REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
The denunciation received on May 5, 1987, which reads, "Jose Walter
Chavez Palacios, 16 years of age, single, student, captured in his residence at
Colonia Chintu N°
2, Apopa, San Salvador, by the Treasury Police.
Whereabouts still unknown", and transmitted to the Government of El
Salvador in a request for information.
2. The response from the
Government of El Salvador including a report by the Human Rights Commission
(governmental), which was transmitted to the claimant on December 7, 1987, which
The CDH has procedures that appear
under No. 1548-Chp-86, aimed at gathering information about the
disappearance of the aforementioned young man, who was 15 years of age, single,
a student, living at Colonia Chintu N°
2, Pasaje Nejapa, Access M., House No. 1, Apopa, who was apprehended on November
9, 1986, in his residence by two subjects dressed in olive green and heavily
armed, at approximately 1:30 a.m. The
file notes that his captors identified themselves as members of the First
Infantry Brigade, who took him to some unknown place.
This Commission conducted search procedures at the military unit where
his captors were supposedly on duty, and other military units, but has been
unable to locate him to this time.
3. The additional
information and observations from the complainant to the response from the
government, according to which:
Jose Walter Chavez Palacios, 15 years
of age, student, was captured on November 9, 1986, at 1:30 a.m., in his
residence at Colonia Chintu N°
2, Apopa, department of San Salvador. According
to sworn testimony from the grandmother of the young man, given at our offices
on May 6, 1987, the capture was carried out by a group of 25 soldiers, who
identified themselves as members of the First Infantry Brigade. Following the capture, the young man was seen twice, once
aboard a military truck accompanied by soldiers of the First Infantry Brigade
and two other captives, and the second time, in a Cherokee vehicle, in the
custody of members of the Treasury Police.
In late April, an agent from the Treasury Police informed the grandmother
of Chavez Palacios that the captive was with six other young men in the basement
of that security unit. However, the
Treasury Police and the First Infantry Brigade deny that they are holding the
young man. To date his whereabouts
information indicating clearly that the First Infantry Brigade and the Treasury
Police are responsible for the event, the Government of El Salvador has not
taken worthwhile steps to determine the whereabouts of the young man.
In its response to this case, the government only says, "this
Commission conducted search procedures at the military unit where his captors
were supposedly on duty, and other military units, but has been unable to
determine his location to this time."
It does not specify what steps it took.
We believe that it is important to see
the lack of action by the government in this case within the framework of the
cases of more than 7,000 Salvadorans who have disappeared during the nine years
of war. The lack of protection of
the rights covered in the American Convention, specifically in Articles 4, 5, 7,
and 8, by not bringing to justice the members of the armed force and security
agencies indicated as the perpetrators of these crimes, has created an
environment in which the permanent practice of this vile crime of disappearance
can grow; accordingly, we believe that the Government of El Salvador is clearly
violating its obligations under Article 1 of the American Convention, as well as
the other articles mentioned above.
In view of this, we request the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue its investigation
into this case, and that it condemn the Government of El Salvador for its
culpability in this event.
For your reference, we are attaching
the following documents: a. a photocopy of a picture of the victim; b. a sheet
bearing the personal data of the captured man; c. the sworn testimony of Raquel
Antonia Palacios; d. a letter to the headquarters of the First Infantry Brigade
and the Director of the Treasury Police, dated May 6, 1987, which requests
information about the capture; e. a letter from the First Brigade dated May 9,
1987, denying the capture; f. letter sent to the Treasury Police, dated May 18,
1987; g. open letter published in the newspaper El Mundo, June 2, 1987; h. an
open letter to President Duarte, July 2, 1987.
That on May 11, 1990, the Governmental Human Rights Commission of El
Salvador advised that:
This office, has registered under Reference Number
1548-CHP-86, attempts to determine the whereabouts of the youth, José
Walter Chávez Palacios, 15 years of age, single, student, resident of Colonia
Chintuc, No. 2, of Apopa, who, on November 7, 1986 at about one in the morning
was apprehended by a group of uniformed subjects wearing olive green and heavily
armed, who were identified as memebers of the First Infantry Brigade and who
took him away to parts unknown. To
date his whereabouts continue to be unknown in spite of all search efforts that
have been conducted by the Security Corps.
5. That the
Commission adopted a Report N°
7/90 on this case at its 77th Regular Meeting which was sent to the Government
of El Salvador as well as to the claimant to allow both to make their respective
observations if they so wished, in a period of sixty days commencing on May 29,
1990, the date of mailing, indicating that if observations were not made, the
Report would be published in the
Commission's Annual Report to the General Assembly.
That the name of the victim, place and date of his arrest, and the names
of the persons who would appear to be responsible are sufficiently specified and
therefore the denunciation meets the formal requirements of admissibility.
That this matter, owing to its nature, is not susceptible to friendly
That the statements provided by the claimant indicate that the young man,
Jose Walter Chavez Palacios, was detained by a large group of military personnel
who identified themselves as belonging to the First Infantry Brigade, that he
was later seen in the hands of the Treasury Police and that since his detention
on November 9, 1986, no information as to his whereabouts has been produced.
That many steps have been taken to find the affected person but that none
of the steps has yielded positive results.
That both the response from the Human Rights Commission (governmental) of
El Salvador and the note from the commanding officer of the First Infantry
Brigade confine themselves to stating that the young man Chavez Palacios is not
detained, but do not say what steps have been taken to clarify the circumstances
of such a notorious act as the raid of houses at 1:30 a.m. at Colonia Chintu N°
2 by a large group of soldiers, to proceed to identify them and determine the
whereabouts of the detained man.
That it is the obligation of the Salvadoran state to investigate
exhaustively such a serious denunciation as the arrest and later disappearance
of a young man only 15 years of age in order to protect his liberty and personal
integrity and his right to life.
That the insufficiency of the answers provided by the govern- ment
to the Commission lend support to the truth of the denunciation by the claimant
and demonstrates that the government has not proceeded to investigate the
denunciation formulated with the energy required.
8. That the
Government of El Salvador has made no observation on the Report sent to it on
May 29, 1990.
That the event denounced constitutes a violation of the rights to
personal liberty, personal integrity and life, recognized by Articles 7, 5 and
4, respectively of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as a failure
of duty to guarantee the free and full exercise of rights such as those
prescribed in Article 1.1 of the Convention, of which El Salvador is a party
state. That in the present case
exists the brutal murder of which the presumed victim is a minor.
10. That the General Assembly of the Organization of American States
declared in its Resolution AG/RES. 666 (XIII-0/83) that the forced
disappearance of persons is an affront to the conscience of the hemisphere and
constitutes a crime against humanity.
In view of which,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. To declare that the
Government of El Salvador is responsible for the violation of the right to
personal liberty and to life of Jose Walter Chavez Palacios, 15 years of age, by
virtue of the acts of its agents who detained him at his residence on November
9, 1986, and that no information as to his whereabouts has been produced to this
date, all of which constitutes a violation of Articles 4 and 7 of the American
Convention on Human Rights, of which El Salvador is a party state.
2. To ask the
Government to accept the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights in the specific case referred to in this report.
3. To recommend to the
Government of El Salvador that it undertake an exhaustive investigation into the
events in order to clarify the circumstances, in particular the whereabouts of
Jose Walter Chavez Palacios, to identify those responsible and to bring them to
4. To publish this report in
its annual report to the General Assembly in accordance with Article 18e of the