On September 22, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (hereinafter the “Inter-American Commission” or the “IACHR”)
received a note from the Commission for Solidarity and Defense of Human
Rights, A.C. (“COSYDDHAC” or “the petitioners”) in which it
complained that Mr. Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, a Tepehuan Indian, had
been detained, tortured, and extrajudicially executed by the military in
Chihuahua, Mexico, in October 1996. Mr. Carrillo Saldaña left his home
for work on October 12, 1996, and was missing until his body was found
buried on October 17, 1996, showing clear indications of torture. The
petitioners allege that the Mexican authorities refused to provide any
information to the relatives of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña during the
time that the latter was presumably being detained by members of the armed
forces of Mexico and that the investigation begun by the military
authorities lacks the independence required to establish the facts and
punish those responsible. The complaint imputes to the United Mexican
States (“the State”) international responsibility for the violation of
the following rights, which are guaranteed by the American Convention on
Human Rights (“the American Convention”): right to life (Article 4),
right to humane treatment (Article 5), right to personal liberty (Article
7), right to a fair trial (Article 8) and right to judicial protection
(Article 25). They also allege violation of the general obligation set out
in Article 1(1) to respect and guarantee the rights recognized in the
American Convention, and the duty provided for in Article 2 for States
Parties to adopt legislative measures to give effect to those rights and
The parties signed a friendly settlement agreement on March 1,
1999, and an agreement for the implementation of the friendly settlement
on December 2, 1999. In this report, which has been approved in conformity with
Article 49 of the American Convention, the IACHR summarizes the acts that
are the object of the petition, takes note of the agreement reached by the
parties, and decides to publish the case.
PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION
On October 1, 1997, the Inter-American Commission transmitted the
relevant parts of the petition to the State of Mexico and requested the
corresponding information. The parties were notified of the State’s response and an
exchange of information and observations was begun, as provided for in the
American Convention and in the Commission’s Regulations.
On March 10, 1998, the Center for Justice and International Law
(“CEJIL”) joined the case as a co-petitioner. Subsequent to that date,
CEJIL and COSYDDHAC submitted joint communications and were represented in
the working meetings held to consider the present case.
On November 23, 1998, the Inter-American Commission placed itself
at the disposal of the parties with a view to initiating the proceeding
provided for in Article 48(1)(f) of the American Convention.
On December 2, 1998, a meeting was held at the Office of the State
Secretariat for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, in the capital of that country,
to try to reach a friendly settlement.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the parties, the
then Chairman of the Inter-American Commission, and the attorney
representing the Executive Secretariat responsible for the case. In its
communication of December 22, 1998, the State formally undertook to
resolve the case in a friendly settlement. In that communication, it
informed the IACHR of the start of meetings between the Mexican
authorities and the petitioners for the aforementioned purpose. On January
20, 1999, the parties met in Mexico to try to move ahead with the friendly
settlement procedure in this case.
On March 1, 1999, a meeting to follow up that initiative was held
at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission, at which time the
representatives of the parties and the IACHR signed the agreement for a
friendly settlement. On October 4, 1999, another meeting was held at the
headquarters of the Inter-American Commission as part of the process
provided for in Article 48(1)(f) of the American Convention. The questions
that remained to be settled were discussed at that meeting, particularly
those concerning the delivery of a copy of the judgment handed down
against the military personnel who had been found responsible for the
extrajudicial killing of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, and the calculation
of the compensation to be paid to the relatives of the victim.
On December 2, 1999, the parties and the representatives of the
Inter-American Commission signed at the Commission’s headquarters “an
agreement for implementation of the friendly settlement,” which was
aimed at defining the issues that remained pending in the document signed
on March 1, 1999.
On June 15, 1999, the State submitted additional information, which
was communicated to the petitioners on June 29, 1999.
The State of Mexico reported on September 1, 2000, that
scholarships had been awarded to the children of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña.
That information was communicated to the petitioners on September 2, 2000,
and the response of the petitioners was submitted on October 2, 2000.
The response of the petitioners was transmitted to the State of
Mexico on October 3, 2000. The State submitted its observations on October
18, 2000, the pertinent parts of which were transmitted to the
petitioners. On November 22, 2000, a communication was received with the
final comments of the petitioners.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The lifeless body of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña was found on
October 17, 1996, five days after he had disappeared. His mother and his
wife were told that he had been seen in the hands of the military of that
area and that it was obvious that he had been badly beaten. His family
began to ask questions of the military and, when the latter failed to
provide information about his whereabouts, took the initiative to organize
various searches. Finally, based on the accounts of the witnesses who had
seen him in the hands of the military, the body of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña
was found buried some 45 minutes away from the locality of San Juan
Nepomuceno. The autopsy revealed that the victim had suffered “multiple
injuries to his internal organs, infarction and death by asphyxiation,
blows to the chest, internal bleeding from the kidneys and liver. His
tongue was out of his mouth and his eyes out of their sockets, signs of
hanging by the neck, and blows to the arms and legs.”
His family brought a complaint to the Office of the Public
Prosecutor of the state of Chihuahua on October 17, 1996, for the acts
alleged in the petition. At the request of the Office of the Military
Prosecutor, once it had been determined that members of the armed forces
were involved in the acts, the Office of the Public Prosecutor declared on
October 22, 1996, that it did not have the competence to investigate the
On March 16, 1999, the presiding military judge handed down a
sentence condemning to 30 years in prison Cavalry Captain Gustavo Aviña
Gutiérrez as “guilty and criminally liable as the material and
voluntary perpetrator of violence against individuals, resulting in an
aggravated homicide,” the victim of which was Valentín Carrillo Saldaña.
However, the Supreme Military Tribunal found Sergeant Angel Durón
Marmolejo, Second Lieutenant Edgar Ricardo Ramírez Fuentes, Corporal
Evaristo Hernández García, Corporal Serafín Vásquez Paredes, and
Private Héctor Manuel Borja Rodríguez not guilty. On appeal, the Supreme
Military Tribunal reduced the sentence of Captain Aviña Gutiérrez to 20
years. Challenging that decision, the officer’s defense counsel filed an
application for amparo on September 19, 2000.
The friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties and the
representatives of the Inter-American Commission on December 2, 1999,
reads as follows:
between the United Mexican States (hereinafter “the State”) and the
Commission for Solidarity and Defense of Human Rights, A.C. (hereinafter
“COSYDDHAC”) and the Center for Justice and International Law
(hereinafter “CEJIL”) in their capacity as representatives of the
interests of the family of Mr. Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, for the
purpose of resolving by friendly settlement case 11.808, now before the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission” or the “IACHR”), in accordance with the provisions of
Articles 48, 49, and 50 of the American Convention on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the American Convention”), with the parties agreeing to
comply with the following provisions:
At the invitation of the IACHR, on December 1, 1998, the State, on the one
hand, and COSYDDHAC and CEJIL (hereinafter “the petitioners”), on the
other, began a dialogue aimed at reaching a friendly settlement of case
11.808 (Valentín Carrillo Saldaña), now before the Commission.
The corresponding agreement was signed by the parties on March 1, 1999.
The parties have agreed as follows:
To continue and conclude by a judgment of the court the criminal
proceeding instituted against Cavalry Captain First Class Gustavo Aviña
Gutiérrez, a proceeding in which the accused was sentenced to 30 years
incarceration in an ordinary prison, dismissal from his job, and
disqualification from ever again serving in the Mexican army or air force;
That the representatives of the State would provide the petitioners
with a copy of the above-mentioned judgment, as well as the judgments
handed down against the other military personnel involved in the acts;
That the necessary formalities would be started with a view to
compensating the family of Valentín Carrillo Saldaña, in conformity with
the applicable domestic laws, but that this would not imply a tacit
acceptance of international responsibility by the State.
on the following terms was reached subsequently:
Award of scholarships to the victim’s minor children in an amount
sufficient to provide for their schooling, until they reach the age of
majority, and the provision of medical care and health services to the
victim’s widow and children;
By way of compensation for the moral damage caused, the State and
the petitioners will issue a joint public statement.
Considering that item “A” has been covered by the lower court judgment
handed down on March 16, 1999, by the Military Court of the III Military
Region, in which the accused was condemned to incarceration in an ordinary
prison, dismissal from his employment, and disqualification; that the
requirements under “B”, “C,” and “E” would be met in this
agreement; and that the State will notify the IACHR within a reasonable
period of the details of the implementation of item “D,” the parties
request that, in conformity with the provisions of Article 49 of the
American Convention, the IACHR should conclude this case and issue the
corresponding report of a friendly settlement.
For the purpose of fulfillment of item “B,” the State shall make
available to the petitioners a copy of the aforementioned judgment handed
down against Captain Aviña Gutiérrez and copies of the judgments handed
down against the following persons: Cavalry Sergeant Second Class Angel
Durón Marmolejo, Cavalry Second Lieutenant Edgar Ricardo Ramírez
Fuentes, Signal Corporal Evaristo Hernández García, Corporal (cook)
Serafín Vásquez Paredes and Private (sanitation) Héctor Manuel Borja
In fulfillment of item “C,” the State shall deliver to the
petitioners a check made out to Ms. Elena Chaparro, the widow of Carrillo,
in the amount of $102,661.00 (one hundred and two thousand, six hundred
and sixty one Mexican pesos) as compensation for the material damage,
which includes indemnization and funeral expenses, in conformity with the
provisions of domestic law.
Mr. Carrillo Saldaña’s widow and children shall be given, through the
document attached hereto, guarantees of medical assistance and health
services. Guarantees shall also be provided for the award of scholarships
to the victim’s minor children until they reach the age of majority.
In addition, by way of compensation for the moral damage suffered, the
State and the petitioners shall issue a joint public statement, which they
shall sign together with the present document.
In this act, the representative of the State of Mexico hereby delivers to
the representatives of the victim check Nº 8270251, drawn on the Banco
International (BITAL) and made out to Mrs. Elena Chaparro, the widow of
Carrillo, in the amount of $102,661.00 (one hundred and two thousand, six
hundred and sixty one Mexican pesos), together with a copy of the
judgments handed down in criminal case Nº 1758/96, which was brought on
the basis of preliminary investigation AP 52M/26/96.
FULFILLMENT OF THE AGREEMENT
The State of Mexico has informed the Commission that “since the
formalities required for the minor children of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña to be
registered as beneficiaries of PROGRESA have not been completed, a few
days ago the authorities of the state of Chihuahua granted the minors the
amount of $3,000.00 (three thousand pesos) to pay the cost of their
On September 1, 2000, the State communicated that it had awarded
individual scholarships to the minors Cristina, Florentino, Gerónimo, and
Valentina, the children of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña, consisting of an annual
amount of $6,000 Mexican pesos, as well as food assistance. On that same
date, the IACHR communicated this information to the petitioners and
requested any observations that the petitioners might care to make.
In response, the petitioners communicated the following:
December 2, 1999, when the Friendly Settlement Agreement for this case was
signed, the seventh item was still pending, concerning the provision to
the widow and children of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña of guarantees of medical
care and health services as well as the award of scholarships to the
victim’s minor children until they reached the age of majority.
the matter of the scholarships remains pending to this date, we wish to
inform you that the annual award of the amount of $6,000.00 (six thousand
Mexican pesos) for each of the minor children, plus monthly food
provisions, so far has not been given to the minors nor has any
arrangement been made to ensure that they receive the aforementioned
benefits in a timely manner. Moreover, the staff of the State Office for
the Protection of Minors and the Family has informed members of COSYDDHAC
that a single annual payment of six thousand Mexican pesos will be made
for all the minors.
these circumstances, we consider to be inaccurate the claim of the
Government of Mexico that it has fully complied with the terms of the
Agreement of December 2, 1999. Consequently, we have still not met the
requirements set out in Article 49 of the American Convention for the
Commission to report a friendly settlement of this case.
The petitioners requested the State of Mexico, through the IACHR,
to provide information “on the manner, place, and date in which it will
guarantee the timely delivery of the financial award and food provisions
to be granted as a scholarship to Mr. Carrillo Saldaña’s children,
thereby establishing a mechanism that is both prompt and accessible to the
petitioners.” They also requested the issuance of a document “as proof
of the beneficiaries’ entitlement during the years in which they are
entitled to the financial award and food provisions.” The document
should state the equivalent amount in dollars in order to preserve the
purchasing power of the scholarship. Finally, they requested the Mexican
authorities to provide that the “food provisions” should not be worth
less than 150 dollars per month.
The State notified the IACHR that the amount of 6,000 pesos per
year offered under the friendly settlement to each of the minor children
of Mr. Carrillo Saldaña was an “appropriate and even generous amount,
when it is considered that education in Mexico was free of cost” and
gave details about the manner in which the amount would be paid.
It added that the amount of the indemnization had been set in local
currency and that, as a result, “the intention to change that amount
into its dollar equivalent was inappropriate, especially on the basis of
adverse economic forecasts.” It further described the delivery of the
“monthly food provisions” to Mr. Carrillo Saldaña’s family until
his children reached the age of majority as “a unilateral, good-faith
gesture by the Mexican State,” which, in its view, should therefore not
be converted into a cash amount.
With regard to the criminal proceeding instituted against Captain
Gustavo Aviña Gutiérrez, the State informed the Commission as follows:
September 19, 2000, the convicted officer filed an appeal of amparo
against the judgment of the High Court by which he had been sentenced to
20 years in prison for the crime of violence against individuals,
resulting in homicide. In this regard, it should be recalled that, as the
Friendly Settlement Agreement very clearly indicates, the commitment with
regard to the punishment of those responsible for the homicide was fully
honored with the judgment of the lower court convicting the said army
In their final observations on the case, the petitioners accept the
amount offered by the State of Mexico by way of scholarships, with the
express reservation that their decision was dictated by the economic need
of the victim’s family.
They also express their concern about the subsequent payment of the
scholarships, since the official who paid the first part of the
scholarships is alleged to have stated that “they were under
instructions to do so for only one year and that she did not know what
would happen after the change in government administration.”
Finally, the petitioners reiterate their position regarding the
punishment of Captain Aviña Gutiérrez and express concern at other
recent acts committed in the area.
The Inter-American Commission has closely followed the
implementation of the friendly settlement reached in this case. The
foregoing information shows that for the most part the terms of the
friendly settlement have been honored, in a manner consistent with the
provisions of the American Convention. The IACHR highly appreciates the
efforts made by both parties to reach the agreement and to implement it.
Without prejudice to the agreement reached by the parties or to the
approval of the present report, the IACHR considers it appropriate to
reaffirm its position regarding the competence of the ordinary courts to
hear cases involving the violation of human rights. The Inter-American
Commission also reserves the right to monitor the serving of the sentence
of Captain Gustavo Aviña, as well as the continuing award of the benefits
provided for in the seventh basis for agreement set out above.
Based on the above considerations of fact and of law,
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To approve the friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties
on March 1, 1999, as well as the Agreement for Implementation of the
Friendly Settlement signed on December 2, 1999.
To monitor those provisions of the Agreement that have not been
To certify the delivery of the benefits to the family of Valentín
Carrillo Saldaña, when such deliveries take place.
To publish the present report and to include it in its annual
report to the General Assembly of the OAS.
and signed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the city of
Washington D.C., on December 4, 2000. (Signed): Hélio Bicudo, Chairman;
Claudio Grossman, First Vice-Chairman; Juan E. Méndez, Second
Vice-Chairman; Members: Robert K. Goldman, Peter Laurie, and Julio Prado
[ Table of Contents |
Previous | Next ]
At the signing of the aforementioned agreement, the IACHR issued a
press release in which it stated:
Commission congratulates the parties for the initiatives taken during
this first successful step towards a friendly settlement. The IACHR
also expresses its satisfaction at the significant progress made
towards ensuring observance of the human rights of the population of
Mexico, as part of the international obligations assumed by Mexico
within the inter-American system.
Press Release Nº 29/99, December 3, 1999.
Communication dated June 15, 2000, from the State.
Communication dated October 2, 2000, from the petitioners.
In this regard, the State agreed as follows:
of the amount due will be made every four months, so that each minor
will receive the amount of $2,000.00 (two thousand Mexican pesos)
every four months. The payments will be delivered by Claudia Pérez
Aguilar, the State Coordinator of the Program, to the widow of Mr.
Valentín Carrillo in the offices of the State Office for the
Protection of Minors and the Family, which is located in Calle
Tamborel y 12, número 4800, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, C.P. 31050.
scholarships were processed and approved with effect from September of
this year, which means that the amounts corresponding to the months of
September to December 2000 will be paid during the current month and
subsequent payments will be made every four months beginning in April
dated October 18, 2000, from the State.
In this regard, the petitioners state as follows:
basic education in Mexico means that the public school does not charge
tuition for children to receive instruction, but the State does not
provide the ... necessary school materials, nor does it pay for the
cost of transportation that children such as the children of Mr.
Carrillo Saldaña must pay to travel to the place where the nearest
public school is located. Nor does it pay for the food that the
students need during the school day, or for clothing or shoes….
because of the extreme need which caused her to accept the amount
offered by the Government, Mrs. Elena Chaparro, the widow of the
victim, has accepted the first installment of the amount that was paid
in Baborigame, in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua,
through the DIF, together with two deliveries of food provisions.
dated November 22, 2000, from the petitioners.
It should be recalled in that connection that the Inter-American
Court, in the Maqueda case, concurred with the withdrawal of the IACHR
on the grounds that a friendly settlement had been reached resulting
in the pardon and release of the victim, who had been sentenced in
violation of his right to a fair trial. The Court, however, expressed
the following specific reservation:
that the central issue in the case is the violation of the right to
freedom of Mr. Maqueda and that this right has been restored through
the agreement reached by the parties, the Court is of the view that
the agreement violates neither the letter nor spirit of the American
Convention. Although the application, which the Commission brought
before the Court, cites other rights that are enshrined in the
Convention, as well as mechanisms and provisions of internal law,
these have been raised in connection with the right to freedom. This
notwithstanding, the Court, bearing in mind the responsibility that it
has to protect human rights, reserves the right to reopen and to
continue proceedings in the case if there were in the future any
change in the circumstances on which the agreement was based.
Court of Human Rights, Maqueda case, judgment of January 27, 1995,