On May 31, 2001 the Center for Justice and International Law
(CEJIL) and Ms. Patria Portugal lodged a complaint with the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the
"Commission" or the "IACHR”) against the Republic of
Panama (hereinafter the "State" or "Panama").
The complaint alleged violation of the rights to life (Article
4), to humane treatment (Article 5) and to personal liberty (Article 7)
of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the
"Convention" or the "American Convention"), all in
violation of the obligation to respect and ensure the rights and
freedoms recognized therein (Article 1(1).
The petitioners also alleged that the State had violated the
right to life, liberty and personal security (Article I), right of
protection from arbitrary arrest (Article XXV) and right to due process
of law (Article XXVI) of the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man (hereinafter the "Declaration" or the
"American Declaration"); Articles II and III of the
Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons
(hereinafter "Convention on Forced Disappearance"); and
Articles 1, 2, 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and
Punish Torture (hereinafter
the "Convention against Torture"), all to the detriment of
The petitioners further alleged violation of the rights of
Heliodoro Portugal's next of kin: Graciela
de León de Rodríguez (companion and mother of his children), Patria
Portugal (daughter) and Franklin Portugal (son).
The rights allegedly violated in their case were the right to a
fair trial (Article 8) and the right to judicial protection (Article 25)
of the American Convention; and the right to due process of law (Article
XXVI) of the American Declaration.
The petition concerns the May 14, 1970 forced disappearance of
Heliodoro Portugal at the hands of the National Guard.
His family and friends spent almost 30 years with no knowledge of
his whereabouts. Immediately
after the reinstatement of representative democracy in Panama, Heliodoro
Portugal's daughter filed a criminal complaint in May 1990.
But the complaint proved to be ineffective when the case was
closed just three years later, either because of disinterest or an
unwillingness to pursue it. The
investigation was reopened in 1999 when an initial autopsy declared were
Mr. Portugal's remains were found at a military base.
However, a second autopsy -this one ordered by the Attorney
General's Office-concluded that the remains were not those of Mr.
Portugal. Panama's Truth
Commission sought a third opinion.
That third opinion stated that the findings of the initial
autopsy, which said that the remains were those of Mr. Portugal, were
correct. Thus far, however, no court has ruled on this point.
The petitioners allege that the State is clearly culpable in the
victim's disappearance and subsequent death, yet the internal judicial
process has been ineffective in punishing the authors of such egregious
acts and in affording his next of kin just and fair reparation and
compensation. Even assuming
for the sake of argument-the petitioners contend- that the remains
unearthed at the military base had not been those of Mr. Portugal, the
State would still be responsible for violating the right to life since
this is the presumption in cases of forced disappearance.
The State concurs with the petitioners as to the facts,
specifically "as to the certainty of Mr. Portugal's
disappearance," and has admitted that "all the evidence in the
case points to the fact that the National Guard was responsible,"
whether or not the remains found at the military base were those of Mr.
Portugal. The State argues,
therefore, that it has taken appropriate steps to investigate the
circumstances of the victim's disappearance and to determine the
corresponding criminal culpability.
To reinforce the work being done by the Attorney General's
Office, which is overseeing the investigation, the State created the
Truth Commission to follow up on all cases of disappearances that
happened under the military government.
The State nonetheless contends that the petition is inadmissible
because the rule requiring exhaustion of local remedies has not been met
and because none of the exceptions allowing admissibility even though
domestic remedies have not been exhausted is applicable.
The State argues that the inquiries conducted do not support the
contention that there has been an unwarranted delay in the judicial
Having analysed the petition, the Commission concludes that it
has competence to deal with it. Concerning
the rule requiring exhaustion of local remedies, the IACHR concluded
that the exception allowed under Article 46(2)(c) of the Convention
applies, so that the six-month rule stipulated in Article 46(1)(b) of
the Convention does not apply. The
petition was lodged with the Commission within the reasonable period
required under Article 32(2) of its Rules of Procedure.
Ultimately, the Commission declared that the petitioners'
allegations concerning the alleged violations of Articles I,
XVIII, XXV, and XXVI of
the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; Articles 1, 4,
5, 7, 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights; Articles 1,
2, 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish
Torture; and Articles II and III of the Inter-American Convention on
Forced Disappearance of Persons, were admissible.
PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION
The following is a summary of the Commission's processing of the
exchange of communications between the parties.
The petitioners lodged the complaint with the Commission on May
31, 2001. It was received
there on June 2, 2001. On
July 19, 2001 the Commission requested information from the State,
pursuant to Article 30 of its Rules of Procedure, and gave the State two
months in which to respond. The
State submitted its response on August 23, 2001 which was forwarded to
the petitioners. They, in
turn, submitted their observations on the response on September 27,
2001. On October 23, 2001,
the State requested a 30-day extension to submit its observations.
On November 21, 2001 the petitioners submitted additional
information, which the State answered in the observations it sent on
November 26, 2001. The
petitioners presented their observations on December 18, 2001 and the
State its response on January 3, 2002.
The petitioners presented their observations on the State's
responses on February 7, 2002 and the State responded with observations
on March 14, 2002.
THE PARTIES' POSITIONS
The positions of the parties can be summarized as follows for
purposes of the present Admissibility Report:
The petitioners allege that between 1968-when General Omar
Torrijos staged a military coup- and the end of the 1980s, the
government suppressed political activity and systematically detained and
arbitrarily arrested opponents of the regime, whom it labelled
"revolutionaries" or "Communists."
Because of Mr.
Heliodoro Portugal's opposition to the military regime, he was subjected
to politically motivated harassment, which began in 1968 when he was
arrested by the National Guard, only to be released in 1969.
Mr. Portugal disappeared on May 14, 1970 at age 36, when he was
stopped by four members of the former National Guard's Military
Intelligence section (G-2), in the vicinity of the cafe known as
"Cocacola", located on Santa Ana, Panama City.
He was forced into a taxi, destination unknown.
During those years of military dictatorship, one could not go to
the authorities to file complaints.
Despite the sense of fear prevalent at that time, family members
went to a number of places in an effort to find Mr. Portugal
and even turned to the authorities, all to no avail.
When representative democracy was restored in 1990, Mr.
Portugal's daughter reported her father's disappearance to the Attorney
General's Office. However,
the investigation was provisionally stayed on November 8, 1991 on the
grounds that “there is no evidence of any enmity”-at least not in
1970-between Mr. Portugal's ideas and the government at that time.
contend that this reasoning was baseless, since the testimonies refer to
Mr. Portugal as a "revolutionary" and "Communist."
They also allege that the Court did not follow up on leads that could
have thrown light on what happened. After that, the case remained closed
for nine years.
Thirty years after Mr. Portugal's disappearance, the Deputy
Prosecutor was told of the place where the remains of disappeared
persons were to be found. On
September 22, 1999 the Attorney General's Office ordered the start of
excavations at the former military base at Tocumen that had at one time
been home to the Los Pumas Infantry Company and the inquiries were
reopened with the Office of the Third Superior Court Prosecutor of the
First Judicial District.
Human remains were unearthed there and underwent forensic
examination. DNA testing
was done by Laboratories Reliagene
Technologies, and Armed Forces
DNA Identification Laboratories (AFDIL), paid by private interests.
Their report, dated August 22, 2000, found that the remains
unearthed were not those of Father Gallegos; instead they were Mr.
Portugal's remains. On
August 30, 2000, the Attorney General's Office asked that the case be
reopened. The remains were
turned over to the family and buried on September 6, 2000 thus ending
the family's long search.
The petitioners contend that on September 3, 2001, the Attorney
General's Office informed the Portugal family of the findings of the
tests done by Fairfax Identity Laboratories (FIL), which concluded that the
remains were not those of Mr. Portugal.
With conflicting results from the two sets of tests, the
Panamanian Truth Commission requested a third expert opinion, this one
from the Mitotyping Technologies laboratory, specifically Dr. Terry
Melton, an expert in mytochondrial DNA testing, to evaluate the two DNA
tests already conducted. Dr.
Melton concluded that the remains examined were those of Mr. Portugal,
as the AFDIL test had established.
Dr. Melton described the quality of the AFDIL test as good, with
no evidence of mixing, whereas the testing done by FIL showed strong
evidence of contamination. The
petitioners allege that this finding is confirmation of his death.
They argue that violation of the right to life is assumed in
cases of forced disappearance, even though the judicial authorities have
not issued any formal ruling certifying the identity of the remains and
doubt as to Mr. Portugal's fate lingers.
The petitioners also allege that the material and intellectual
authors of the disappearance and extrajudicial execution were members of
the Los Pumas infantry company based at Tocumen, that they have been
identified, and are being prosecuted.
disappearance occurred, the next of kin had no way to exercise judicial
remedies, for fear of reprisals by the military authorities.
petitioners consider that the exception to the rule requiring exhaustion
of local remedies based on unwarranted delay, provided for in Article
46(2)(c), applies in the instant case since more
than 12 years have passed without any court ruling on the complaint
filed on May 10, 1990. The petitioners allege that forced disappearance
is a continuous violation
as long as there is uncertainty about the ultimate fate of the
disappeared person and that the duty to investigate likewise persists.
The petitioners contend that the forced disappearance of Mr.
Portugal is a multiple and continuous violation of a number of human
rights, and allows one to presume that he has been killed.
They further contend that there is evidence that he was tortured
and that he was
treated in a military hospital; one witness who was being held in a
clandestine place of detention and torture heard Mr. Portugal being
The petitioners aver that the next of kin are also victims
of a violation of the right to humane treatment, because of the
suffering and anguish that the authorities' refusal to investigate
caused them. The
petitioners assert that Mr. Portugal's disappearance was an arbitrary
deprivation of liberty, that he was denied his right to be brought
before a judge without delay and that he was held incommunicado against
his will, all of which constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment.
The State has stated that it “agrees with the petitioners that
Mr. Portugal's disappearance cannot be denied. It
has therefore taken appropriate measures to investigate the
circumstances of this disappearance and to determine the corresponding
It notes in this regard that the Attorney General's Office is
seeing to the corresponding criminal investigation, which is being
conducted by the Office of the Third Superior Court Prosecutor in order
to bring the guilty parties to trial.
To reinforce the work of the Attorney General's Office, Panama
created the Truth Commission to follow up on Mr. Portugal's case and all
other cases of disappearance that took place during the military regime.
The State also alleges that “from the investigations conducted,
the persons responsible for Mr. Portugal's disappearances may, at the
time the events occurred, have been members of the former National
Legal culpability has to be established in a legal process,
conducted in accordance with the pertinent procedures and domestic law.
The State argues that the petition is inadmissible because the
rule requiring exhaustion of domestic remedies has not been met and
there are no exceptional grounds in this case to substantiate its
admissibility when internal remedies have not been exhausted. The State
contends that given the measures taken by the State to determine the
circumstances of the disappearance and death of Mr. Portugal and to
bring the guilty to justice, it cannot be argued that there has been an
unwarranted delay in the judicial process.
The State asserts that ever since the September 1999 discoveries,
both the judicial and executive branches have worked to wrap up the
proceedings necessary to provide the next of kin of the disappeared
persons with effective justice. Since
then, a series of proceedings and on-site inspections have been
conducted and a number of statements have been taken.
Arrests have been ordered, as have preventive measures against
persons suspected of involvement in Mr. Portugal's disappearance.
The State alleges that the petitioners cannot insist, however,
that without the evidence necessary to conduct an effective prosecution
the State should nonetheless move judicial proceedings forward, without
a stay being ordered. Temporary
stays are ordered precisely to allow proceedings to resume as soon as
the evidence emerges that allows those proceedings to move forward.
Under international human rights agreements that Panama has
ratified, it cannot definitively close cases that, under its own
domestic laws, would have been closed under the statute of limitations
because more than twenty years had elapsed since the commission of the
crime. The Attorney
General's Office has designated a permanent team of investigators from
the National Police and from the Investigative Police Force [Policía
Concerning the remains unearthed at the site of the former
barracks of the Second Infantry Company of Tocumen, when the IACHR began
to process the case the State asserted that the remains were those of
Mr. Portugal. It stated
that testing done on the remains by a private firm, when compared to a
sample obtained from one of the victim's brothers, had resulted in
similar DNA. With that, a
reopening of the criminal investigation was requested on August 30,
2000. Later, however, based
on testing ordered by the Attorney General's Office the State asserted
that the remains were not those of Mr. Portugal.
It referred the matter to the Truth Commission, which confirmed
that the results of the first test were correct.
ANALYSIS ON ADMISSIBILITY
Commission's competence ratione
materiae, ratione personae, ratione loci and
The Commission has competence to deal with the present case.
First, concerning its competence ratione
materiae, the petitioners are alleging violation of rights protected
under various international instruments.
Specifically, they are alleging violation of Articles I,
XXV and XXVI of the American Declaration.
Panama is a State Party to the OAS Charter; under Article 20 of
the Commission's Statute, the IACHR has the authority to examine
communications alleging violations of these Articles of the American
Declaration. The Commission
is likewise competent to take cognizance of the petitioners' allegations
regarding Articles 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 25 of the American Convention,
2, 6 and 8 of the Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, and Articles
II and III of the Convention on Forced Disappearance, given that Panama
is a State party to all those conventions.
Second, the Commission has competence ratione
loci inasmuch as the alleged violations of the rights protected
under those conventions are said to have occurred within the territory
of a State party to those conventions.
Third, concerning the Commission's competence ratione
personae, the petitioners are entitled to lodge complaints with the
IACHR under Article 44 of the American Convention, Article XIII of the
Convention on Forced Disappearance, and Article 16 of the Convention
against Torture. Furthermore,
the Commission's Statute and Rules of Procedure also entitle the
petitioners to file complaints alleging violations of the American
Declaration. The victims
alleged in the petition are natural persons whose Convention-recognized
rights and freedoms Panama undertook to respect and ensure.
Therefore, the Commission has competence ratione
personae by an active and passive authority under those
inter-American conventions to examine the petition.
Finally, the Commission has competence ratione
temporis to deal with the petition, which concerns a continuous situation that has gone on for over thirty years.
That situation began when Mr. Heliodoro Portugal was forcibly
disappeared on May 14, 1970. His next of kin were prevented from exhausting the proper
local remedies until the advent of democratic government in Panama in
late 1989. This situation
continues, inasmuch as the complaint lodged in 1990 has not been
effective in getting those responsible for the disappearance punished
and no definitive court ruling has been delivered regarding the
whereabouts of his remains. The Commission has competence ratione
temporis to address the violations of human rights alleged by the
petitioners with respect to the American Declaration,
the American Convention,
and the Convention on Forced Disappearance.
Regarding the Convention against Torture, the IACHR considers that it
only has competence to address the alleged violations against Heliodoro
Portugal’s next of kin from the time that treaty was signed and
ratified by Panama.
Other admissibility requirements
Exhaustion domestic remedies
Under Article 46(1)(a) of the Convention, admission of a petition
requires "that the remedies under domestic law have been pursued
and exhausted in accordance with generally recognized principles of
international law." Article
46(2)(c) provides that the rule requiring exhaustion of local remedies
will not be applicable when "there has been unwarranted delay in
rendering a final judgment under the aforementioned remedies."
The Commission's practice has been to consider, up front and
separate from the merits of the case, whether the grounds for any
exception are present. Concerning the distribution of the burden of
proof to determine whether this requirement has been met, the Commission
reiterates that when the State alleges that there are remedies that
remain to be exhausted, it must show what those remedies are and that
they are effective. If the
State making that claim proves that there are internal remedies that
should have been used, it is up to the petitioners to show that those
remedies were exhausted or that one of the exceptions allowed under
Article 46(2) of the Convention applies.
The Commission will now proceed to examine whether Article
46(1)(a) has been fulfilled or whether the exceptions provided for under
Article 46(2) of the Convention apply.
In the instant case, the petitioners allege that because the
remedies were ineffective, they are, under Article 46(2)(c) of the
Convention, exempt from the rule requiring exhaustion of the remedies
under domestic law. The
petitioners allege that Mr. Portugal was forcibly disappeared 30 years
ago, during the dictatorship, and his next of kin were unable to exhaust
local remedies. The inquiry
that the Attorney General's Office instituted in 1990, when democratic
government was restored in Panama, was stayed for no good reason, seven
months into the inquiry,
and then reopened again in 1999 when Mr. Portugal's remains were
discovered in a military barracks.
Although the criminal case has been underway for 12 years, the
court authorities have still not rendered a definitive determination as
to the identity of the remains found; they have not yet punished those
responsible, and have not awarded the victim's next of kin just and fair
The State contends that the remedies under domestic law have
not been exhausted and that it is fulfilling its duty of judicial
protection since the matter is being investigated both through an
inquiry that the Attorney General's Office is conducting by way of the
Office of the Third Superior Court Prosecutor, and through the work of
the Truth Commission. It
therefore concludes that the complaint lodged should be declared
In examining the parties' positions, the IACHR notes that Mr.
Portugal disappeared 30 years ago and that a continuous
situation persists even to this day, as there has been no definitive
judgment naming those responsible for these acts or identifying and
establishing the whereabouts of the remains.
Nevertheless, the Commission reminds the Panamanian State that
one of the purposes of the inter-American system for the protection of
human rights is to establish the liability of States for human rights
violations committed under their jurisdiction and not to establish
individual responsibility for those violations. Also that, based on the
principle of the continuity of the State, international liability exists
irrespective of changes in government.
That being so, Panama is subject to international liability for
violations of human rights committed by any government, be it a past
government or the current government, regardless of whether that regime
is de jure or de facto. The
Commission therefore considers that, prima
facie, there has been an unwarranted delay in prosecuting the
criminal case that is investigating the facts.
As this is the circumstance provided for in Article 46(2)(c) of
the Convention, the petitioners are exempt from the rule requiring
exhaustion of local remedies. In
the stage where the merits of the case are considered, the Commission
will examine the efficacy of this remedy and its effects for purposes of
Articles 8 and 25 of the Convention.
Time period for lodging a petition
Under Article 46(1)(b), the Convention requires that a petition
be "lodged within a period of six months from the date on which the
party alleging violation of his rights was notified of the final
Article 46(2) of the Convention, the six-month filing deadline provided
for in Article 46(1)(b) will not apply when any of the exceptions is
present. The Commission
notes that while "the Convention’s requirement that domestic remedies be exhausted is independent of the requirement that the
petition be lodged within six months following the judgment exhausting
the exceptions provided for in Article 46(2) of the American
Convention apply to both requirements.
In the present case, the Commission examined the question of the
exception allowed under Article 46(2)(c), concerning an
"unwarranted delaying in rendering a final judgment," when it
analyzed the rule in Convention Article 46(1)(a) requiring exhaustion of
local remedies, ut supra
paragraph 24. Given the
circumstances already examined, the Commission need not re-examine the
question of whether the grounds for that exception are present. The
Commission therefore concludes that under Article 46(2)(c) of the
American Convention, the six-month time period for lodging a petition
shall not be applicable in this case.
Under Article 32(2) of the Commission's Rules of Procedure, in
those cases in which the exceptions to the requirement of prior
exhaustion of local remedies are applicable, the petition is to be
presented within what the Commission considers to be a reasonable time
period. In the present
situation, the Commission is taking into account the date on which the
alleged violations of rights occurred, the context at the time and the
procedural activity of the petitioner.
From that it concludes that the petition has been presented
within a reasonable period of time.
proceedings and res judicata
Under Article 46(1)(c) of the Convention, one of the
admissibility requirements is that the subject matter of the petition or
communication is not pending in another international proceeding for
Article 47(d) of the Convention states that any petition that is
substantially the same as another previously studied by the Commission
or by some other international organization shall not be admissible. In the present case, the parties have neither alleged nor
shown that the subject put to the Commission for consideration is
pending in another international proceeding for settlement or that it
has already been decided by another international organization, or that
it is substantially the same as one the Commission previously examined. The
Commission, therefore, concludes that these requirements have been met.
Characterization of the facts alleged
28. Article 47(b)
of the Convention provides that the Commission shall consider
inadmissible any petition that does not state facts that tend to
establish a violation of the rights the Convention guarantees.
The Commission considers that the following facts alleged by the
petitioners could tend to establish violations of the American
Declaration, the American Convention, the Convention on Forced
Disappearance, and the Convention against Torture:
The forced disappearance of Mr.
Portugal more than 30 years ago could tend to establish a violation of
Articles II and III of the Convention on Forced Disappearance, Articles
1, 4 and 7 of the American Convention, and Articles I, XXV, XXVI of the
The torture inflicted upon Mr.
Portugal and the anguish his next of kin endured could tend to establish
a violation of Article 5 of the American Convention and Article 1 of the
The absence and ineffectiveness of remedies under domestic
law to set right the situations alleged by the petitioners could tend to
establish a violation of the rights of Mr. Portugal's next of kin: Graciela de León de Rodríguez, Patria Portugal, and
Franklin Portugal, specifically the rights recognized in Articles 8 and
25 of the American Convention and Article XVIII of the American
When analyzing the merits of the case, the Commission shall also
consider the following:
Whether the anguish felt by Mr. Portugal’s next of kin could
tend to establish a violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention
The absence and ineffectiveness of remedies under domestic law to
set right the situations alleged by the petitioners could tend to
establish a violation of the rights of Mr. Portugal's next of kin in
respect of Articles 6 and 8 of the Convention against Torture.
The Commission therefore concludes that the petition satisfies
the requirement stipulated in Article 47(b) of the American Convention.
Having examined the present case, the Commission concludes that
it has competence to take cognizance of it.
The Commission concludes that the exception stipulated in Article
46(2)(c) to the rule requiring exhaustion of local remedies is
applicable; that the six-month rule stipulated in Article 46(1)(b) of
the Convention does not, therefore, apply; and that the petition was
lodged within a reasonable period of time.
Finally, the Commission decides that the petitioners' allegations
concerning Articles I, XXV and XXVI of the American Declaration,
Articles 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 25 of the American Convention, Articles II
and III of the Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons and
Articles 1, 2, 6, and 8 of the Convention against Torture meet the
requirement stipulated in paragraph b
of Article 47 of the American Convention.
Therefore, the requirements for analyzing the petition under the
provisions that the petitioners invoked from the other conventions have
32. Based on the
foregoing arguments of fact and of law, and without prejudging the
merits of the matter,
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare the present petition admissible as regards the
alleged violations of Articles I, XXV, and XXVI of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; Articles 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 and
25 of the American Convention on Human Rights; Articles 1, 2, 6 and 8 of
the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture; and
Articles II and III of the Inter-American Convention on Forced
Disappearance of Persons.
To notify the parties of this decision.
To proceed with the analysis of the merits of the case.
To publish this decision and include it in the Commission's
Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
and signed at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, in the city of Washington, D.C., on the 24th day of October of
2002. (Signed): Juan E. Méndez,
President; Marta Altolaguirre, First Vicepresident; Jose Zalaquett,
Second Vicepresident; Robert K. Goldman, Julio Prado Vallejo, Clare K.
Roberts and Susana Villarán, Commissioners.
See the State's observations, dated November 29, 2001, p. 4.
See statements made by: Graciela de León de Rodríguez, 6/21/90; Marcos Tulio Pérez Herrera, 7/16/90; Antonia Portugal García, 7/26/1990; Gustavo Antonio Pino Llerena, 9/26/90; Pedro Antonio Vázquez Cocio, 10/24/90; Ruben Dario Sousa Batista, 5/13/91, among others. See
also the decision of the Second Superior Court of the First
District, 3/13/1991, paragraph
See request by the Office of the Third Superior Court Prosecutor of
the First District to declare that the statute of limitation on
criminal liability had run, January 15, 1991, p. 5.
See statement of Antonia Portugal García,
As the court records for the case show, Mr. Manuel Antonio Noriega
was Director of the Panamanian Intelligence Service from August 11,
1970 to December 14, 1982.
See decision of the Second Superior Court of the First Judicial
District,, November 8, 1991.
See resolution of the Third Prosecutor's Office, April 3, 2001 p. 2.
See resolution of the Third Superior Court Prosecutor for the First
Judicial District, April 3, 2001.
Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons,
OEA/Ser.P/AG/doc. 3114/94 rev.1, Article 3.
Inter.-American Court of Human Rights, Velásquez Rodríguez,
Judgment of July 29, 1988, Series C Nº 4, paragraph 181.
See Report of the Institute of Forensic Medicine [Instituto de
Medicina Legal], dated September 24, 1999 p. 2; and the
transcript of the exhumation of the body on September 22, 1999.
See sworn statement of Daniel Elias Zúñiga Vargas, January 30,
2001; and Decision of the Third Superior Court Prosecutor, April 6,
Panama was already a party to the OAS Charter and bound by it to
respect the rights guaranteed under the American Declaration.
Panama signed the American Convention on November 22, 1969 and
ratified it on June 22, 1978.
Panama signed that Convention on September 14, 1994 and ratified it
on February 28, 1996.
That Convention was signed by Panama on February 10, 1986 and the
instrument of ratification was deposited on August 28, 1991.
Ibid. It argues:
“... in the case at hand, there
is no evidence of any 'enmity'-at least not in 1970-between Mr.
Portugal's ideas and the government at that time
… so that based on the procedural situation presented in the
summary one has to conclude that this criminal inquiry must be
See the State's response of January 3, 2002 pp. 9, 10 and 11.
See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Judgment of July 29, 1988
Velásquez Rodríguez case, paragraph 184; Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, Report Nº 61/01, Case 11.771, Samuel Alfonso Catalán
Lincoleo, Chile, April 16, 2001.
IACHR, Report Nº 81/01, Case 12,228, Alfonso Martín del Campo Dodd
v. Mexico, October 10, 2001 par. 20.