Washington College of Law|
Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Case 7379 (GUATEMALA)
June 25, 1981
- In a communication of November 19, 1979, the following
denunciation was made to the Inter-American Commission on Human
On November 16, after being abducted and tortured, the
journalist José León Castañeda, a founding
member of the Communications Media Union "SIMCOS" and
member of the Guatemalan Media Association "APG," was
murdered. José León Castañeda had been the
victim of several attempts against his physical security and had
received a number of threats against his life, including, those
made by then Anticommunist Secret Army "ESA" and by two
deputies of the current legislature of the republic. Democratic and popular
entities have interpreted the murder of José León
Castañeda as an attack against freedom of expression, and
they regard the crime as part of an intensification of the
violence against members of the press.
According to information published in the meala, José León
Castañeda was abducted by two armed men driving a "Bronco"
car (this type of car is one of the most commonly used by the
government security forces). The information was reported by the
father of the murdered journalist. After the kidnapping, José
León was found lying in one of the city streets, and his
death was reported as due to a heart attack. However, an autopsy
was demanded, and it showed that the journalist had died because
of the severity and kind of tortures inflicted on him: blows,
pulmonary hemorrhage and asphyxia. SIMCOS noted that this is a new
method of elimination used by the terrorist forces, instead of the
coup de grace.
- In a note of June 25, 1980, the Commission transmitted the
pertinent portions of this denunciation to the Guatemalan
Government, requesting information on the case.
- In notes of December 16, 1980, and April 20, 1981, the
Commission again asked the Guatemalan Government for information.
- To date, the Guatemalan Government has not replied to the
Commission's requests for information.
- Article 39 of the Commission's Regulations provides as follows:
- 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 31 paragraph 5, the
Government has not provided the pertinent information, as long as
other evidence does not lead to a different conclusion.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
- Based on Article 39 of its Regulations, to presume to be true
the events reported in the communication of November l9, 1980,
regarding the abduction, torture and murder of the journalist José
- To declare that the Government of Guatemala violated Articles 7
(right to personal liberty), 5 (right to personal security) and 4
(right to life) of the American Convention on Human Rights.
- To recommend that the Guatemalan Government investigate the
events reported and, if warranted, punish those responsible, and to
inform the Commission of its decision within 60 days.
- To transmit this resolution to the Government of Guatemala and to
- To include this resolution in the Commission's Annual Report to
the General Assembly of the Organization of American States pursuant
to Article 18 (f), of the Statute and Article 59 (g) of the
Regulations of the Commission.
Dr. Francisco Bertrand Galindo declined to hear and decide on this
case because he was living in Guatemala when the reported event
[ Inter-American Human Rights