Press Release

IACHR Announces the publication of Friendly Settlement Reports Nos. 214/20 and 215/20 on the Cases of Silvia Maria Azurdia Utrera and Carlos Humberto Cabrera Rivera, concerning Guatemala

September 23, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve the friendly settlement of Cases 10.441 A, Silvia Maria Azurdia Utrera and others, and 10.441 B, Carlos Humberto Cabrera Rivera, concerning Guatemala, which were signed on February 18, 2005, and May 2, 2005, respectively between the representatives of the victims and the state of Guatemala.

On October 6, 1989, the IACHR received the petitions in question from the Human Rights Commission of Guatemala, which alleged that the state of Guatemala was internationally responsible for events relating to the forced disappearance, torture, and subsequent extrajudicial execution of 10 students from San Carlos University in Guatemala. These violations were allegedly executed by state agents or individuals whose actions were protected or tolerated by the state during a military operation known as “Black August.” The petitioners alleged that on the morning of August 23 and September 10, 1989, the students were kidnapped by between 8 and 10 heavily armed men who beat them and led them in a semiconscious state to two vehicles. According to the petitioners, on September 9, 1989, Carlos Humberto was found dead 200 meters from the campus of San Carlos University (USAC), along with three other bodies, including two of the other students who had disappeared during “Black August,” Víctor Hugo Rodríguez Jaramillo and Silvia Azurdia Utrera. All three bodies showed signs of torture.

The two friendly settlement agreements included a declaratory clause acknowledging that the state was responsible for these events and acknowledged them, two clauses on measures of satisfaction consisting of a public ceremony to acknowledge responsibility and measures to honour the victims’ memory, as well as a clause concerning the investigation, prosecution, and sanctioning of those responsible. In its friendly settlement reports, the IACHR deemed that full compliance had been achieved with the clauses regarding the state accepting responsibility and acknowledging the events, the clauses that included measures of satisfaction, and the clauses on financial compensation. It found that partial compliance had been achieved with the clauses regarding investigating, prosecuting, and sanctioning events, and thus decided to continue monitoring these until they have been fully implemented.

The IACHR commended both parties for their willingness to move toward settling this issue through nonadversarial means. It will continue to monitor implementation of the remaining measures until they have been fully complied with. The IACHR also congratulated the state of Guatemala for its efforts to develop public policy on friendly settlements and alternative forms of dispute resolution.

Friendly Settlement Report No. 214/20 on Case 10.441 A, Silvia María Azurdia Utrera and others, is available here and Friendly Settlement Report No. 215/20 on Case 10.441 B, Carlos Humberto Cabrera Rivera, 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. 227/20