REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
AREAS IN WHICH STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TOWARDS FULL OBSERVANCE OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS SET FORTH IN THE AMERICAN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MAN AND THE AMERICAN DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
In this part of the Annual Report, in which suggestions are generally made to the supreme organ of the Organization concerning specific steps towards full observance of human rights, the Commission will confine itself to carrying out two mandates that it received from the most recent session of the General Assembly.
In its resolution AG/RES. 890 (XVII-O/87) on the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the General Assembly resolved:
Accordingly, the Commission hereby presents the study requested of it on the situation of minors who are the children of disappeared persons and who have been separated from their parents and are being claimed by members of their legitimate families.
It is also submitting a draft Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Forced Disappearances, with its corresponding statement of reasons for consideration by the General Assembly at the present session.
A STUDY ABOUT THE SITUATION OF MINOR CHILDREN OF DISAPPEARED
1. 1. Background
The seventeenth regular meeting of the General Assembly of the OAS, held in Washington in November 1987, resolved unanimously to ask the Commission for a study about the “situation of minor children of disappeared persons who were separated from their parents and are claimed by members of their legitimate families.”
The IACHR welcomes this decision of the General Assembly to give special attention to the phenomenon, because it is convinced that an effective way to counter serious violations of human rights is to publicize them and to make them generally known, even in their most sordid and heart-rending details. In so doing, a contribution is made to solving pending situations and to avoid their repetition in the future.
This present study is the result of the Commission’s experience, accumulated over several years, predominantly as a result of receiving communications from relatives of disappeared children and of attempting to find solutions through inquiries with the respective governments. It benefits as well from the extraordinary task performed by human rights organizations in their own countries. Among the latter, a special reference is made to the association Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo) of Argentina, and to those who assist it in the scientific and legal fields. Besides following those endeavors from their inception, the Commission has had numerous opportunities to hold conversations with leaders and members of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, and wishes to express its appreciation to that group for having submitted valuable documentation for the preparation of this report.
The present work attempts to summarize the problem as it has come up in the tragic reality of Latin America, particularly in Argentina which is the country in which the greatest amount of documentation exists regarding the facts which have motivated this study, as well as to describe the efforts of groups in civil society, and of governments in bringing about a remedy. At the same time, it points out that there is still a lot to be done and tries to outline ways in which hemispheric solidarity can contribute to these humanitarian objectives.
The Commission, in different reports, both special and annual, has referred to the serious problem of the forced disappearance of adults. One of the repercussions of this practice, at the stage of the abduction that precedes the disappearance as such, has been the aggression against the families of the principal victims, to force them into silence or into collaboration and to intimidate them so that they will pressure the principal victim into self-incrimination or into providing information about others. In most cases of disappearances, therefore, children have become the indirect victims.
The focus of this study, however, is a narrower situation, in which children are direct victims and specific “targets” of the repressive action, even though their kidnapping and theft is meant primarily to punish their parents or grandparents. This is the case when minors and infants are kidnapped with their parents, or they are born during the captivity of their mothers. Even if the phenomenon sounds cruel and heartless, the Commission must note that hundreds of such cases have been brought to its attention.
Cases known to the Commission have taken place mostly in Argentina, during the counter-insurgency campaign called the “dirty war,” under the military dictatorship that ruled that country between 1976 and 1983. Some of the cases affected Uruguayan children during their parents’ exile in Argentina. In those cases, responsibility lies not only with the Argentine authorities of the time, but also with their Uruguayan counterparts, since there is evidence of the participation of Uruguayan security agents in the pattern of forced disappearance of their countrymen in Argentina. In some cases, the kidnapping of minors was done with the complicity of security forces of more than one country, either in the clandestine transportation of the minor across borders, or in the irregular and unlawful protection afforded in other countries to those who took the children away in order to evade justice.
In some of the cases reviewed by the Commission, the final fate of the disappeared children has been the same as in the overwhelming majority of disappeared adults: their extrajudicial execution and the attempt to hide their remains. Fortunately, the number is relatively low.1
In other cases, the minor has been returned to the natural family, often after being held for several days in clandestine detention centers or in orphanages or hospitals for abandoned infants. Many of these families have had to endure offensive treatment, long waits and uncertainty before they were reunited with the disappeared minors.
In a very high number of cases, the children were taken away their parents to be given in irregular adoption to other families. The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo have been able to document in Argentina 208 cases of this kind, though they believe there may be many more that have not come to their attention for a variety of reasons. Besides, the National Commission on Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) of Argentina has received documentation about 43 other similar cases, none of them included in the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo list.
The cases of irregular adoption following disappearance must be classified in two categories: those in which the family receiving the child does not know the circumstances that preceded their encounter with him, and those in which the adopting family is the family of one of the captors of the natural parents, or of a member of the police or armed forces who is cognizant of the origin of the child.
In the first case, the family may not necessarily be innocent of the irregular adoption, made in violation of adoption laws and regulations, but they believe the child to have been abandoned by the parents after an unwanted pregnancy. Unfortunately, this illegal trade in newborns is very common in our countries, even in transnational irregular adoptions, and societies have developed a certain indifference to its illegality. The fact that that indifference, or rather deliberate ignorance has provided a favorable setting for the theft of children whose parents never abandoned them, must cause us to reflect on the need to promote greater respect for regular adoption procedures, and to their adjustment, if necessary, to the needs of life in our time.
The cases in which the new parents are themselves the captors, torturers and executioners of the natural parents, or their immediate accomplices, constitute on the other hand, one of the most unusual manifestations of a repressive pathology.
One of the purposes of this deliberate policy is, without a doubt, trafficking in irregular adoptions by taking advantage of the impunity created by the very method of forced disappearance of persons. From the point of view of those who devised and implemented the policy, however, there was also a more profoundly ideological–as well as a more dangerous–motivation. General Ramón Juan Alberto Camps, Chief of Police of the Province of Buenos Aires between 1976 and 1978, has explained that the leaders of the “dirty war” were afraid that the children of the disappeared would grow up hating the Argentine Army because of the fate of their parents. The anguish generated in the rest of the surviving family because of the absence of the disappeared would develop, after a few years, into a new generation of subversive or potentially subversive elements, thereby not permitting an effective end to the “dirty war.”2
2. Situations presented
For the purposes of illustration, in the following pages the Commission will describe some of the cases that have come to its attention.
a. Cases resulting in the murder of a minor
Floreal Avellaneda, 14 years old, son of a Communist trade union leader of Greater Buenos Aires, was kidnapped from his house with his mother on April 15, 1976, by an Army contingent looking for his father. His mother was held in a clandestine center and later in an official prison. On May 14, 1976, Floreal’s corpse was found on the coast of Montevideo, Uruguay, hands and feet bound and with signs of torture.3
The Launce family, consisting of the couple and three young children, were arrested in their house in San Isidro, a suburb of Buenos Aires, in September 1976. Their whereabouts were never ascertained. In January of 1984, a judicial inquiry led to the exhumation of corpses buried in graves marked “N.N.” (no name) in the cemetery of Bologna, Province of Buenos Aires. The proceedings resulted in the identification of the remains of the couple and of the infants Roberto, 6, and Bárbara, 4. All of them had been killed by gunfire. Although the death certificates mentioned five corpses, it was also established that the remains of the youngest Matilde, 6 months old, was not there. Up to now, it has not been possible to find out the fate of Matilde, though the CONADEP received information to the effect that she had been illegally adopted by the Navy officer.4
In Argentina there were many cases of teenagers of Floreal Avellaneda’s age, who disappeared after their arrest by security forces. In particular, high school students who were politically organized or who got together to promote school-related demands were targeted for repression. The best known case is the one known as “The Night of the Pencils,” referred to in a motion picture of the same name which has been shown with great success. The lone survivor of the episode, Pablo Diaz, told CONADEP and later the Court of Appeals in the trial of the Juntas, of his detention in several concentration camps run by the First Army Corps, together with several other high school students from La Plata. In these camps, he saw his friends Víctor Treviño, Claudio de Acha and María Claudia Falcone, as well as ten other students, all of them arrested for demanding reduced public transportation fares for students. His friends were later executed. Pablo Díaz, who was then 17, witnessed the rape of María Claudia Falcone, who was then his same age.5
b. Children returned to their natural families
The Commission is aware of some cases in which the relatives of the disappeared were able to find the children and are presently bringing them up. In some of these cases, the authorities who arrested the parents took measures to notify the relatives, even while refusing to provide information about the fate or whereabouts of the principal victims. In others, the relatives can only thank the good will displayed by neighbors of the victims, who took care of the children and set out to find the relatives. In yet other cases, the families had to suffer through an anguishing pilgrimage through hospitals, orphanages, police precincts and military barracks, until they found the children. The Commission prefers not to mention specific areas in order to protect the privacy of these families and of the children themselves, bearing in mind that the Commission believes the situation of these children has been favorable resolved.
c. Delivery to Third Parties
In those cases where the adoptive family is innocent of the disappearance of the natural parents, the policy of the natural relatives such as that of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo has been to accept the new family’s custody of the child, provided: 1) that the family environment is appropriate for the child’s welfare; 2) visiting rights are established for the natural grandparents and other relatives; 3) the child is informed, at an appropriate time, of his or her real identity. After establishing the whereabouts and identity of several children, both families have arrived at mutually satisfactory agreements. Among these cases it is noteworthy to single out the case of Uruguayan Julien Guisonas children, whose parents disappeared in a public square in Valparaíso, Chile. They were adopted by a Chilean family with the subsequent consent of their natural grandmother.
In some other cases, the adoptive families themselves have taken the initiative of contracting the natural relatives, in order to facilitate the identification of the minor. However, it has also been the case that the natural grandparents have had to seek judicial action in suits to establish the familial relationship.
In October 1987, the Supreme Court of Argentina ruled on the first of these cases to come before it, and granted custody of Laura Ernestina Scaccheri to the natural family. Laura has been living with them since March 1986. Her parents disappeared after their arrest in 1977 and their whereabouts are still unknown today. In 1985, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo found Laura living with a family that had received her in July 1977. In March 1986, a federal court ordered her returned to the blood relatives. The appropriating family appealed and the Federal Court of Appeals for La Plata reversed; the blood relatives then filed a constitutional appeal to the Supreme Court, and the final decision in their favor was issued on October 29, 1987.
Similar cases are now pending before the Argentine courts. Ximena Vicario, kidnapped with her parents on February 5, 1977, when she was eight months old, was found by the Abuelas only in 1983. The fate of the parents is still unknown, but it has been established that Ximena was adopted by a laboratory technician employed by the Casa Cuna (Foundling Hospital) of Buenos Aires. Her grandmother has initiated legal action to declare the adoption null and void and to obtain Ximena’s custody. The case is pending, but in the interim, the court has granted the grandmother visiting rights.
d. Delivery of Agents of Repression
The most recent case solved by the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo is that of Maria Victoria Moyano Artigas, who is now 9 years old, born in the concentration camp known as “Pozo de Banfield” in August 1978. Police physician, Dr. Jorge Vidal, signed a forged birth certificate, which allowed the sister-in-law of a police officer to register the girl as her daughter. After using genetic tests to establish the identity of the girl beyond doubt, federal judge Juan Ramos Padilla returned the child to her natural family on December 31, 1987. Dr. Vidal is under prosecution for forgery of public documents.
In July 1977, Mónica Lemos de Lavalle, who was then eight months pregnant, was kidnapped by a contingent of the Argentine First Army Corps with her husband and a daughter, María, who was 14 months old. Five days later, María was abandoned by her captors near her grandparent’s house. Years later, the grandparents learned that Mónica had been held in “Pozo de Banfield.” In 1985 an investigation was launched against a policewoman who had worked there in those years and who had a daughter shoe age was very close to that of the child presumable born during Monica’s captivity. Genetic tests demonstrated with 99.9% certainty that the child was the daughter of Mónica Lemos de Lavalle and the sister of María Lavalle Lemos. The policewoman admitted having served in the San Justo Investigations Brigade, in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, between January 1976 and March 1978. CONADEP has a list of 68 disappeared persons who were seen alive in that clandestine center, five of whom were pregnant women. The policewoman and her accomplice were convicted in January 1988 and given a three-year suspended sentence.
Clara Anahí Mariani, granddaughter of the President of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, was six months old when her parents and several other adults died while resisting the search of their house in La Plata in 1976. Witnesses to the event state that the troops took a baby out of the almost destroyed house. In one of his many appearances before the press, General Ramón Camps, who was in charge of the operation, claimed that Mrs. María Chorobik de Mariani “knew her granddaughter was dead.”6 At a later date, however, during the trial against him for his rile in the crimes committed by the Police of the Province of Buenos Aires and which resulted in his conviction and a sentence of 25 years in prison, later upheld in the Supreme Court, Camps instructed his lawyer to tell the Court that the girl had been found dead and that Camps had asked for instructions from his commanding officer, then General Suárez Mason, who ordered information about the case to be withheld from the legitimate family. In 1982, in statements before Judge Adamo, of the Federal District Court for La Plata, Camps had stated under oath that he knew nothing about Clara Anahí Mariani.
Many witnesses headed by CONADEP and by Argentine courts have reported that many pregnant women were kept alive in several clandestine detention centers, until they gave birth and then they were separated from their babies. A few days after delivery, the babies were given over to families close to the military, and the prisoners, were “transferred,” a euphemism that–as has been demonstrated–actually meant their extrajudicial execution. Such is the case of Laura Estela Carlotto, daughter of the Vice President of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Estela Barnes de Carlotto. At one point, General Reynaldo Bignone, who later became President of Argentina toward the end of the military governments, acknowledged to Laura’s parents that the woman was alive and promised to give them the baby, which never happened. During Dr. Alfonsin’s presidency, the Carlotto family was able to exhume a corpse, and the forensic examination established without a doubt that the remains belonged to Laura Estela Carlotto, and that she had given birth shortly before being killed by fire arms shot at point blank range. Until now, it has been impossible to determine the whereabouts of the child.
In some cases, the security forces caused the disappearance and presumable the murder of nurses and midwives who tried to give information to the relatives after having assisted in deliveries by women who have been brought to hospitals by their captors. Such is the case of María Luisa Martínez de González and Genoveva Fratassi, kidnapped in April 1977, who had told the family Silvia Isabella Valenzi that the girl had had a premature delivery at Iriarte Hospital in Quilmes. Neither the nurses nor Ms. Valenzi have ever been found.
e. Transnational Escape
The cases that have received the most attention in the Argentine and international press have to do with the participation of security forces from neighboring countries, either in the original apprehension or their surrepititious transportation into Argentina, or in guaranteeing impunity for the abductors of minors who have fled Argentina in order to escape judicial action in the last few years.
The first case ever identified was that of the Julien Grisonas children, whose parents were Uruguayan refugees living in Argentina, to which the Commission has already made reference. Several years after the arrest and disappearance of their parents, the children were found in Chile, living with a family that took them when they were abandoned in a public square in Valparíso.
After the advent of democracy in Argentina, other similar cases have also been solved. Carla Rutilo Artés was captured with her mother in Oruro, Bolivia, on April 2, 1976; both of them were illegally deported to Argentina. The mother is still disappeared, but the girl was later found in the hands of Eduardo Alfredo Ruffo, an Argentine civilian intelligence agent who represented her as his daughter. After it was established that Ruffo and his wife previously had attempted to adopt other children, genetic tests determined that the girl was the granddaughter of Matilde Artés Company. Ruffo went into hiding with the girl, but he was later arrested in connection with his role in acts of terrorism and destabilization against the democratic government. The girl is now living with her grandmother.
Two members of the repressive forces fled with their families to Paraguay to escape legal action. Federal Police Chief (comisario) Samuel Miara is in possession of the twins Gustavo and Martín Rossetti Ross, born in 1977 during the clandestine captivity of their mother, who is still listed as disappeared. The midwife who assisted in the birth was herself targeted for forced disappearance when she tried to report the birth to the relatives. The father of the twins, who returned from exile in 1984, initiated legal action to have them returned. Miara and his family fled to Paraguay. Officials of the Paraguayan government prevented extradition, which had already been ordered.
Army doctor Norberto Bianco and his wife fled to Paraguay with two children, one of them apparently a boy born during the captivity of Silvia Quintela Dallasta at the military garrison of Campo de Mayo. Ms. Quintela is still disappeared. In this case there is also a request for extradition pending before the Paraguayan courts. In both cases, the federal prosecutor (fiscal de estado) has issued opinions advising against extradition, alleging that Miara and Bianco are politically persecuted. In December 1987, judge Eladio Duarte Carvallo granted the extradition of Bianco and his wife; the couple has appealed and the case is still pending. In regards to the return of the minors, also requested by the Argentine courts, the case has been transferred to juvenile courts.
Mariana Zaffaroni Islas was one and a half years old when she disappeared with her parents, Uruguayan exiles, in Florida, Province of Buenos Aires, on September 27, 1976. In 1983, the Abuelas found Mariana in the hands of an agent of the State Intelligence Service (SIDE), Miguel Angel Furci, who at the time was posted to the Presidential Palace. Furci and his wife had registered the girl as their own, under the name of Daniela Romina Furci. Judge Daniel Piotti, of the federal district court of San Isidro, has asked INTERPOL for the arrest of Furci (also known as Marcelo Arturo Fillol) and of his wife, Adriana González de Furci. The mother, María Emilia Islas, was pregnant at the time of her arrest, leading her relatives to believe that there may be another child of the family in the hands of agents of repression, although efforts to locate the child have been fruitless.7
3. Violation of fundamental norms of the international law of human rights
In the opinion of the Commission, the policy of removing children of disappeared persons is a violation of fundamental norms of international law.
The practice described above violates the right of direct victims–in this case the children–to their identity and to their name (Article 18, American Convention on Human Rights, henceforth “Convention”) and to be recognized legally as persons (Art. 3, Convention; Art. XVII American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (henceforth “Declaration”). Likewise, it violates the right of children and pregnant women to enjoy special measures of protection, attention and assistance (Art. 19 Convention and Art. VII Declaration). Furthermore, these actions constitute an abuse of the international law standards protecting the family (Arts. 11 and 17 Convention and Arts. V and VI Declaration).
Neither these rights nor those specifically devoted to the child in other international instruments are subject to suspension in situations of emergency threatening the independence or security of the State. (Art. 27 (2), Convention).
Even assuming hypothetically that a state of internal war existed (which was not the case in Argentina), such actions would still violate explicit norms set forth in the so-called “laws of war” or International Humanitarian Law, as specified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols to these Conventions of 1977.
These rules establish the right of families to learn the fate of their relatives (Protocol I of 1977) and the obligation to identify children separated from their families as a result of war and the prohibition against altering the personal status of these children (Fourth Convention of 1949 and Protection of Civilians, Arts. 24, 50, and 136; Protocol I, Art. 78 paragraph 3).
International Humanitarian Law also includes numerous and detailed rules regarding family reunification and the right of children not to be separated from their families, even in internment camps (Fourth Convention, Arts. 26 and 82; Protocol I, Arts. 74 and 75). Additional Protocol II of 1977, designed to govern situations of armed conflict not of an international nature, also sets forth these principles (Art. 4).
In addition to violations of international law, the acts described also constitute criminal offenses in the domestic law of all the member states of the Organization of American States. Through the forced disappearance of children and, in some cases, their irregular delivery to other families, the authors and accomplices commit the crime of illegal deprivation of freedom, almost always in the aggravated form because of the public office held by the author, and the suppression or misrepresentation of civil status.8
4. Efforts undertaken to solve cases of disappeared children and obstacles encountered
The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo have gained a high degree of support in Argentine society, not only because of the instant solidarity which their cause aroused in the majority of the population, but also because this association has demonstrated great ability in using legal mechanisms creatively and in recruiting the active support of different organizations and social sectors.
The government of Dr. Raúl Alfonsín, for its part, has shown from the start a disposition to contribute to the investigatory work of the Abuelas. It has made available to this association investigatory resources of the federal government and services provided by the Office of Minors and Families, an agency of the federal government.
The CONADEP, chaired by writer Ernesto Sabato, dedicated especial efforts to the topic of disappearances of children, which were reflected in a special chapter of the Nunca Más report. It is important to cite certain segments of that report:
When a child is stripped away from his legitimate family to be inserted in another family environment chosen according to an ideological conception of what is “convenient to his salvation,” an invidious usurpation of roles is committed.
The repressors who tore the disappeared children away from their homes or from their mothers at the time of birth, decided about the lives of those young beings with the same coldness of one who disposes of war booty.9
The democratic government of Argentina has had repeated occasions to state its position in favor of the struggle of the Abuelas to find their missing grandchildren. When the government submitted a bill to Congress to limit sanctions to be imposed on military officers for the crimes committed during the “dirty war,” it also excluded the situation of disappeared minors from the benefits and immunities created by that legislation.
On May 13, 1987, at the President’s initiative, Congress enacted a law creating the National Genetic Data Bank, to be organized in facilities of the Durand Hospital in Buenos Aires. The Bank offers services free of charge to the relatives of disappeared children or of children born in captivity, for the purpose of creating an archive and eventually providing expert testimony and reports to establish the familiar relationships of a child. The law states that refusal to submit oneself to tests and determine such familiar relations shall constitute evidence to the detriment of the refusing party in such a lawsuit. The creation of this archive is the culmination of a successful joint venture between the most advanced genetic scientists in the world, and the government and judiciary of Argentina. It should also be pointed out that under the sponsorship of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) of the United States, American scientists traveled to Argentina and worked for prolonged periods with their Argentine colleagues. Through studies of blood groups, histocompatibility, seric proteins and seric enzymes, using samples taken not only from grandparents but also from other blood relatives in any degree, the specialists were in a position to determine the “index of grandparenthood” of the claimants in a lawsuit to establish familial relationship with a very high degree of precision.
The Argentine judiciary has used these advanced scientific procedures to great advantage. After some initial hesitation, the Abuelas have now accumulated a string of very significant judicial victories. At the present time, several federal judges and juvenile court magistrates act with great speed to solve these cases, as well as to prevent the flight of those who attempt to escape justice. Civil law judges and juvenile courts have jurisdiction on lawsuits to establish familial relationships (acciones de filiación), while criminal law judges, mostly in the federal system, take these cases under the offenses labeled suppression or misrepresentation of civil status or theft of minors. All of these judicial initiatives have been greatly boosted by the decision of the Argentine Supreme Court of October 29, 1987, in the case of Laura Ernestina Scaccheri, mentioned above.
The Commission considers it important to quote certain passages the concurrent opinion of Justice Enrique Petracchi:
That, having examined the evidence, it must be pointed out that the case of the child Laura fits into the framework of a practice as extended as it is condemnable: the approximation of children. Social tolerance toward this practice derives only from the primitive conception of the child as property and from the ignorance about the trauma that can be caused on one who should be adopted, by the fraudulent substitution of his real status and by the hiding of the real situation.
If these attitudes are harmful in the cases of children whose parents have wanted to get rid of them, they are intolerable when, like here, they are about a girl whose parents recognized her, who had her parents taken violently away from her before she was three months old.
In the sad circumstances of 1977, it was undoubtedly praiseworthy that a neighbor would take care of the girl left behind by the captors of her “disappeared” parents, but that fact alone could never authorize the act of appropriation that took place.
That, in this sense, the reconstruction of identity and position in society (which society owes to Laura) does not seem compatible with the postponement of her blood family relationships, of the memory of her parents, of her cultural integration with legitimate relatives. At the same time, we must consider the right of parents and siblings of the disappeared to see the continuation of their family in the only child of those truncated young lives.
The Commission shares the expressions of Justice Petracchi because they include a fair appreciation of the rights of the relatives of disappeared persons, but more importantly because they take, as their point of departure, the rights of the child herself. Other portions of this decision are also worth reading because they reflect a modern approach to the need to adjust the letter of the law to the necessities of life, and because they cite important ideas of experts in child psychology who provided their scientific findings regarding the effect of this kind of situation on children.
The Commission must also mention, as a positive measure, the promulgation in Argentina of Law No. 23.466 of October 30, 1986 which grants a pension to the minor children, below the age of 21 years, whose parents were victims of forced disappearances.
As mentioned above, the bills introduced by the Executive Branch in Argentina and adopted by Congress to limit penal actions for the crimes committed during the military governments excluded the cases of disappeared children. The final texts of the laws called Punto Final and Obediencia Debida, as approved by Congress, specifically excluded the crimes of abduction of minors and suppression of status. However, in spite of the extraordinary efforts by CONADEP, by prosecutors and by courts that intervened in the resounding trials of the last few years, multiple features of what happened during the “dirty war” are still unknown. Among the most important aspects that have yet to be disclosed, are the fate and whereabouts of thousands of disappeared persons and as regards the reunion of family members with their missing grandchildren achieved, and the solidarity and acceptance enjoyed by the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo continues to grow. The Commission considers it important to call on all governments and peoples in the region to renew efforts to assist them in the achievement of their noble objectives.
Until now, 45 children have been located, of whom 22 have been returned to their families, 12 are being shared between natural and adoptive families, 5 were murdered and 6 are still pending judicial decision. The total of cases registered and documented by the Abuelas is now 208, though there may be more. For instance, another 43 cases are registered in the files of CONADEP, now under the custody of the Under-Secretariat for Human Rights of the Ministry of the Interior.
5. Conclusions and Recommendations
The Commission believes the objectives of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and of other groups of relatives in other countries who share their aspirations to be worthy of support. The relatives of children who disappeared or were born in captivity have to right to insist on knowing the whereabouts of those infants and to participate in their education and upbringing, in the manner that is most conducive to the child’s development and welfare.
The children victimized by this policy have a fundamental right to their identity as persons and to know that identity. They also have the right to recover the memory of their natural parents, and to know that those parents never abandoned them. They have the right to be in contact with their natural family so that they can nurture and provide continuity to that memory of affection.
The Commission believes that judges must have discretion to determine an appropriate custody arrangement, and where applicable, to regularize adoptions if the best familial environment for the healthy growth of the child is, in fact, the adoptive home. Even in these cases, however, judges must respect the exercise of the natural relatives to visitation rights and contacts with the child. In cases where the abduction was committed by a person who participated in the forced disappearance of the true parents, or in their torture or execution, or who became an accomplice to such atrocities, the Commission believes that the child's mental and physical health demands his immediate separation from that family group.
In light of the preceding observations, the Commission considers it necessary to point out and to support the measures adopted by the democratic government of Argentina as well as the actions taken by the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and similar groups which have attempted to solve the problem of minor children of disappeared persons who were separated from their parents and who are claimed by the members of their true families.
At the same time it recommends that other governments of the OAS offer all forms of scientific, judicial or investigatory cooperation available to them, to the Argentine Government and to all private associations interested in the topic.
In addition to the foregoing, and without prejudice to the specific measures which the Commission will propose in its draft Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons that is presently under consideration, the Commission requests that the General Assembly of the OAS, at its eighteenth regular meeting, recommend that all member states of the OAS:
a) An increase in the penalties for the crimes of suppression and misrepresentation of civil status and abduction of minors, as well as the creation of a more serious form of the crime when it is committed under the protection of, or taking advantage of, the forced disappearance of the true parents;
b) The review of procedural standards in each of the member states, in order to facilitate the introduction of scientific evidence to clarify these cases, to speed up processing of actions to establish familial relationships, and to allow magistrates to grant injunctive relief to prevent the flight of persons, the hiding of children or the destruction of evidence; and
c) The review, and where necessary, the amendment, of substantive and procedural norms regarding adoption, in order to conform them to contemporary realities, thereby contributing to their increased observance in all countries.
THE FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF PERSONS
In its previous Annual Report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights proposed to the General Assembly of the Organization that it consider the possibility of adopting an Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, to prevent and punish that abominable practice.
At that time the Commission noted that on the basis of experience in recent years it could say that the policy of forced disappearances had become an important instrument for the repression and physical suppression of dissidents in many Latin American countries and that the extreme cruelty of the practice called for the adoption of special measures both nationally and internationally to help to eliminate that policy for good.
The General Assembly endorsed that proposal and in operative paragraph 11 of resolution AG/RES. 890 (XVII-O/87) on the Annual Report of the IACHR agreed:
To comply with the mandate, the Commission first discussed the matter at its 72nd regular session and has approved the draft Convention included below in the course of the present session.
In preparing the draft, the Commission first took into account its previous reports, resolutions, and documents that refer to the painful issue of forced disappearances. It is precisely the experience the Commission has acquired in this are and its recommendations that have been its major source of inspiration in drawing up the provisions contained in the draft.
In addition, given the experience of nongovernmental human rights organizations in this regard, the Commission turned to all those organizations with which it has maintained close ties in recent years and has shared experience on the topic of forced disappearances to ask them for their observations and comments. In response to those requests, the Commission received valuable suggestions from the “Vicaría de la Solidaridad” of the Archdiocese of Santiago, Chile; the “Socorro Jurídico Cristiano ‘Arzobispo Oscar Romero’” of El Salvador; the “Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos,” with headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela; the Executive Committee of the Coalition of NGOs Concerned with Impunity for Violators of Human Rights of New York; and the following nongovernmental organizations of Argentina: "Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo,” “Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS),” “Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos por Razones Políticos,” and the Grupo de Iniciativa para una Convención Internacional contra la Desaparición Forzada de Personas.”
Unfortunately, as of the date of this report, only the Government of Venezuela has presented its comments and observations to this draft Convention.
The Commission also took account of United Nations documents on forced disappearances, as well as related theoretical articles to which it had access. Also of special importance was the judgment dated July 29, 1988, of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in which this Court in the decision in the case of Angel Manfredo Velásquez Rodríguez confirmed the seriousness of this practice, stating that the phenomenon of disappearances constitutes a complex form of the violation of human rights which must be comprehended and faced in an integral manner.
As is customary with such instruments, the draft the Commission is submitting begins with a preamble setting forth the considerations that prompted the states that participated in its adoption to sign the instrument. An important aspect of the preamble is that it emphasizes that, although the acts included under forced disappearance constitute both a violation of fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in international instruments and the commission of crimes previously established in the corresponding national legislations, it is important to draw up an instrument that will qualify forced disappearance of persons as a specific and separate crime, establish standards to punish and prevent it, and regulate its international effects.
Article 1 establishes the general purpose of the Convention, namely, the obligation of the States Parties to prevent and punish the forced disappearance of persons and to undertake to join forces to help by all possible means to eradicate its practice.
Article 2 defines forced disappearance on the basis of the criterion generally accepted by the bodies that have been concerned with describing the phenomenon.
In the opinion of the Commission, as pointed out in its earlier report, for there to be a forced disappearance, there must first have been an abduction or an arbitrary arrest. The abduction or the arrest of the person, although usually done in secret, is carried out by government agents, either uniformed or in civilian clothing, who are members of police organizations or the armed forces, or by paramilitary forces acting under the operational control of the police or armed forces. This is important because such disappearances do not include kidnapping of a person by common criminals, for example, for ransom. In some cases, the perpetrators are members of the paramilitary or parapolice groups. The seriousness of this type of crime is that the perpetrators enjoy immunity since they are tolerated by government agencies. In these cases, for all legal purposes, the perpetrators are acting as agents of the state, in view of its consent or acquiescence.
The other essential element necessary to describe this phenomenon is that once the abduction or detention has occurred and a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, the government authorities provide no information which allows a determination of the whereabouts or fate of the abducted or arrested person.
Article 3 is intended to establish the separate nature of the crime of forced disappearance of persons. Although, as this article points out, acts comprising forced disappearance are currently punished under the corresponding national legislations, through the Convention the States Parties undertake to adopt separate criminal standards that define forced disappearance, adding that the crimes that are thereby defined will be considered continuing or permanent as long as the whereabouts or the fate of the victim has been established.
Article 4 may well be the most important in the entire draft Convention since, in characterizing forced disappearance of persons as a crime against humanity, it gives the Convention a specific meaning thus enabling it to be truly effective. It should also be recalled in this connection that forced disappearance had already been characterized as a crime against humanity in resolutions AG/RES. 666 (XIII-O/83) and AG/RES. 742 (XIV-O/84) of the OAS General Assembly.
Article 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 govern the juridical effects of the qualification as a crime against humanity by assigning to them the principle of universal jurisdiction to judge and punish the crime, the obligation to extradite those responsible for having committed the crime of forced disappearances, freeing both the criminal process and its sanctions from any statutes of limitations, and fixing the common nature of the crimes for the purposes of jurisdiction for prosecution and of extradition and the denial of political asylum.
In response to a suggestion made by some nongovernmental human rights organizations, Article 13 has established a standard that already exists in the legislation of some countries, such as the United States of America, that may help to clarify certain situations. According to the provision, the States Parties may establish extenuating or exculpatory circumstances for those who, having participated in the disappearance of a person, help to bring him back alive or voluntarily provide the competent authority with information that sheds light on a case. Of course, the Commission has proposed that the direct perpetrators of acts of torture or homicide within the framework of the forced disappearances not be allowed to benefit from this provision.
Article 14 enshrines the general principle that the States Parties to the Convention must undertake to adopt such legislature, administrative, and jurisdictional measures as necessary to prevent forced disappearances from being practiced in a State.
The following articles relate to various specific measures aimed at preventing forced disappearance of persons. Thus, on the basis of the experience of countries where forced disappearances occurred and where judiciary maintained a passive attitude that allowed the practice of that iniquitous phenomenon, Article 15 proposes that under no circumstances may there be suspension of the right to petition for habeas corpus or other comparable judicial writs as a means of establishing the whereabouts of the detainee and his state of health and of ascertaining the official order whereby he was arrested. Further it proposes that, in complying with the writ of habeas corpus or similar court orders, judicial officials should have free, immediate access to all detention facilities and each of their establishments as well as to any place in which it may be assumed that an abducted or detained person might be found, including places under military jurisdiction.
Article 16 establishes that the States Parties are obliged to maintain public, centralized records of detainees, to keep such records accurate at all times, and to make them available to family members, judges, lawyers, and other authorities.
Article 17 provides that the States Parties must, in their internal legislations, establish standards that accurately specify the officials authorized to order arrests and the conditions on which they may do so, as well as to punish any officials who deceitfully refuse to provide information about a person’s arrest.
Article 18 makes the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners set forth in resolution 663 (XXIV) of the Economic and Social Council, of July 31, 1957, applicable to the States Parties to the Convention, as an integral part of their domestic legislation. This is in response to the fact that the countries in which forced disappearances have occurred have generally not complied with such minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.
Articles 19 and 20 deal with the situation of minors who are the children of disappeared persons and who have been separated from their parents and are being claimed by members of their legitimate families. These provisions propose specific measures on this important topic, to which the Commission gave full consideration elsewhere in this chapter of the Annual Report.
Article 21 establishes as a preventive measure the obligation of the States Parties to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross regular, periodic access to all international detention facilities in their territory.
Articles 22, 23, and 24 establish the mechanism that will function should a forced disappearance occur. The Commission has decided not to propose a mechanism distinct from the existing one, which has its legal basis in the Convention, and in the Statute and Regulations of the Commission and, possibly for some States, in instruments, which refer to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The proposed provisions are intended rather to perfect and strengthen the present procedures that the Commission has been using in cases of forced disappearance. It is thus proposed that when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights receives a complaint or information within 14 days of occurrence of a forced disappearance it urgently contact the corresponding government to sent it the complaint or information it has received and ask it to provide, as soon as possible, such information as it deems relevant, in particular with regard to the measures that are being taken to establish the whereabouts of the missing person.
Should the government’s reply not be satisfactory, The Commission may request the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to adopt, pursuant to Article 63, paragraph 2, of the American Convention on Human Rights such provisional measures as it deems pertinent, especially those designed to ensure that the government will bring the abducted or detained person before the competent legal authorities. For those purposes, the draft proposes that the States Parties to the Convention that have not yet accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights agree to grant the Court the competence to adopt the corresponding provisional measures in cases of forced disappearances.
Given the extreme gravity of the practice of forced disappearances when they stem from a deliberate, systematic policy adopted by the government of a state and affect a considerable number of people, Article 25 proposes that under such circumstances that practice should be considered an urgent problem of general interest to the American states, which may lead to the convocation of a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
It should be noted that that provision of forced disappearances when they stem from a deliberate, systematic policy adopted by the government of a state and affect a considerable number of people, Article 25 proposes that under such circumstances that practice should be considered an urgent problem of general interest to the American states, which may lead to the convocation of a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
It should be noted that that provision does not refer to individual cases of forced disappearance–which are covered by the three preceding articles–but to a general situation characterized by the following: a) the existence of a policy, that is, a deliberate and systematic decision, which also implies application of a method previously agreed on; b) adoption of that decision by the highest authorities of the State so that the resulting actions may be imputed to the State; and c) the existence of a significant number of victims of the practice, which excludes isolated cases of disappearance, although those cases may meet the other requirements.
To make the application of this article even more rigorous, it is proposed that there be a specific quorum of the Commission members to determine that the practice exists in a State.
In accordance with the OAS Charter, the Permanent Council of the Organization will of course ultimately decide whether a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs is to convene to consider the situation of a state in which the practice of forced disappearances constitutes a deliberate and systematic policy adopted by the government and affecting a significant number of persons.
Articles 26 to 32 cover the final provisions, as is customary in this type of Convention. To facilitate its adoption, the Commission has sought to follow, with a few changes, the model of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.
Reproduced below is the text of the draft Convention being proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:
INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON THE FORCED
The American States party to the present Convention,
Reaffirming their intent to consolidate, in this hemisphere, within the framework of democratic institutions, a system of personal freedom and social justice based on respect for the rights of the human person;
Considering that the forced disappearance of persons constitutes an extremely serious form of repression, one that violates basic human rights enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights;
Bearing in mind that, while the acts which comprise the forced disappearance constitute both a violation of fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in the aforementioned international instruments as well as the commission of crimes set forth in the respective national laws, it is nonetheless important to devise an instrument which characterizes the forced disappearance of persons as a specific crime in and of itself, setting forth norms designed to punish and prevent and regulate its international effects;
Observing that, because of its inherent cruelty and contempt for human dignity, the practice of forced disappearance of persons constitutes a crime against humanity;
Recalling that the General Assembly of the Organization of American States has declared that the forced disappearance of persons constitutes a crime against humanity;
Convinced that an inter-American Convention to prevent and to punish the perpetrators of forced disappearance of persons will contribute to the elimination of this horrendous crime, and that it will constitute a decisive advance in the protection of the rights to life, integrity and personal freedom,
Have agreed to the following:
The States Parties commit themselves to prevent and to punish the perpetrators of forced disappearance of persons, and undertake to act jointly to contribute by all means within their power to eradicating the practice of it.
For the purposes of this Convention, forced disappearance is understood to be the abduction or detention of any person by an agent of a State or by a person acting with the consent or acquiescence of a State in circumstances where, after a reasonable period of time there has been made available no information that would permit the determination as of the fate or whereabouts of the person abducted or detained.
Without prejudice to the fact that the component elements of the crime of forced disappearance may now be punishable under national laws, the States Parties shall adopt new penal standards sanctioning the forced disappearance of persons. The crime resulting therefrom shall be considered continuous or permanent until the fate or whereabouts of the victim has been ascertained.
The forced disappearance of a person is a crime against humanity. Under the terms of this Convention, it engages the personal responsibility of its perpetrators and the responsibility of the State whose authorities executed the disappearance or consented to it.
1. The acts constituting a forced disappearance shall be considered a crime in every State Party to this Convention. Consequently, every State Party shall undertake to establish its jurisdiction over the cause in the following cases:
a. When the forced disappearance has occurred within its jurisdiction;
b. When the alleged perpetrator is a national of that State;
c. When the alleged perpetrator is found in its territory.
2. In the event of a conflict of jurisdiction, the criminal procedure and sentence, as well as possible civil action for compensatory damages against the perpetrators of forced disappearances, shall take place in the order set forth in the preceding paragraph.
The crime referred to in Article 2 shall be deemed to be included among the extraditable crimes in every extradition treaty entered into between States Parties. The States Parties undertake to include the crime of forced disappearance as an extraditable offence in every extradition treaty to be concluded between them.
Every State Party that makes extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty may, if it received a request for extradition from another State Party with which it has no extradition treaty, consider this Convention as the legal basis for extradition in respect of the crime of forced disappearance. Extradition shall be subject to the other conditions that may be required by the law of the requested State.
States Parties which do not make extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty shall recognize such crimes as extraditable offences between themselves, subject to the conditions required by the law of the requested State.
Penal action arising out of the forced disappearance of persons, and penalties imposed by the judicial system against those responsible shall not be subject to a statute of limitations.
The perpetrators of forced disappearances shall not benefit from any legal act adopted by the Executive or Legislative branches of government that might have the effect of exempting such persons from punishment.
In penal action for the acts mentioned in Article 2, the defense based on obedience to superior orders shall not be admitted.
No privileges, special courts, or exclusive jurisdictions for the trial of the crime of forced disappearance shall be permitted. Such acts shall not be considered crimes committed in the course of military duties for the purpose of determining jurisdiction or the applicability of military penal legislation.
The forced disappearance of persons shall be considered common crimes for purposes of extradition.
The States Parties to this Convention undertake not to grant political asylum to the perpetrators of forced disappearances regardless of the motives for their actions.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the foregoing articles, the States Parties if necessary, may establish mitigating or exculpatory circumstances for those who, having taken part in a person’s disappearance, contribute to bringing that person forward alive or give voluntary information to the authorities making it possible to solve the case, unless they themselves committed acts of torture or committed homicide.
The States Parties to the Convention shall adopt any legislative, administrative and jurisdictional measures necessary to prevent the crime of forced disappearance.
Even during a state of emergency or during the suspension of individual guarantees, the States Parties shall not suspend any judicial guarantee including habeas corpus as a means of determining the whereabouts of a detainee, his or her state of health or the warrant form the authority leading to the arrest. In such a proceeding, the appropriate officials shall have free and immediate access to all detention centers and to each part thereof, as well as to any place in which an abducted or detained person may be presumed to be, including places subject to military jurisdiction.
The States Parties shall establish and maintain public and centralized registries of all persons detained in all parts of their national territory, to be updated on a daily basis, and shall make them available to family members, magistrates, attorneys, and other authorities.
The States Parties shall establish standards in their domestic laws indicating those officials authorized to order arrests or detentions, the conditions under which they may be ordered, as well as sanctions for those officials who willfully refuse to provide information on a person’s arrest or detention.
By means of ratification or accession to this Convention, the States Parties adopt the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Resolution 663 C [XXIV] of the Economic and Social Council, of July 31, 1957) as an integral part of their domestic law.
The States Parties shall combine their efforts to prevent and sanction the appropriation of children of disappeared parents or children born during their mother’s clandestine captivity and their release to other families for irregular adoption. To that end, they shall punish, in their domestic law, crimes involving the alteration of, or the suppression of proof, of the civil status of any person and the abduction of minors.
The States Parties shall cooperate in the search for, identification and ascertainment of the parental relationship of children who have been removed from the territory where they or their parents disappeared and to cooperate in returning them to their legitimate families.
The States Parties to this Convention shall allow the International Committee of the Red Cross regular and periodic access to all centers of confinement and detention.
For the purposes of this Convention, the processing of complaints regarding forced disappearances is subject to the procedures established in the American Convention on Human Rights and the Statutes and Regulations of the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Without prejudice to the provisions of the preceding article, when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights receives a complaint or information regarding a forced disappearance, within fourteen days of the act its Executive Secretariat shall urgently transmit the complaint or information received to the respective government and shall request that government to provide any relevant information as soon as possible, especially with regard to measures being taken to determine the whereabouts of the disappeared person.
1. If the government’s response to a request in the terms of Article 21, fails to indicate the whereabouts of the alleged victim, the Commission or if the IACHR is not in session, the President of the Commission or in the event of his unavailability, one of the Vice Presidents, through the Executive Secretary, shall instruct the Executive Secretary to request that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights adopt such provisional measures as it deems pertinent pursuant tot he provisions of Article 63.2 of the American Convention on Human Rights, especially measures designed to lead the government to present the abducted person or detainee before the competent judicial authorities and to guarantee the protection of the family of the victim as well as the original complainants.
2. For purposes of this article, the States Parties to this Convention, which have not yet recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, agree to grant the Court competence, in cases of forced disappearance, in order to enable it to adopt the provisional measures referred to in the foregoing paragraph.
1. The practice of forced disappearances in a member state of the OAS, as a deliberate and systematic policy adopted by the government of that State which affects a significant number of people, shall be considered to be an urgent problem and one that is of common interest to the American states.
2. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights may decide, with the affirmative vote of five of its members, that forced disappearances are practiced in a State as the manifestation of a deliberate and systematic policy of the government of that State.
3. In the event that the Commission adopts the decision set forth in the foregoing paragraph, it shall so inform the Permanent Council of the Organization so that any member state may request, in accordance with the provisions of Article 60 of the Charter of the OAS, convocation of a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, to take cognizance of the situation in respect of that State, and adopt any pertinent measures.
This Convention is open to signature by the member states of the Organization of American States.
This Convention is subject to ratification. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
This Convention is open to accession by any other State. The instruments of accession shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
The States Parties may, at the time of approval, signature, ratification, or accession, make reservations to this Convention, provided that such reservations are not incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention and concern one or more specific provisions.
This Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the date on which the second instrument of ratification is deposited. For each State ratifying or acceding to the Convention after the second instrument of ratification has been deposited, the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the date on which that State deposits its instrument of ratification or accession.
This Convention shall remain in force indefinitely, but may be denounced by any State Party. The instrument of denunciation shall be deposited with the Secretariat of the Organization of American States. After one year from the date of deposit of the instrument of denunciation, this Convention shall cease to be in effect for the denouncing State but shall remain in force for the remaining States Parties.
The original instrument of this Convention, the English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the Secretariat of the Organization of American States, which shall send a certified copy to the Secretariat of the United Nations for registration and publication, in accordance with the provisions of Article 102 of the United Nations Charter. The Secretariat of the Organization of American States shall notify the member states of the Organization and the states that have acceded to the Convention, of signatures and of deposits of instruments of ratification, accession, and denunciation, as well as of reservations, if any.
The cases of extrajudicial execution of minors (almost always
teenagers) are more numerous. A related issue is the forced recruitment of teenagers in the
context of non-international wars, either by the armed forces or by the
irregular armed groups, and their eventual death in combat, or else the
participation of these minors in atrocities.
These and other abuses of the rights of children, not only in Latin
America but in the whole world, are mentioned in a publication by Amnesty
International, Focus on Children, London, 1987.
Several organizations are presently working to strengthen the
international protection of the rights of the child in different situations,
including their detention by judicial order and their forced disappearance.
In this report, the Commission refers only to those cases in which
children are the victims of a permanent or temporary disappearance.
“Personally, I did not eliminate any child; what I did was to
deliver some of them to public welfare organizations so that new parents
could be found for them. Subversive
parents educate their children for subversion.
That has to be prevented.” (General
Ramón J. A. Camps, interview with Pueblo newspaper of Madrid,
Nunca Más, Report of the National Commission on Disappearance
of Persons, Eudeba, Buenos Aires, 1984, p. 325.
The facts in this case were judicially established by the Federal
Court of Appeals (Criminal Panel) of Buenos Aires, in the decision
sentencing General Jorge Rafael Videla and other members of the Juntas of
Commanders for their responsibility in the crimes of the “Process.”
That sentence was later confirmed by the Argentine Supreme Court.
CONADEP, op. cit., pp 322-33.
CONADEP, op. cit., p.330; El Diario del Juicio, May 9, 1985,
p. 62. The
CONADEP report includes several similar cases that took place in other parts
of Argentina. The disappearance
of adolescents is a frequent occurrence in other countries where
disappearances were a general pattern, like in El Salvador, Guatemala and
Statements to pueblo newspaper, Madrid, February 1984.
The General did no answer Mrs. Mariani’s request for an
Several other cases can be found in an Amnesty International
Publication (Argentina. Missing Children – Latest Developments, November 1987,
AMR 13/07/87), in the “Dossier” of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, which
includes descriptions and photographs of all the cases documented until now,
and in several periodical or occasional publications of that association.
In the particular case of Argentina, those offenses are contemplated
in articles 139, 141, 142, 144 bis, 146, 147, and 149 of the Penal Code.
Buenos Aires, 1984. See particularly pages 299 et seq. There
are also translations into English, published under the Spanish name Nunca
Más, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, New York, 1987, and Farber and Farber,