Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Ecuador to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

April 25, 2018

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) in Case 11,678, Mario Montesinos Mejía, with regard to Ecuador.

The case has to do with the victim’s illegal and arbitrary arrest by police officers in 1992, the acts of torture inflicted on him, and the lack of due process in criminal proceedings against him. The Commission concluded that Mario Montesinos Mejía’s arrest was carried out without a warrant and that he was not caught in flagrante delicto according to domestic legislation. Further, the Commission noted that Mario Montesinos Mejía was in pre-trial detention for at least six years, an unreasonable amount of time without any justification as per the Convention. The IACHR further concluded that habeas corpus appeals, as they were regulated in Ecuador at the time of events, did not comply with the standards of the American Convention. Further, although the Constitutional Rights Court upheld the victim’s habeas corpus appeal, prison authorities failed for a long time to comply with it, and they did not adopt measures to enforce that court’s decision.

Additionally, and considering the State’s serious omissions in failing to perform a thorough and complete medical examination of Mario Montesinos Mejía, even when he was transferred from one correctional center to another, as well as the absence of an investigation on reports of torture, the Commission deemed that the victim had been subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during the initial stage of his detention. Finally, the IACHR concluded that due process was not respected during criminal proceedings.

In the Merits Report, the Commission recommended that Ecuador provide comprehensive reparations, both material and immaterial, for the human rights violations declared in that report; provide physical and mental healthcare necessary for Mario Montesinos Mejía’s rehabilitation in an agreed upon manner, if he so wishes; initiate a diligent, effective and timely ex officio criminal investigation to shed light on the acts of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment reported by Mario Montesinos Mejía, in order to identify all of those responsible and impose appropriate penalties for the human rights violations declared in this report; and, finally, adopt the necessary measures to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. Specifically, among others, the Commission recommended that Ecuador develop training programs for law enforcement personnel, judges and prosecutors regarding the absolute prohibition of acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and ensure that competent authorities are properly trained about their obligation to initiate ex officio criminal investigations when there are reports or well-grounded reasons to suspect acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on April 18, 2018, in the understanding that Ecuador had failed to comply with the recommendations held in the Merits Report.

This case will allow the Court to reaffirm its jurisprudence on the ends that may warrant pre-trial detention, the need to review pre-trial detention periodically and the effectiveness of requests for immediate release and habeas corpus appeals. Further, the Court will be in a position to rule on the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, its connection to the inadmissibility of evidence obtained through unlawful forms of coercion, and the duty to launch ex officio investigations, ensuring due diligence, on any reports or well-grounded reasons to suspect acts of torture.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 092/18