Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Ecuador to Inter-American Court

December 22, 2011

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court HR) in Case No. 12.597, Miguel Camba Campos et al., (Judges of the Constitutional Court), Ecuador.

The case deals with the arbitrary termination (“cese”) of 8 judges of the Constitutional Court of Ecuador by National Congress Resolution of November 25, 2004. This termination was an ad hoc mechanism not provided for in the Constitution or in the law, which severely affected the principle of judicial independence. Moreover, after the termination of the judges, on December 1 2004, National Congress held impeachment proceedings against some of them, but there were not enough votes to adopt a proposal to censure them. Then, after the call to special sessions by the President, on December 8, 2004, the National Congress voted for a second time regarding the impeachment proceedings and obtained a motion of censure.

The case was sent to the IA Court HR on November 10, 2011, because the Commission deemed that the State had not complied with the recommendations contained in its Report on the Merits of the case. In that report, the IACHR concluded that the victims had no procedural guarantees or any opportunity to defend themselves in relation to the termination and lack of procedural guarantees in the second vote of impeachment. In addition, the victims were arbitrarily and unreasonably prevented from filing amparo remedies against the termination resolution and they did not have access to an effective remedy for challenging the arbitrariness of the National Congress. These events occurred in a tense political context, in which Ecuador’s judicial institutions were fragile.

Moreover, the events occurred in a context characterized by the fragile state of the Judiciary, evidenced by the dismissal by the National Congress not only of the Constitutional Court, but also of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Electoral Court. These dismissals of Ecuador’s supreme courts were followed by the activation of mechanisms designed to prevent access to justice by the judicial officers affected. Therefore, the case incorporates analysis of the lack of clarity in procedures and grounds for the dismissal of judges under the principle of freedom from ex post facto laws set forth in Article 9 of the American Convention and constitutes an opportunity for the Court to develop its jurisprudence as regards the independence of the Judiciary, as well as standards of due process in impeachment proceedings, and the formulation of the grounds that may justify the removal of judges. Accordingly, the Court will be able to pronounce in greater depth on the judicial guarantees that should be established regarding the proceedings for the removal of judges.

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 human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. 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. 133/11