Gómez Virula et al. v. Guatemala


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Judicial Protection

Themes: Justice and Truth | Persons and Groups Affected | Prevention

The Court found that there were no elements in the facts to establish that State agents were responsible for the disappearance and death of Mr. Gómez Virula. It also stated that it had not been demonstrated that the State knew or should have known that there was a situation of real and imminent risk against the trade unionists prior to the report of Mr. Gómez Virula's disappearance.

Nonetheless, it did find Guatemala responsible for violating the right to judicial protection since the State failed to act with due diligence to investigate the disappearance even though it knew the victim was a trade union leader in conflict with his workplace. It also found that the State failed to preserve the scene of the crime or to obtain evidence during the initial proceedings; and the autopsy did not demonstrate that a rigorous examination of the body had been carried out. For the Court, the State did not exhaust all the lines of investigation diligently and thus it failed to comply with its obligation to investigate the facts within a reasonable time.

Judgment Date

November 21, 2019

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 4 [ACHR], Article 5 [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 16 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Alexander Yovany Gómez Virula disappeared on 13 March 1995, and his body was found 6 months later. He was 22 years old and worked for a manufacturing company, where he was a member of the advisory board of the company's trade union - which was affiliated with the Guatemalan workers' trade union. In 1994, the company closed its operations without giving staff their employment entitlements, causing the staff to strike. The union for which the victim worked was in conflict with the company at the time of his disappearance.

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