Rafael Correa was sworn in as President in January and outlined five priority areas of work including reforms in health and education, reducing corruption and reforms of the Constitution.
In May the President set up a truth commission to investigate human rights violations committed under the government of León Febres Cordero (1984-1988). However, the commission had not begun its work by the end of the year. Also in May, Ecuador signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
In June, a presidential decree declared the penitentiary system to be in a state of emergency and promised in-depth reforms. The same month, the Constitutional Tribunal declared two articles of the law on military service unconstitutional, thereby making conscientious objection possible.
Hundreds of Colombians fled across the border into Ecuador to escape intense fighting between the security forces and guerrilla forces in the southern Colombian department of Nariño, and serious human rights violations by army-backed paramilitaries.
Environmental concerns and community activists
In June, a federal court in New York, USA, recognized the jurisdiction of the Ecuadorian justice system in a case being brought against Chevron (formerly Texaco) by Ecuadorians for alleged environmental damage in the Amazonian region between 1964 and 1990. The case was due to reach a conclusion in 2008.
Environmental and community activists were reportedly threatened and harassed in the context of protests against extractive industry projects.
- Between June and August, community leader Jaime Polivio Pérez Lucero received death threats and activist Mercy Catalina Torres Terán was attacked by an unidentified armed man. They were apparently targeted because of their opposition to a mining project close to their homes in the Intag area of Imbabura Province.
- In January and March, members of a community in Canton Chillanes, Bolívar Province, were reportedly threatened and harassed by members of the armed forces. They were arrested on charges of sabotage and violence towards the armed forces, but were all released several days later because of insufficient evidence. The arrests were apparently linked to the community’s campaign for the right of those affected by a planned hydroelectric dam in the area to be consulted about the project.
- In November a state of emergency was declared in Orellana Province after demonstrators took over oil wells in the region and cut oil production by around 20 per cent as part of a campaign to demand that the government spend more of the revenue from oil on improving the infrastructure in the province. Around 20 protesters were detained during a military operation to quell the protests in which ill-treatment of detainees was reported.
Police and security forces
Several people were reportedly ill-treated by police in custody. One person died in custody in disputed circumstances. There were continuing concerns about attempts to refer allegations of ill-treatment by police to the police, rather than the civilian, courts.
- Paúl Alejandro Guañuna Sanguña was detained by two police officers while he was walking home in Zámbiza, Pichincha Province, in January. The following day the 17-year-old’s body was found at the bottom of a ravine. Attempts to refer the case to the police courts resulted in a delay in the start of the judicial process. At the end of the year the trial was continuing in a civilian court.
- In May, 16-year-old Víctor Javier Tipán Caiza was stopped by police as he was walking home with friends. The others ran away, but Víctor Tipán was caught and taken into custody. His friends later found him at the spot where they had been stopped. He had multiple injuries, including broken teeth and a broken nose. An investigation was apparently opened into this case, but the results were not known at the end of the year.