- Through a communication dated March 4, l980, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the following
On Sunday, February 24, at 5:00 p.m., professor Roberto Castellanos Braña and his wife Mrs. Anette Mathiessen, were abducted by the National Police of El Salvador. The arrest was witnessed by several neighbors of the Nicaragua District, where the persons abducted lived. Professor Castellanos was seized on the street, and a short time later members of the police force raided his home and arrested Mrs. Mathiessen de Castellanos there. Thus far, the Salvadorian authorities deny any knowledge of the Castellanos' whereabouts.
- On March 5, the IACHR transmitted the pertinent parts of
the complaint to the Government of El Salvador. A few days after
this case began, on March 8, the parties making the complaint
informed the Commission that the Salvadorian press agencies were
reporting that the bodies of Roberto Castellanos, 29 years of age,
and his wife, Anette Mathiessen de Castellanos, 23 years of age and
of Danish origin, had been found in an open grave in a rural area.
This was also reported to the Salvadorian Government through a cable
of March l0, l980, in order to obtain further information on the
- On March l4, l980, the Commission received the following
message in a cable from the Salvadorian Foreign Ministry:
Respectfully acknowledge receipt your telegraph message dated March 6 concerning case 6095 in reference to Mr. Roberto Castellanos and his wife, Anette, of Danish nationality. In this regard, I inform you this Foreign Ministry has requested the pertinent information from all the authorities. I renew the expressions of my highest consideration. Fidel Chávez Mena. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- The complaint having been processed in keeping with the
pertinent legal provisions the IACHR, after three years of unfruitful
steps aimed at obtaining some information from that government,
resolved, on October 4, l983, on the basis of Article 39 of the
Regulations, to presume true the facts reported in the communication
of March 4, 1980, on the seizure and subsequent murder of Roberto
Castellanos Bra]a and his wife, Anette Mathiessen de Castellanos,
declaring that in this instance the Government of El Salvador is
responsible for violation of Articles 4 (Right to Life) and 5 (Right
to Humane Treatment) of the American Convention on Human Rights.
- This resolution having been conveyed on October 17, 1983, to the Government of El Salvador, on February 7, l984, that government conveyed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights its disagreement with the resolution's contents, stating that it strongly and categorically rejected the accusation made against it. However, it did not provide any further information about the seizure, abduction, and murder of the aforementioned Castellanos-Mathiessen couple, who until the time of their deaths were being held by the Salvadorian Police Force. Neither did it report on the investigations recommended by that same Resolution 21/83 to try and punish the perpetrators and planners of such an abominable act.
- The Resolution adopted by the Commission in the case of
Roberto Castellanos Bra]a and his wife, Anette Mathiessen, was fully
in keeping with the provisions of Article 39 of the IACHR's
Regulations inasmuch as the Government of El Salvador, aside from
acknowledging receipt and reporting that it had requested the
pertinent information from the authorities, never provided the
Commission with any information on the matter. Neither did it answer
the several notes sent to it informing it that, in view of the time
elapsed, the provisions of Article 39 of the Regulations would be
applied to it, nor did it request an extension of the legal deadline;
- Article 39 of the aforementioned Regulations expressly
states the following:
The facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts have been transmitted to the Government of the State in reference shall be presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission under the provisions of Article 3l, paragraph 5, the Government has not provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not lead to a different conclusion.
- Although in its note dated February 7, the Foreign Ministry
states that it is the channel that conveyed to the Commission all the
information requested on the investigations made with regard to Case
6095. The Commission states for the record that this information
never reached the IACHR, and it regrets that no indication was given
as to the cover note or the date the information might have been sent
and this omission is not corrected in the aforementioned
- In addition to the failure to provide any information thus
far, on the event that is the subject of the complaint, the
Government of El Salvador has not denied the arrest of the
Castellanos-Mathiessen couple by members of the National Police
Force, which occurred, according to various sources, in front of
several eyewitnesses; and
- There is not sufficient information to warrant changing the
contents of Resolution N 21/83,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
- To confirm in its entirety the contents of Resolution N
21/83 concerning Case 6095.
- To reiterate to the Government of El Salvador the
recommendations contained in paragraph 3 of that Resolution,
recommending to it that those responsible for the act be punished.
- To convey this Resolution to the Government of El Salvador
and to the complainant.
- To include this Resolution in the Commission's next Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.