REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
On January 30, 1987, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
received the following claim:
On January 25, 1987, at 11:40 a.m., in the vicinity of Zone 11 in the
capital city of Guatemala, Camilo Garcia Luis, 18 years of age, payroll clerk at
"La Providencia" Farm in Acatenango, Chimaltenango Department, was
seized by heavily armed plainclothes men who took him away in a blue panel
truck, license plate No. 46330. The
abduction was witnessed by a member of his family.
On the afternoon of the same day, January 25, MARTA ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT,
22 years of age, wife of Camilo García Luis, reported the disappearance of her
husband to the Fifth Police Brigade. On
the following day, January 26, she made her report public by speaking to the
news media and the "Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo", or GAM (Mutual Support
Group). In the early hours of
January 27, two days after the disappearance of her husband, she received an
urgent telegram signed by the Fifth Police Brigade requesting that she report
immediately for questioning or be fined Q.150.00.
Therefore, at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday the 27, she left her house and headed
for the Fifth Brigade of the National Police.
To date, her whereabouts are unknown.
At 7:30 a.m. on January 27, the same day on which Marta Odilia Raxjal
Sisimit disappeared, MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT, 53 years of age, mother of Marta
Odilia, was abducted 30 meters from her house by a group of men driving a
vehicle with tinted one way glass, in the vicinity of 33rd Ave. and 27th Street,
Zone 5, Guatemala City.
Mariano Raxjal Sisimit, son, brother, and
brother-in-law of the detained/disappeared persons, has reported the
occurrences to the GAM, the security forces, and the media, and was allegedly
threatened for this reason by the F-2 (Military Intelligence Service) of
On the afternoon of January 30, 1987, the bodies of CAMILO GARCIA LUIS,
MARTA ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT, and MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT, each of whom had been
separately detained in some way between January 25 and 27 by the Special
Operations Command of the National Police of Guatemala, were found in
Chimaltenango Department. According
to the information available, immediately after these individuals were detained,
the Mutual Support Group made persistent and repeated appeals to President
Vinicio Cerezo, to the Fifth Brigade of the National Police of Chimaltenango,
and to the Minister of the Interior, all of which proved fruitless.
All of the disappeared persons belong to a family of very limited means.
They leave behind seven orphaned and homeless minor children.
It is also known that the Guatemalan authorities deny both that the
individuals were detained and that the telegram was sent by the Fifth Brigade.
In light of these selectively targeted abductions, disappearances, and
murders that fill an entire Guatemalan family with pain and anguish, we request
the immediate intervention of the Inter-American Commission on Human
On January 30, 1987, the IACHR transmitted to the Government of Guatemala
the pertinent portions of that statement.
On July 2, 1987, the Government of Guatemala responded to the request
from the Commission by forwarding to it a copy of the investigation report
prepared by the Ninth Judge of the First Penal Instructions Court, Executor of
Personal Appearance in the Republic of Guatemala, Olegario Labbe Morales.
That document stated that Camilo Garcia Luis had not been kidnapped, for
a man with the same first name and last names testified that he was Camilo
Garcia Luis, the object of the investigation.
He stated that he did not know Marta Odilia Raxjal Sisimit, the wife of
the victim, (who became a victim as well when she attempted to determine the
whereabouts of her husband), the mother of Marta,
and also did not know the other members of that family.
A transcript of the summary report prepared by Magistrate Labbe appears
court began its proceedings on February 9 of this year, on the basis of
investigations conducted by agents of the Fifth Brigade of the National Police.
That police department submitted a detailed written report thereon and
attached a photocopy of the report submitted to it by MARTA ODILIA RAXJAL
SISIMIT with a photograph of CAMILO GARCIA LUIS. In her statement MARTA ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT says that her
husband CAMILO GARCIA LUIS disappeared on January 25 of this year and that he
had worked as a payroll clerk at "La Providencia" Farm in the
Municipality of Acatenango, Chimaltenango Department for three years.
B. On that
same day (February 9 of this year) CAMILO GARCIA LUIS, who presented his
identity card, series C-3, number 14663, issued by the Mayor of the
Municipality of Acatenango, Chimaltenango Department, appeared before this court
C. In his
statement, CAMILO GARCIA LUIS said he was reporting to the court because some
agents from the Fifth Brigade of the National Police had gone to look for him at
"La Providencia" Farm and told him that in the capital he had been
reported missing and that the court was aware of this.
In his statement he said he did not know Marta ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT,
MARIANO RAXJAL SISIMIT, or MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT; that this was the first time
he had come to the capital; that he had worked at "La Providencia"
Farm in the Municipality of Acatenango, Chimaltenango Department, for about a
year; that he had never been detained or missing; and that the photograph on the
photocopy of the report was not of him.
February 16 of this year, a statement was received from MARIANO RAXJAL SISIMIT,
who said he was the son of MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT CUTZAL and brother of MARTA
ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT and that he had never met CAMILO GARCIA LUIS or heard that
E. I state
for the record that on the day on which CAMILO GARCIA LUIS appeared before the
court, at his request I personally took him to "La Providencia" Farm
and delivered him to the foreman, Juan Jerez Castellanos.
To date I am continuing to investigate this case and awaiting the death
certificates of MARTA ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT and MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT CUTZAL.
The Government of Guatemala's letter also included the aforementioned
testimony of Mariano Raxjal Sisimit. According
to the letter, he stated that he was not aware that his sister was married and
did not know of her relationship with Camilo Garcia Luis. But he then clarified that one of his brothers, named Carlos
Rudy, did know the spouse or living companion of Marta Odilia by the name of
Camilo Garcia, and that through him he knew that Camilo Garcia Luis had slept in
the house of his sister Marta Odilia the night before being kidnapped.
On July 29, 1987, a copy of the Government's reply with a photocopy of
the appendices was sent to the petitioner.
On the same date, without prejudicing the submission of observations by
the claimant, the Commission noted that the reply from the government made
reference to the presumed clarification of the situation of only one person (Camilo
Garcia Luis) but not to the other murdered persons.
After explaining the contradictions noted in the reply, and in particular
that the person of Camilo Garcia Luis, kidnapped and later found murdered, was
not the same person to which the investigation of Judge Labbe referred, the
Commission attempted through a variety of official channels to secure additional
supplementary information in relation to the case in question.
Despite the Commission's clarifications to the Government of Guatemala
about the latter's confusion of the identity of the murdered man Camilo Garcia
Luis, the IACHR received additional communication on April 4, 1989, from that
government reiterating statements by the judicial body and testimonial evidence
signed by Mr. Camilo Garcia Luis to Judge Olegario Labbe, to the effect that
Garcia Luis "had never been kidnapped."
The Government's response also failed to provide anything new in
connection with the murders of the Raxjal Sisimit family.
The response stated again that the investigation surrounding Camilo
Garcia Luis and the family of his wife had been exhausted, on the basis of the
testimony of the man of the same name.
On April 7, 1989, during its 75th meeting, the Chairman of the Advisory
Commission to the President of the Republic for Human Rights Affairs (COPADEH)
made a presentation to a plenary session of the Commission.
In view of the status of the case and the confusion regarding it, she
offered to seek to renew the investigation upon her return to Guatemala. On the 12th of the same month, she remitted to the Commission
a copy of the letter that COPADEH had sent to the Attorney General of the Nation
and the Chief of Public Ministry of Guatemala, in which she stated the
I have the pleasure to present for your consideration the case of CAMILO
GARCIA LUIS, MARTA ODILIA RAXJAL SISIMIT, and MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT, which has
been brought before the Ninth Examining Magistrate of the Criminal Court of
First Instance. This Commission has
been able to determine that this is a case of different individuals sharing the
same name. That is, because CAMILO
GARCIA LUIS appeared before the court, the court determined that the alleged
victim had shown up alive. But a
comparison of the photograph of the body of CAMILO GARCIA LUIS and the
photograph of the person who appeared in court giving the same name as the
allegedly deceased man demonstrated that the two are separate individuals. Hence we consider it essential that the Ministry under your
direction continue proceedings in this case until all remedies are exhausted, so
as to thoroughly define the circumstances surrounding the events under
This proposal is of great importance to this
Commission because the aforementioned case is one of those being handled by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS on a priority basis.
The Inter-American Commission, therefore, trusts that the
democratic regime of President Cerezo Arevalo will do its utmost to clarify the
matter. In light of the above, I
would be most appreciative if you would inform me of the action being taken by
your Ministry in this regard, because it will determine to a great extent
whether the distinguished institution mentioned above will refrain from issuing
a resolution against our country.
In view of the repeated requests from IACHR for information regarding the
progress of the judicial inquiry, the Government of Guatemala, in a letter dated
September 16, 1989, requested more time to submit to the Commission its reports
on this case. Accordingly, the
Commission decided in its 76th session to suspend consideration of the case
until the following meeting. It
instructed the Secretariat to renew requests for information from the Government
After many discussions with the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the
OAS, and with the Advisory Commission to the President of the Republic for Human
Rights Affairs (COPADEH), on May 11, 1990, the Government of Guatemala sent the
Commission a letter containing summary information which is transcribed below.
I have the pleasure to addressing you for the purpose of forwarding
information on the kidnapping of Mr. CAMILO GARCIA LUIS and the murders of MARTA
ODILIA RAXJAL and MARIA ESTEBAN SISIMIT.
In connection with this case, I take the liberty of informing you that
the Supreme Court of Justice is drafting a detailed report on the status of that
NO. 9858 KIDNAPPING OF CAMILO GARCIA LUIS
January 25, 1987.
Charge filed by Marta Odilia Raxjal Sisimit, before the Fifth Corps, sent
to the Third Court of Criminal Peace in letter No. 762.
The Third Court of Criminal Peace sent it to the Third Court, First
Instruction Level, on January 29, 1987, as No. 674. Currently it is in the Third Court of First Instruction Level
under the responsibility of the Third Officer, cause No. 914-87.
Marta Odila Raxjal Sisimit and 2. Maria
Their bodies were found on January 30, 1987,
at 9:00 a.m., at kilometer 90, Inter-American Highway, entry to Santa
Apolonia, in the municipality of Chimaltenango.
They showed signs of asphyxiation by obstruction of upper respiratory
tracts. The Justice of the Peace of
Tecpan prepared the required certificate. Taken
up by the First Penal Sentence Hearing at Chimaltenango, cause 128-87,
First Officer. The Ninth Court of
the First Instruction Level prepared the act on the kidnapping on February 9,
1987. (Executing Judge, Personal
Appearance, Olegario Labbe).
This obviously does not provide any additional information about the
murders. The government's reply
relies entirely on the original investigation of Magistrate Olegario Labbe.
Since January-February 1987, no additional investigation has been
carried out nor has there been any consideration given to the repeated efforts
by the IACHR or the Advisory Commission to the President of the Republic for
Human Rights Affairs (COPADEH).
Accordingly, the IACHR is left with the following bare facts.
Three people were murdered in circumstances that could implicate the
government. The petitioner alleged
governmental responsibility and no facts available controvert the allegation.
The government conducted a superficial and plainly irrelevant
investigation for one of the victims and no investigation whatsoever for the
other two. And this despite
repeated requests and remonstrances by the IACHR.
With regard to admissibility:
That the petition meets the formal requirements for admissibility
contained in Article 46 (1) d) of the American Convention on Human Rights and
Article 32 of the Regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Human
That despite repeated and unjustified delays, there has been no adequate
investigation by the legal authorities. Under
the circumstances the remedies under domestic law have been pursued and
exhausted in accordance with generally recognized principles of international
law. Moreover there has been
unwarranted delay in rendering a final judgment.
That the charges are not pending in any other procedure under
international arrangements and thus the case is not subject to the
incompatibilities provided for in Article 46.(1) of the American Convention and
Article 39.(1)(a) of the Regulations of the Commission.
That it is not a reproduction of an earlier petition already examined by
the Commission or any other international agency and therefore, the requirements
of Article 47.d of the Convention and Article 39.c) of the regulations of the
Commission also do not apply.
With regard to Guatemala's investigation:
That the investigation conducted by the Government of Guatemala and the
legal agency of that country is insufficient by any reckoning since it is based
on the manifestly irrelevant testimony of an individual with the same first name
and last names as the murdered Camilo Garcia Luis, who is obviously a completely
different person from the deceased. The
Magistrate Labbe saw the photographs of the two persons and could see that they
did not even resemble one another. The
witness did not know even by name the murdered women, Marta Odilia Raxjal
Sisimit and Maria Esteban Sisimit, the wife and mother-in-law of the
first victim, Camilo Garcia Luis. Moreover,
this fact was reported to the government by the full Commission to its
representatives during the 75th meeting.
That, despite the extensions granted to the Government of Guatemala to
allow it to conduct a serious investigation, no satisfactory response has been
received in connection with clarification of the murder of Camilo Garcia Luis
and no explanation whatsoever has been given in connection with the kidnapping,
disappearance, and later murder of his wife, Marta Odilia Raxjal Sisimit, and
the mother of his wife, Maria Esteban Sisimit.
To the contrary, the report received from the Supreme Court transcribes
judicial actions initiated two years earlier which provide neither relevant
information nor a solution.
That nothing has been offered by Guatemala in connection with the police
summons sent to the wife of Camilo Garcia Luis, Marta Odilia Raxjal Sisimit, who
was summoned to report to the Fifth Police Corps--in a telegram
which the entire family saw and discussed--to clarify the
circumstances in which her husband had been kidnapped, to which place the victim
went on February 27, 1987, at which time she disappeared until her body
reappeared along with the cadavers of her mother and Camilo Garcia Luis.
Apparently these authorities have not even taken statements from the
officers and lower personnel of the Fifth Police Corps who were on duty during
the days on which the events occurred, or from the heads of that police agency,
and no exhaustive inquiries have been conducted to determine who was the
registered owner of the blue panel vehicle in which Camilo Garcia Luis was
That, in particular, the grave fact of the disappearance of almost an
entire family, about which abundant information and details exist, should have
prompted greater attention within the judiciary and, once this international
procedure had been started, the Government of Guatemala as well.
That such denial of the right of judicial protection constitutes a
violation of the rules contained in Article 25 of the American Convention.
With regard to Government of Guatemala's complicity in the murders:
That Marta Odilia Raxjal Sisimit went to the Second Police Corps of
Guatemala as a result of the telegram that summoned her and that that police
station is the last place where she was known to be before disappearing and
That the Guatemalan government has not furnished information relevant to,
not to speak of refuting, the petitioner's allegation of Guatemala police
complicity in the murders.
That because the information presented by the claimant created the
presumption that police authorities participated in the material facts of the
complaint while the information provided by the government was not pertinent an
did not disprove the background information provided by the claimant, the
Commission in accord with Article 42 of its regulations must believe that the
material facts of the complaint are true.
With regard to friendly settlement:
That the material facts of the claim are not, by their nature, likely to
be resolved by means of application of the friendly settlement procedure
provided for in Article 48, paragraph 1, letter f, of the American Convention on
Human Rights and Article 45 of the Regulations of the Commission.
That since the friendly settlement procedure is not applicable, the
Commission must comply with the provisions of Article 50, clause 1, of the
American Convention on Human Rights and issue its opinion and conclusions on the
matter submitted to it for consideration.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
In exercise of the powers invested in it,
To declare that the Government of Guatemala has violated Articles 4
(right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty),
and 25 (right to judicial protection), pursuant to Article 1.1, embodied in the
American Convention on Human Rights, of which Guatemala is a State Party, in
connection with the kidnapping and later murder of Camilo Garcia Luis, Marta
Odilia Raxjal Sisimit, and Maria Esteban Sisimit.
That Guatemala must pay fair compensation to the families of the victims.
To recommend to the Government of Guatemala that it conduct an exhaustive
and impartial investigation of the events denounced to determine the individuals
responsible for the murder of the members of that family and to bring them to
To recommend to the Government of Guatemala that it likewise investigate
the behavior of the judicial magistrates who intervened in this process and to
report on this matter to this Commission, and to also investigate the findings
of the investigation into the murder of Camilo Garcia Luis, Marta Odilia Raxjal
Sisimit, and Maria Esteban Sisimit, within a term of 90 days as from this
To request that the Government of Guatemala guarantee the safety and
necessary protection to Mariano Raxjal Sisimit, son, brother, and
brother-in-law of the persons detained, disappeared and murdered,
and to the rest of this family, as well as to all those persons who served as
witnesses or in any other way aided in the conduct of the investigation of this
To include this report in the next annual report to the General Assembly
of the Organization of American States unless the aforementioned response is
received within the term set.
To communicate this report to the Government of Guatemala and to the
petitioners, who are not authorized to publish it.