Bámaca Velásquez v. Guatemala
Deprivation of Liberty
The Court recalled that enforced or involuntary disappearance constitutes a multiple and continuous violation of several Convention rights. This is because it not only results in an arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but also endangers the personal integrity, security, and life of the detainee. Moreover, it places the victim in a state of complete defencelessness, entailing other related offences. Furthermore, the Court stated that when a State faces a rebel movement or terrorism threat which truly threatens its “independence or security”, it may restrict or temporarily suspend the exercise of certain human rights. However, enforced disappearances, summary executions and torture are forbidden even in states of emergency.
As regards the applicability of international humanitarian law, the Court referred to previous decisions stating that the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions may be taken into consideration as elements for the interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights.
September 25, 2000
Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 4 [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 8 [ACHR], Article 25 [ACHR], Article 1 [IACPPT], Article 2 [IACPPT], Article 6 [IACPPT], Article 8 [IACPPT]
Articles not violated / not dealt with
Article 3 [ACHR]
Facts of the Case
Mr. Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, commander of the guerrilla group "Organización del Pueblo en Armas", was captured on 12 March 1992 in an armed confrontation with members of the army in the municipality of Nuevo San Carlos, in Retalhuleu. The captors transferred Mr. Bámaca Velásquez, who was wounded, to a military detachment. During his detention there, he was tied up and blindfolded, and was subjected to numerous acts of ill-treatment during his interrogation. The last time Mr. Bámaca Velásquez was seen, he was in the infirmary of a military base tied to a metal bed.