REPORT N° 7/92
February 4, 1992
The complainant received by the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, dated July 25, 1988, to the effect that:
Through a note dated July 26, 1988, the Commission began its
process of the case and asked the Government of El Salvador to furnish
the pertinent information on the facts reported in that communication
and any other information that would make it possible to establish
whether the remedies under domestic law had been exhausted in the case
addressed in the petition; the Government was given 90 days in which to
respond to that request.
On July 26, 1988, the petitioner sent additional information, as
On Tuesday, July 12, 1988, Eliseo Cordova Aguilar was apprehended by three heavily armed men in civilian dress and wearing hoods. Cordova Aguilar is Vice President of the Cooperative of the Union of Employees of the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (STISSS), a former member of the Board of Directors of that Union, and presently a member of FEASIES (Federation of Independent Associations and Unions of El Salvador). Were also taken his nephew and another person. This all occurred at the parking area in Llano Verde, Ilopango, San Salvador.
his nephew and the other individual were also seized, it was Eliseo
Cordova Aguilar who was apparently taken to the Central Headquarters of
the Treasury Police. Even
though there was reliable and concrete evidence that Cordova Aguilar was
taken by the National Guard, that security force says it has no
knowledge of his arrest or of his present whereabouts.
Two weeks after his arrest, Mr. Cordova Aguilar is still missing.
is reliable information that someone at the Treasury Police saw and
spoke with Mr. Cordova Aguilar at Treasury Police Headquarters on July
13. According to the
witness, Cordova Aguilar appeared to have been beaten.
relatives of the disappeared have visited the Treasury Police; two
attorneys and a representative have spoken with the deputy director of
that security force and a number of official messages have been sent to
the respective Salvadoran authorities.
A petition of habeas corpus has been filed by a
humanitarian organization, but without result.
At the Headquarters of the Treasury Police, there was a report
that said that the Treasury Police had conducted an investigation into
the matter, but did not find Mr. Cordova Aguilar.
On August 31, 1988, the Government of El Salvador informed the
That in communications dated November 17, 1988, January 26, 1989,
April 21, 1989, February 12, 1990, and
March 22, 1990, the Commission repeatedly asked the Government of
El Salvador to forward its observations.
Finally, on May 7, 1990, the following reply was received from
the government authorities:
Cordova Aguilar. Apprehended
on July 12, 1988, at around 8:00 a.m., by a group of heavily armed men
in civilian clothes. His
whereabouts is unknown. The
(government) Human Rights Commission is conducting inquiries to
ascertain his whereabouts, under reference number
is described as 37 years of age, married, Director of the Salvadoran
Social Security Institute. The incident took place in Llano Verde N°
2, in the jurisdiction of Ilopango.
At its 79th session, the Commission adopted Report N°
16/91, which was dispatched to the Government of El Salvador so that it
might formulate whatever observations it deemed appropriate, within
three months of the date of dispatch. The report indicated that if the
case was not settled by the Government, or submitted by it to the Court,
the Commission would decide whether to publish the report.
That the Commission is competent to hear the present case
inasmuch as it concerns violations of rights recognized in the American
Convention on Human Rights--Article 4 on the right to life,
Article 7 on the right of personal liberty, and Article 25 on the right
to judicial protection--as provided in Article 44 of that
Convention, of which El Salvador is a State Party.
That the petition meets the formal requirements for admissibility
set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights and in the
Regulations of the Commission.
That the petition is not pending settlement in any other
international arrangement and is not a restatement of an earlier
petition already examined by the Commission.
That in the instant case it is obvious that the petitioner has
been unable to secure effective protection from the organs having
jurisdiction, so that the requirements concerning exhaustion of the
remedies under domestic law, spelled out in Article 46 of the
Convention, do not apply.
That despite the time that has passed and the repeated overtures
made by the Commission, the Government of El Salvador has not responded
to the facts denounced in the instant case.
That in its replies on August 31, 1988 and May 7, 1990, the
Government of El Salvador has furnished no information to disprove the
charges made by the petitioner in his note of July 26, 1988, wherein he
blames the Treasury Police for what transpired.
That the procedure used in the abduction and forced disappearance
of Mr. Cordova Aguilar, the fact that the judicial system is unable to
protect and safeguard his rights, the Salvadoran Armed Forces' own
agencies are incapable of remedying situations such as the one denounced
and the frequency with which forced disappearances occur in El Salvador,
as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly
established, lead to the conclusion that the Government of that country,
through its security forces, is engaging in the practice of forced
disappearances, since facts such as those denounced here cannot be
isolated incidents caused by the excesses of one individual; instead
they are the modus operandi of the institutions in question.
That the Commission has repeatedly asserted its categorical
rejection of the grave phenomenon of the forced disappearance of
persons, stating in various documents that:
this procedure is cruel and inhuman and disappearance not only
constitutes an arbitrary privation of freedom but also a very grave
threat to the victim's personal integrity, safety and even life itself.
That for its part, the General Assembly of the Organization of
American States underscored the need for the countries where forced
disappearances have occurred to put an immediate end to this practice,
and has urged the governments to make the necessary efforts to ascertain
the situation of these people. The
General Assembly has also declared that the forced disappearance of
persons in America is a crime against humanity.
That the Inter-American Court of Human rights, in a
judgment of July 29, 1988, in the Velasquez Rodriguez case, stated the
practice of disappearances, in addition to directly violating many
provisions of the Convention (...) constitutes a radical breach of the
treaty in that it shows a crass abandonment of the values which emanate
from the concept of human dignity and of the most basic principles of
the inter-American system and the Convention.
That, since the friendly settlement procedure provided for in
Article 48.1.f. of the American Convention does not apply because of the
very nature of the acts denounced, the Commission must comply with the
provisions of Article 50.1 of the Convention by issuing its conclusions
and recommendations on the complaint filed with it for consideration.
That the Government of El Salvador has not submitted observations
on Report N°
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare that the Government of El Salvador is responsible for
the violation of the right to life, the right to personal liberty and
the right to judicial protection (Articles 4, 7, and 25 of the
Convention) of Mr. Eliseo Cordova Aguilar, according to the
communication received at the Commission on July 25, 1988, who was
detained on July 12, 1988 at 20:00, in the town of Ilopango, San
Salvador Department, and remains disappeared since that date.
To declare that the Government of El Salvador has failed to honor
its obligations under Article 1 of the American Convention on Human
Rights, to respect human rights and fundamental guarantees.
To make the following recommendations to the Government of El
Salvador, pursuant to Article 50.3 of the Convention, and Article 47 of
the Regulations of the Commission:
a. That it conduct a swift, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the events denounced in order to identify those responsible and bring them to justice, so that they may receive the punishment that such grave conduct demands.
That it adopt the measures necessary to prevent the commission of
similar crimes in the future.
That it make reparations for the consequences of the situation
that its violation of those human rights has created and pay the injured
parties fair compensation.
Request the Government of El Salvador to inform the Commission
regarding the measures it is adopting in the present case, in accordance
with the recommendations formulated in paragraph 3 of the operative part
of this report.
Publish this report by including it in the Annual Report to be
presented to the General Assembly, in accordance with Article 48 of the
Regulations of the Commission; since the Government of El Salvador did
not inform the Commission of the measures it has taken to remedy the
situation, within the period prescribed in Report N°
Annual Report 1978, 1980-81, 1982-83, 1985-86,
Res. 443 (IX-0/79), 510 (X-0/80), 543 (XI-0/81),
618 (XII-0/82), 666 (XIII-0/83) and 742
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Velasquez Rodriguez
Case, Judgment of July 29, 1988, Series C, No. 4, paragraph 158.