On May 14, 1970, Mr. Heliodoro Portugal was in a café in Panama City when he was forced to get into a vehicle that drove off to an unknown destination. The Commission alleged that State agents took part in these acts, which occurred at a time when Panama was governed by a military regime. During the military dictatorship, it was not possible to have recourse to the domestic authorities to file complaints for human rights violations or to know the whereabouts of a person. Mr. Heliodoro Portugal's daughter did not report his disappearance until May 1990, when democracy was restored in the country. In September 1999, the Attorney General’s Office found human remains in a military barracks in Tocumen, which were presumed to be those of a Catholic priest; however, after undergoing DNA testing, they were identified as belonging to the victim. The corresponding criminal proceeding is still open and those responsible have not been convicted. The Court found that the State violated the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.
Case Summary: Heliodoro Portugal v. Panama, Case Summary