REPORT No. 65/11
CASE 12.600
MERITS
HUGO QUINTANA COELLO AND OTHERS
“JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT”
ECUADOR
March 31, 2011
I.

SUMMARY

1.
On December 30, 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the Inter-American Commission,” “the Commission,” or “the IACHR”) received a
complaint lodged by Hugo Quintana Coello and another 26 former justices of the Supreme Court of
Ecuador, alleging the violation of several provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the American Convention,” “the Convention,” or “the ACHR”) by the Republic of
Ecuador (hereinafter “the Ecuadorian State,” “the State,” or “Ecuador”). The petitioners allege that
on December 8, 2004, the National Congress irregularly and arbitrarily terminated them in their
duties as Supreme Court justices. According to the petitioners, the termination resolution was
issued in breach of the procedures constitutionally and legally established for the purpose, without
guarantees of due process, and without access to judicial remedies.
2.
In turn, the State of Ecuador claimed that the petitioners were not dismissed or
removed from their positions, but rather that they were simply terminated because they were not
covered by the either the tenure regime or the cooptation system. According to the State, those
mechanisms are only regulated by the Constitution that came into force on August 10, 1998, and
are thus not applicable to justices, such as the petitioners, who were appointed in 1997. Ecuador
adds that consequently neither the guarantees of due process or the freedom from ex post facto
laws are applicable, since they were not sanctioned for any shortcoming but merely “terminated.” In
addition, the State holds that the petitioners did not appeal to the domestic judicial authorities to
assert their rights and, consequently, there was no breach of the right to judicial protection. Finally,
the State contends that the facts do not establish any violation of the rights enshrined in Articles 23
and 24 of the Convention.
3.
On February 27, 2007, the Commission adopted Report No. 8/07, in which it found
itself competent to hear the petition and ruled it admissible with respect to the possible violation of
the rights enshrined in Articles 8, 9, and 25 of the Convention, in conjunction with the obligations
set out in Articles 1.1 and 2 thereof.
4.
After analyzing the positions of the parties, the Inter-American Commission
concluded that the State of Ecuador was responsible for violating the rights to a fair trial, to the
freedom from ex post facto laws, and to judicial protection, enshrined in Articles 8, 9, and 25 of the
American Convention, in conjunction with the obligations set out in Articles 1.1 and 2 thereof, with
respect to Hugo Quintana Coello, Alfredo Contreras Villavicencio, Teodoro Coello Vásquez, Santiago
Andrade Ubidia, José Julio Benítez Astudillo, Armando Bermeo Castillo, Eduardo Brito Mieles,
Nicolás Castro Patiño, Galo Galarza Paz, Luis Heredia Moreno, Estuardo Hurtado Larrea, Ángel
Lescano Fiallo, Galo Pico Mantilla, Jorge Ramírez Álvarez, Carlos Riofrío Corral, José Vicente Troya
Jaramillo, Rodrigo Varea Avilez, Jaime Velasco Dávila, Miguel Villacís Gómez, Gonzalo Zambrano
Palacios, Milton Moreno Aguirre, 2 Arturo Donoso Castellón, Ernesto Albán Gómez, Hernán Quevedo
Terán, Jorge Andrade Lara, Clotario Salinas Montaño, and Armando Serrano Puig. In addition, the
IACHR issued the corresponding recommendations.
2

Died in March 2007. See: Death certificate dated March 26, 2007. (Annex to petitioners’ submission, received on March 11, 2008.)

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