Annual Report: Ecuador 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Ecuador 2011

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Head of state and government: Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 13.8 million
Life expectancy: 75.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 29/22 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 84.2 per cent

Spurious criminal charges were brought against human rights defenders, including Indigenous leaders. Human rights violations committed by security forces remained unresolved. Women living in poverty continued to lack access to good quality and culturally appropriate health services.

Background

There were mass demonstrations, many led by Indigenous Peoples' organizations, against government policies and legislation on issues such as natural resources; land; education; public services; and the lack of a clear process to guarantee the right of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent on development projects and policies or legislation affecting them.

In February, Indigenous Peoples' organizations withdrew from discussions with the government over legislation on mining, water, land, education and the environment, because they believed the government was failing to engage meaningfully with their concerns.

In September, hundreds of police officers demonstrated against what they considered cuts in their pay and benefits. This was regarded by the government as an attempted coup. At least eight people, including two police officers, died during the protests and scores were injured, including the President who was hospitalized for the effects of tear gas. By the end of the year, scores of police officers were under investigation for a range of offences.

In June, Ecuador became the first country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Human rights defenders

Charges of sabotage and terrorism were brought against human rights defenders, including Indigenous leaders, in an attempt to silence their opposition to government policies.

  • In June, investigations were opened against three Indigenous leaders - Marlon Santi, President of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador; Delfin Tenesaca, leader of the Kichwa Confederation of Ecuador; and Marco Guatemal, President of the Indigenous and Peasant Federation of Imbabura - for terrorism and sabotage. The investigation was linked to their participation in a demonstration in Otavalo in protest at their exclusion from a summit of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) countries. The investigation was continuing at the end of the year.
  • In May, charges of sabotage and terrorism were brought against community leaders, Carlos Pérez and Federico Guzmán and three inhabitants of Victoria del Portete, Azuay province. The charges were connected to their involvement in a road blockade to protest against a draft law on water. The charges were dismissed by the courts in August.

Impunity - police and security forces

Further human rights violations by members of the National Police group in charge of organized crime (Grupo de Apoyo Operacional, GAO) were reported. The group has been linked to scores of cases of torture and other ill-treatment and possible extrajudicial executions since its formation in 1996.

In July, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions raised concerns that the vast majority of alleged killings, including killings by police, remained unresolved due to a lack of thorough and independent investigations, inadequate victim and witness support and protection, and delays and corruption in the justice system.

  • At the end of the year, 14 police officers from the GAO were detained awaiting trial, and another three were under investigation, for the torture of Fabricio Colón Pico Suárez, Jenny Karina Pico Suárez and Javier Universi Pico Suárez, and the disappearance of Georgy Hernán Cedeño, in September 2009.
  • The torture and killing of Yandry Javier Vélez Moreira and Juan Miguel Vélez Cedeño in December 2008 and the threats against their sister Leidy Johanna Vélez Moreira, allegedly committed by members of the GAO, remained unresolved.

The Truth Commission in charge of investigating human rights violations between 1984 and 2008 published its final report in June. The Commission documented 118 cases, affecting 456 victims of arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearances and killings. The police were implicated in most of these crimes. The government made a commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice and to establish 12 special prosecutors to investigate these crimes. A draft law guaranteeing the right to reparation to victims of these violations was under discussion at the end of the year.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

In September, the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous people urged the government not to grant concessions for the extraction of natural resources, without a prior, broad and legitimate process of consultation and participation with the Indigenous communities affected.

In April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the case of members of the Kichwa Peoples of the Sarayaku community, in Pastaza province. The case related to oil extraction on community land without the Kichwa's prior consultation, as well as to threats and intimidation against members of the community.

Right to health

In January, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) reported that many communities living in poverty still lacked access to good quality and culturally appropriate health services, despite efforts to extend access.

Sexual and reproductive rights

The CRC also raised concerns about the lack of access to information on sexual and reproductive health and the prohibition of emergency contraception.

Maternal mortality

Progress was made in reducing maternal mortality, according to official state figures. Other reports also indicated that Ecuador was making progress in reducing infant mortality. However, statistics continued to show great disparities between infant mortality in rural and urban areas and among Indigenous children.