On April 26, 2023, in the Ecuadorian National Assembly, the Minister of Energy and Mines of Ecuador accused the lawyer of the Union of People Affected by Texaco (UDAPT), Pablo Fajardo Mendoza, of being an “international criminal” for his defense of human rights, mainly of indigenous peoples and communities, against the impacts of oil company operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Contrary to its obligations to provide a safe environment for the defense of human rights, the Ecuadorian State continues to defame and stigmatize human rights defenders, especially those who oppose the impacts of oil industry operations and support climate justice.
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Ambassador Ivonne Baki
Embassy of Ecuador
2535 15th Street N.W. Washington, DC 20009
Dear President Lasso,
I am writing you to express my deep concern for the stigmatization to which the lawyer of the Union of People Affected by Texaco (UDAPT), Pablo Fajardo Mendoza, has been subjected by an official of your government due to his work in defense of human rights and climate justice. On January 23, 2023, the Minister of Energy and Mines stated in an interview with the media outlet “La Barra Espaciadora”, that Pablo Fajardo’s work in defense of the rights of Amazonian communities against the oil industry “has made Ecuador look very bad”. On April 26, 2023, the minister also stigmatized Fajardo and his work in front of the Commission of Collective, Community and Intercultural Rights of the Ecuadorian National Assembly, stating that he is an “international criminal”.
Stigmatizing statements against human rights defenders can exacerbate hostility and intolerance by various sectors of the population, which can put their lives and integrity at risk. In the case of Pablo Fajardo and members of UDAPT, this has already been an issue in the past.
Therefore, we urge your government to refrain from using expressions that stigmatize, insult or discredit Pablo Fajardo and the members of UDAPT, and to guarantee their safety. We also urge you to guarantee that human rights defenders can carry out their work in a safe environment, and to publicly recognize the extreme importance of those who defend human rights and the environment in Ecuador, and thereby help to combat the current global climate crisis.