Gudiel Álvarez et al. (“Diario Militar”) v. Guatemala

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Children/Youth | Indigenous Peoples | Women and Girls | Right to Know the Truth | Duty to Investigate

Themes: Search | Persons and Groups Affected | Related Crimes

The Court noted that, as part of the State’s counterinsurgency policy, enforced disappearances were intended to disrupt movements or organisations identified by the State as favourable to the “insurgency” and to instil fear in the population. The Court established that in cases of enforced disappearance where there are indications that the victim may be deceased, the confirmation of whether this has in fact occurred, and thus the cessation of the disappearance, necessarily entails the recovery of the remains and the establishment of the identity of the person to whom they belong, through an expert examination by a competent professional. The Court recognised that disappearances involve the violation of all the rights that the person is unable to exercise, including in relation to the right to indigenous identity. As long as the remains are not identified, the enforced disappearance continues. The Court considered that the failure to investigate the complaint of rape entails a violation of the obligation to guarantee personal integrity, which includes the protection of sexual life.

Judgment Date

September 20, 2012

Country

Guatemala

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 3 [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 7(1) [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 16(1) [ACHR], Article 17 [ACHR], Article 19 [ACHR], Article 22 [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR], Article 1(a) [IACFDP], Article 1(b) [IACFDP], Article 11 [IACFDP], Article 1 [IACPPT], Article 6 [IACPPT], Article 8 [IACPPT], Article 7(b) [IACPPEVW]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 13 [ACHR], Article 23 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

The case concerns the enforced disappearances of 26 persons recorded in a Guatemalan military intelligence document known as the "Diario Militar", including two minors and two indigenous persons. These disappearances occurred between 1983 and 1985 within the context of the internal armed conflict in Guatemala. The case also deals with the lack of an effective investigation into these disappearances. In 2003 the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, acting as an expert witness for the Public Prosecutor's Office, began exhumations of a grave found in a former military detachment on 22 November 2011. The Foundation identified the remains of two of the disappeared victims in this case. In addition, the "Diario Militar" shows the detention of Mr. Rudy Gustavo Figueroa Muñoz, whose body was found months later in December 1984, on the street near his parents' house. Other victims in the case include the detention and torture of two children - Wendy and Igor Santizo Méndez - at the time of their mother's arrest, as well as the rape of Wendy and mock executions in the case of Igor.

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