University of Minnesota

Fourth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.83, Doc. 16 rev. (1993).




1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in fulfilling its mandate, has paid special attention during all these past years to the evolution of the human rights situation in Guatemala, taking into account the general violence this country has suffered for years, and the complaints about violations it has received, complaints that in most cases assign responsibility to state agents.

2. In 1973, the IACHR, considering the amount and seriousness of the complaints it had received then, requested Government agreement to fulfill an in loco observation, request denied at that time. Further increase in violence and in the deterioration of the human rights situation required continuous follow-up by the Commission. As a result of this follow-up the IACHR issued reports on individual cases as well as country analysis published in its Annual Reports to the General Assembly. Furthermore, it published during that period three Special Reports, in 1981 (OEA/Ser.L/V/ll.53, doc.21, rev.2), in 1983 (OEA/Ser.L/V/ll.61, doc.47) and the Third Report in 1985 (OEA/Ser.L/V/ll.66 doc.16.) Since 1986 Guatemala has overcome a period of authoritarian military governments, and initiated a process of gradual democratization, reduction of violence and of systematic violation of human rights.

3. The Commission carried out two in loco visits to Guatemala in 1988 and 1990, with the agreement of the Government presided over at that time by President Vinicio Cerezo. The results of these missions were published in Chapter IV of the respective Annual Reports of the I.A.C.H.R. In its last Annual Report 1991, the Commission published three individual case reports, in which it found the Government of Guatemala responsible for the abduction, disappearances and violation to the right of life, for events that occurred in 1987 and 1989 (Reports 25/91; 26/91-27/91, 28/91.) a section dealing with events occurred during 1991 in Guatemala that affected the human rights situation.

4. In its 79 and 80th regular meetings, the Commission decided to prepare a new Special Report on Guatemala, and decided as well that it was convenient to realize an in loco observation in that country. The Government gave its agreement to the visit in a letter of October 2, 1992, and the visit was accomplished in the week of November 2-8, 1992.

5. Members of the delegation were Drs. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Chairman; Leo Valladares Lanza, Patrick L. Robinson and Alvaro Tirado Mejía, all of them IACHR commissioners, supported by the Executive Secretary, Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. David J. Padilla, and a staff lawyer, Dr. Jorge Seall-Sasiain. Administrative staff were Mrs. María Julia Meyer and Mrs. Rosario McIntyre.

6. During the visit the IACHR met Eng. Jorge Serrano Elías, President of the Republic; Lic. Gonzalo Menéndez Park, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mrs. Francisco Perdomo Sandoval, Interior Secretary; General José Domingo García Samayoa, Defense Minister; Lic. Edgar Tuna Valladares, Attorney General and head of the Public Prosecutor Office; Lic. Juan José Peralta, President of the Supreme Court and of the Judicial Organ; Mr. Jorge Mario García Laguardia, President of the Court of Constitutionality Human Rights Public Attorney; Lic. Ramiro de León Carpio, Human Rights Public Attorney, and Lic. César Alvarez Guadamuz, Human Rights Deputy Public Attorney; Mr. Bernardo Neumann, President of the Presidential Commission for Human Rights Policy and others officials of that Commission; with Lic. Manuel Conde Orellana, President of the Peace Negotiations Committee; Lic. Oliverio García Rodas, President of the Parliament's Human Rights Commission; Colonel Luis Felipe Miranda Trejo, Commander of the Mobile Military Police; Eng. Sergio Millinedo, Executive Director of the National Commission for the Help to Repatriates, Refugees and Displaced persons; Dr. Claudia Fuentes Serrano, Advisor to the Executive Director of the National Fund for Peace; and with Monsignor Rodolfo Quezada Toro, National Conciliator and President of the National Commission for Reconciliation.

7. The Commission held hearings with NGOs working in the area of human rights promotion and defense, including the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop, Casa Alianza, CIEPRODEH, GAM, CONAVIGUA, FONFREGUA, the Marist Brothers, the NGO Coordinating Committee, the Forensic Team CAFG, and CERJ. Hearings were also held with representatives of indian organizations, labor unions, student unions and journalists. It also visited several jails in San Jose Pinula, El Pavon, El Pavoncito and the Preventive Center at Zone 18, where it met with authorities, observed the pavilions, and received testimonies from inmates.

The Commission received from all of them, information about different facets of the complex and delicate human rights situation in Guatemala, information that was highly valuable for the preparation of this report.

8. The Commission received several testimonies in reference to the situation of the so called "Communities of Population in Resistance" (CPR). Considering the importance of the problem, the Commission decided to travel to the CPR in the Sierra and in the Ixcan and it received Government agreement to do so, agreement made official by the Minister of Foreign Affairs during his interview with the Commission.

9. This report covers the period of the Administration presided by Eng. Jorge Serrano Elias, which began January 1st, 1991, emphasizing the situation during the year 1992 and the first part of 1993. In its preparation there were used all reports, documents and testimonials received by the Commission before, during and after the in loco observation, in strict compliance with the IACHR rules.

10. As it is the practice of the Commission, documents and individual petitions received during the in loco observation have been duly processed following the Commission rules and regulations. The information provided by the Guatemalan authorities has been very valuable, as well as their analysis of this report. The Commission has also paid special attention to the official documents and legal material obtained during its visit to Guatemala.

11. The present Report was written and approved in its preliminary version during the 83rd. period of sessions of the I.A.C.H.R. in March 1993. It was sent to the Government for its comments and observations as provided for in the Regulations of the Commission. The Government requested an extension of time, until May 12, 1993, in which to respond, and on that date presented its response. This response was received and duly analyzed, and on that basis the Commission modified and approved the definitive version of this Report.

Washington, D.C., May 22, 1993.


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