On November 4, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard arguments and testimony in a landmark case about systemic abuse and impunity in the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Family Members of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas vs. United States is the first case involving an extrajudicial killing by U.S. law enforcement to be examined by an international human rights body.
Roxanna Altholz, co-director of Berkeley Law’s International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) and Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego (ASD), together represent the family members of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, who U.S. border agents brutally beat and Tased in 2010 while in custody, hog-tied, and lying on the ground, before the commission. Although Anastasio’s death was ruled a homicide, U.S. federal prosecutors closed the investigation without pursuing criminal charges.
The hearing comes at a time when the United States faces increasing scrutiny for the widespread coverup of killings and other misconduct by border agents. Earlier this year, Alliance San Diego sent congressional committees a letter about shadow police units, often referred to as Border Patrol’s Critical Incident Teams, tasked with mitigating and concealing agent responsibility for killings and other acts of violence by border agents. The letter has prompted five federal investigations and a decision by CBP to disband the shadow police units.
United States’ Arguments
Decisions by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Widow and attorneys hold Mexico City press conference, ASD and IHRLC, 10/25/22
Family calls for hearing before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, ASD and IHRLC, 8/16/22
CBP eliminates Border Patrol cover-up units, Southern Border Committees Coalition, 5/6/22
Family files new testimony, ASD and IHRLC, 2/4/21
International tribunal moves landmark CBP brutality case forward, ASD and IHRLC, 7/30/20
Clinic helps bring U.S. law enforcement killing to international stage for first time, Berkeley Law, 11/10/22
Human rights tribunal hears testimony in immigrant’s 2010 death at border, CBS8, 11/4/22
Co-Director Roxanna Altholz argues case before international commission, San Diego Union Tribune, 11/4/22
Op-ed by Maria Puga, Rojas’s widow, El Universal, 10/25/22
Co-Director Roxanna Altholz quoted on NBC about Anastasio Hernández Rojas case against U.S., NBC-7 San Diego, 8/16/22
CBP disbands shadow police units, Washington Post, 5/12/22
Co-Director Roxanna Altholz on U.S. missing filing deadline in border killing case, San Diego Union Tribune, 12/1/21
“Shadow Units”: How secretive border patrol teams shield agents from accountability, Democracy Now, 10/29/21
Videos & Documentaries
Anastasio Hernandez Rojas – Día de los Muertos (11/2/22)
Impunity at the Border: Inside US Border Patrol’s ‘Cover-Up’ Unit (Al Jazeera report, 10/26/22)
Crossing the Line at the Border (PBS Need to Know report, 10/25/12)
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