Vásquez Durand et al. v. Ecuador

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Burden of Proof | Judicial Protection | Right to Know the Truth

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Justice and Truth

The Court emphasised that since it was clear that the disappearance occurred during an international armed conflict, it was appropriate to interpret the scope of treaty obligations in light of the rules of International Humanitarian Law.

In response to the State's argument that there was no immigration record of Mr. Vásquez Durand's reentry into Ecuador under the elements of the crime of disappearance, the Court noted that the absence of a record of the victim's detention was not evidence that he was not detained. This is because the lack of information may be part of the authorities' refusal to acknowledge the detention or to reveal the victim's fate.

The Court recognised the documentation of the case by the Truth Commission (created in May 2007 to investigate violations committed between 1984 and 2008) as providing an additional indication of the disappearance. It emphasised that in the absence of evidence, given the inefficiency of the State's investigation, the evidence available was sufficient to establish the enforced disappearance.

Judgment Date

February 15, 2017

Country

Ecuador

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 3 [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 7(1) [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 25(1) [ACHR], Article 1(a) [IACFDP], Article 1(b) [IACFDP]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 3 [IACFDP]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Jorge Vásquez Durand, a handicrafts trader between Ecuador and Peru, was in Ecuador when the so-called Cenepa War or Alto Cenepa Conflict between Ecuador and Peru began in January 1995. Although immigration records indicate that he entered Peru on 30 January, his family received information about his detention in Ecuador from intelligence service members.

In May 2007, Ecuador created a Truth Commission to investigate human rights violations between 1984 and 2008. Mr. Vásquez Durand's case was recorded in the Truth Commission's Final Report issued in June 2010, which concluded that he had been subjected to "Torture - Forced Disappearance - Illegal Deprivation of Liberty".

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