RESOLUTION Nº 01/84
September 7, 1982, the Commission received a denunciation to the effect
that on August 26, 1982, Dr. CARLOS PADILLA GALVEZ, Director of the
"Juan de Dios Rodas" National Hospital of Solola had been
kidnapped from his place of work on August 26, 1982, by a group of armed
men; the denunciation went on to say that thereafter he was never
located and that the Government had not admitted any role in the
kidnapping, and had denied having detained him in any of its detention
1. That from the
time the IACHR arrived in Guatemala on the occasion of its on-site visit
to that country between September 21 and 26, 1982, the Commission heard
the same denunciation repeated over and over by friends, relatives, and
acquaintances of Dr. Padilla Galvez, who at the time had
2. That on
September 22--the day following the Commission's arrival--a large, paid
notice appeared in the Guatemala City newspapers, which read as follows:
22 September 1982
that you have our government's approval to visit our country, we would
ask that you use your good offices to clarify the whereabouts of DR.
CARLOS RENE PADILLA GALVEZ, who was kidnapped from the Solola Hospital
on August 26, 1982.
colleagues, and friends.
3. That in the
course of its activities during its on-site visit, in the meeting that
it had with the then President of Guatemala, General Efraín Ríos
Montt, the Commission in full conveyed to him, among other points, the
substance of the denunciation that it had received in connection with
the kidnapping and subsequent disappearance of Dr. Padilla Gálvez; it
expressed deep concern over the matter and asked that he intercede so
that every means available to investigate his whereabouts would be
exhausted so that he might be released; General Ríos Montt took note of
the request, and recommended to the Commission that it discuss the
matter in its next meeting, which was with the then Minister of Defense,
General Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores;
4. That during the
meeting it held in the Office of the Minister of Defense, the Commission
again expressed its concern over the predicament of Dr. Padilla Gálvez.
General Mejía Víctores, who was accompanied by the Chief of Staff
Major General Jorge Mario Lopez Fuentes, told the members of the
Commission that he had no knowledge of the situation; he took note of
the Commission's interest in the matter and gave repeated assurances
that the individual in question must have been kidnapped by guerrillas,
but that he had never been arrested by security forces under his orders
and was not being held prisoner in any government detention center.
5. That two days
later, the Commission was again invited to hold another meeting with the
Minister of Defense in his office; there, General Oscar Humberto Mejía
Víctores told the Commission that Dr. Carlos René Padilla Gálvez was
being held at the Second Police Station; that he had gone into hiding,
had requested State Security Forces to take him into custody, isolate
him, and hold him incommunicado so as to protect his life, which was
threatened by subversives who were following him to kill him; he also
told the Commission that with the proper security precautions, a small
group from the Commission could speak with him.
6. That during the
visit the Commission made personally with Dr. Padilla Gálvez at the
Second Police Station, it heard him personally and directly deny what
the Minister of Defense had said and confirmed everything contained in
the denunciation that had originally been filed on his behalf; he
confirmed that he indeed was being held against his will, and had not
gone into hiding willingly.
7. That a little
over a month after the Commission had concluded its on-site visit, Dr.
Padilla Galvez was finally released on October 28, 1982; on November 16,
1982, the Government of Guatemala sent to the Commission a note in reply
to the request for information that had originally been sent by the
IACHR; that note of reply read as follows:
this regard, allow me to inform you that Dr. Carlos Padilla Gálvez was
detained on August 26 last, and was investigated; once it was
established that he was entirely innocent, he was released on October 28
8. That the text
of the note in question not only conflicts with the statements made to
the Commission, but also fails to make reference to the fact that Dr.
Padilla Gálvez was kidnapped, or to his prolonged arbitrary
detention--denied repeatedly by the government--that made him yet
another of the hundreds who have disappeared in Guatemala; it made no
reference to his unlawful isolation and incommunicado detention, or to
the fact that during the two months that he was deprived of his freedom,
he was not afforded legal protection or any of the guarantees of due
process of law;
9. That Articles 7
and 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights provide the following:
7. Right to Personal Liberty
Every person has the right to personal liberty and security.
No one shall be deprived of his physical liberty except for the
reasons and under the conditions established beforehand by the
constitution of the State Party concerned or by a law established
No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment.
Anyone who is detained shall be informed of the reasons for his
detention and shall be promptly notified of the charge or charges
Any person detained shall be brought promptly before a judge or
other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be
entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to be released without
prejudice to the continuation of the proceedings. His release may be
subject to guarantees to assure his appearance for trial.
Anyone who is deprived of his liberty shall be entitled to
recourse to a competent court, in order that the court may decide
without delay on the lawfulness of his arrest or detention and order his
release if the arrest or detention is unlawful. In States Parties whose
laws provide that anyone who believes himself to be threatened with
deprivation of his liberty is entitled to recourse to a competent court
in order that it may decide on the lawfulness of such threat, this
remedy may not be restricted or abolished. The interested party or
another person in his behalf is entitled to seek these remedies.
No one shall be detained for debt. This principle shall not limit
the orders of a competent judicial authority issued for nonfulfillment
of duties of support.
8. Right to a Fair Trial
Every person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees and
within a reasonable time, by a competent, independent, and impartial
tribunal, previously established by law, in the substantiation of any
accusation of a criminal nature made against him or for the
determination of his rights and obligations of a civil, labor, fiscal,
or any other nature.
Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to be
presumed innocent so long as his guilt has not been proven according to
law. During the proceedings, every person is entitled, with full
equality, to the following minimum guarantees:
the right of the accused to be assisted without charge by a
translator or interpreter, if he does not understand or does not speak
the language of the tribunal or court;
prior notification in detail to the accused of the charges
adequate time and means for the preparation of his defense;
the right of the accused to defend himself personally or to be
assisted by legal counsel of his own choosing, and to communicate freely
and privately with his counsel;
the inalienable right to be assisted by counsel provided by the
state, paid or not as the domestic law provides, if the accused does not
defend himself personally or engage his own counsel within the time
period established by law;
the right of the defense to examine witnesses present in the
court and to obtain the appearance, as witnesses, of experts or other
persons who may throw light on the facts;
the right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself or
to plead guilty; and
the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court.
A confession of guilt by the accused shall be valid only if it is
made without coercion of any kind.
An accused person acquitted by a non-appealable judgment shall
not be subjected to a new trial for the same cause.
Criminal proceedings shall be public, except insofar, as may be
necessary to protect the interests of justice.
That in the present case, even though Guatemala is a party to the
Convention, the rules contained in Articles 49, 50, and 51 of that
instrument, which concern the suggestion of a friendly settlement, do
not apply in the present case since at no time in the processing of this
case have the necessary and essential conditions for application of
those provisions been present;
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
exercise of the mandate and powers with which it is invested:
1. To declare that
the Government of Guatemala violated Articles 7 and 8 of the American
Convention on Human Rights.
2. To recommend to
the Government of Guatemala that it adopt the measures necessary to
guarantee the effectiveness of the rights to personal freedom and to due
process of law, and to prevent any reoccurrence of the government's
practice of detaining individuals by means of armed kidnapping, only to
then hold them incommunicado, to give the appearance that they have
disappeared, while denying their detention to relatives;
3. To recommend to
the Government of Guatemala: (a) that it punish, in accordance with
Guatemalan law, those responsible for the acts denounced; and (b) that
it inform the Commission of the measures taken within a maximum of 60
4. To forward this
resolution to the Government of the Republic of Guatemala and to the
5. To include this
resolution in the Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States, should the Government of Guatemala fail
to implement the recommendations made herein within the period
stipulated for that purpose.