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International tribunal rules it has authority in case of man killed by US border officials

Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor the Department of Justice responded to a request for comment about the international tribunal's decision in time for publication.

According to case documents, the U.S. government argued that because Hernandez Rojas's family had received a financial settlement through a civil lawsuit, the case with the international tribunal should not be allowed to proceed. It also argued that agreements guaranteeing certain human rights signed by the international organization's members are non-binding, meaning that the United States doesn't have a legal obligation to follow them.

Attorneys for Hernandez Rojas see the case as putting systemic abuse from border officials on trial.

"This case is part of a national reckoning that needs to happen to reign in this agency and other law enforcement that abuse their power and put people in danger," said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego and co-counsel on the case.

Guerrero said the case is particularly poignant given current criticisms leveled at Customs and Border Protection officers and agents for violence used on protesters in Portland, Oregon, in recent weeks.

"This case exemplifies what is wrong with law enforcement and our legal system," said Roxanna Altholz, co-director of the University of California, Berkeley's International Human Rights Law Clinic and co-counsel. "Anastasio's death like so many other killings of Black, Indigenous, and Latino men, women and children was deemed reasonable because our laws sanction atrocious behavior by law enforcement."

 

In its decision, the commission said it would look at what "full reparations" the family might be entitled to.

A new mural in San Diego's Chicano Park pays tribute to Hernandez Rojas and others who have died at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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