Case of the “Street Children” (Villagran-Morales et al.) v. Guatemala

Inter-Am. Ct. of H.R., Judgment of November 19, 1999 (Merits)

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Case of the “Street Children” (Villagran-Morales et al.) v. Guatemala

Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Inter-Am. Ct. of H.R., Judgment of November 19, 1999 (Merits)

Facts

In September 1994, the secretariat of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the commission) received a petition alleging that the government of Guatemala (defendant) had violated the American Convention on Human Rights (the convention) with respect to the alleged abduction, torture, and murder of five unhoused minors in Guatemala City. The commission presented the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the court) to determine whether Guatemala had violated the convention’s protections of the right to life, among other things. Specifically, the commission alleged that two Guatemalan National Police Force agents had murdered the victims. During a public hearing on the case, the court heard testimony from two of the victims’ mothers. A director of a support program for unhoused minors in Central America testified that many crimes against so-called “street children” in Guatemala were perpetrated by the Guatemalan National Police Force and that photographs of the victims showed signs of torture that were consistent with methods used by state security forces. The victims’ friend testified that she saw police officers abduct three of the victims. The friend also testified that when she was unhoused, the police threatened to take her and her friends prisoner and beat them and also told the girl and her friends that they were good for nothing and better off dead. A Guatemala City street-kiosk worker who witnessed one of the murders testified regarding what she had seen, including identifying a police officer as a participant in the murder. Guatemalan National Police Force investigators and officers also gave testimony that implicated police officers in the murders.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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