Castillo Páez


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Systemic Practice | Reparations | Crimes Against Humanity

Themes: Related Crimes | Characteristics of the Crime

The Court established that one of the accused, Mr. Juan Carlos Mejía León, intervened in the events as part of a special training unit of the police with de facto powers to intervene in the context of terrorist attacks. It added that, since the operation which led to the victim’s disappearance was carried out in response to an unplanned event such as the terrorist attack, it was possible to infer that power was held by Mr. Mejía León as the highest-ranking officer of such special unit. The Court further established that the victim, after having been arrested, was handed over to Mr. Mejía León at the police station.

The Court recalled how between 1989 and 1993 enforced disappearance became a systematic and widespread practice implemented by the State as a tool for anti-subversive fight. It distinguished the crime of enforced disappearance from the crime of kidnapping due to the fact that the former violates of a multiplicity of rights. It listed the elements of enforced disappearance as: a) participation of State agents (or of people or groups acting under its control, authorisation or acquiescence) in the deprivation of the victim's liberty; b) lack of information or refusal to recognise the deprivation of liberty, or refusal to report on the whereabouts of the victim, so as to prevent the latter from exercising legal remedies. It recalled that it is crime of permanent nature and held that as the whereabouts of the victim remained unknown the deprivation of libery was ongoing.
The Court found the accused responsible for the crime against humanity of enforced disappearance, imposing a higher penalty on the commander, Mr. Mejía León. It barred them from public office or employment for five years, suspended their political rights for the same period of time and ordered reparations to be paid to the relatives.

Judgment Date

March 20, 2006

Country

Peru

Judicial Body

Peru - Criminal Court

Articles violated

Article 320 [PCC]

Facts of the Case

In October 1990, Mr. Ernesto Castillo Páez was arrested by a group of police officers who put him into a patrol car and drove him towards the police station, while he was passing near a market that had just been subjected to a terrorist attack. Some witnesses recognised a high ranking officer of the police, Mr. Juan Carlos Mejía León, as part of the unit which carried out the operation, and reportedly saw him mistreat detainees inside the police station. Mr. Castillo Páez's whereabouts were still unknown at the time of the proceedings. In November 1998, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the State responsible for the violation of the victim's right to life and directed it to investigate his fate and whereabouts.

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