REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
SEEN the background information on this case, as follows:
1. The petition received by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on June 16, 1988, the pertinent parts of which are transcribed below:
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received a
communication voicing concern about the personal safety of Sonia Muņoz de
Yangali, an employee of the post office in Churcampa, following her reported
arrest, torture and attempted murder by members of the Peruvian Army.
According to the reports received, on May 18, 1988, at about 2 a.m. a
group of soldiers dressed as civilians broke into
Mrs. Muņoz' home in Churcampa, Department of Huancavelica, shooting
indiscriminately and making death threats.
Two of her children, aged 9 and 12 respectively, were beaten and hurt
when they tried to defend their mother. Mrs.
Muņoz states that she was blindfolded and taken to the Churcampa barracks,
adding that, despite he blindfold, she noticed that on the way from her house
to the barracks the soldiers changed into uniforms.
From there, she says, she was taken to the Army barracks at Castropampa,
Huanta, Department of Ayacucho, where she arrived at 8:30 a.m. that same day.
According to her testimony, Mrs. Muņoz was tortured at the Castropampa
military base, where she was beaten while hanging from a ceiling rafter or the
roof, her hands tied behind her back; she also received electric shocks
applied to various parts of her body. This
torture continued until about five in the afternoon.
During the questioning she was accused of collaborating with the
Shining Path guerrillas by distributing their mail.
Sonia Muņoz has been in charge of the Churcampa post office for 17
years. In her testimony, which
was sent to the Office of the Attorney General, she states under oath
"that she never collaborated with Shining Path or belonged to that
subversive organization," adding that her work "as the person Office
of the Attorney General, she states under oath "that she never
collaborated with Shining Path or belonged to that subversive
organization," adding that her work "as the person in charge of the
post office, was confined to receiving and delivering the Churcampa mail,
without ever dealing with its content, which not only was none of her personal
business but would have constituted a serious offense besides."
Mrs. Sonia Muņoz also testifies that her captors appeared to take all
possible precautions to make certain that the other soldiers in the barracks
did not learn that she was being held there.
In addition, army officers discussed counter- revolutionary
tactics in her presence, including the arrest and murder of people by patrols
disguised as guerrillas, so that she feared she would be executed.
Mrs. Muņoz also states that about 5:30 p.m. she was told that she
would be returned to Churcampa; that midway there she was taken off the truck,
tied, and forced to kneel. In
that position she received three shots, two in the head and one in the chest. She then held her breath until the soldiers thought her dead.
Before leaving, the soldiers scattered propaganda from Shining Path and
placed a sign on her body saying that she had been executed because she was an
informant. Mrs. Muņoz was taken
to Lima in a truck, where she was helped by human rights organizations and
admitted to a hospital for surgery.
Mrs. Yangali is the wife of Fortunato Yangali, a local government
employee who "disappeared" in 1983 after being arrested by the
police [Guardia Civil]. The
applicant knows that no investigation has been opened to clear up this case,
and his whereabouts remain unknown.
The Commission, in a note of July 1, 1988, initiated processing of the
case and requested the Government of Peru to furnish pertinent information on
the incidents referred to in the note, in addition to any other relevant
factors that would make it possible to ascertain whether in this case all
remedies under domestic law had been exhausted.
A period of 90 days was given to reply to the request.
On February 21, 1989, the Commission repeated its request for
information from the Government of Peru, noting that if such information was
not received within a period of 30 days, the Commission would consider
possible application of Article 42 of the Regulations, which provides that the
facts reported in the petition shall be presumed to be true as long as the
government in question has not provided the information requested within the
period of time indicated by the Commission.
The Commission repeated its request for information from the Government
of Peru on September 7, 1989, regarding the disappearance of Sonia Muņoz de
Yangali, basing its request on the provisions of Article 42 of the
The Commission is competent to consider the present case inasmuch as it
deals with violations of the rights recognized in Article 5 of the
Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, regarding the right to humane
treatment), and Article 7, regarding the right to personal liberty, as
provided for in Article 44 of the Convention, of which Peru is a State Party.
The petition fulfills the formal requirements for admissibility
contained in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and in the
Regulations of the Commission.
In the present case it is evident that the petitioner has not been able
to secure effective protection from jurisdictional organizations, and
therefore the requirements of exhaustion of remedies under domestic law
provided for in Article 46 of the Convention are not applicable.
The petition is not pending any other international settlement
procedures nor is it a reproduction of a previous petition already examined by
In spite of the time elapsed and the reiterated procedures undertaken
by the Commission, the Government of Peru has not provided a reply concerning
the facts involved in the present case.
6. By virtue of the fact that the Government of Peru has failed to reply it has failed to fulfill its international obligation to provide information to the Commission within a reasonable period of time, as established in Article 48 of the Convention.
The Commission has repeatedly expressed, in various documents, its
clear-cut rejection of the serious phenomenon of forced disappearance of
persons in its reports on the situation of human rights, as follows:
this procedure is cruel and inhuman, and disappearance not only constitutes an
arbitrary privation of freedom but also a very serious grave danger for the
personal integrity, safety and life of the victim.
The General Assembly of the OAS, in various resolutions, has stressed
the need for countries in which forced disappearances have taken place to put
an end to this practice, and it has urged governments to carry out whatever
efforts are required to ascertain the situation of such persons.
Furthermore, at the proposal of the Commission, the General Assembly of
the OAS has declared that the forced disappearance of persons in the Americas
constitutes a crime against humanity.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in its Judgment of July
29, 1988, in the Velasquez Rodriguez case, declared the following:
The practice of abductions, besides directly violating numerous
Articles of the Convention (...) entails a radical breech of that treaty,
inasmuch as it signals a crass abandonment of the values of human dignity and
the principles that lie at the heart of the Inter-American system and
the Convention itself.
Article 42 of the Regulations of the Commission provides as follows:
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 te provisions of Article
34 paragraph 5, the Government has not provided the pertinent information, as
long as other evidence does not lead to a different conclusion.
Since the friendly settlement procedure is inapplicable (Article 48 (1)
(f) of the Convention) because of the very nature of the actions complained of
and the absence of a reply from the Government, the Commission must comply
with Article 50 (1) of the American Convention and issue its findings and
recommendations on the application before it.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To presume true the events reported in the communication of June 16,
1988, concerning the arrest and tortures of Sonia Muņoz de Yangali, on May
18, 1988, in Churcampa, Departamento de Huancavelica, Peru.
To declare that the Government of Peru has not complied with its
obligation to respect the human rights and guarantees mentioned in Article 1
of the American Convention on Human Rights.
3. To declare that such actions are violations of the right to life and the right to freedom enshrined in Articles 5 and 7 of the Convention.
To make the following recommendations to the Government of Peru
(Article 50 (3) of the Convention and Article 47 of the Regulations of the
it conduct a full, swift, and impartial investigation of the events complained
of, with a view to identifying the persons responsible for them and bringing
them to justice, in order that they may be appropriately punished for such
it take the necessary steps to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
it repair the consequences of the above-mentioned breech of rights and
pay a fair compensation to the injured parties.
5. To convey this report to the Government of Peru, so that the latter may, within three months of the date of transmittal, inform the Commission about the steps taken to settle the matter. In line with Article 50 of the Convention, the Government is not authorized to publish this report.
If the Government does not settle the matter within the period of three
months, the Commission may set forth its opinion and conclusions in accordance
with Article 51.1 of the Convention and may include this report in its annual
report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, as
provided for in Article 63 (g) of the Regulations of the Commission.
Annual Report 1978, 1980-1981, 1982-1983, 1985-1986, 1986-1987.
Res. 443 (IX-O/79), 510 (X-)/80), 543 (XI-O/81), 618
(XII-O/82), 666 (XIII-O/83), and 742 (XIV-O/84).
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Velasquez Rodriguez case,
Judgment of July 29, 1988, Series C, No. 4, paragraph 158.