Peasant Community of Santa Bárbara v. Peru

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Amnesties | Evidence | Children/Youth | Crimes Against Humanity | Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Memory and Reparations | Persons and Groups Affected | Justice and Truth | Related Crimes

The Court found that the State made a partial acknowledgement of the facts and of international responsibility, and therefore found that the matter remained in dispute with respect to issues of fact and certain legal claims. Regarding legal claims, the Court considered that controversy remained as to whether the facts should be legally classified as "extrajudicial execution" or "enforced disappearance". Disputes also remained on the scope of the violations of the rights to life, personal integrity and personal liberty, as well as the special protection of children recognised by the State.

The Court recalled that enforced disappearance often includes the execution of detainees, in secret and without trial, and is followed by the concealment of the body. The Court stated that it in its previous jurisprudence, it has qualified cases in which State agents have sought to conceal deprivations of life - destroying all traces of the bodies in order to prevent the identification of the victims or to prevent the establishment of their fate and whereabouts - as "disappearances".

Judgment Date

November 1, 2005

Country

Peru

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 8(1) [ACHR], Article 19 [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR], Article 1(a) [IACFDP], Article 1(b) [IACFDP], Article 2 [IACFDP], Article 1 [IACPPT], Article 6 [IACPPT], Article 8 [IACPPT]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 11 [ACHR], Article 17 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

At the time of the events, on 2 July 1991, the Department of Huancavelica was under a state of emergency and the control of the Armed Forces. In execution of the "Plan Operativo Apolonia", the military detained 14 villagers. This included: three girls and four boys between the ages of eight months and six years; an elderly man; five adult women, one of whom was six months pregnant; and an adult man. The military burned their houses and took their belongings. They were all abused and taken to an abandoned mine, and on the way, the military arrested one more person. Once inside the mine, they were all killed, and the mine was destroyed with dynamite, resulting in the victims' bodies being destroyed.

The facts of the case are framed in the context of the Peruvian armed conflict and the systematic practice of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of persons suspected of belonging to illegal armed groups. The violations were finally classified as a crime against humanity, and their prosecution was not subject to any statute of limitations by the Supreme Court of Justice. The Peruvian Truth Commission also documented the case. Between 1995 and 2002, the investigation was halted by an amnesty law.

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