1 The petition of March 28, 1996 and its annexes, in which the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (hereinafter "the Commission" or "the Inter-American Commission"), pursuant to Article 63(2) of the American Convention on Human rights (hereinafter "the Convention" of "the American Convention") and Article 24 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court (hereinafter "the Rules of Procedure"), submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter "the Court" or "the Inter-American Court") a request for provisional measures in favor of Father Daniel Vogt, in connection with case No. 11.497 currently before the Commission against the Government of the Republic of Guatemala (hereinafter "the Government" or "Guatemala").
2. The aforementioned petition in which the Commission requested the Court to adopt the following provisional measures:
1. That effective security measures be taken to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the priest, Daniel Joseph Vogt.
2. That an investigation be duly undertaken to determine the identity of the persons responsible for the threats to Father Vogt and the harassment, surveillance and attempts on his life to which he has been subjected.
3. That the authorities publicly issue a declaration in the country's most widely circulated media repudiating the actions of which Father Daniel Joseph Vogt has been victim. Also, that the Government include in its reports to the Honorable Court a copy of those public declarations.
4. That the State promptly inform the Honorable Court of the specific measures it has taken to protect Father Daniel Vogt and that, after supplying that information, it report every 60 days on the status of the provisional measures.
5. That the Honorable Court hold a public hearing at its earliest convenience so that the Commission may have the opportunity to provide a detailed explanation of the state of defenselessness and grave danger in which Father Vogt finds himself. At the same time, the Government will have the opportunity to report on the specific measures taken to solve those crimes, punish the perpetrators, prevent a recurrence of such events in future, and guarantee Father Vogt's safety.
3. The facts on which the request was based are summarized below:
a) Father Daniel Joseph Vogt is a Catholic priest carrying out his evangelical work in the community of Rubelpec, El Estor, Izabal in the interior of Guatemala. For over a year and a half he has been the victim of acts of harassment and persecution because of his pastoral work, mainly in the form of a number of serious death threats, attempts on his life, and a series of false accusations linking him to offenses such as sedition and deforestation.
b) On September 10, 1994 members of the community of El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala gathered to discuss the detention of 21 campesinos from the community who were accused of deforestation; a group of persons drafted and signed a petition addressed to the Mayor of El Estor, Mr. Paredes Chub, and other local authorities. On September 14, 1994 members of this community held a peaceful demonstration in favor of the detainees.
c) On September 15, 1994 the Mayor of El Estor accused the inhabitants who had signed the petition and Father Vogt of sedition. Although Father Vogt had not taken part in the demonstration, he was accused of being "the intellectual author" of the action. Father Vogt was relieved of his duties for this offense in late 1995.
d) Father Vogt was subsequently accused of forest-related crimes and depredation of protected areas before the Second Official of Puerto Barrios; the case is still unresolved. On April 16, 1995 the priest escaped with his life from an ambush set to assassinate him. In June of 1995, he filed a criminal suit in connection with the ambush and other acts of harassment which have still not been investigated. On June 17, 1995 two unidentified individuals told Father Daniel Drinan, another priest from El Estor, that Father Vogt's life "was in grave danger" and two death threats were made by telephone to the priest's home that night.
e) At the hearing held before the Commission on February 22, 1996 information was provided, including Father Vogt's statement that he was still receiving telephone threats to his life and physical integrity by telephone.
f) The priest asked the police, as a security measure, to provide night and day patrols around the church, but the Government has provided such protection only sporadically. Nor has it conducted any investigations in regard to the petitions for habeas corpus lodged on November 3, 1994 and July 6, 1994, on behalf of Father Vogt, although the Magistrates' Court of the El Estor Municipality ruled in favor of the petitions.
g) On March 15, 1996 Mr. Jorge Cruz, an official of the Magistrates' Court of the El Estor Municipality went to the office of the Parish of that community with a writ signed by Licenciado Ramón García-Strany, an official of the Ministry of Public Affairs of Puerto Barrios. The writ contained a request to investigate squatting on a farm and again accused Father Vogt of being "the intellectual author" of the action. The official declared that "that they had agreed with Judge Miguel Pilar Chinchilla- Gómez to 'let Father Vogt off the hook' in exchange for 25.000 quetzales. If Father Vogt did not accept the offer, an adverse report would be submitted to the Ministry of Public Affairs and would lead to the priest's arrest." Despite the above, Father Vogt refused.
h) Guatemala has taken no action to protect the priest and to "put an end to the false accusations made against him, to investigate the death threats he has received and the attempts to carry them out, or to punish those responsible."
i) The Commission has requested preventive measures on three occasions: September 30, 1994; June 16, 1995, and March 6, 1996, but the Government has failed to take the protective measures sought. Accordingly, the authorities have not conducted any investigation nor have they taken the necessary measures to protect Father Vogt's life and the integrity of his person.
1. That Guatemala has a been a State Party to the American Convention since May 25, 1978 and that it accepted the jurisdiction of the Court on March 9, 1987.
2. That Article 63(2) of the Inter-American Convention provides that in cases of extreme gravity and urgency, and when necessary to avoid irreparable damage to persons, the Court may, at the request of the Commission, adopt such provisional measures as it deems pertinent in matters not yet submitted to it.
3. That Article 1(1) of the Convention sets forth the obligation of the States Parties to respect the rights and freedoms recognized in that treaty and to ensure to all persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights and freedoms.
4. That, as the Commission points out in its request for provisional measures, the background information presented in this case effectively constitutes "a prima facie case of urgent and grave danger to Father Daniel Vogt's life and the integrity of his person."
5. That the Inter-American Commission has taken precautionary measures on three occasions, pursuant to Article 29 of its Regulations, and as they have not to date had the required effect, it has become a special circumstance making it incumbent on the President of the Court to request urgent measures to preserve Father Daniel Joseph Vogt's life and the integrity of his person and avoid irreparable damage to him.
6. That the Government has the obligation to prevent violations of human rights and to investigate the events that led to this request for provisional measures in order to identify those responsible and punish them appropriately so as to prevent any recurrence of the events.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS,
In consultation with the Court and pursuant to Article 63(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights and exercising the authority conferred on him by Article 24 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court.
1. To request that, in strict compliance with the obligation to respect and guarantee human rights which it accepted under Article 1(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights, the Government of the Republic of Guatemala adopt forthwith such measures as are necessary to protect the life and integrity of Father Daniel Joseph Vogt and avoid his suffering irreparable damage.
2. To request that the Government of the Republic of Guatemala investigate the events and punish those responsible.
3. To request that the Government of the Republic of Guatemala submit a report to the President of the Court every thirty days from the date of notification on any urgent measures it has taken, and that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submit to the Court its comments on that information within fifteen days of its receipt.
4. To submit this order for the Court's consideration and pertinent effects during its next regular session.
5. To summon the parties to a public hearing to be held at the seat of the Court on June 26, 1996, at 4:00 p.m., so that the Court may hear their views on the events and circumstances that led to the request for provisional measures and to this Order.
Manuel E. Ventura-Robles
Manuel E. Ventura-Robles
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