International Tribunal Opens Historic Case Against U.S. in Killing of Border Resident by CBP

Trump administration has until August 10, 2017 to respond to allegations of extrajudicial killing, torture, and obstruction of justice in the killing of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas by border agents


Click here to listen to the full recording of the telephonic press conference.

SAN DIEGO -- In a historic move, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) officially opened the case of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas, a longtime resident of San Diego who was brutally beaten, tortured and killed in 2010 by federal agents from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The IACHR announced on May 10, 2017 that it will move forward with the case, and has given the US government three months to respond to allegations of extrajudicial killing, torture, and obstruction of justice. This is the first case alleging an unlawful killing by law enforcement opened by the IACHR against the United States.

The Trump administration has until Aug. 10, 2017 to respond to the complaint. If the Trump administration ignores the deadline, the IACHR has the authority to enter a default judgment on behalf of the complainants. A failure to respond would break with the United States' decades-long history of active and robust engagement with the IACHR.

This international suit comes at a time when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is seeking a dramatic increase in resources, with no commensurate oversight or accountability. President Trump has issued an executive order calling for the US Border Patrol, a component agency of CBP, to grow from 20,000 to 25,000 agents in the southern border region, leading to concerns that other families will suffer at the hands of out of control border agents.

The petition was filed in March 2016 by the family of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas, with the help of international law experts from the University of California, Berkeley International Human Rights Law Clinic, and advocates from Alliance San Diego.

Maria Puga, widow of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, released the following statement:

"It has been almost 7 years since border agents stole my family's joy and happiness and no agent has been held accountable. I will never forget my husband, and my children will never forget their father. No family should ever have to go through this. It is a sad day in this country when we have to force the government to acknowledge their wrongdoing by going to an outside tribunal. We will continue to fight to ensure that we don't have more cases like that of Anastasio."

Roxanna Altholz, Associate Director at UC Berkeley Law School's International Human Rights Law Clinic and co-counsel in this suit, released the following statement:

"Not only was Anastasio's life taken, but an inadequate investigation was conducted: CBP had control of the crime scene for several hours, evidence was destroyed, eyewitnesses were dispersed. The U.S. government thought it could sweep this horrific crime under the rug by closing the criminal case. Now, we look to this Commission shine the international spotlight on the agency's lack of oversight and accountability and identify the reforms necessary to end impunity for this agency."

Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director of Alliance San Diego and Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, released the following statement:

"Customs and Border Protection is plagued with staggering integrity and professional challenges. The Administration and Congress must take immediate steps to put an end the culture of violence and impunity inside CBP, and implement sorely needed oversight and accountability measures. Not only did CBP agents deprive Anastasio's family of a father and a husband, they have taken the lives of dozens of border residents. We call on the Administration to respond to the request from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The public has a right to know how our government will protect the safety and security of civil society from the agents that systematically abuse their authority."


On May 28, 2010, border agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry brutally beat and Tasered Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a longtime resident of San Diego, leading to his death, which was classified by the San Diego County Medical Examiner as a homicide. A video recorded by an eyewitness became international news and provided damning evidence of the brutality of CBP, which has long been alleged in the repeated abuse of border residents. This incident and the many others that followed triggered Congressional inquiries, agency-wide investigations into the use of force, new use-of-force policies that, among other things, limited the use of Tasers, and the piloting of body-worn cameras by agents.

About Alliance San Diego

Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.