REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Case 7379 (GUATEMALA)
June 25, 1981
1. In a
communication of November 19, 1979, the following denunciation was made to
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:
November 16, after being abducted and tortured, the journalist José León
Castañeda, a founding member of the Communications Media Union "SIMCOS"
and member of the Guatemalan Media Association "APG," was
murdered. José León Castañeda had been the victim of several attempts
against his physical security and had received a number of threats against
his life, including, those made by then Anticommunist Secret Army "ESA"
and by two deputies of the current legislature of the republic. Democratic
and popular entities have interpreted the murder of José León Castañeda
as an attack against freedom of expression, and they regard the crime as
part of an intensification of the violence against members of the press.
to information published in the media, José León Castañeda was abducted
by two armed men driving a "Bronco" car (this type of car is one
of the most commonly used by the government security forces). The
information was reported by the father of the murdered journalist. After
the kidnapping, José León was found lying in one of the city streets,
and his death was reported as due to a heart attack. However, an autopsy
was demanded, and it showed that the journalist had died because of the
severity and kind of tortures inflicted on him: blows, pulmonary
hemorrhage and asphyxia. SIMCOS noted that this is a new method of
elimination used by the terrorist forces, instead of the coup de grace.
2. In a note of
June 25, 1980, the Commission transmitted the pertinent portions of this
denunciation to the Guatemalan Government, requesting information on the
3. In notes of
December 16, 1980, and April 20, 1981, the Commission again asked the
Guatemalan Government for information.
1. To date, the
Guatemalan Government has not replied to the Commission's requests for
2. Article 39 of
the Commission's Regulations provides as follows:
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 31 paragraph 5, the Government has not provided the
pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not lead to a
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. Based on
Article 39 of its Regulations, to presume to be true the events reported
in the communication of November 19, 1980, regarding the abduction,
torture and murder of the journalist José León Castañeda.
2. To declare that
the Government of Guatemala violated Articles 7 (right to personal
liberty), 5 (right to personal security) and 4 (right to life) of the
American Convention on Human Rights.
3. To recommend
that the Guatemalan Government investigate the events reported and, if
warranted, punish those responsible, and to inform the Commission of its
decision within 60 days.
4. To transmit
this resolution to the Government of Guatemala and to the claimants.
5. To include this resolution in the Commission's Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States pursuant to Article 18 (f), of the Statute and Article 59 (g) of the Regulations of the Commission.
Dr. Francisco Bertrand Galindo declined to hear and decide on this case because he was living in Guatemala when the reported event occurred.