Press Release

IACHR refers case on Ecuador to the Inter-American Court

July 10, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - On June 19, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) referred the case of the Casierra Brothers and Family to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, with respect to Ecuador. The case relates to the death of Luis Eduardo Casierra Quiñonez and the injuries of Andrés Alejandro Casierra Quiñonez by agents of the National Navy in December 1999, and the situation of impunity for what happened.

In its Merits Report, the Commission considered that there is no dispute that Luis Eduardo Casierra was injured and then died, and that Andrés Alejandro Casierra was injured as a result of the use of lethal force by agents of the National Navy. The IACHR considered that the State did not provide a satisfactory explanation for the use of lethal force, which was the result of an independent, impartial, and due diligence investigation. It also concluded that the use of force employed by the State did not have a legitimate purpose and was unnecessary and disproportionate. In view of the foregoing, the Commission concluded that the Ecuadorian State is responsible for the violation of the rights to life and personal integrity of Luis Eduardo, and of the right to personal integrity of Andrés Alejandro.

Additionally, the Commission observed that the investigation of the members of the National Navy who participated in the death and injury of the Casierra brothers was carried out before the military criminal jurisdiction. The IACHR stressed that, in the case of human rights violations and, specifically, violations of the rights to life and personal integrity, the events could not be considered possible functional crimes and, therefore, the investigation should have been carried out in the ordinary courts. By virtue of the foregoing, the Commission concluded that, in applying military criminal justice to the present case, the Ecuadorian State violated the rights to judicial guarantees and judicial protection, specifically the right to a competent, independent, and impartial authority, as well as to an adequate and effective judicial remedy.

Finally, the Commission concluded that the State violated the right to personal integrity of the Casierra brothers' relatives identified in the Merits Report. This, inasmuch as the loss of a loved one and the injury of another, as well as the absence of truth and justice, caused suffering and anguish to the detriment of their relatives.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission recommended that the State

  1. To make full reparation for the human rights violations declared in the report, both in the material and immaterial aspects, including measures of satisfaction and economic compensation.
  2. To provide the physical and mental health care necessary for the rehabilitation of Andrés Alejandro Casierra Quiñonez and his family, if they so wish and in a concerted manner.
  3. Initiate an investigation in the ordinary criminal courts in a diligent and effective manner and within a reasonable time in order to fully clarify the facts, identify all possible responsibilities and impose the appropriate sanctions with respect to the human rights violations declared in the report. Taking into account the seriousness of the declared violations and the inter-American standards in this regard, the Commission emphasizes that the State may not invoke the guarantee of ne bis in idem, res judicata or prescription, to justify non-compliance with this recommendation.
  4. Provide for mechanisms of non-repetition that include: i) training for Ecuador's navy forces in international standards on the use of force, including lethal force; ii) establishing adequate mechanisms of accountability for abuses committed by members of those forces; iii) strengthening the capacity to investigate cases of use of lethal force, so that they are compatible with the standards described in the report; and iv) ensuring that domestic regulations and their interpretation are compatible with the standards described in the report regarding the application of military criminal justice.

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

No. 162/20