Press Release

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

November 20, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed on July 25, 2019 an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in a case involving Vicente Aníbal Grijalva Bueno, with regard to Ecuador.

This case refers to the arbitrary dismissal of Vicente Aníbal Grijalva Bueno as a harbor pilot in the Ecuadorian Navy in 1993, and to the failure to provide judicial safeguards in disciplinary proceedings to dismiss him and in military criminal proceedings against him for crimes against military faith. In its Merits Report, the IACHR considered that Mr. Grijalva’s right to an impartial authority had been violated in disciplinary proceedings to dismiss him. The Commission further found that Mr. Grijalva had been denied the chance to be informed of those proceedings, to take part in them, and to defend himself.

Concerning military criminal proceedings, the Commission considered that the court that had convicted Mr. Grijalva had not taken into consideration various items of exculpatory evidence and had therefore failed to enforce the principle of presumption of innocence. The IACHR stressed that the conviction had been based solely on a report where several irregularities were apparent, including the application of torture and coercion against several individuals who testified against Mr. Grijalva. The IACHR further concluded that Mr. Grijalva’s dismissal and the criminal case launched against him were acts of retaliation for his allegations about the involvement of members of the military in serious human rights violations. Consequently, the Commission deemed that the State of Ecuador had violated his right to freedom of expression.

In its Merits Report, the Commission made the following recommendations—among others—to the State: i) reinstating the victim in the Ecuadorian Navy and, if he did not wish to be reinstated or if there were objective reasons that prevented his reinstatement, compensating him for that; ii) providing financial compensation and satisfaction measures in favor of the victim; iii) conducting any investigations required to fully solve this case and to establish who is responsible for these events.

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. 302/19