SEEN the pertinent background in this case, to wit:
1. In a cable
dated September 4, 1985, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
received the following denunciation:
DENOUNCE HONDURAN ARMY ATTACK ON SALVADORAN REFUGEES COLOMONCAGUA,
HONDURAS, 29 LAST AUGUST: 2 DEAD INCLUDING BABY, 50 WOUNDED, 15
APPREHENDED, 2 WOMEN RAPED AND 7 PERSONS TORTURED. 3 IN CRITICAL
CONDITION AT TEGUCIGALPA HOSPITAL. WE DEMAND PUNISHMENT OF GUILTY AND
ASK PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES ARTICLE 26 OF REGULATIONS ON BEHALF OF
REFUGEES AND DETAINEES.
2. The Commission,
in a cable dated September 6, 1985, asked the Government of Honduras to
provide the corresponding information, pursuant to Article 34 (formerly
31) of its Regulations. At the same time it requested the Honduran
authorities, in view of the seriousness of the accusation, to adopt the
pertinent precautionary measures to ensure that the acts covered by the
denunciation would be actively and rapidly investigated, as well as to
safeguard the victims and preserve the existence of other evidence for
the corresponding investigation. The Commission further asked the
Government of Honduras to adopt timely measures to prevent a repetition
of such occurrences and to ensure due respect for the principle of no
return stipulated in Article 22(8) of the American Convention on
3. In a cable of
September 6, 1985, the Commission also reported the acts denounced to
the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) with headquarters in Costa Rica and asked for the adoption of
effective measures to ensure full guarantee of the lives and safety of
the refugees in Honduran territory and, particularly, the principle of
4. In a
communication dated September 6, 1984, the Commission reported to the
claimant on progress in the case.
5. The Government
of Honduras, in a cable of September 11, 1985, responded to the request
of the Commission as follows:
OF DENUNCIATION FORWARDED TO COMPETENT AUTHORITIES, REPORT AVAILABLE AS
SOON AS SPECIFIC DATA OBTAINED.
BELOW IS OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION ISSUED BY NATIONAL COMMISSION ON
COLOMONCAGUA REFUGEE CAMP OCCURRENCES:
COMMISSION ON REFUGEES REGRETTING UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT AT COLOMONCAGUA
SALVADORAN REFUGEE CAMP, DEPARTMENT OF INTIBUCA, IN VIEW OF
REPERCUSSIONS OF INCIDENT IN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CIRCLES, MAKES
HONDURAN GOVERNMENT MOTIVATED STRICTLY BY HUMANITARIAN
CONSIDERATIONS HAS OVER PAST SIX YEARS BEEN RECEIVING REFUGEES FROM
NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES WITHIN ITS TERRITORY; THE PRESENCE OF THOUSANDS OF
SUCH REFUGEES CREATED BY CENTRAL AMERICAN CRISIS HAS ECONOMIC,
POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND SECURITY IMPLICATIONS. THIS SITUATION AND ITS
EFFECTS HAVE CAUSED HONDURAN GOVERNMENT TO TAKE SUITABLE STEPS TO
PREVENT CONFLICTS AFFECTING PUBLIC TRANQUILITY.
DESPITE ITS DIFFICULT ECONOMIC SITUATION HONDURAS HAS OFFERED
ASYLUM TO ALL CENTRAL AMERICANS FLEEING VIOLENCE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES
WHO HAVE REACHED ITS TERRITORY THROUGH THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH
COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR) AND NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
NONGOVERNMENTAL HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES, EXTENDING HUMANITARIAN AID AND
SUPPORTING THEIR REPRESENTATIVES IN THE SEVERAL CAMPS IN THE PERFORMANCE
OF THEIR DUTIES.
OUR GOVERNMENT'S APPROACH, BASED ON TRUST AND GOOD WILL, IS
DEMONSTRATED BY THE ABSENCE OF ANY ACTIVE PRESENCE OF HONDURAN
AUTHORITIES IN THE REFUGEE CAMPS EITHER TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY. THIS
HAS LED TO COMMISSION OF ABUSES BY SOME REFUGEES AT VARIANCE WITH
APOLITICAL POSITION AND RESPECT FOR HONDURAN LAWS WHICH MUST BE OBSERVED
BY REFUGEES ENJOYING ASYLUM EXTENDED BY HONDURAS.
REGRETTABLE INCIDENT OF 29 AUGUST CITED ABOVE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF
THIS SITUATION. ON 27 AUGUST WHEN MILITARY PATROL WAS INSPECTING AREA
ADJACENT TO CAMP IT DETAINED SALVADORAN CITIZEN JOSE ANTONIO CHICAS
SANCHEZ WHO WAS CARRYING AN M-16 RIFLE AND 4 CATRIDGE CLIPS. UNDER
QUESTIONING CITIZEN SAID HE WAS A REFUGEE AND REPORTED THAT COMPATRIOTS
INVOLVED IN SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES WERE INSIDE THE CAMP.
BASED ON INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE DETAINEE, THE MILITARY CHIEF
SENT FOR UNHCR PROTECTION OFFICER TO REPORT BUT WHEN OFFICER COULD NOT
BE FOUND DESPITE EFFORTS MADE MEN WERE ORDERED TO INSPECT THE CAMP. WHEN
SOLDIERS ENTERED THE CAMP A GROUP OF REFUGEES REACTED VIOLENTLY TO THEIR
PRESENCE AND ONE REFUGEE SEIZED THE GUN OF CORPORAL RAUL TREJO FLORES
SHOOTING HIM IN THE LEG. LOGICALLY, IF THERE HAD BEEN NO SUCH VIOLENT
REACTION AND DISRESPECT FOR AUTHORITY EVENTS CULMINATING IN THE DEATH OF
THAT REFUGEE AND WOUNDING OF TWO OTHERS AS WELL AS THE ARREST OF TEN
PERSONS PRESUMABLY ENGAGED IN SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES - NOW BEING HELD FOR
INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL - WOULD NEVER HAVE OCCURRED.
THE GOVERNMENT, IN EXPRESSING REGRET FOR THE INCIDENT, STATES FOR
THE RECORD ITS WILLINGNESS TO CONTINUE COOPERATING WITH THE HIGH
COMMISSIONER IN ORDER TO PROVIDE PROTECTION AND HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE
REFUGEES AND TO SOLVE ANY PROBLEM THAT MIGHT ARISE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK
OF MUTUAL COOPERATION AND OBSERVANCE BY THE REFUGEES OF THE PRINCIPLES
DERIVING FROM RESPECT FOR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY AND INTERNATIONAL LAW. IT
ALSO APPEALS TO HUMANITARIANISM AND SOLIDARITY OF GOVERNMENTS BASED ON
LEGALLY REGULATED FOREIGN RELATIONS.
6. In a
communication dated September 12, 1985, the Commission transmitted to
the claimant the pertinent parts of the information supplied by the
Government of Honduras, setting a term of 45 days for presentation of
comments or observations.
7. The Government
of Honduras, in a note of September 18, 1985 (Nº 721-DGPE-DAI/1067)
forwarded additional information consisting of an Official Communiqué
of the Armed Forces of Honduras (Nº 57/85), which reads as follows:
OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS OF THE ARMED FORCES OF HONDURAS HEREBY
REPORTS THE FOLLOWING TO THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC:
That on the 27th of this month members of the Tenth Infantry
Battalion captured José Antonio Chicas Sánchez in the area of
Colomancagua, Department of Intibucá, confiscating an M-16-A1 rifle and
four (4) cartridge clips.
During questioning of the detainee his nationality and active
militancy in the Salvadoran guerrilla group were established beyond any
doubt. He further stated that he and a large group of insurgents from
the neighboring country had entered Honduras in order to regroup in the
refugee camp located at this site and, eventually, to undertake, acting
from Honduran territory, action against the government of the
Based on that report, the authorities of the Tenth Infantry
battalion decided to conduct an inspection on the 19th of the same month
and year, following a report to the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in order to ascertain whether those
antisocial elements, who would be identified by Chicas Sánchez, had
infiltrated the Colomoncagua Salvadoran refugee camp.
When the military patrol entered the refugee camp, an individual,
taking Corporal Raúl Trejo Flores by surprise, seized his gun and
wounded him in the leg with the weapon. Another member of the Honduran
patrol reacted by shooting the aggressor to death and wounding a third
party with the same bullet. The military authority then apprehended ten
(10) suspected subversives, who were informed of their rights. The
person wounded in the confrontation is being cared for by Honduran
It should be pointed out that on several occasions the Armed
Forces of Honduras have endeavored to set up a system of supervision and
vigilance to prevent antisocial elements from using the refugee camps as
sanctuary for their operations and provoking just such regrettable
situations as this.
The Armed Forces of Honduras hereby reiterate that, in
fulfillment of their constitutional duty, they will not permit any
foreigner to disturb the peace and order in the Republic.
8. In a
communication dated October 16, 1985, the petitioner made the comments
and observations transcribed below, enclosing several items of evidence
corroborating the fact denounced, consisting of public documentary proof
and the testimony of a witness to those facts. That text is as follows:
response to your request, we are forwarding additional information on
Persons killed during the military invasion of the Colomoncagua
refugee camp on August 29, 1985: Saúl Manuel Romero, 23 years of age,
and Gloria Noemí Blanco Argueta, two months.
Shot: Juan Cristo Pérez, 3; Elías Vásquez, 4; Domitila Ramo,
13; Andrea Gómez, 48; Elia Hernández, 19; Maura Ramírez, 42; Modesta
Rodríguez, 61; Rutilio Arguta, 43; Santiago Gómez, 56; Santiago Hernández,
62; Candelaria Maradiaga, 56; Eduardo Mejía, 70; Juan Sáenz, 33 and
Santos Vásquez, 33.
Beaten: Auxiliadora Vigil, 2; Julio César Salazar, 12; Arturo Vásquez,
12; Leticia Argueta, 18; María Argueta, 19; Silvina Blanco, 34; Arelí
Bonilla, 22; Florentina Chicas, 27; Gloria Maribel Flores, 58;
Sebastiana Gómez, 33; Anabel Marisol Hernández, 16; Magdalena Márquez,
52; Elvira Membreño, 18; Prudencia Pérez, 58; Elba Ramírez, 24;
Cresencia Sánchez, 35; Sixta Sánchez, 20; Deysi Vásquez, 21; Mercedes
Ventura, 25; Lucía Vigil, 29; Rafaela Vigil, 50; Elia Remírez, 27;
Modesta Ramírez, 28; María Alicia Ramos, 25; Inés Cruz, 23; Felipe
Chicas, 69; Francisco Chicas, 76; Jerónimo Gómez, 80; José Guevara,
77; Aurelio Hernández, 17; Ferdinando Hernández, 66; Isidoro Hernández,
38; Santos Ortíz, 68; Esteban Umanzor, 63; Concepción Vigil, 26, and
Francisco Vigil, 52.
Estela Rodríguez, 24, and Concepción Martínez.
attached are the denunciation lodged publicly by the Office of the
Commission for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras (CCDEH); the
investigation conducted by the Office of the Archbishop of San Salvador,
and on-site by the Bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán, anonymous testimony
from refugees in English, and testimony from the Inter-Church Committee
for Refugees of Toronto, Canada.
evidence exists of the guilt of the Government of Honduras in those
regrettable occurrences, which, unfortunately are part of the general
climate of repression prevailing in that country in recent years. The
status of the Salvadoran refugees is particularly difficult at this time
since they are accused of belonging to or collaborating with the
Salvadoran guerrillas, which makes them easier targets for government
Government of Honduras is guilty of violation of Articles 6, 7 and 9 of
the Civil Political Rights Pact to which that country is a party and of
the fundamental principles established by the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights of the UN.
9. In a note of
October 23, 1985, the Commission transmitted to the Government of
Honduras the pertinent parts of the comments made by the petitioner,
setting a period of 60 days from remitting all information on the case.
The Commission, in a letter dated October 29, 1985, to the
Director of the UNHCR Office in Honduras, asked that it supply any
available information on the progress of the case before the Honduran
authorities. That request was made at the suggestion of the UNHCR office
for the Protection of Refugees in Geneva.
Since the claimant, in a cable of October 30, 1985, reported that
the Government of Honduras had officially announced relocation of the
refugees from the Colomoncagua camp to a place called "Mesa
Grande", the Commission, fearing for their safety, requested in a
cable dated November 4, 1985, to the Government of Honduras information
on that reported transfer. Likewise, in a communication dated November
4, 1985, it again reported to the UNHCR office in Tegucigalpa on the
situation, expressing the fear that new violations of human rights might
The Government of Honduras, in a note on December 3, 1985 (Nº
1001) replied to the observations presented by the claimant (transmitted
with the October 23, 1985, note), stating as follows:
response to your note of October 23, 1985, and with reference to Case
9619, I should like to inform you that, having transmitted the
denunciation of the events presumed to have occurred in the Colomoncagua
refugee camp to the competent authorities, the latter proceeded to
conduct the pertinent investigations, which, in their preliminary phase,
produced the following results:
Mr. Saúl Manuel Romero died after having forcibly seized the
rifle of one of the soldiers, with which weapon he shot Corporal Raúl
Trejo Flores, wounding him in the leg.
child Noemí Blanco Arguet, a two months old, died as the result of an
illness of several days duration, as confirmed by Mrs. María Moreno Márquez,
a resident in the camp at the time of the incident.
The possibility that several residents of the camp might have
been beaten cannot be ruled out, since the soldiers conducting the
inspection were met by refugees wielding small-calibre weapons, knives
and pointed implements, shovels and stones. Consequently they were
forced to repel the physical aggression towards them exhibited by
foreigners who had been given refuge by the Government of Honduras for
purely humanitarian reasons.
According to the report made to this ministry, it is completely
untrue that women in the camp were raped. Estela Rodríguez, who
participated directly in the physical aggression against the troops, was
wounded in the ankle, prompting her to state that she would say that she
had been raped. This account was confirmed by one of the refugees.
Government of Honduras wishes to reaffirm to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights its willingness to continue to offer
protection and humanitarian aid to the refugees within the framework of
the principles deriving from respect for national sovereignty and
The Commission, in a communication dated December 16, 1985,
transmitted to the petitioner the information from the Government of
Honduras, setting a period of 45 days for its reply.
Since the Government of Honduras had posed questions, in a note
of November 14, 1985 (Nº 936-DAI-DSPE), received subsequently to the
December 3 note cited in section 12, concerning the exhaustion of
internal remedies, the Commission, in a note of December 18, 1985, to
the Government provided the necessary clarifications. Likewise, on
December 18, 1985, it asked the petitioner for further information on
the status of the case before the Honduran authorities or the progress
of their investigations. That request was renewed on January 22, 1986.
Since the deadline for submission by the Government of Honduras
of the data requested in the October 23, 1985 note had passed, on
February 10, 1986, the Commission again asked for such information to be
The petitioner, in a communication of February 10, 1986,
responded as follows to the reply of the Government of Honduras on
December 3, 1985:
regard to the response of the Government of Honduras dated December 3,
It is entirely untrue that Mr. Saúl Manuel Romero died
"after having forcibly seized the rifle of one of the soldiers,
with which weapon he shot Corporal Raúl Trejo Flores, wounding him in
the leg." This could not be the direct cause of his death even
admitting, as the Honduran Government would have us believe, that the
refugee Romero offered resistance. The direct cause of his death was the
physical violence committed against him by the Honduran soldiers,
culminating, as we are told by the eye-witness Josefina Pugimon Colell,
a Spanish-volunteer teacher, in his throat being cut. The refugee Saúl
Manuel Romero, according to the attached testimony, did not resist in
any way, but even if he had instinctively defended himself, by grabbing
the weapon or had even used it to wound Corporal Raúl Trejo Flores in
the leg, his violent death cannot be justified, as the Honduran
Government maintains in its answer to the charges.
reference to the child Noemí Blanco Argueta, two months old, who,
according to the Honduran Government "died as the result of an
illness of several days duration, as confirmed by Mrs. María Moreno Márquez,
a resident in the camp at the time of the incident," this is
completely false. We cannot refute, since we do not know, the fact that
the child might have been ill, but the direct and immediate cause of her
death we do know, from the testimony of several refugees and of the
Spaniard Josefina Purgimon Colell. The child was kicked by a soldier who
attacked her grandmother, Silvina Blanco, 39, who was carrying the baby
in her arms as she fled from her attackers. Against the word of Mrs. María
Moreno Márquez, cited by the Government of Honduras, we offer the
testimony of the child's grandmother, recorded on the cassettes we
submit herewith, photographs showing the battered child and her
grandmother and written testimony gathered by the Inter-Church Committee
for Refugees/Inter-Church Committee for Human Rights of Canada.
you will realize from listening carefully to the cassettes, the on-site
witnesses refute the statements of the Honduran Government and describe
in great detail the barbaric actions of the Honduran army. The
photograph of the dead child clearly shows on the lower left part of her
face the bruise caused by the kick of the Honduran soldier.
The Government of Honduras says that "The possibility that
several residents of the camp might have been beaten cannot be ruled
out, since the soldiers conducting the inspection were met by refugees
wielding small-calibre weapons, knives and pointed implements, shovels
and stones. Consequently they were forced to repel the physical
aggression exhibited by the foreigners who had been given refuge by the
Government of Honduras for purely humanitarian reasons." It would
appear, following the reasoning of the Government of Honduras, that its
army was attacked and reacted in legitimate self-defense to the
aggression by the refugees while inspecting the camp on August 29.
same position is inferred from the statement made in paragraph one, l,
of its response, declaring that Saúl Manuel Romero had died "after
having forcibly seized the rifle of one of the soldiers".
Saúl Manuel Romero nor any of the refugees in Colomoncagua showed any
aggressiveness whatsoever against the soldiers. The latter were the ones
who forced their way in, as described in the testimony of Josefina
Purgimon Colell, who said: "At no time did I see a single refugee
display the slightest force against the soldiers; at all times they
confined themselves to approaching the soldiers and asking them please
not to mistreat their refugee companions. The soldiers who struck and
tortured the refugees had painted their faces green and black. It was my
impression that they were under the influence of drugs".
if we again assume--a completely unrealistic premise--that the refugees
had physically attacked the soldiers, did the latter have the right to
kill them, to repress them as they did, to apprehend ten and torture
them so barbarically?
Honduran Government should, on the other hand, confess to the Commission
that it was not just a matter of "several residents" of
Colomoncagua who were wounded. The Commission has already received the
long list of refugees who were beaten or shot, in addition to the three
killed and the ten captured and tortured. This list was drawn up by the
Office of the Archbishop of San Salvador and the Bishop of Santa Rosa de
Copán, Honduras. We ask the Government of Honduras to provide evidence
of the weapons carried by the refugees and of the wounds inflicted by
their attack. Finally, the Government of Honduras has reported its own
version of the episode in that country, alleging that guerrillas of the
Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) of El Salvador were
in the camp. From its standpoint, this is consistent with the account it
is now relaying to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Honduras noted in a
communiqué published in the Honduran press that all of the refugees
apprehended--the alleged guerrilla commandants--carried refugee
documents and were under the protection of the UNHCR, thus refuting the
government story. We bring this point up so that the Commission may be
apprised of the malice with which the Honduran Government has sought to
justify this gross violation of human rights. Moreover, these
occurrences are not isolated ones, since there have been many cases of
harassment and repression of Salvadoran refugees for the purpose of
bringing about their forced repatriation or proposed relocation in the
interior of the country for strictly military purposes.
Concerning the sexual violation committed by the Honduran
soldiers and denied by that government in its writ, we base ourselves on
the testimony given by the victim, Estela Rodríguez on one of the
cassettes we are remitting.
item of evidence collected by the Canadian Inter-Church Committee for
Refugees/Inter-Church Committee for Human Rights in Latin America also
bears on the matter. The report by the Office of the Archbishop of San
Salvador and the Bishop of Copán indicates that both Estela Rodríguez
and Concepción Martínez were raped by the Honduran soldiers.
refer also to the information requested from us concerning the
exhaustion of internal judicial remedies in the case in question.
Vice-Chairman of the Commission for the Protection of Human Rights in
Honduras, Mr. Oscar Aníbal Puerto Possas, filed a writ of habeas corpus
for Ramón Mejía, Aníbal Márquez, David Torres, Albertario Sánchez,
Braulio Chicas, Filadelfo Portillo, Raúl Arguenta, Leonel Rodríguez,
Domingo Vigil and Carlos Hernández before the Supreme Court on
September 4, 1985. Three months later, on December 9, 1985, the
executory judge Samuel Cano argued "that it had not been executed
because the secretary employed by him at the time had misplaced the
document and he had been unaware of the fact." (See copy of the
writ and footnote attached). On January 15, 1986, according to press
reports, the ten men arrested by the Government of Honduras were
deported to Lima, Peru. On January 22 of this year the CODEH
Vice-Chairman asked for certification of judgment of the habeas corpus
writ. To date we have no knowledge of any reply having been received
from the Supreme Court of Honduras in that respect. As you will realize,
an effort was made to exhaust internal remedies on behalf of the ten
people apprehended but it was unproductive; pursuant to the provisions
of Article 34, 2, d the parties concerned have been prevented
from ensuring such exhaustion.
the other hand, no attempt was made by the Commission for the Protection
of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH) to exhaust local justice in order to
seek sanctions against those responsible for the occurrences of August
29, 1985, and to fix responsibility.
reasons for proceeding in this manner are contained in a letter of reply
to our request for information on the matter signed by its Chairman, Dr.
Ramón Custodio López, which we received only a few days ago.
in a case of habeas corpus, a recourse which is by its very nature
expeditious, pursuant to the American Convention on the rights and
Duties of Man, Art. 7(6) and the political constitution of that country,
the papers have been "misplaced", what can be expected from an
ordinary trial accusing the soldiers guilty of the violations? Which of
the refugees would dare to testify against them?
whole situation makes it impossible for internal remedies to be
exhausted by the victims or by the agencies of human rights working on
their behalf. Moreover, it must be noted that a widespread climate of
repression is steadily being created in Honduras, leading to total
disrespect for the law, especially with regard to human rights.
given the gravity of the facts that concern us and the scope of the
violations, we ask the honorable Inter-American Commission on Human
Admit our petition in the case in question.
Pursuant to Article 40 of the Regulations, hold a hearing to
inform itself more fully on the facts.
The Commission, in a note dated March 10, 1986, transmitted to
the Government of Honduras the pertinent parts of the reply transcribed
above, setting a term of 30 days for receipt of its comments or
In a cable of April 11, 1986, the Government of Honduras asked
for a 30 day extension of the term for transmittal of such rejoinder.
The Government of Honduras, in a cable on April 7, 1985,
transmitted by the Permanent Mission of Honduras to the OAS (Note Nº 13
of April 7, 1985) stated that it would in due course report on the
inquiries being made by the authorities based on the observations and
reply of the petitioner.
The Commission took note of those communications during its 68th
period of sessions (April 1986), having agreed not to grant the
additional term of 30 days requested by the Government of Honduras on
April 11, 1985. A note to that effect was sent to the Government of
Honduras on April 28, 1986.
Since the Government of Honduras had not supplied the reports,
the Commission in a note of July 28, 1986, again requested the same,
noting possible application of the provision made in Article 42 of the
Regulations to presume the truth of the facts denounced.
The Government of Honduras did not reply.
The petitioners, in a hearing before the Commission on September
22, 1986, during the 68th period of sessions of the Commission, stated
in oral and written testimony that they had been the victims of sudden
attack by the Armed Forces of Honduras at about 1:00 p.m. on August 29,
1985, at the Colomoncagua Camp involving a number of soldiers under the
command of a major Ramírez, that some refugees were taken from there to
the town of La Esperanza for questioning by military authorities and
were subjected to all kinds of outrages, mistreatment and beatings and
finally transferred to the First Infantry Battalion in Tegucigalpa. From
there those worse off were sent to a medical center where they were
confined for 23 days without treatment and with very little food or
water, accused of being Salvadoran guerrillas.
In addition the claimants made the following statement during
That on August 29, 1985, as the Commission is aware, the Honduran
army invaded the Colomoncagua camp inhabited by Salvadoran
refugees--including ourselves--in a military operation that seemed
carefully planned in view of how they acted, killing three persons, one
only two months of age, and beating and brutally intimidating the other
That on that occasion ten prisoners were taken and held
incommunicado for more than four months at different detention sites in
Honduras, having been cruelly subjected to both physical and mental
torture, accused of being guerrillas or collaborators of Salvadoran
guerrillas, which is completely untrue and ultimately deported to the
Republic of Peru through the intervention of humanitarian agencies
including the Red Cross and UNHCR in January of this year. Since May
they have been under the protection of the Canadian Government.
That our families, wives, children and other relatives, are still
in Honduras and we are justifiably afraid that they will suffer major
reprisals since the refugee camps are the object of extremely strict and
repressive treatment and vigilance.
That we have learned of the denunciation lodged in our behalf by
the Commission for the Protection of Human Rights in Central America
(CODEHUCA), with headquarters in San José, Costa Rica, which represents
us in this case.
That we are gravely concerned by the fate of our fellow refugees
currently in Honduras at different camps subject to the pressure of
relocation and prevented from living a normal existence because of
constant intimidation from the Honduran army.
1. That all of the
regulation provisions for processing of the case have been exhausted
without the Honduran Government having provided the reports offered in
the cable of April 4, 1986.
2. That the
information provided by the Government of Honduras is insufficient to
refute the denunciation and instead affirms commission of the acts
covered by the complaint, pursuant to the contents of paragraph two, 5,
to the official communiqué of the National Commission for Refugees
transmitted by the Government of Honduras in the cable dated September
11, 1985, transcribed above.
3. That, based on
international law and in the terms of the international commitments of
Honduras, the Honduran authorities are responsible for the situation,
safety and integrity of refugees exiled in their territory.
Consequently, the refusal to accept that responsibility, as inferred
from the contents of the communiqué by the National Commission for
Refugees, is unacceptable especially with reference to points 3 and 4
4. That the
Government of Honduras did not specifically report to the Commission on
the course of the investigations made to clarify the facts, to wit: what
authority initiated the investigation, when did it begin, what suspects
were aprehended and where were they detained and, finally, what is the
status of the matter before the national authorities.
5. That, likewise,
the information supplied subsequently in the press communiqué of the
National Commission for Refugees (Note of 18/9/85-Nº 721) raises
serious questions, such as the following:
a. What judicial
authority (civil or military) took note of the detention of the
suspected Salvadoran guerrilla José Antonio Chicas Sánchez;
b. What suit was
filed against that individual;
c. Copy of the
interrogation of that individual, and
d. Information on
whether Mr. Chicas Sánchez was assigned a competent lawyer during the
interrogation and other formalities undertaken in his behalf and where
he was placed on trial, the trial outcome and where he is serving his
6. That the
Honduran Government has also failed to furnish information on the bloody
events that occurred in Colomoncagua, of which the victims were Mr. Saúl
Romero, 23, and the child Gloria Noemí Blanco Argueta, two months, both
killed in the incident or the several wounded, including the following:
Juan Cristo Pérez, 3; Elías Vásquez, 4; Domitila Ramo, 13; Andrea Gómez,
48; Elia Hernández, 19; Maura Ramírez, 42; Modesta Rodríguez, 61;
Rutilio Arguta, 43; Santiago Gómez, 56; Santiago Hernández, 62;
Candelaria Maradiaga, 56; Eduardo Mejía, 70; Juan Sánez, 33 and Santos
Vásquez, 33. We do not know if a criminal trial was held to determine
responsibility in those cases or its outcome.
7. That the
Commission also failed to receive information on the legal status of the
persons wounded during the course of the events or regarding the case of
the alleged rape of Estela Rodríguez, 24 years of age, and Concepción
Martínez, whose age is not mentioned in the data received by the
8. That in the
case covered by the complaint, the petitioner has not been permitted
access to internal remedies or has been prevented from exhausting them,
in which case the requisite provided for in Article 37 of the
Regulations has been superseded.
9. That the
Commission is in receipt of the testimony given by an eye-witness to the
events that occurred in Colomoncagua. That witness belongs to an
international humanitarian aid unit and, because of her status, is
considered to be reliable. Her testimony affirms facts that coincide in
every point with the details contained in the complaint lodged with the
Commission, which is valuable evidence in favor of the truth of that
That, as stated in the background to this resolution, the
Commission also has available other testimony and presentations by the
petitioners and eyewitnesses to the acts, all of which coincide with the
other evidence mentioned, according to which it can be affirmed, beyond
any reasonable doubt, that the acts denounced occurred in the manner
stated and that the Honduran authorities must accept a grave
responsibility, especially the military leaders who ordered and those
who carried out the operation of August 29, 1985, at the Colomoncagua
That Article 42 of the Regulations authorizes the Commission to
presume the facts reported in the petition to be true, provided other
evidence does not lead to a different conclusion, which is not the case
in this instance.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES:
1. To presume the
facts described in Case 9619, occurring at the Colomoncagua, Honduras,
refugee camp on August 29, 1985, to be true.
2. To point out to
the Government of Honduras that the facts denounced in this case
constitute serious violations of human rights in general and,
specifically, of those set forth in Articles 4 (1); 5 (1) and 8 (1 and
2, c and d) of the American Convention on Human Rights.
3. To request the
Government of Honduras to present to the Commission within 60 days a
detailed and complete report on the course of the investigations
conducted concerning the events that occurred at the Colomoncagua Camp,
particularly whether trials have been held to establish the criminal
responsibility for such acts and what has been their outcome, taking
into account the serious nature of the acts and the cases of deaths,
serious wounds, assault on children and rapes committed at that place on
August 29, 1985.
4. To recommend
that the Government of Honduras also report to the Commission within 60
days on the measures proposed with a view to granting the victims or
their heirs the adequate indemnification to which they are entitled.
5. To include the
text of this resolution in the Annual Report of the Commission to the
OAS General Assembly, pursuant to Article 63, g of its
6. To transmit this resolution to the Government of Honduras and to the petitioner.