The detention of a former police commander wanted by Ecuador for crimes against humanity is a positive step, Human rights Watch said today. Edgar Vaca, police commander during the presidency of León Febres Cordero, from 1984 to 1988, was detained in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2014.

Vaca is to be extradited to Ecuador to face trial for alleged crimes against humanity. Under international law, Ecuador has the responsibility to conduct thorough, prompt, and impartial investigations into all allegations of serious human rights abuses.

In October 2013, the National Court of Justice of Ecuador issued an arrest warrant for Vaca for his alleged participation in crimes against humanity. In December, Interpol Ecuador issued a red notice to detain him.

According to official sources, Vaca and nine other police and military high level officials are accused of torturing and disappearing three former members of the insurgent group Alfaro Vive Carajo during Febres Cordero’s presidency.

In 2010, a special prosecutorial unit was formed within the Attorney General’s Office to investigate 118 cases involving 546 victims, including 68 victims of extrajudicial execution and 17 of enforced disappearances. The cases, which took place between 1984 and 2008, had been documented by a truth commission created by the administration of President Rafael Correa.