REPORT No. 33/17
CASE 11.639
REPORT ON ADMISSIBILITY AND MERITS
ALEJANDRO YOVANY GÓMEZ VIRULA AND FAMILY
GUATEMALA
MARCH 21, 2017

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On July 17, 1995, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter "the
Commission," "the Inter-American Commission," or "the IACHR") received a petition lodged by Antonio
Gómez, Paula Virula, the Guatemala Labor Education Project and the Guatemalan Workers Union [Unión
Sindical de Trabajadores de Guatemala]1 (hereinafter “the petitioners”), alleging that the Republic of
Guatemala (hereinafter "the State," "the Guatemalan State," or "Guatemala") bore international responsibility
for the disappearance and subsequent death of Alejandro Yovany Gómez Virula, both of which occurred in
March 1995.
2.
The petitioners stated the Mr. Gómez, a trade union activist, was forcibly disappeared on
March 13, 1995. They said that his body, with signs of having been tortured, was found six days later. The
petitioners claimed that despite the complaints they filed regarding the disappearance and their finding of the
corpse, the State took no specific steps to investigate the facts. They indicated that during the time that Mr.
Gómez was missing, it was a forced disappearance. They added that even though there were elements linking
those facts to Mr. Gómez's work as a trade unionist, the State decided to shelve the investigation file for lack
of evidence. With respect to admissibility requirements, they invoked the exception established in Article
46.2.b of the American Convention.
3.
For its part, the State presented various different arguments during processing of the case
before the IACHR. Initially, the State maintained that an investigation had been started in order to throw light
on what had happened to Mr. Gómez and identify those responsible. It added that despite the efforts
undertaken, the file of the investigation had been archived for lack of evidence. Later on, the State indicated
that there were no records in the Public Prosecutors' Office database in which Mr. Gómez appears as a
complainant or injured party/victim.
4.
After analyzing the information available, the Commission verified compliance with the
admissibility requirements set forth in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention, concluded that the
case is admissible, and determined that that the State is responsible for i) violation of the rights to life,
personal integrity, and personal liberty established in Articles 4.1, 5.1, 7.1, 16, 8.1, and 25.1 of the American
Convention, in conjunction with Article 1.1 of the same instrument, to the detriment of Alejandro Yovany
Gómez Virula; and ii) violation of the rights to personal integrity, judicial guarantees and judicial protection
established in Articles 5.1, 8.1, and 25.1 of the American Convention, in conjunction with Article 1.1 of the
same instrument, to the detriment of Mr. Gómez's parents, Antonio Gómez and Paula Virula.
II.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

5.
On July 17, 1995, Antonio Gómez, Paula Virula, the Guatemala Labor Education Project and
Unión Sindical de Trabajadores de Guatemala lodged the initial petition. On June 17, 1996, the IACHR
forwarded that communication to the State with a request that it provide information on the alleged acts and
on whether domestic remedies had been exhausted. The State submitted its response on September 24, 1996.

1

Subsequently, the Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH) established itself as petitioner.

1

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