Casierra brothers and family vs. Ecuador

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.

58. The IACHR notes that that investigation, as the next section of the report indicates, fell short
of the standards of independence and impartiality required by the American Convention for the investigation
and punishment of acts of the kind that occurred in this case. In relation to the accounts provided by those
officials, the Commission considers it relevant to point out that when it comes to clarifying whether or not
lethal force was legitimately used, the testimonies of the agents involved cannot automatically be presumed
true; rather, they must be weighed against all the evidence contained in the record, which the State has an
obligation ex officio to gather with due diligence, which did not occur in the instant case. On the contrary, the Commission finds that the determinations of the criminal courts in the military jurisdiction were essentially based on the operational orders and on the versions of events provided by the Navy personnel who were involved in the events themselves. Furthermore, the Commission notes that the testimonies gathered and their respective appraisal without minimum guarantees of independence and impartiality, as well as the determinations of a jurisdiction per se incompatible with the Convention, cannot constitute a satisfactory explanation of strict compliance with the principles of legitimate purpose, necessity, and proportionality of use of lethal force in a specific case.

64. Based on the foregoing, in the instant case the State has not demonstrated that it used
legitimate force and the grave consequences of that were that Luis Eduardo Casierra was killed and Andrés
Alejandro Casierra’s physical integrity was violated. The use of force in a disproportionate manner and
without legitimate purpose or necessity is attributable to the State of Ecuador as a result of the actions of its
agents.49 Thus, the Commission concludes that Ecuador is responsible for violation of Luis Eduardo Casierra’s rights to life and humane treatment recognized in Articles 4(1) and 5(1) of the American Convention, taken in conjunction with the obligations contained in Article 1(1) of that instrument, bearing in mind his death and his suffering prior thereto as a consequence of the gunshot wounds. The Commission also finds that Ecuador is responsible for violation of Andrés Alejandro Casierra’s right to humane treatment recognized at Article 5(1) of the American Convention taken in conjunction with the obligations contained in Article 1(1) of the same instrument.

69. In the instant case, the Commission notes that the investigation of the Ecuadorian Navy
personnel who took part in the killing and wounding of the Casierra brothers was conducted in the military
criminal jurisdiction. Given that the facts concern human rights violations, specifically violations of the rights
to life and humane treatment, they cannot be regarded as possible offenses committed in the line of duty and, therefore, the investigation should have been carried out in the regular jurisdiction.

72. Based on the above, the Commission concludes that, by applying military criminal justice in
the instant case, the Ecuadorian State violated the rights to a fair trial and judicial protection, specifically the
right to a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal and the right to effective recourse to a competent
court or tribunal, in accordance with Articles 8(1) and 25(1) of the American Convention, taken in
conjunction with Articles 1(1) and 2 thereof, to the detriment of the Casierra brothers’ relatives.


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