1. In a
communication of May 1977, the Commission received the following
Rice, a catholic priest, and a citizen of Ireland, was kidnapped by
security forces as he was walking with a young women in the streets of
La Plata. They were both brutally tortured. Father Rice was finally
released, as a result of influence exercised by the Irish Government.
fate of the young woman is unknown. The arrest and imprisonment occurred
between October and November 1976."
2. In a note of
December 7, 1977, the Commission transmitted the pertinent parts of this
denunciation to the Government of Argentina and requested it to provide
the corresponding information.
3. In a note dated
January 9, 1978, the Government of Argentina replied to the Commission's
request in the following terms:
Persons on whom there is no record of detention and who are the subject
of a police search conducted by the Ministry of the Interior:
Reverend Patrick (2450)."
4. The pertinent
parts of the Government's reply were transmitted to the complainant in a
letter dated May 16, 1978, and he was invited to make observations on
5. In a letter
dated April 9, 1978, Father Patrick Rice sent the Commission a detailed
report on his detention, as follows:
October 12, 1976, as I as walking with Fátima Edelmira Cabrera, an
Argentine citizen, 21 years old, living in the Villa Soldati apartments
on Mariano Acosta, who had come to me for help because her younger
sister was ill, we were stopped at 8.00 o'clock in the evening by a man
with a pistol, who got out of an old car. He threatened us, fired at the
ground and asked us for our documents. After we had given them to him,
he fired into the air and another man came to help him. They put us into
the car and took us to Federal Police Headquarters of Villa Soldati.
Hoods were immediately put over our heads. They took down all the
information about me, and whenI asked them why they had detained me,
they said that they would see. They checked all my clothes, put
handcuffs on me, sat me down on a chair and began to beat me about my
head, face, testicles, and they stamped on my feet. When I cried out,
they whistled and made a noise to cover up my shouts. Then they took me
to the cell, and after a while, some other men came to tell me that I
was going to see the military, that I was going to see that the Romans
who persecuted the early Christians had nothing on Argentina soldiers.
That some 30 soldiers had arrived from Tucumán, and that they were
going to have fun with the Cabrera girl. So they took me out, still with
a hood over my head and put me in the trunk of a car. Since I am a big
man, they had something of a problem in getting me in. I heard Cabrera
crying in the back seat but we arrived very quickly.
car began to make a lot of very abrupt turns, and then it stopped. They
took me out, and because I was very beaten up, one of them asked if I
had been given electricity, and the other said that he didn't know.
took me inside a building, and put on more handcuffs, chaining me to the
wall at floor level with my arms outstretched. I could hear a lot of
traffic, so much so that it seemed that the house was in the middle of a
highway. But the traffic was going very fast. The lights were always on.
Two individuals came to me very shortly, untied me and took me to a room
next door, and sat me down on a little bed that had a thick foam
mattress on it. They took off the rags that had been my hood, warned me
not to look, and covered me with a yellow canvas hood, which fell down
to my waist and had a rope around the throat. They began to interrogate
me, accusing me of collaborating with the terrorists, and asking me
about people involved with these groups, in Villa and other places. I
explained to them that I was a priest, that I did my pastoral work
there, but that I spent most of the day working on a construction
project on the Avenida La Plata/Estados Unidos, and that I didn't know
anything about what they were taking about. One of them then told me to
lie down (my handcuffed hands were behind my back). As soon as I got
into this position, one of those who had been sitting at the side began
to beat me all over my body, and to put something hard like a pistol
against me, and so on. I asked them who they were, to be treating me
this way, and they told me that they were the Triple A. Then they told
me that they were going to wash out my mouth, and one grabbed hold of my
head and nose and they began to pour water into my mouth from a hose or
a kettle until they choked me. Then after a long time (I don't know
whether I had lost consciousness), they put handcuffs on my feet as
well. They made me stand up and tried to make me walk but I fell down
and they dragged me back to the room. This time, they simply tied my
handcuffed feet to the wall. I was kept like that all day long. I asked
them if I could go to the bathroom, and they bathed me in cold water and
they kept beating me and throwing water over me.
finally came and untied me, which was a great relief, and they once
again took me into the room. They made me lie down on the bed with all
my wet clothes on. They tied my hands and feet which they connected to
some cables. They took off my hood and put on a very small blindfold and
suddenly my body was twitching uncontrollably, with lots of sparks
coming off like a welding torch. It was so strong that I was flung off
the bed. Then they tied me down very firmly and went on giving me
electricity and saying that I should tell them what I knew. Then they
left me. I heard Fátima Cabrera crying out in the same room, and they
were giving her electricity too. After a time, they called a woman who
was a doctor, and told her to check Fátima because it seemed that she
had stopped breathing She prescribed some medicine, and one of the
people sent another to find it, saying that they were near the medical
school. Meanwhile, they began to interrogate the doctor, who seemed to
have come from Córdoba to Buenos Aires to apply for work with the
police force. They particularly wanted to know whether she had relatives
or friends who were in the army and when she said that she had few
contacts, they began wondering about her motives. They asked her what
she thought about human rights and democracy. She replied that she felt
that they ought to be respected, although her family had no political
affiliation, and that she was in agreement with democracy.
they called on a Chilean medical student, and asked him the same thing,
why was he looking for work with the police, etc. They seemed to be more
satisfied with him.
they said that they were tired of us. They gave a pill to Fátima, and
began to throw water over me and to give me a lot of electricity, and
this time, it was all over my body. There was a smell of burning in the
room. They brought in Fátima in a chair, she was very small, and they
began to give us electricity together. Then they put one cable on top of
my head and I felt as if I were paralyzed. They told me that I was very
strong, that I had a lot of resistance, but because of me, they were
going to destroy Fátima. They left me tied up, while one of them swept
the floor and prepared coffee. They always had music playing very
loudly, as if from a car radio. Finally, they untied me, they made me
stand up, and between the two of them, I walked back to the other room,
leaning on a piece of rubber. They tied me up again, but they left me
for a long time with the small blindfold and I was able to look at the
room. There were some seven people there, all of them with yellow hoods,
with a number on them. There were small high windows so I could see the
daylight outside. Then, they put the hood over me again, and shortly
afterwards, I began to hear Fátima's cries. This went on for the whole
day at intervals. These cries made me desperate, and I lifted the hood
to see where she was, and when they saw me, they tied me down with a
cord, strangling me. I think that I lost consciousness, because I don't
remember when they took off the rope. Finally, they let me go to the
bathroom, they gave me a little water to drink, after making sure that
in the previous 24 hours they had not given me electricity.
they came to get me. They sat me on the bed and offered me some
cigarettes. I was hardly able to inhale. One of them told me that he was
a military officer and that it had been 8 hours since I had been
detained (this was Thursday). They repeated their accusations, and I
denied them. They told me that this was worse for me, but that he would
report to his superior officers. Then they took me away again and tied
me up. Then two men came and in a very kindly way, took me out and put
me in the trunk of a car and drove away,
we were in the car, they were talking and whistling and they seemed
happy. Before we left, somebody told them that they should bring the
hood back because recently they had been losing a lot of them.
some time, we arrived. We took an elevator. I later found out that this
was the Coordinación Federal on Moreno Street. Somebody interrogated me
when I arrived and hit me very hard in the stomach, so hard that I fell
down. They put me in a cell, and there were 6 prisoners along the same
passageway in other cells, 4 young men in a large cell and about the
same number of women in yet another large cell and there was swastika
painted on the wall (with a finger-print board). The other prisoners
assured me that I had nothing to fear. The following day, Fátima
arrived. She told me that they had beaten her up a lot with sand bags,
that her back felt very bad, that she had asthma, and that they were
giving her medicine for this. But she also told me that they had taken
her out a total of 4 times to give her electricity, and other times they
had taken off all her clothes. Finally, they got an order that 'because
the United Nations was asking for her', they had to make her recuperate
quickly so they gave her a lot of medicine.
I was examined by a doctor, who prescribed some antibiotics. Everyone
had to be blindfolded. Then an individual interrogated me and asked me
how I had received my wounds. I told him everything that had happened to
me, and he said that henceforth, I would say that I had fallen down the
stairs. If I didn't say this, I would end up at the bottom of the river
in a block of concrete. Then they got out of me a statement that I
signed. On Monday, October 19, they took me out, shaved me (with a
straight razor), put cologne on my hair and took me to see my
Ambassador, Mr. Lennon (Ireland). Just before I went in to see him, they
took off my blindfold and he and his Secretary (Justin Harmann) were
very happy to see me, but were frightened to see the state I was in. I
explained everything that had happened, but said that perhaps it was not
in my best interest for this to be made public at that time. He assured
me that I would soon be free, and we said goodbye.
food in Coordinación Federal consisted of mate tea without milk or
sugar, and a little bread in the morning, boiled pasta, sometimes
without salt and bread at mid-day, and polenta (also without salt), and
bread at night. Sometimes, they added salt and a sauce, but very rarely.
There were two pregnant women who asked for permission to go to the
bathroom. They told me that some guards abused the women there. There
were two types of prisoners, the legal prisoners and the illegal. One
illegal prisoner, Guillermo López, who was a medical student living in
the western part of the capital, was taken out one morning when a large
group of us was being transferred to Villa Devoto, but he never got
there. Some people had been imprisoned for 80 days, and somebody said
that they used to take people out in order to kill them. One man even
told me that the night before they found 30 corpses in Pilar, they had
taken 30 prisoners out of Coordinación Federal.
wasn't kept for very long in Villa Devoto, more or less a week, and then
I was transferred to La Plata (Unit 9). There were 3 prisoners from
Santa Fe (transferred from Coronda, 2 priests, Raúl Troncoso and Rafael
Yacuzzi and another men, Osvaldo Cambiasso), who had been so badly
beaten that they were refused entry to La Plata. Cambiasso in particular
had been beaten all over his body.
as in Villa Devoto, in La Plata they did many things to prisoners to
humiliate them and to punish them. The so-called punishment system
(which was very hard in La Plata, with cold baths, beatings with rubber,
etc.), and the inspection system was particularly humiliating in Villa
Devoto. As a priest, I was denied, or it was made practically impossible
for me to have access to the Bible or religious books, although in La
Plata there was a good chaplaincy organized by the prison. In all the
prisons, I was checked out by doctors when I entered. Particularly in
Villa Devoto, they saw all my wounds, but seemed not at all surprised by
the use of electricity. It appeared to be a routine matter.
I had a number of serious wounds, particularly one on my foot, they have
me no medical attention for a whole month. The food in Devoto was very
bad and very greasy. In La Plata, it was much better and was adequate.
December 3, they took me out of the prison, by car, to the train
station. I was accompanied by two policemen to Constitution Station.
Then I went by taxi to the Coordinación Federal. This time, they held
me on the 9th floor, which was for foreigners, and not on the third
floor where I had been before. But they gave me nothing to eat and
nothing to drink for more than 24 hours until I left for Ezeiza Airport
in a car escorted by two policemen. From conversations with other
prisoners, it seemed to me that the place where I had been kidnapped and
tortured might have been the Guemes Brigade, which is on the Camino de
Cintura at the Richieri Highway, and in fact, when I went past it, I
thought that the could be it. because of the location of the windows,
the fact that the highway was very close, the interior garages, etc.
Ezeiza Airport, I was handed over to Air Force personnel who put me on a
British Caledonian flight for London. However, the flight authorities
did not let me off throughout the whole flight (23 hours), until I got
to Heathrow Airport. There they gave me my passport.
December 8, 1976, I fell ill and was hospitalized in a psychiatric
hospital in north London. Dr. Daly (Southern Health Authority,
Sarsfield's Court, County Cork) later treated me. He received a medical
report from the doctors in the jails in Argentina (Villa Devoto and La
Plata, but not from Coordinación Federal).
I was discharged in March."
Cabrera disappeared for a long time. Then she reappeared in detention
under PEN in Villa Devoto. She was released on parole on December 24,
1977, along with another 30 or so prisoners. There is some reason to
fear that she may be the subject of action by para-military groups.
we were being kept in secret detention, an official came to us one
morning and let one group go, telling them that he did not want to find
them again in the street. It appeared that they took a lot of people
there for interrogation, and then released them."
6. The pertinent
parts of the foregoing information were transmitted to the Government of
Argentina in a note dated June 9, 1978. This communication asked for
information about the case, with particular reference to the reply given
by the government of Argentina to the Commission in its note dated
January 9, 1978.
7. During the 44th
session of the Inter-American Commission, held in June, Father Rice gave
the following testimony:
should like to share with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
my observations on the most recent response by the Argentine Government,
dated January 9, 1978 with respect to my case Nº 2450.
to the Argentine Government, there is no record of my detention, and I
am the object of a police search conducted by the Ministry of the
am attaching not only a copy of the entire denunciation but also as
evidence of my kidnapping, I would present the news item that appeared
in the Newspaper LA NACION on Thursday, October 14, 1976, page 18. On
October 18, 1976, the Foreign Minister of Argentina, Rear Admiral César
A. Guzzetti, acknowledged that I had been 'arrested by the police' (see
the copy of LA NACION). There is also a cable from Buenos Aires on
October 14, 1976, in which the Secretary of the Irish Embassy reports
that I was 'detained in an office of the Federal Police Force.
complete report on the events, which I have already presented to the
Commission, and which I now attach in a more complete form, gave
testimony as to the many acts of maltreatment to which I was subjected
along with Fátima Edelmira Argentina Cabrera. As proof of this, and as
proof also of the fact of my detention, I attach a medical report by
Argentine doctors who looked after me in jail. This was sent to the
psychiatrist who looked after me in Ireland, Professor R. J. Daly, who
has the original in his possession.
of the doctors, Dr. Real, admits that I had wounds when I was admitted
to Unit 9 (La Plata). 'Because there were wounds present, the
corresponding report was drawn up'. There was another report for the
wound on my right foot. This was a wound received when they tortured me
with electricity and my foot hit the part of the bed that I was tied
all the evidence, I am reasonable certain that I was tortured in the
in case 2450, only my name is mentioned, the other person detained with
me was Fátima Cabrera, who is now on parole (see the copy of LA NACION,
and a short report of my own on the situation). The Commission could
perhaps take a look at her actual health status and ask for her full
I explained in my report, there was a prisoner, Julio Guillermo López
(a medical student from Villa Lugano, Buenos Aires), who was imprisoned
in the Coordinación Federal as an 'illegal' prisoner.
October 18, 1076, he was taken out of the jail to an unknown
destination. I do not know whether he has turned up in any legal prison,
but the fact that there were the two categories, 'legal' and 'illegal'
shows that in fact, the Federal Police handles many prisoners who have
disappeared under the latter category.
EDELMIRA ARGENTINA CABRERA
was born in the Province of Tucumán (Argentina) in May 1958. Her family
went to Buenos Aires to live in about 1965, in the YPF section of Villa
Retiro, in the Federal Capital. In 1974, they were assigned an apartment
in the Soldati I and II buildings, Villa Soldati, in the Federal
Capital, along with many other families from the same section of Villa
Retiro, during a program to eliminate the slums in Buenos Aires.
was detained with me on the same afternoon, October 11, 1976. After
several hours in the Federal Police Headquarters 36, she was also taken
with me to the Brigada Guemes, to be tortured and interrogated. On
Friday October 15, she was transferred to the Coordinación Federal
Calle Moreno, Buenos Aires. She was subjected to 4 sessions of torture,
by electricity, in addition to the many other forms of abuse to which
she was treated. About Christmas 1977, I learned through the Irish
Embassy, which had followed her case closely, that she had been detained
in Villa Devoto since approximately April 1977. There are unconfirmed
rumors that she was again tortured between October and April 1977 in
December 23, 1977, she was allowed to return to her house under the new
system of 'parole' (libertad vigilada). She is now in fact in a totally
defenseless situation. She does not go out of her house, and has serious
health problems (she is asthmatic and has back problems) as a result of
the physical abuse, and so on. Because of the family poverty (they were
on the point of being thrown out of their apartment because they had not
paid the rent) she is unable to receive proper medical attention."
Rice handed over the documents to which he refers in his testimony, and
these are now in the possession of the Commission.
8. In its Note SG
192 of August 8, 1978, the Government of Argentina replied to the
request for information by the Commission, but failed to refer to the
events specifically denounced that had been transmitted to it, and
merely reported as follows:
CABRERA, Fátima: Detained by
order of the National Executive because of her involvement with the
subversive Montoneros band, released on parole by Decree Nº 3891 of
27-12-77, authorized to travel freely within the Federal Capital, with
the Federal Police of Argentina acting as the supervising authority.
RICE, Patrick Michael: Deported by
Decree 2665 of 27-10-76 under the charge of violation of law 21.259,
which prohibits activities affecting the peace and security of the
Nation. The above named maintained links with elements of the subversive
Montoneros band (Case 2450)."
9. In a
communication dated August 16, 1978, the Commission transmitted to the
Argentine Government the additional information provided by Father Rice
in his testimony before the Commission. The Argentine Government has not
On August 31, 1978, the persons filing the complaint were
forwarded the Government's reply of August 8, 1978, and were invited to
submit their observations.
The Commission has in its possession the medical report provided
by Dr. R. J. Daly, Clinical Director of St. Stephen's Hospital
(Ireland), who attended Father Rice during his recuperation.
1. In light of the
above-mentioned background information, it is deduced that Father
Patrick Rice and Miss Fátima Cabrera were "illegally"
detained on Mondoy, October 12, 1976 and brutally tortured by agents of
the Argentine Government;
2. The Government
of Argentina has failed to refer to the contradiction between its
communication dated January 9, 1978 and that of August 8, 1978, and has
failed to refer to the specific events denounced, which were transmitted
to it by the Commission.
3. Article 51,
paragraph 1) of the Regulations of the Commission states as follows:
occurrence of the events on which information has been requested will be
presumed to be confirmed if the Government referred to has not supplied
such information within 180 days of the request, provided always, that
the invalidity of the events denounced is not shown by other elements of
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES
1. To declare that
the Commission has in its possession unequivocal proof that Father
Patrick Rice and Miss Fátima Cabrera were illegally detained by agents
of the Argentine Government on October 12, 1976; and in application of
Article 51, paragraph 1) of the Regulations, to presume to have been
confirmed the facts denounced related to solitary detention, cruelty
during interrogation, torture and the conditions of the detention.
2. To observe to
the Government of Argentina that these events constitute very serious
violations of the right to life, liberty and personal security (Art. I);
the right to a fair trial (Art. XVIII) and the right to protection
against arbitrary detention (Art. XXV) of the American Declaration of
the Rights and Duties of Man.
3. To recommend to
the Government of Argentina: a) that it order a complete and impartial
investigation to determine responsibility for the events denounced; b)
that in accordance with the laws of Argentina, it sanction those
responsible for these events; c) that it take measures to end the parole
of Fátima Cabrera; and d) that it inform the Commission within a
maximum of 30 days as to the measures taken to put into practice the
recommendations contained in the present Resolution.
4. To communicate
this Resolution to the Government of Argentina and to the person filing
5. To include this
Resolution in the Annual Report of the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States, pursuant to Article 9 (bis), paragraph c,
ii of the Statute of the Commission.
at the 605th meeting of November 18, 1978 (45th session) and transmitted
to the Government of Argentina).