RESOLUTION Nº 15/84
Nº 8094, 9038 and 9080
October 3, 1984
1. On September
17, 1982, the following persons were executed by firing squad in
Guatemala, in compliance with a sentence passed by the Courts of Special
Jurisdiction: Marcelino Marroquín, Julio Hernández Perdomo, Jaime de
la Rosa Rodríguez and Julio César Vásquez Juárez.
2. A second
execution by firing squad was carried out on March 3, 1983 at the orders
of the abovementioned Courts of Special Jurisdiction, as a result of
which the following persons were killed: Walter Vinicio Marroquín González,
Sergio Roberto Marroquín González, Héctor Haroldo Morales L¢pez,
Marco Antonio González, Carlos Subuyug Cuc and Pedro Raxon Tepet.
3. On the 22nd
day of that same month of March, 1983, the third execution ordered by
said Courts of Special Jurisdiction took place, killing the following
persons: Mario Ramiro Martínez González, Rony Alfredo Martínez González,
Otto Virula Ayala, Jesús Enrique Velásquez Gutierrez and Julio César
abovementioned executions took place despite repeated requests for the
suspension and commutation of the death sentence duly presented by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to the Government of Guatemala
well in advance of same, invoking, besides humanitarian concerns, the
a) The lack of
guarantees to which the accused were subjected, a fact that the members
of the Commission were personally able to verify through examination of
dossiers of said Courts of Special Jurisdiction and interviews conducted
with some of the detainees subjected to such proceedings, during the
visit in loco they made to Guatemala;
b) The innumerable
procedural nullities incurred in by the courts entrusted with such
trials, which ranged from a lacks of the necessary independence and
impartiality essential to an organ in charge of administering justice,
to the refusal to grant the defendants, in the course of their trials,
adequate means to prepare their defense, denying them the right to be
duly assisted by a defense counsel of their choice, the right to
communicate freely and privately with same, to interrogate witnesses or
experts and, in many proven cases, compelling them to declare themselves
guilty and incriminate themselves; they were also denied the right to
appeal, at least in the first trials. They were likewise refused the
right to a public trial and, on the contrary, were subjected to
inquisitorial trials of a secret nature.
inapplicability of the death sentence in Guatemala to persons being
tried for crimes that at the time of Guatemala's ratification of the
American Convention on Human Rights were not punishable by death.
2. The thesis of
the Government of Guatemala, under the administration of General Efraín
Ríos Montt, that it has the power to enact laws on the death penalty
subsequent to the entry into force of the American Convention, to which
Guatemala is a Party, and, thus, to apply the death penalty on the
grounds that it made a reservation to Article 4 paragraph 4 of said
Convention, which refers to political offenses or related common crimes,
already contested by the Commission at the time, was conclusively
rejected by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the judicial organ
which has been asked to render an opinion. The unanimous opinion of the
Court, dated September 8, 1983, was as follows:
the Convention imposes an absolute prohibition on the extension of the
death penalty and that, consequently, the Government of a State Party
cannot apply the death penalty to crimes for which such a penalty was
not previously provided for under its domestic law, and
a reservation restricted by its own wording to Article 4 (4) of the
Convention does not allow the Government of a State Party to extend by
subsequent legislation the application of the death penalty to crimes
for which this penalty was not previously provided.
3. Although it is
true that such Courts were abolished when General Ríos Montt was
overthrown and a full pardon was granted to all those persons who had
been condemned by them and had received appealable sentences that they
were in the process of serving--which is indeed an important step
towards the improvement of the administration of justice in
Guatemala--this in no way makes up for the grave and irreparable harm
caused to those who were executed.
4. The deplorable
circumstances of these acts justify consideration of ways of
compensating and making reparation for the irreparable damages caused to
the victims and their families.
5. None of these
cases present any of the conditions of inadmissibility established by
the American Convention on Human Rights.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES:
1. To declare that
the establishment of Courts of Special Jurisdiction in Guatemala and all
manner of secret tribunals lacking independence, autonomy and discretion
are contrary to the universally accepted rules of due process and
violate the provisions established to this end by the American
Convention on Human Rights.
2. To declare that
the actions brought before the Courts of Special Jurisdiction are
arbitrary and lack the minimal legal guarantees.
3. To observe that
the sentences passed by such Courts are invalid and lacking in juridical
content and legal effect because they are not duly based on a
verification of the facts, because they impose penalties that are
inapplicable and because they come from judges who are incapable of
conducting a fair trial.
4. To condemn the
executions carried out in compliance with the sentences passed by such
Courts of Special Jurisdiction as being acts contrary to justice and law
which violate the right to life.
5. To recommend
just reparation for the relatives of the victims of such executions.
6. To recommend
that those persons who have been tried but not sentenced by such Courts
and are still being held, be immediately set free or else be brought
before a competent court to face trial.
7. To urge the
Government of Guatemala to comply with the repeated recommendation that
it inform the relatives of the victims of executions ordered by the
Courts of Special Tribunals of the exact place where the bodies of those
persons were buried.
8. To transmit
this Resolution to the Government of the Republic of Guatemala.
9. To include this
Resolution in the Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States if the Government of Guatemala does not
implement the above recommendations.