University of Minnesota

Velásquez Rodríguez et al. Case, Order of the Court of January 15, 1988, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (Ser. E) (1988).



1. That the Court was informed that on January 5, 1988 Sargent José Isaías Vilorio was assassinated within the territorial jurisdiction of the Republic of Honduras. Sgt. Vilorio had been summoned to appear as a witness at a hearing which was to take place at this Eighteenth Regular Session on the Velásquez Rodríguez case, submitted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for alleged human rights violations in Honduras;

2. That the Court has learned today that Mr. Angel Pavón-Salazar, who testified before this Court on September 30, 1987 in the Velásquez Rodríguez, Fairén Garbi and Solís Corrales, and Godínez Cruz cases, was also assassinated in Honduras;

3. That, according to information received by the Court, the lives of some of the witnesses who testified in those cases, all of which were submitted to the Court by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have been threatened because they gave such testimony. Accordingly, the President and the Secretariat of the Court sent notes to the Agent of the Government of Honduras on November 6 and December 18, 1987, respectively, requesting that the Government take the necessary steps to protect the lives, property and well-being of those who have been threatened.


1. The physical elimination of actual or possible witnesses constitutes a savage, primitive, inhuman and reprehensible act which deeply offends the American conscience and reflects a total disregard for the values that are essence of the inter-American system;

2. Such acts can have a negative and decisive impact on the system for the protection of human rights established by the Charter of the Organization of American States and by the Pact of San José;

3. According to Article 1(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights, the States Parties thereto must respect the rights and freedoms recognized therein and ensure all persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights and freedoms. The States Parties therefore are required to adopt such measures as are necessary to preserve the life and ensure the personal safety of those whose rights might be endangered, all the more so if these threats are linked to their participation in proceedings bearing upon the protection of human rights;

4. According to Article 63(2) of the Convention, in cases of extreme gravity and urgency, and when necessary to avoid irreparable damage to persons, the Court shall adopt such provisional measures as it deems pertinent in matters it has under consideration. In turn, Article 23(5) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court provides that these measures may be taken ex officio at any time;

5. The present circumstances show that individuals who have appeared before the Court or who have been summoned to appear in the cases referred to in this Order run a serious risk, which warrants the adoption of special measures to protect their lives, ensure their personal safety and protect their property.



in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under Article 63(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 23(5) of its Rules of Procedure,


1. That the Government of Honduras adopt, without delay, such measures as necessary to prevent further infringements on the basic rights of those who have appeared or have been summoned to do so before this Court in the Velásquez Rodríguez, Fairén Garbi and Solís Corrales, and Godínez Cruz cases, in strict compliance with the obligation of respect for and observance of human rights, under the terms of Article 1(1) of the Convention.

2. That the Government of Honduras also employ all means within its power to investigate these reprehensible crimes, to identify the perpetrators and impose the punishment provided for by the domestic law of Honduras.

Rafael Nieto-Navia

Héctor Gros- Espiell Rodolfo E. Piza E.

Pedro Nikken Héctor Fix-Zamudio

Rigoberto Espinal
Ad hoc Judge

Charles Moyer

Home || Treaties || Search || Links