On August 25th, 1974, Mr. Rosendo Radilla Pacheco was illegally detained at a military roadblock and was last seen at the former military barrack of Atoya de Alvarez in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico. Rosendo Radilla was a prominent and beloved social leader in the municipality of Atoyac de Alvarez, where he contributed to the health and education of his community and also served as the municipal president. Thirty-four years later, his whereabouts remain unknown.
In Mexico during the 1970s and 1980s, numerous violations of human rights by state authorities were committed. This formed a state policy resulting in the increment of crimes against humanity, which remain today in total impunity. Part of this state policy involved persecution and arbitrary arrests of political opponents, mainly activists and social leaders. This period in history has been is recognized as the so-called ‘’dirty war’’. The detainment of Mr. Rosendo Radilla took place within this context.
The detention and subsequent forced disappearance of Mr. Radilla Pacheco was publicly denounced by his family when the acts took place and was later legally denounced before national law enforcement authorities. The investigation was carried out by the National Commission of Human Rights, which concluded in a special report published in 2001 together with the ‘’Recommendation 26/2001.’’ The preliminary investigation by the Secretariat of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, created during Mexico’s democratic transition did not clarify the crimes of the past. Indeed, the Prosecutor’s Office closed unexpectedly on November 30th, 2006. Currently, the research is led by the General Coordination for Investigation, under the authority of the Investigation Attorney Specialized in Federal Crimes of the General Procurator of the Republic.
The Mexican state had the opportunity to bring justice in the present case. In August 2005 the Special Prosecutor transferred the case from a military court to a civil one for reasons of illegal deprivation of liberty through the acts of abduction or kidnapping. Despite the transfer, the process was brought before military courts based on the resolution of its own justice. The representatives filed a defense request against said judgment, which was scrapped under the argument that victims may not respond to the defense to challenge the competence of the military courts. The criminal proceedings followed in the military court against the accused were dismissed because of the death of the accused.
With regards to the whereabouts of the disappeared, in 2008 the diligent search was carried out by scanning and digging 1% of the former military barrack of Atoyac grounds, which did not bring any results.
In the absence of a reply from the Mexican state, on November 15th 2001, the case was presented before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR). After holding a public hearing on the admissibility of the case, on October 21st 2004, the IACHR issued the report of ”Admissibility 65/05’” on October 12th 2005. On July 27th 2007, during the 128th Ordinary Session, the IACHR considered the positions of the parties and approved the report ”Fund 60/07,” in accordance with article 50 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
Through the lack of a effective response from the Mexican state to comply with the recommendations issued in this background report, on March 15th 2008, the IACHR sued the Mexican state before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the violation of: the right to personal legal recognition (article 3), right to life (article 4), right to personal integrity (article 5), right to personal liberty (article 7), right to judicial guarantees (article 8) and right to judicial protection (article 25) in connection with the obligation to respect rights (article 1.1). All these rights are established in the American Convention of Human Rights. Representatives of the victims sued the Mexican State, not only for the violation of these established rights, but also for the violations to the Inter-American Convention on forced disappearance.
On July 6th, 2009, the hearing was held before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. On November 23rd, the IACHR issued a ruling on the case condemning the Mexican state for serious human rights violations. The petitioners of the case are currently in compliance period of the aforementioned ruling.