October 7, 1993
The political scenario and widespread violence in Peru in mid
1990, at the time the detention and disappearance of Mrs. Guadalupe
Ccalloccunto occurred, is a matter of record: since the Communist
Group known as Sendero Luminoso [Shining Path] first unleashed
its brand of political violence in 1980, it has used methods that
routinely violate the most elementary standards of international
humanitarian law, hurting innocent victims.
Peru's police and military forces have responded with methods
of their own, often involving human rights violations.
Salient here is the practice of detention and enforced
disappearance of persons, particularly those suspected of being
members of the Shining Path or sympathizers.
The practice of the enforced disappearance of persons has been
and continues to be very common in areas where a state of emergency
suspending certain constitutional guarantees is in effect and the
so-called political-military commands are established.
The province of Huamanga in the Department of Ayacucho is one
of the areas where the practice of enforced disappearance is most
serious, as it is an area in which the Shining Path has made some real
In the last three years, individuals who engage in activities
to defend human rights in Peru have also become the victims of
indiscriminate military and police repression.
Mrs. Guadalupe Ccalloccunto Olano was a member of the Peace and
Justice Service [Servicio de Paz y Justicia - SERPAJ], an
internationally known human rights organization, and was in charge of
a crafts workshop benefitting the victims of the violence in the city
of Ayacucho. She was in a
very delicate state of health as she was recovering from tuberculosis.
On June 13, 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
received a petition concerning the detention and disappearance of Mrs.
Guadalupe Ccalloccunto Olano.
The petition, based on the testimony of persons who witnessed the
victim's abduction on June 10, 1990, states that at around 2:30 a.m., a
group of men wearing hoods and armed with machine guns and pistols,
dragged Mrs. Ccalloccunto from inside the home of her mother, Mrs.
Silvia Olano Ccalloccunto, at Jr. Grau No. 620, in the city of Ayacucho,
where Guadalupe was spending the night with her four children and her
niece Paula García Ccalloccunto.
The petition also states that the abductors "were around 15
in number, were wearing rain ponchos, ski masks and black turtleneck
sweaters; they had on boots like those worn by the military."
The petition also states that without giving the victim time to
put on her clothes or shoes, several men grabbed her by the hair and
dragged her from the house, using the blanket with which she was
That same day, June 10, the victim's next-of-kin went to the
Peruvian Army garrison known as "Los Cabitos" in the city of
Ayacucho, to inquire about the whereabouts of Mrs. Guadalupe
Ccalloccunto. The inquiry
turned up nothing, however, as the military personnel at the garrison
denied that Mrs. Ccalloccunto was there.
On June 15, 1990, the Commission asked the Peruvian Government to
provide the corresponding information, in accordance with Article 48 of
the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Commission also asked that the petitioners forward any
additional information they might have regarding the facts denounced.
Additional information supplied by the petitioners
On June 8, 1992, the petitioners sent the Commission additional,
documentary information on the case.
The information consists of the seven-page body of a document
with 22 appendices containing, inter alia, the following:
a copy of the petition of habeas
corpus filed on behalf of Mrs. Ccalloccunto, with the Chief of the
Political-Military Command of Huamanga, dated June 11, 1990;
a copy of the petition filed with the Superior Prosecutor of
Ayacucho, on June 11, 1990; copies of the two petitions filed with the
Attorney General of the Nation on June 12 and 20, 1990, respectively,
copies of the investigation requests filed with the
Political-Military Command of Ayacucho, the Minister of Defense and the
Commander of the Peruvian Army, all on June 12, 1990.
The petitioners also informed the Commission of the measures
taken to establish the whereabouts of Mrs. Ccalloccunto, all to no avail
since the authorities denied that Mrs. Ccalloccunto had been detained
and gave the victim's next-of-kin no further explanations.
Lack of response from the Government
Though more than two years have passed since the Commission
forwarded the petition to the Government of Peru, the latter has not
given any response on the case.
On June 19, 1992, the Commission sent to the Peruvian Government
the additional information that the petitioners had supplied and asked
that it present its comments thereon within sixty days.
The Peruvian Government has made no comment on the additional
information that the Commission sent to it and has instead confined
itself to repeating that the Ayacucho Political-Military Command had no
part in the detention-enforced disappearance of Mrs. Ccalloccunto.
within the established time period
The petition was presented within the six-month time period
stipulated in Article 46.b of the American Convention on Human Rights
and in Article 38.1 of the Commission's Regulations.
as to form
The petition satisfies the formal requirements for admissibility
as stipulated in the American Convention on Human Rights and the
Regulations of the Commission.
of domestic remedies
The documents presented by the petitioners show that the domestic
remedies have been duly filed and exhausted, as follows:
- Appendix 2
submitted by the petitioners shows that on June 11, 1990, a petition of habeas
corpus was filed on behalf of Mrs. Guadalupe Ccalloccunto and that
her detention-disappearance was reported to the Superior Prosecutor of
Ayacucho and to the Huamanga Provincial Prosecutor;
- On June 12 of that
year, the detention-disappearance of Mrs. Ccalloccunto was reported to
the Attorney General of the Nation, to the Political-Military Command of
Ayacucho, to the General Commander of the Army and to the Minister of
- On June 20, 1990,
María Jesús Ccalloccunto Olano, the sister of the disappeared,
reported Guadalupe's disappearance to the Attorney General of the
All these legal steps were ineffective in protecting Mrs.
Ccallocunto's rights, who remains disappeared.
The friendly settlement procedure provided for in paragraph 1.f
of Article 48 of the Convention and Article 45 of the Regulations of the
Commission does not apply in the instant case because the Peruvian
authorities have told Mrs. Ccalloccunto's next-of-kin that she "has
never been arrested, certainly not by military personnel from "Frente
Nº 4." It would not
be illogical to infer from this response that some military or police
unit or office other than Frente Nº 4 could have abducted the victim,
since the response merely denies that Mrs. Ccalloccunto was detained by
military personnel from that "Frente".
Moreover, the nature of the facts denounced is such that in the
Commission's judgment they do not lend themselves to the friendly
of other procedures and the
requirement of res judicata
The present case is not pending settlement in another procedure
under an international governmental organization and is not a
duplication of a petition pending or already examined and settled by the
Commission or by another international governmental organization.
Merits of the case
The Commission is competent to hear the present case as it
concerns violations of rights recognized in the American Convention on
Since the date of her abduction and despite the numerous
overtures that the victim's next-of-kin made to the Peruvian Government
with the support of human rights organizations, it has been impossible
to secure any information concerning Mrs. Ccalloccunto's disappearance.
The petition of habeas corpus filed on behalf of Mrs.
Ccalloccunto on June 11, 1990, was declared unfounded, though no
explanation was given as to the reasons for the decision; the
petitioners were not notified of the decision until several months after
it was filed. The
unwarranted delay rendered the petition of habeas corpus totally
ineffective and senseless.
As the documentary record presented by the petitioners shows,
legislators of a member state of the Organization also made overtures to
the Peruvian Government concerning Mrs. Ccalloccunto's
a note sent to the President of Peru, one of them expressed "grave
concern" for Mrs. Ccalloccunto's safety and well-being.
Even though more than two and a half years have passed since the
date on which this case was first filed with the Commission, and despite
the latter's repeated overtures, the Government of Peru has not given it
any response concerning the facts alleged by the petitioners.
The obligation to investigate the situations reported
The Commission believes that the remedies exhausted and the other
measures taken under domestic law to have Mrs. Ccalloccunto's
disappearance investigated and to have those responsible identified and
punished have been utterly ineffective because of the deliberate
indifference and inaction on the part of the competent organs of the
Through Report Nº 13/93, of March 12, 1993, the Commission
resolved, inter alia, "to recommend to the Government of
Peru that it conduct a thorough investigation into the events denounced
to determine the whereabouts of the victim, identify those responsible
and bring them to justice."
Through Note Nº 7-5-M/300, dated September 17, 1993, the
Delegation of Peru to the Organization of American States informed the
Executive Secretariat of the IACHR that:
Pursuant to the recommendations made in Report No. 13/93, which
was brought to the attention of the Ministers of Defense, Justice and
the Interior and the Attorney General of the Nation, the Defense and
Interior sectors have conducted a thorough investigation into the facts
reported and have again established that "under no
circumstances" was Mrs. Ccalloccunto "stopped and/or detained
by either the police or the Army, though one should not discount the
possibility that the authors of the crime are members of the PCP-SL or
others of that ilk."
As for the obligation to investigate the facts denounced, in its
judgement of July 29, 1988, on the Velásquez Rodríguez case the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights stated the following:
The State has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent
human rights violations and to use the means at its disposal to carry
out a serious investigation of the violations committed within its
jurisdiction, to identify those responsible, to impose the appropriate
punishment and to ensure the victim adequate compensation. (paragraph
Later in that same judgment the Court has the following to say
about the duty to investigate:
It must be undertaken in a serious manner and not as a mere
formality preordained to be ineffective.
An investigation must have an objective and be assumed by the
State as its own legal duty, not as a step taken by private interests
that depends upon the initiative of the victim or his family or upon
their offer of proof, without an effective search for the truth by the
government. (paragraph 177)
The practice of enforced disappearance
The Commission has stated repeatedly that enforced disappearance
is a cruel and inhuman practice and that:
... it not only constitutes arbitrary deprivation of freedom, but
also a very serious threat to the personal integrity, safety and very
life of the victim.
For its part, in a number of resolutions the General Assembly of
the Organization of American States has stated that countries where
enforced disappearance has occurred should put an immediate end to that
practice and has asked the governments to take the necessary steps to
ascertain the situation of disappeared persons.
The Assembly has also declared that the enforced disappearance of
persons is an affront to the conscience of the hemisphere and a crime
In the judgment on the Velásquez Rodríguez case, the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that:
The practice of disappearances, in addition to directly violating
many provisions of the Convention, such as those noted above,
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. (paragraph 158)
At the United Nations on December 18, 1992, the General Assembly
adopted the resolution entitled "Declaration on the protection of all persons
from enforced disappearance" wherein it states that "enforced
disappearances undermine the deepest values of any society committed to
respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and
that the systematic practice of such acts is of the nature of a crime
Article 1 of that Declaration reads as follows:
Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity.
It is condemned as a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the
United Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of the human rights
and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and reaffirmed and developed in international instruments
in this field.
Such act of enforced disappearance places the persons subjected
thereto outside the protection of the law and inflicts severe suffering
on them and their families. It
constitutes a violation of the rules of international law guaranteeing, inter
alia, the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right
to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected
to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment. It also
violates or constitutes a grave threat to the right to life.
As for the suffering of the family of the victim to which the
second paragraph of the above article refers, it is important to
underscore the fact that a person's enforced disappearance often causes
serious economic hardship and want, as well as social alienation.
In the present case, for example, the victim was the sole source
of support for her four children, since their father had disappeared in
1983, under circumstances similar to those surrounding Mrs.
Given the foregoing, the Commission draws the following
It is competent to take cognizance of the present case as it
concerns violations of the right to personal liberty upheld in Article 7
of the Convention; the right to humane treatment (Article 5 of the
Convention); the right to life (Article 4 of the Convention); Mrs.
Ccalloccunto's right to the fundamental judicial guarantees, such as the
right to a hearing, with due guarantees and within a reasonable time, by
a competent, independent, and impartial judge, and her right to be
presumed innocent so long as her guilt has not been proven according to
law (Article 8), and the right to judicial protection (Article 25), all
implicit in the obligation undertaken under Article 1.1 of the
The Government of Peru has had numerous opportunities to
investigate the facts denounced, determine the whereabouts of Mrs.
Ccalloccunto and punish those responsible; nevertheless, it has not done
The numerous cases on record of disappearances in Peru seem to
indicate that in an alarming number of cases they are the result of an
action taken by persons who avail themselves of the machinery of the
State to commit such crimes.
The information furnished by the Peruvian Government in Note Nº
7-5-M/300, dated September 17, 1993, does not fulfill the international
obligation that the Peruvian State has in the instant case, as it does
not add any new elements that refute the facts denounced or that
demonstrate that appropriate measures have been taken to correct it.
The Commission does not have any new information that would
warrant amending its original report.
Given the foregoing and the fact that the friendly settlement
procedure provided for in Article 48.f of the Convention and Article 45
of the Commission's Regulations does not apply.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare that in the case of Mrs. Guadalupe Ccalloccunto, the
Government of Peru has failed to honor its obligation to respect human
rights and guarantees, stipulated in Article 1 of the American
Convention on Human Rights, to which Peru is a State party.
To declare that the Government of Peru is responsible for the
violation of the rights to personal liberty, to life, to humane
treatment, to a fair trial and to judicial protection, recognized in
articles 7, 4, 5, 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights,
respectively, by reason of the fact that Mrs. Guadalupe Ccalloccunto was
unlawfully deprived of her freedom in the city of Ayacucho on June 10,
1990, which resulted in the victim's disappearance.
To recommend to the Government of Peru that it conduct a new
investigation into the facts denounced in order to determine the
victim's whereabouts and identify and punish those responsible for Mrs.
To recommend to the Government of Peru that it pay fair
compensation to the victim's next-of-kin.
To publish this report pursuant to Article 48 of the Commission's
Regulations and Article 53.1 of the Convention, because the Government
of Peru did not adopt measures to correct the situation denounced within
the time period.