Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions



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Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions
Author: United Nations

Date:1989

Drafted in consultation with lawyers from The Advocates for Human Rights (formerly the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee), this manual, which supplements the Principles on the effective prevention and investigation of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions (adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989), contains international human rights standards, a model protocol for investigating extra-legal, arbitrary, and summary executions, a model autopsy protocol, and a model protocol for disinterment and analysis of skeletal remains.

INTRODUCTION

I. INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS

A. United Nations


1. General Assembly
2. Economic and Social Council
3. Commission on Human Rights
4. Human Rights Committee
5. Committee against Torture
6. Committee on Crime Prevention and Control
7. United Nations congresses on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders
B. International Labour Organisation
C. Regional organizations
1. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
2. African Commission on Human and People's Rights
3. European Commission on Human Rights

II. THE ELABORATION OF INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR EFFECTIVE PREVENTION OF EXTRA-LEGAL, ARBITRARY AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS

III. MODEL PROTOCOL FOR A LEGAL INVESTIGATION OF EXTRA-LEGAL, ARBITRARY AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS
("MINNESOTA PROTOCOL")

A. Introduction


B. Purposes of an inquiry
C. Procedures for an inquiry
1. Processing of the crime scene
2. Processing of the evidence
3. Avenues to investigation
4. Personal testimony
D. Commission of inquiry
1. Factors triggering a special investigation
2. Defining the scope of the inquiry
3. Power of the commission
4. Membership qualifications
5. Number of commissioners
6. Choosing a commission counsel
7. Choosing expert advisors
8. Choosing investigators
9. Protection of witnesses
10. Proceedings
11. Notice of inquiry
12. Receipt of evidence
13. Rights of parties
14. Evaluation of evidence
15. The report of the commission
16. Response of the Government


IV. MODEL AUTOPSY PROTOCOL

A. Introduction


B. Proposed model autopsy protocol
1. Scene investigation
2. Autopsy

V. MODEL PROTOCOL FOR DISINTERMENT AND ANALYSIS OF SKELETAL REMAINS

A. Introduction


B. Proposed model skeletal analysis protocol
1. Scene investigation
2. Laboratory analysis of skeletal remains
3. Final report
4. Repository for evidence

Annexes (available from Amnesy International)

I. Principles on the effective prevention and investigation of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions
II. Postmortem detection of torture
III. Drawings of parts of human body for identification of torture - pages 49-56
Drawings of parts of human body for identification of torture - pages 57-64
Drawings of parts of human body for identification of torture - pages 65-71


INTRODUCTION

In many countries throughout the world, extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions take place undocumented and undetected. These executions include: (a) political assassinations; (b) deaths resulting from torture or ill-treatment in prison or detention; (c) death resulting from enforced "disappearances"; (d) deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by law-enforcement personnel; (e) executions without due process; and (f) acts of genocide. The failure to detect and disclose these executions to the international community is a major obstacle to the rendering of justice for past executions and the prevention of future executions.

This Manual is the result of several years of analysis, research and drafting undertaken because of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions throughout the world. Its purpose is to supplement the "Principles on the effective prevention and investigation of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions", adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989, on the recommendation of the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, at its tenth session, held in Vienna, from 5 to 16 February 1990.

Concurrent to the elaboration of the Principles, there was concerted action by non-governmental organizations to provide additional guidance in the area of effective prevention and investigation of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, by offering technical advice on the meaningful implementation of the Principles.

The preparation of this Manual was greatly facilitated by the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee. At its initiative, an international group of experts in forensic science, lawyers, human rights experts and others volunteered their time and expertise to assist in the preparation of the draft Principles and to provide appropriate follow-up for their implementation, the contents of which constitute the major part of the Manual.

In this connection, special acknowledgement is due to the following:



Medical examiners and forensic pathologists: Dr. Jorgen L. Thomsen, University Institute of Forensic Medicine and Committee of Concerned Forensic Scientists and Physicians for the Documentation of Human Rights Abuses (CCFS), Copenhagen, Dr. Clyde Snow, Forensic Anthropology, Dr. Lindsey Thomas, Dr. Garry Peterson, Dr. Robert Kirschner, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, Chicago, Dr. Fred Jordan, Chief Medical Examiner, Oklahoma City;

Lawyers: Thomas Johnson, Penny Parker, Robert P. Sands, Gregory Sands, Professor David Weissbrodt, University of Minnesota Law School;

Non-governmental organizations: Barbara Frey, Executive Director, Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee, Sonia Rosen, Staff Attorney, Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee, Marie Bibus, Janet Gruschow, Science and Human Rights Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science;

Other specialists: Eric Stover, former Director, Science and Human Rights Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. John J. Fitzpatrick, Chair, Division of Trauma Radiology, Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Dr. Karen Ramey Burns, Crime Lab Scientist, Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Decatur.

Appreciation is also expressed to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ford Foundation for their contributions to this publication.



I. INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS

A number of international standards outlaw arbitrary deprivation of life The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948, states that "everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person". The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 2200 A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, which was promulgated in 1966 and has been ratified by 87 States, provides in article 6, that "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life". Prohibitions of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions are also found in the following instruments: the American Convention on Human Rights, article 4(l): "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life"; the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, article 4: "Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right"; and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, article 2(l): "No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by laws".

The international organs and bodies that have been active in implementing the right to be free from arbitrary deprivation of life include the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, the Commission on Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the Human Rights Committee and the International Labour Organisation; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; the African Commission on Human and People's Rights; and the European Commission on Human Rights. Significant action taken by these international bodies to prevent extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions are discussed below. back to the top

A. United Nations


1. General Assembly

The General Assembly of the United Nations, by its resolution 35/172 of 15 December 1980, adopted for the first time a specific resolution on arbitrary or summary executions in which, concerned at the occurrence of the executions that are widely regarded as being politically motivated, Member States concerned were urged to respect as a minimum standard the content of the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Politic Rights so as to guarantee the most careful legal procedures and the greatest possible safeguards. In resolution 36/22 of 9 November 1981, the General Assembly, bearing in mind the results of the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (see section A.7, below), condemned the practice of summary executions and arbitrary execution and invited all Member States, specialized agencies, regional, interregional organizations and relevant non-governmental organizations to answer the Secretary-General's request for their views and observations concerning the problem of arbitrary executions and summary executions to be reported to the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control at its seventh session in 1982 section A.6, below). In resolutions 37/182 of 17 December 1982, 38/96 of 16 December 1983, 39/110 of 14 December 1984 and 40/143 of 13 December 1985 the Assembly charted a course of action aimed at strengthening the United Nations position against summary or arbitrary executions.

On 4 December 1986, the General Assembly adopted resolution 41/144, strongly condemning the large number of summary or arbitrary executions that continued to take place in various parts of the world. The Assembly also endorsed the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions, appointed by the Economic and Social Council in 1982, that it was necessary to develop international standards designed to ensure that investigations were conducted in all cases of suspicious death including provisions for an adequate autopsy (E/CN.4/1986/21).

In its resolution 42/141 of 7 December 1987, the Assembly took an additional step towards encouraging the drafting of international standards by inviting the Special Rapporteur to continue to receive information from appropriate United Nations bodies and other international organizations, to examine the elements to be included in such standards and to report to the Commission on Human Rights on progress made in that respect. The Assembly, therefore, not only recognized that a gap existed in international protection against arbitrary or summary executions, but also stimulated its subsidiary bodies to take an active interest in filling that gap. In doing so, the Assembly has been instrumental in advancing the process of promulgating such new standards. In its resolution 43/151 of 8 December 1988, the Assembly invited Governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to support the efforts made in United Nations forums towards the adoption of international standards for the proper investigation of all deaths in suspicious circumstances, including provision for adequate autopsy. Further, the Assembly endorsed the elements proposed by the Special Rapporteur for inclusion in such international standards. Keeping that in mind, the Assembly, by resolution 44/162 of 15 December 1989 endorsed the Principles adopted by the Economic and Social Council and, in resolution 44/159 of the same date, encouraged Governments, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations to organize training programmes and support projects with a view to training or educating law enforcement officials in human rights issues connected to their work and appealed to the international community to support endeavours to that end. 1

In parallel to this work, the Assembly adopted by resolution 39/46, annex, of 10 December 1984, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which became effective on 26 June 1987. In its preamble, the Convention referred to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the Assembly in resolution 3452 (M), annex, of 9 December 1975, on the recommendation of the Fifth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

That Convention not only specifies that the States Parties will outlaw torture in their national legislation, but also notes explicitly that no order from a superior or exceptional circumstance may be invoked as a justification of torture. The Convention also introduces two new elements of particular significance to efforts by the United Nations to combat torture. The first is that, henceforth a torturer may be prosecuted wherever he is to be found in the territory of any State Party to the Convention, since the Convention specifies that persons alleged to have committed acts of torture may be tried in any State Party or that they may be extradited so that they may be tried in the State Party where they committed their crimes. The second new element is that the Convention contains a provision that allows for an international inquiry if there is reliable information indicating that torture is being systematically practised in the territory of a State Party to the Convention. Such an inquiry may include a visit to the State Party concerned, with its agreement.

The States Parties to the Convention also pledge to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under their jurisdiction. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

Under the Convention, no State Party may expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

The States Parties agree to afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with criminal proceedings brought forward in respect of acts of torture, and to ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment

The States Parties also undertake to ensure in their legal systems that the victims of acts of torture obtain redress and have an enforceable right fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full a rehabilitation as possible. 2


2. Economic and Social Council


The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations has repeatedly addressed the question of arbitrary or summary executions. For example, the Council has continuously and consistently appealed to Governments, regional intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to take effective action to combat and eliminate summary or arbitrary executions, including extra-legal executions. The Council has also encouraged and endo a number of initiatives to be taken by the human rights and criminal justice bodies of the United Nations, which are described below, aimed at eliminate that alarming and deplorable practice. back to the top

BR>3. Commission on Human Rights

Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities the Commission of Human Rights

In 1987 the Working Group on Detention annexed to its report (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1987/15) to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the Commission on Human Rights an explanatory paper on the elaboration of norms guaranteeing an impartial investigation into arbitrary execution or suspicious violent death, in particular during detention. Creating norms for autopsy procedures was noted as being particularly useful in determining whether or not a death was suspicious. That report contained also draft standards for the investigation of arbitrary execution submitted by the International Commission of Jurists.

In its report for 1988 (E/CNA/1989/3 - E/CN.4/Sub.2/1988/45), the Sub-Commission by decision 1988/109 requested the Secretary-General to provide with a document describing the work being done in other international forum on international standards for adequate investigations into all cases of suspicious deaths in detention as well as adequate autopsy.

In 1989, the Sub-Commission considered a report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1989/25) summarizing the activities of various United Nations bodies concerning international standards for investigating suspicious deaths, including adequate autopsy.

Two Special Rapporteurs have been appointed at the request of the Commission on Human Rights.

Special Rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions

In March 1982, the Economic and Social Council by its resolution 1982/35 of 7 May 1982 authorized a Special Rapporteur to study the questions related to summary or arbitrary executions. The Special Rapporteur, Mr. Amos Wako of Kenya, was appointed in 1982 at the request of the Commission on Human Rights, and immediately began the task of collecting information from around the world on summary or arbitrary executions. He has since prepared eight annual reports addressing a wide range of issues concerning summary or arbitrary executions and informing the Commission of his activities, including urgent appeals to Governments.

In 1986, the Special Rapporteur included in his report (E/CN.4/1986/21) to the Commission on Human Rights, consideration of the measures to be taken when a death occurs in custody.

"One of the ways in which Governments can show that they want this abhorrent phenomenon of arbitrary or summary executions eliminated is by investigating, holding inquests, prosecuting and punishing those found guilty. There is therefore a need to develop international standards designed to ensure that investigations are conducted into all cases of suspicious death and in particular those at the hands of the law enforcement agencies in all situations. Such standards should include adequate autopsy. A death in any type of custody should be regarded as prima facie a summary or arbitrary execution, and appropriate investigation should immediately be made to confirm or rebut the presumption. The results of investigations should be made public (para. 209)."

Referring to the Principles adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989, the Special Rapporteur stated that "his position with regard to the implementation of his mandate is strongly supported by this resolution". He will now refer to the Principles in his annual examination of alleged incidents of summary or arbitrary executions. The Special Rapporteur stated further that "any Government's practice that fails to reach the standards set out in the Principles may be regarded as an indication of the Government's responsibility, even if no government officials are found to be directly involved in the acts". He recommended that Governments review national laws and regulations, as well as the practice of judicial and law enforcement authorities, with a view to securing effective implementation of the standards set by Council resolution 1989/65.

This report focused on "the absence of investigation, prosecution and/or punishment in cases of death in suspicious circumstances" (E/CN.4/1986/21). The Special Rapporteur noted that Governments were extremely reluctant to investigate deaths where military or law enforcement agencies were involved. Often, in those cases, as noted by other writers, autopsies or inquest proceedings either did not take place or crucial information, such as evidence of torture, was omitted. 3

In response to the Special Rapporteur's report of 1987 (E/CN.4/1987/20), the Commission on Human Rights welcomed his recommendation that Governments should review the machinery for investigation of deaths under suspicious circumstances in order to secure an impartial, independent investigation on such deaths, including an adequate autopsy. The Commission also welcomed the Special Rapporteur's recommendation that international organizations should make a concerted effort to draft international standards designed to ensure proper investigation by appropriate authorities into all cases of suspicious death, including provisions for adequate autopsy.

In his 1988 report (E/CN.4/1988122) to the Commission, the Special Rapporteur devoted an entire section to a discussion on the importance of standards for proper investigation into all cases of suspicious deaths. In particular, he outlined seven elements that should be included as a minimum in such standards: promptness, impartiality, thoroughness, protection, representation of the family of the victim, publication of the findings and an independent commission of inquiry. The Commission endorsed these recommendations.

By its resolution 1989/64 of 8 March 1989, the Commission took note with appreciation of the subsequent report of the Special Rapporteur (E/CN.4/1989/25 and again welcomed his recommendations with a view to eliminating summary or arbitrary executions. Following that with a further report (E/CN.4/1990/22), the Special Rapporteur reviewed new developments in summary or arbitrary executions. He took note of a particularly alarming trend, which was rapidly spreading, of death threats directed, in particular, against persons who played key roles in defending human rights and achieving social and criminal justice. At the same time, however, he noted considerable achievements made by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in areas directly or indirectly related to his mandate.

Special Rapporteur on torture

The Commission on Human Rights decided, in its resolution 1985/33, to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine questions relevant to torture, requesting him to seek and receive credible and reliable information on such question! and to respond to that information without delay. This decision was subsequently approved by the Council in its decision 1985/144 of 30 May 1985.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on questions relevant to torture requests him to report to the Commission, which is composed of government representatives, on the phenomenon of torture in general. To this end, he establishes contact with Governments and asks them for information on the legislative and administrative measures taken to prevent torture and to remedy its consequences whenever it occurs.

The Special Rapporteur is also expected to respond effectively to the credible and reliable information that comes before him. This provision of the Special Rapporteur's mandate has led to the urgent action procedure, which considerably increases the effectiveness of his activities.

The Special Rapporteur's task extends to all States Members of the United Nations and to all States with observer status. He corresponds with Governments, requesting them to inform him of the measures they have taken or plan to take to prevent or combat torture. He also receives requests for urgent action, which he brings to the attention of the Governments concerned in order to ensure protection of the individual's right to physical and mental integrity. In addition, he holds consultations with government representatives who wish to meet with him and, in accordance with his mandate, makes consultation visits to some parts of the world.

For his future activities, the Special Rapporteur recommended to the Commission on Human Rights that:

Detention incommunicado should be declared illegal;

Any person who is arrested should be brought without delay before a competent judge, who should rule immediately on the lawfulness of his arrest and authorize him to see a lawyer;

Any person arrested should undergo a medical examination;

Any detainee who dies should be autopsied in the presence of a representative of his family;

External experts should regularly inspect places of detention.

4. Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee, established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 28, has created a body of jurisprudence in individual cases of arbitrary executions in custody, particularly in connection with the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Optional Protocol to that Convention. In the case of Eduardo Bleier, for example, the Committee considered the allegations by Bleier's mother and wife that he had been held incommunicado and tortured to death by the Uruguayan military. 4/The Committee refused to accept the Uruguayan Government's denial at face value. Instead, upon receiving evidence from fellow prisoners who had witnessed Bleier's torture, the Committee concluded that he had been tortured in violation of article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that there were serious reasons to believe that the Uruguayan authorities had killed Bleier in violation of article 6 of the International Covenant. The Committee urged the Uruguayan Government to bring to justice any persons responsible for Bleier's death, disappearance and ill-treatment, and to pay compensation to his family for his death.

A further example was that, in April 1985, the Human Rights Committee found the arbitrary executions of 15 opponents to the military ruler of Suriname in December 1982 to constitute an intentional violation of article 6(1) of the Covenant. The Committee urged the Government to take effective steps to investigate the executions, to bring the responsible persons to justice, to pay compensation to the families and to ensure future protection of the right to life. 5


5. Committee against Torture

The implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is monitored by the Committee against Torture, which consists of 10 experts of high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of human rights. Under article 19 of the Convention, the States parties submit to the Committee, through the Secretary General of the United Nations, reports on the measures they have taken under the Convention. Each report is considered by the Committee, which may make general comments and include such information in its annual report to the States parties and to the General Assembly.

Under article 20 of the Convention, if the Committee receives reliable information which appears to it to contain well-founded indications that torture is being systematically practised in the territory of a State Party, the Committee invites that State Party to co-operate in the examination of the information and to this end to submit observations with regard to the information concerned. The Committee may, if it decides that this is warranted, designate one or more of its members to make a confidential inquiry and to report to the Committee urgently. In agreement with that State Party, such an inquiry may include a visit to its territory.

After examining the findings of its member or members submitted to it, the Committee transmits these findings to the State Party concerned together with any comments or suggestions which seem appropriate in view of the situation.

All the proceedings of the Committee under article 20 are confidential and, at all stages of the proceedings, the co-operation of the State Party is sought. After such proceedings have been completed, the Committee may, after consultations with the State Party concerned, decide to include a summary account of the results of the proceedings in its annual report to the other States Parties and to the General Assembly.


6. Committee on Crime Prevention and Control

The General Assembly in its resolution 35/172 of 15 December 1980 requested the Secretary-General to report to the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control at its seventh session, held at Vienna, from 15 to 24 March 1982, on the question of arbitrary or summary executions. By resolution 36/22 of 9 November 1981, the Assembly requested the Committee to examine that question with a view to making recommendations. Having reviewed the report submitted by the Secretary-General (E/AC.57/1982/4 and Corr.1 and Add.1), the Committee recommended to the Economic and Social Council the adoption of a resolution on arbitrary or summary executions.

The Council, in its resolution 1983/24 of 26 May 1983, strongly condemned and deplored the brutal practice of summary executions and decided that the Committee should further study the question of death penalties that do not meet the acknowledged minimum legal guarantees and safeguards, as contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international instruments.

The Committee at its eighth session, held at Vienna, from 21 to 30 March 1984, elaborated a number of safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. The Council adopted the safeguards recommended by the Committee in resolution 1984/50, annex, of 25 May 1984.

The Council, in its resolution 1986110 of 21 May 1986, section VI, requested that the Secretary-General should submit a report on extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions to the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control at its tenth session in 1988, held at Vienna, from 22 to 31 August 1988. The Secretary-General submitted a report entitled "Extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions and measures for their prevention and investigation" (E/AC.57/1988/5). On the basis of discussion at the Committee, including statements made by non-governmental organizations, 6 the Committee recommend to the Council the adoption of a draft containing the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. The Committee has been entrusted with the function of periodically reviewing the implementation of these Principles.


7. United Nations congresses on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders

In 1980, the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in its Caracas Declaration 7 stressed, inter alia, that "criminal policy and the administration of justice should be based on principles that will guarantee the equality of everyone before the law without any discrimination, as well as the effective right of defence and the existence of judicial organs that are equal to the task of providing speedy and fair justice and of ensuring greater security and protection of the rights and freedoms of all people". In resolution 5 on extra-legal executions, the Congress called upon all Governments to take effective measures to prevent extra-legal executions and urged all organs of the United Nations dealing with questions of crime prevention and human rights to take all possible action to bring such acts to an end.

In 1985, the Seventh United Nations Congress also adopted a resolution on extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions calling upon all Governments to take urgent and incisive action to investigate such acts, wherever they may occur, to punish those found guilty and to take all other measures necessary to prevent those practices. 8


B. International Labour Organisation

The Committee on Freedom of Association of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reviews complaints alleging the executions of trade unionists around the world. Regarding the deaths of Rudolf Vierra, Mark Pearlman, and Michael Hammer in El Salvador, the ILO Committee requested that the Government of El Salvador transmit the results of the judicial inquiry underway and pursue actively its investigations into these murders. 9

C. Regional organizations


1. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has taken an approach similar to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations in cases involving arbitrary executions. For example, in Case No. 7481 of 8 March 1982, regarding executions by a military regiment in Bolivia in 1980, the Inter-American Commission found violations of common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which had been ratified by the Bolivian Government. The Commission recommended, among other remedies, that the Bolivian Government "order a fuller and impartial investigation to determine responsibility for the excess and abuses 10

In two landmark decisions, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Government of Honduras in violation of articles 4 (right to life); 5 (right to humane treatment); and 7 (right to personal liberty) of the American Convention on Human Rights. 11 The Court in the Velasquez Rodriguez Case and the Godinez Cruz Case, 12 ruled that in cases of "disappearances" the duty [on the part of the Government of Honduras] to investigate facts of this type continues as long as there is uncertainty about the fate of the person disappeared and ordered Honduras to pay damages to the families of the victims. Furthermore, the Inter-American Court adopted measures, taken in response to the assassination of two important witnesses, insisting upon the protection of witnesses appearing as part of the investigation.


2. African Commission on Human and People's Rights

The recently established African Commission on Human and People's Right a subsidiary body of the Organization of African Unity, has not yet considered any cases involving the arbitrary deprivation of life. The Commission's mandate stems from the African Charter of Human and People's Rights, which provides inter alia that the Commission may enter into written communication with a State Party of the Charter when it is alleged by another State party that the former has violated the provisions of the Charter.

3. European Commission on Human Rights


The European Commission on Human Rights has reviewed fewer cases involving the right to life than the Inter-American Commission. In one case, Cyprus v. Turkey, the European Commission considered whether the Turkish army had engaged in mass executions of civilians at the time of the invasion of Cyprus. The Commission found sufficient eyewitnesses and second-hand testimony from refugees to conclude that there were "strong indications of executions committed on a substantial scale". 13 The Committee of Ministers took note of the Commission's report and urged talks between the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus, but took no further action on the matter.






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