REPORT No. 16/19
CASE 12.991
MERITS
MASSACRE OF LOS JOSEFINOS VILLAGE
GUATEMALA
FEBRUARY 12, 2019

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
On October 27, 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the “InterAmerican Commission,” “Commission,” or "IACHR") received a petition lodged by the Association of Family
Members of the Detained-Disappeared of Guatemala (FAMDEGUA) and the Center for Justice and International
Law (CEJIL) (both hereinafter "the petitioners") claiming that the Republic of Guatemala (hereinafter "the
Guatemalan State,” "the State," or "Guatemala") bore international responsibility for violations of the rights of
the inhabitants of the village of Los Josefinos that were victims of a massacre within the context of the armed
conflict, the survivors of that massacre, and their relatives. The international responsibility of the State was
alleged as a consequence of the massacre itself, forced displacement, the impunity that surrounds the deeds,
and other violations of the victims' rights.
2.
In response to the petitioners' allegations, on June 14, 2005, Guatemala recognized its “international
responsibility in relation to the events that occurred and the absence of due process in terms of the lack of
investigation,” [Tr: free translation] and it expressed its will to begin talks with the petitioners with a view to
reaching a friendly settlement. 1 The Commission adopted Report on Admissibility No. 17/15 on March 24,
2015. 2 On May 6, 2015, the commission notified the parties of that report and gave them the regulatory
deadlines to present additional observations as to the merits. The petitioners submitted their observations on
December 16, 2015. 3 The State did not submit any observations during the merits stage. All information
received was duly relayed between the parties.
II.

SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES

A.

The petitioners

3.
Regarding the facts, the petitioners allege that the massacre at the village of Los Josefinos was not an
isolated event, but part of the context of the non-international armed conflict that took place from 1962 to 1996
in Guatemala. In the course of the conflict, the State adopted the "National Security Doctrine," which increased
military intervention against the subversion of the “enemy within", which included the civilian population
situated in areas with a guerrilla presence, such as Petén, where Los Josefinos was located. Due to the fact that
the Army believed that the peasant and indigenous populations supported the guerrillas, "scorched-earth”
operations were conducted to sack and destroy entire villages and slaughter their inhabitants with the aim of
eliminating the community and wiping out their basic means of subsistence. In order to "control" the enemy
within, the armed forces also implemented a counterinsurgency strategy that included Civil Self-Defense
Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil – PAC), which were a compulsory complementary paramilitary force. In
March 1982, the State also began implementing the "National Plan for Security and Development,” which
facilitated the execution of large-scale military operations, including killings and mass displacements of the
civilian population. A string of massacres in Petén followed.
Note from the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH), Appended to the brief of the State of Guatemala of June 14, 2005,
Ref. P-707-05 FLR/EM/ygar, received on June 21, 2005 (hereinafter “Acknowledgment of Responsibility by Guatemala”), p. 1. On December
18, 2007, the petitioners signed a friendly settlement agreement with the State, in which the latter pledged to adopt a series of measures
to provide economic reparation, symbolic reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition. There was an addendum to the agreement, which
the parties signed on April 14, 2008. Owing to the failure of the Guatemalan State to implement the agreement in full, on October 24, 2012,
the petitioners requested the Commission to terminate the friendly settlement process and continue processing the case.
2 IACHR, Report No. 17/15, Petition 1139-04 (Case 12.991), Admissibility, Massacre of Los Josefinos Village, Guatemala, March 24, 2015
(hereinafter “IACHR, Los Josefinos Admissibility Report”).
3
Petitioners’ Additional Observations on Merits. Massacre of Los Josefinos Village. Case 12.991. Guatemala. December 16, 2015 (hereinafter
“Merits Observations Petitioners. December 16, 2015”).
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