Press Release

IACHR Publishes Report No. 86/20 on Case 12,732—Richard Conrad Solórzano Contreras, Guatemala

June 16, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) plans to approve the friendly settlement agreement in Case 12,732—Richard Conrad Solórzano Contreras, Guatemala, signed on December 17, 2011 by victims’ families and the Guatemalan State.
On July 14, 2003, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a petition filed by Mr. Mario Conrado Solórzano Puac, alleging the international responsibility of the Republic of Guatemala for violations of the human rights held in Articles 8 (fair trial) and 25 (judicial protection)—concerning Article 1 (obligation to respect rights) of the American Convention on Human Rights—against himself and his son, Richard Conrad Solórzano Contreras, who was 16 at the time and died on March 10, 2003, for lack of medical assistance at a public hospital. The petition further alleged a subsequent failure to investigate these events on the part of agents of the State.

On October 29, 2009, the IACHR issued Admissibility Report 103/09, declaring this petition admissible and noting that the Commission was competent to assess the allegations made by petitioners concerning violations of rights held in Articles 8 (fair trial) and 25 (judicial protection) of the American Convention.

On December 17, 2011, the parties held a working meeting—facilitated by the Commission—where they signed a friendly settlement agreement. On February 4, 2020, the petitioning party consented to the formal approval of this friendly settlement agreement.

In this friendly settlement agreement, the State committed to taking the following measures:

1. Holding a public event to acknowledge its international responsibility and to issue an apology in the victim’s native town, the Coatepeque municipality in the Quetzaltenango department;
2. Making a 7-minute documentary with a summary of that event to be subsequently broadcast once on local cable TV channels;
3. Publishing a summary of the events that led to this case in the newspapers Diario de Centro América and El Quetzalteco;
4. Launching a Motivation Committee that brings together the judicial institutions engaged in investigating the death of young student Richard Conrad Solórzano Contreras, with a view to supporting proceedings and monitoring administrative measures taken against public servants and officials named in the allegations of the petitioning party;
5. Asking municipal authorities in Coatepeque to rename the town’s Municipal Theater and call it Richard Conrad Solórzano Contreras or—if that is not possible—to name after the victim either 6th Street in Zone 1 (opposite the Central Park in Coatepeque) or some other site;
6. Asking the relevant authorities to grant the Richard Conrad Solórzano Contreras Foundation a usufruct on a State-owned building, so its headquarters may operate there;
7. Providing reparations to the victim’s family for the material and immaterial damage caused to them.

In the context of this friendly settlement procedure, the IACHR confirmed that the State of Guatemala had held the event to publicly acknowledge its responsibility and to issue an apology on December 17, 2011, at the Municipal Theater in the victim’s native town, Coatepeque. This event was chaired by the head of the Guatemalan Presidency’s Committee to Coordinate the Government’s Human Rights Policy (COPREDEH, by its Spanish acronym) and was attended by the head of the country’s National Civilian Police. Further, the Commission confirmed that a summary of that event had been broadcast on local cable TV channels and that the required statement had been published in El Quetzalteco.

Concerning the measure to restore dignity, through which the State committed to ensuring that a street was named after the victim, the Commission declared full compliance—at a public event held on June 26, 2014, a plaque was laid to rename the former 10th Avenue in Zone 2 of the El Jardín neighborhood as Student Richard Solórzano. Concerning financial reparations, the IACHR declared full compliance, since the petitioning party confirmed that it had received payment in full.

In its assessment, the IACHR noted that there had been full compliance with three measures held in the friendly settlement agreement, concerning the event to acknowledge responsibility and its subsequent broadcast, the move to rename a street after the victim, and financial reparations. The Commission also declared partial compliance with one measure, concerning usufruct over a building, and noted that compliance with the commitment to ensuring justice is done remained pending. The IACHR will therefore continue to oversee efforts to attain full compliance with the two measures that are still being implemented.

The Commission commends the parties for making the most of IACHR facilitation in their efforts. The IACHR highlights action taken to implement the agreement and urges the Guatemalan State to keep working to implement pending measures, until it attains full compliance with all its commitments and provides comprehensive reparations for the victims.

Friendly settlement report no. 86/20, concerning Case 12,732, is available here.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 138/20