REPORT N° 12/92
The petition received by the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights, dated April 26, 1989, whereby:
January 6, 1989, Mesias Elias Hernandez Anzora, a day laborer 31 years
old, was taken at his home in the Las Delicias district, jurisdiction of
San Martin, department of San Salvador, El Salvador.
Mr. Hernandez Anzora has since disappeared. He was taken by the San Martin Civil Defense, working jointly
with the Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Salvadoreņa - FAS).
Commandant of the Civil Defense and members of the FAS wearing the
insignia of Parachute Commandos, came to his house at 9:00 p.m. on
January 6. They seized Mr.
Hernandez, tied his hands behind his back, blindfolded him and took him
away in his stocking feet. The
soldiers searched the house, tearing holes in the floor.
They said they were looking for a rifle, but found nothing.
It is worth noting that this was not the first time that these
forces took Mr. Hernandez. On
August 28, 1988, he was apprehended and transferred from the San Martin
Civil Defense to the FAS. Again,
he was falsely accused of possessing a firearm and of being a guerrilla
collaborator. Five days
later he was released.
Hernandez was taken to the civil defense and then moved to the
Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (PRAL) of the FAS.
However, the FAS denies his capture and arrest.
being taken, Civil Defense soldiers threatened Mrs. Hernandez, telling
her that if she reported the incident they would blow her up and kill
her brothers. Despite the
danger, Mrs. Hernandez has reported the case to the press, the Justice
of the Peace and the Supreme Court of Justice.
date, the Commandant of the Civil Defense and the Salvadoran Air Force
both deny apprehending the victim.
A petition of habeas corpus was filed and the case was reported
to the Justice of the Peace, but nothing has been established.
remedies under domestic law are not expected to produce any results in
this case; since this disappearance was carried out by military troops,
strong and swift action is needed to ascertain Mr. Hernandez'
whereabouts and to protect his physical safety if he is still alive.
the face of this obvious violation of various Articles of the American
Convention, including articles 1, 5, 7, 8 and 25, the inefficacy of
internal remedies and the urgency and very serious nature of these cases
of disappearance, we respectfully request that the Commission take the
measures provided for in its Statute and Regulations to avoid
irreparable harm to the persons of Mesias Elias Hernandez Anzora and his
lifelong companion Ana Julia Hernandez, including the following
To receive this case and ask the Government for a swift response
(Regulations, Article 34.2).
To request that the Government of El Salvador adopt concrete,
immediate measures to ascertain the whereabouts of Mr. Hernandez and to
ensure his physical and emotional safety.
To request the Government to guarantee the safety of Mrs.
Hernandez, as a witness to the violation and as a relative of the
4. To establish responsibility and punish those responsible for this crime, compensating the victims and/or their next-of-kin.
Through a note dated May 2, 1989, the Commission began its
processing of the case and requested the Government of El Salvador to
supply the pertinent information on the facts denounced in that
communication and any other information that would show whether the
remedies under domestic law had been exhausted in the case in question;
the Commission informed the Government that it had 90 days in which to
That on February 12, 1990, the Commission again asked the
Government of El Salvador for information on the investigations being
conducted into the instant case, and set a 30-day period for the
On May 7, 1990, the Government of El Salvador replied by way of
the (government) Human Rights Commission, reporting that "it has no
information at all" on this case.
That in communication dated November 9, 1990, the Commission
asked the Government of El Salvador to forward its observations, but has
yet to receive any reply.
At its 79th session, the Commission adopted Report N°
21/91, which was dispatched to the Government of El Salvador so that it
might formulate whatever observations its deemed appropriate, within
three months of the date of dispatch. The report indicated that if the
case was not settled by the Government, or submitted by it to the Court,
the Commission would decide whether to publish the report.
That the Commission is competent to hear the present case
inasmuch as it concerns violations of rights recognized in the American
Convention on Human Rights--Article 4 on the right to life,
Article 7 on the right to personal liberty, and Article 25 on the right
to judicial protection --as provided under Article 44
of the Convention, of which El Salvador is a State Party.
That the petition satisfies the formal requirements for
admissibility, as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights
and in the Regulations of the Commission.
That the subject of the communication is not pending settlement
in another international proceeding and is not a restatement of a
previous communication already examined by the Commission.
That in the instant case, it is obvious that the petitioner has
not been able to secure effective protection from those organs having
jurisdiction, as reflected by the fact that neither the petition of
habeas corpus filed nor the complaint filed with the Justice of the
Peace produced any results; therefore, the requirements as regards
exhaustion of the remedies under domestic law, contained in Article 46
of the Convention, do not apply.
That the instant case is compounded by the threats that have made
to the companion of the victim, Mrs. Ana Julia Hernandez, because of her
efforts to find Mr. Hernandez Anzora.
That in spite of the amount of time that has passed and the
Commission's repeated overtures, the Government of El Salvador has not
responded to the facts in the instant case.
In effect, the content of the note sent, wherein the (government)
Human Rights Commission states that it has no knowledge of the
whereabouts of Mr. Hernandez Anzora, is an indication of grave
negligence on the part of El Salvador's investigative organs in the
investigation of such serious events as those denounced.
The method used in the abduction and forced disappearance of Mr.
Hernandez Anzora, the judicial system's lack of effectiveness in
protecting and safeguarding his rights, the inability of the Salvadoran
Armed Forces' own organs to resolve situations such as the one denounced
and the frequency with which forced disappearances occur in El Salvador,
as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly
established, lead to the conclusion that the Government of that country,
through its security forces, is engaging in the practice of forced
disappearances, since events such as those denounced cannot be isolated
incidents attributable to the excesses of individuals, but rather a modus
operandi used by the institutions concerned.
That by not responding, the Government has failed to comply with
its international obligation to supply the Commission with information
within a reasonable time period, as provided in Article 48 of the
The Commission has repeatedly expressed its categorical
repudiation of the phenomenon of forced disappearance, and in various
documents has stated that:
This practice is cruel and inhuman... forced disappearance not only
constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but also a very severe
threat to the personal integrity, security and the very life of the
For its part, the General Assembly of the Organization of
American States has adopted numerous resolutions wherein it has
underscored the fact that countries where forced disappearances have
occurred must put an immediate end to this practice, and has urged the
governments to take the measures necessary to ascertain the situations
of these people. The
General Assembly has also declared that the forced disappearance of
persons in the Americas is a crime against humanity.
In a judgment of July 29, 1988, in the Velasquez Rodriguez case,
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights stated the following:
practice of disappearances, in addition to directly violating many
provisions of the Convention (...), constitutes a radical breach of the
treaty in that it shows a crass abandonment of the values which emanate
from the concept of human dignity and of the most basic principles of
the inter-American system and the Convention.
Since the friendly settlement procedure provided for in Article
48.1.f of the American Convention does not apply because of the nature
of the acts denounced, the Commission must comply with Article 50
paragraph 1 of the Convention and so issue its conclusions and
recommendations on the petition submitted to it for consideration.
That the Government of El Salvador has not submitted observations
on Report N°
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare that the Government of El Salvador is responsible for
the violation of the rights to life, humane treatment, personal liberty
and judicial protection (Articles 4, 7 and 25 of the Convention) of Mr.
Mesias Elias Hernandez Anzora, who disappeared after being seized at La
Delicias canton, San Martin, San Salvador, El Salvador, by soldiers of
the Defensa Civil de San Martin and Salvadoran Air Force (FAS),
according to the communication received by the Commission on April 26,
To declare that the Government of El Salvador has failed to
comply with its obligations under Article 1 of the American Convention
on Human Rights, to respect human rights and fundamental guarantees.
To make the following recommendations to the Government of El
Salvador, based on Article 50.3 of the American Convention and Article
47 of the Regulations of the Commission:
a. To conduct a thorough, rapid and impartial investigation into the facts denounced, in order to bring those responsible to justice so that they may receive the punishments warranted by such grave conduct.
To adopt the necessary measures to prevent such crimes in the
To make reparations for the consequences of the violation of said
rights and to pay the next-of-kin a just indemnity.
Request the Government of El Salvador to inform the Commission
regarding the measures it is adopting in the present case, in accordance
with the recommendations formulated in paragraph 3 of the operative part
of this report.
Publish this report by including it in the Annual Report to be
presented to the General Assembly, in accordance with Article 48 of the
Regulations of the Commission; since the Government of El Salvador did
not inform the Commission of the measures it has taken to remedy the
situation, within the period prescribed in Report N°
Annual Reports 1978, 1980-81, 1982-83, 1985-86,
AG/RES. 443 (IX-0/79), AG/RES. 510 (X-0/80), AG.RES. 543
(XI-0/81), AG.RES. 618 (XII-0/82), AG/RES. 666
(XIII-0/83), and AG/RES. 742 (XIV-0/84).
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Velasquez Rodriguez,
Judgment of July 29, 1988, Series C, No. 4, paragraph 158.