.
B. Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights
42. On 29 March 1994, the Government of the Republic and the Guatemalan
National Revolutionary United Front signed the Comprehensive Agreement
on Human Rights in the context of a process whose objective is to
achieve a firm and lasting peace agreement for Guatemala. In particular,
the Agreement contains a general commitment to promote and improve
the standards and mechanisms for the protection of human rights;
irrefutable proof of the Government's political will is its acceptance
of an international verification body, on the understanding that
that body will take account of the strengthening of institutions.
C. Ministry of the Interior and National Police
43. Pursuant to the recommendations made by the human rights advisory
services, the Ministry of the Interior has strengthened the Professional
Responsibility (Internal Investigations) and Human Rights Offices
of the National Police, so that the relevant investigations will
be carried out in those cases where police officers are involved.
As a supplementary measure, all National Police officers have been
given systematic instruction concerning full respect for human dignity,
in order to prevent human rights from being violated in the exercise
of their police duties.
44. In addition, the constitutional rights of detainees have been
published in the General Police Regulations, in order to ensure
that police officers making an arrest will not commit infringements
of human rights.
45. The credentials of so-called advisers, also known as secret
agents, attached to the Directorate-General of the National Police
and the Ministry of the Interior, have been cancelled since some
individuals had been found to be using them only to be able to carry
firearms, when they were not in fact serving members of the police
force. Currently the only credentials granted are for regular members
of the force on active duty.
46. All police stations in the capital and the provinces, as well
as other units making up the National Police, have been instructed
that they may in no circumstances use objects or vehicles that have
been seized and are at the disposal of the Public Prosecutor's Office
or the courts. In carrying out its work, the National Police must
use vehicles duly authorized for that purpose; all officers have
strict orders not to use private vehicles for official matters involving
investigation or detention.
47. If National Police officers are found to have committed a criminal
offence, the heads of the Professional Responsibility Office have
orders immediately to inform the Public Prosecutor's Office of the
findings of the investigation, for appropriate action.
48. The National Police opened the Anti-Abduction Unit during the
first half of 1995. This is a unit made up of members of the Criminological
Investigation Department, whose main function is to deal with cases
of abduction and kidnapping.
49. In this connection, from 8 to 19 May 1995 a course on the prevention
of abductions was given to members of the National Police and the
Public Prosecutor's Office. In addition, with the support of the
Presidential Coordinating Committee for Government Human Rights
Policy (COPREDEH), police commissioners, investigators and administrative
personnel were given training in human rights and in the Comprehensive
Agreement on Human Rights.
50. As part of their training, copies of the Code of Conduct for
Law Enforcement Officials were distributed to members of the National
Police and Guatemalan army.
D. Ministry of National Defence
51. The Ministry of National Defence, for its part, organized courses
for officers in international humanitarian law; they were given
by staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the
facilities of the Centre for Military Studies. The Ministry programmes
yearly courses for human rights monitors and courses on the Guatemalan
Constitution, using teachers from the Office of the Procurator for
52. For December 1995 the Ministry of National Defence has scheduled
training courses for the entire Guatemalan Army, with the aim of
disseminating the contents of the Declaration on the Protection
of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly in resolution 47/133.
E. Street children
53. As regards the ill-treatment of the so-called "street
children", the National Police, through its branch dealing
specifically with such children, has prepared guidelines on police
procedures for handling juvenile offenders, with the aim of complying
with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
54. COPREDEH also comprises a unit that deals with the problem
of children. This body has established the Standing Council for
55. This Council has been meeting in 1995 for the purpose of following-
up 13 complaints of violations of the rights of minors, in which
no progress had been made, despite the existence of sufficient evidence
to bring them to a conclusion (see annex).
56. Some non-governmental organizations have reported that there
have been few prosecutions in cases of ill-treatment of children,
especially children living in the street. From 1990 to 1994, 188
criminal proceedings were begun against a total of 282 defendants;
those are still under way in the various courts.
57. The Congress of the Republic is considering the preliminary
draft of the Code relating to Boys, Girls and Adolescents which,
if adopted, will govern all actions affecting this sector of the
58. The Office of the Procurator for Human Rights, through its
Protection of Children Branch, coordinates the National Commission
for the Prevention of Ill-Treatment of Children, which is made up
of governmental and non-governmental organizations and works to
raise awareness and provide training at all levels of the population
and institutions. Complaints are
investigated, in conjunction with the Coordinating Juvenile Court.
Violence and ill-treatment of children within the family occur very
frequently in Guatemala.
59. There have been several reports in the media of death threats,
and in some cases specific complaints have been filed with the competent
courts. In this connection, the Ministry of the Interior, through
the National Police, has strengthened the homicide sections of the
Criminological Investigation and Disappeared Persons Department.
60. As regards complaints of threats against members of the trade-union
movement and leaders of non-governmental organizations engaged in
the promotion and defence of human rights, COPREDEH has made a 24-hour
telephone service available to them in order to coordinate appropriate
action in each case.
61. With the implementation of the new legislation, death threats
against members of the Public Prosecutor's Office have come to light.
Blanca Elizabeth Valdez Orellana de Cetina, special prosecutor in
the municipality of Amatitlan, received death threats relating to
the investigation of cases involving drug-trafficking, in connection
with which one of the witnesses known to the special prosecutor
62. Other prosecutors who have received death threats are Abraham
Méndez, who is investigating the case of Jorge Carpio, and Julio
Arango, who is dealing with the Efraín Bámaca case. In both cases
the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic is providing
appropriate security, with the support of the Ministry of the Interior.
63. Judge Eugenia Villaseñor, who handled the case of the anthropologist
Mirna Mack, is known to have received similar threats.
64. On learning of each of these cases of threats, the Public Prosecutor's
Office has provided security for each of its prosecutors and anyone
else requesting it.
65. Twenty-one other judges have received death threats. The Supreme
Court of Justice has taken specific security measures to ensure
their safety, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior.
V. CASES WITHIN THE COMPETENCE OF THE JUDICIARY
Case No. 638 of 6 August 1990
66. Teachers from Casa Alianza lodged a complaint against four
members of the National Police in civilian dress who, at 12 a.m.
on 25 June 1990, arrested six minors at 19th Street and 4th Avenue
in Zone 1 and, using excessive force, forced them into patrol vehicle
327. On that date orders had in fact been given for a police operation
in the area around Amate, La Placita, Zone 1. The operation was
led by members of National Police Units 1, 3 and 7, with support
from the Joint Operations Centre. Adults and minors were arrested
for various reasons. The minors charged were placed at the disposal
of the juvenile court. At the time of their arrest they had not
been speaking with street teachers and were not subjected to ill-treatment.
Case No. 400-91 of 7 August 1991
67. Julio Chew and Marvin Rabanales, assistants in the Casa Alianza
Legal Support Office, lodged a complaint to the effect that at 2
p.m. on 11 April 1991, on 4th Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets
in Zone 1, officers from patrol car 711 attached to the Seventh
Police Division arrested a minor, Omar Moran, who, before being
forced into the patrol car, was beaten by an officer bearing identification
68. Omar Moran was arrested because he had been running in a suspicious
manner holding a wrist watch in his hand. Officer Edwin de la Cruz
Sandoval arrested him, at which point the minor proceeded to kick
the officer and tried to escape. He was prevented from doing so
when Officer Juan Córdova Marroquín came on to the scene. Moran
was taken in patrol car 711 to the juvenile court.
69. When complainants Julio Chew and Marvin Rabanales were interviewed
by the National Police's Professional Responsibility Office, they
stated that the reason for their complaint was that they did not
know where the minor had been taken. They further stated that they
had not seen any sign that the minor had been beaten by the officers
who arrested him.
Case No. 471-91 of 8 April 1991
70. Mr. Otto Ivan Rodriguez Vanegas, a member of the National Electrification
Institute (INDE) trade union, published a complaint in the media
to the effect that he had been arrested by National Police officers
from the department capital, Chiquimula, and subjected to ill-treatment.
He knew for certain the names of the police officers who had attacked
him but would not state their names out of fear for his own safety
and that of his family.
71. The Deputy Chief of the National Police in Chiquimula, Ricardo
Flores Chacón, and officers Angel Antonio Gonzalez Barahona, Miguel
Angel Gudiel and Cesar Augusto Avila Ruano stated that at 5.30 p.m.
on that date, at kilometre 174 on the Inter-American Highway, Mr.
Oliverio Angel Echeverria Oliva, Mr. Eugenio García Alvarez and
Mr. Otto Ivan Rodriguez Vanegas had been arrested while driving
in a pick-up van with the number plate P-64610, which they had substituted
for plates No. P-235656. The vehicle was stolen on 17 April 1990.
At the time of their arrest, a 9 mm Beretta pistol, a cellular telephone
and 20,000 lempiras were confiscated from them, for which reason
they were brought before the local justice of the peace (case No.
659). At no time were the detainees subjected to ill-treatment.
72. The local justice of the peace, José Humberto Orellana Penados,
has certified that the persons being held for trial bore no signs
of any blows.
Case No. 1087-91 of 20 September 1991
73. On 31 August 1991, the Assistant Chief and Inspector-General
of the National Police ordered two senior police officers to be
assigned to investigate the complaint published by the newspaper
Prensa libre concerning torture and injuries sustained by
Mr. Ezequiel Trujillo Hernández, Mr. Francisco Castillo García and
Mr. Carlos Geovanny Rosales Chávez when they were arrested by National
74. The report of the officers conducting the investigation states
that when the officers tried to arrest Mr. Trujillo Hernández, Mr.
Castillo García and Mr. Rosales Chávez, they were obliged to use
force because of the resistance they put up. A 38 mm Smith and Wesson
revolver, registration No. C 380,890, a 38 mm Taurus revolver, registration
No. 1,533,021 and a 7.65 calibre pistol (no make indicated), registration
No. 610,071, were confiscated. On examining the evidence in the
case, the laboratory determined that the bullets extracted from
the bodies of the police officers murdered on 9 August 1991 had
been shot from the 7.65 calibre pistol. The report also states that
the senior officers at the Preventive Centre in Zone 18 noted that
the detainees showed no evidence of burns on their hands or other
signs of torture.
Case No. 1208 of 28 July 1992
75. On 21 July 1992, a group of peasants from the municipality
of Cojalá, department of Quetzaltenango, were on the Plaza Mayor
in Guatemala City when they were told to leave by National Police
officers under the command of Third Chief General Mariano Carpio
Mazariegos. The officers used violence in removing them and were
accordingly brought before the courts.
Case No. 528 of 2 March 1995
76. The body of Pedro Luis Choc Reyna was found on wasteland by
the highway leading to the Austrian High School in zone 16. Death
had been caused by a bullet wound. Edgar Estuardo Mota González
was injured on the same spot.
77. When this event was investigated, it was determined by the
chief of the Sixth National Police Division that on 10 February
1995 patrol car 603 had been responsible for the shift beginning
at 1 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m. on 11 February 1995. This car was
manned by driver Miguel Angel López Calo, together with Captain
Anibal Archila Perez and Miguel Angel Rodríguez Revolorio (PN-2);
it is not known why the latter officer was in the car at that time.
78. On 11 February 1995 the Justice of the Peace was informed
(case No. 316) that National Police officers Archila Perez, López
Calo and Rodríguez Revolorio had been placed under disciplinary
arrest on the premises of the Sixth Police Division and were under
investigation. On the same day he ordered the officers to be detained
on various charges. On 12 February, the judge's order was executed
and the police officers were placed at his disposal.
CASE NO. 1,377-95 ORP. OF 17 MAY 1995
79. On that date National Police officers Carlos Manuel Ramirez
Lepe and Israel Díaz were brought before the Justice of the Peace
in Amatitlán after it was established that they had killed Mr. Alfredo
Hernández Pérez. The judge also issued a warrant for the arrest
of police officer Jose Caldra Merlos on a charge of involvement
in the murder.
Case involving military officers
80. Military officers Lorenzo López, Catarino Ramos Ramos and Faustino
Ramos Lopez were sentenced to death by the Seventh Division of the
Court of Appeal in Quetzaltenango after being found guilty of the
murder of Catarino Gómez Hernández. This murder occurred on 25 March
1993 in the village of Nuevo Progreso, Tajamulco, San Marcos. The
officers took advantage of their rank in order to commit the offence.
In its decision, the Seventh Division stated that the officers deliberately
increased the victim's suffering and the effects of the crime and
also that torture was perpetrated at intervals in order to increase
the victim's pain.
81. The conviction of military officers Lorenzo López, Catarino
Ramos and Faustino Ramos Lopez is unprecedented in the country's
judicial history. This underscores the will of the State of Guatemala
to ensure compliance with the provisions of domestic legislation
and the international conventions governing this question.
82. The Guatemalan authorities are completely unaware of many of
the cases that have come to the attention of the international community.
Guatemala is fully determined to ensure the implementation of the
legal provisions in force, provided that the corresponding substantiated
complaints of human rights violations are lodged with the courts
and conclusive evidence is produced in the course of the proceedings.
83. Guatemala is making every effort to create a culture of respect
for, and observance of, human rights by publicizing the contents
of the international human rights instruments relating to the subject
at various levels.
84. In Guatemala a process of change in the administrative, judicial
and security sectors is under way, within the context of respect
for human rights.
85. The Government of Guatemala is itself in no way involved in
the continuing de facto situation with regard to the alleged violations
of human rights.
86. Guatemala does not practise a policy of impunity backed by
the Government itself or encouraged by governmental sectors.
CASES INVOLVING STREET CHILDREN SUBMITTED TO COPREDEH
1. Henry Yubani Alvarez Benites
Case No. 1174-93, First officer
Second Criminal Court of First Instance
2. Francisco Tziac Soc
Injuries, 22 April 1993
Case No. 1265-93, Sixth officer
Second Criminal Court of First Instance
Transferred to Public Prosecutor's Office on 15 March 1995
(Mrs. de Arévalo)
3. Marvin Benjamin Monterroso Rodriguez
Murder, 5 October 1993
Fifth Trial Court
Case No. 479-93, Second officer
4. Luis Antonio Roldan Izeppi
Injuries, 3 March 1994
Case No. 1495-94, Third officer
Prosecutor Carlos Ramiro Contreras Valenzuela (Public Prosecutor's
5. Gerardo Anibal Caceres Mejia
Rape, 15 October 1994
Case No. 827-94, Juvenile Prosecutor's Office (Mrs. Sandra Díaz de
Case No. 352-94, First officer, Second Criminal Court of First Instance,
Drug-trafficking and environmental offences
6. Luis Fernando Quezada Rojas
Physical ill-treatment, 11 October 1994
Case No. 807
Prosecutor Díaz (Public Prosecutor's Office)
7. Sergio Miguel Fuentes Chavez
Murder, 7 September 1994
Case No. 3149-94, Clerk of the Court
First (Rota) Criminal Court
Mrs. María del Rosario Acevedo Peñate (Public Prosecutor's Office)
8. Edgar Eduardo Pineda
Murder, 21 August 1994
Case No. 1464-94, Sixth officer
Fifth Court of First Instance
Mr. Abel Méndez (Prosecutor, Public Prosecutor's Office)
9. Juan Humberto Ramos Cifuentes and Cecilio Jax
Murder, 20 July 1994
Case No. 172/Prosecutor Jorge Luis García Yelmo
10. Oscar René Marroquin
Murder, 5 January 1995
Case No. 33-95
Prosecutor Silvia Elena Toledo Coronado
Complaint filed on 23 February 1995
11. Marlon Alexander Rodriguez
Murder, 27 March 1995
Being processed by Public Prosecutor's Office
12. Gaviotas Case
Physical ill-treatment against inmates
13 October 1994
OFFICE OF PROCURATOR FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Case No. 547/94/DH
13. Victor Manuel Alex
Injuries, 27 September 1994
Case No. 906-94
Prosecutor María Stella Flores Escobar de Arévalo