Ecuador
Head of state and government
Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
Population
14.7 million
Life expectancy
75.6 years
Under-5 mortality
24.2 per 1,000
Adult literacy
84.2 per cent

Indigenous and community leaders faced spurious criminal charges. Those responsible for human rights violations continued to evade justice.

Background

Six police officers were found guilty in July of crimes against state security following police protests over pay cuts in September 2010. In May President Correa narrowly won a 10-question referendum, which included a proposal to reform the judicial system as well as to regulate the media.

In February, an Ecuadorian court fined the oil company Chevron US$18 billion for widespread contamination of the Amazon basin. An appeal by Chevron was pending at the end of the year.

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Indigenous Peoples’ rights

  • In July, Ecuador appeared before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights accused of failing to respect the right of the Indigenous Kichwa community of Sarayaku to be consulted and to give free, prior and informed consent before permissions for oil exploration on traditional lands were granted in 1996. At the end of the year a decision by the Court remained pending.
  • In October, the executive issued a decree authorizing the military to intervene in Chone city, Manabí province, where Indigenous communities were protesting against the construction of a dam that could lead to the forced eviction of around 1,700 families. The following day, hundreds of police entered the area, destroying farmland with tractors. One person was injured. Protests eventually resumed and three days later, four people were injured during operations to remove the protesters.

Indigenous leaders and community members continued to face spurious charges of sabotage, terrorism, murder and illegal obstruction of roads for alleged crimes committed in the context of demonstrations against extractive industries.

  • In February, Indigenous leaders José Acacho, Pedro Mashiant and Fidel Kaniras were arrested in Sucúa, Morona Santiago province, on charges that included murder, sabotage and terrorism, in connection with the 2009 protests against a national water law during which one person was killed and 40 people, including police officers, were injured. The men were released after seven days, but the charges remained pending at the end of the year despite the absence of evidence against them.
  • In May, charges of sabotage and terrorism were brought against community leaders Carlos Pérez, Federico Guzmán and Efraín Arpi. The three men had participated in a protest against a proposed state water law in Azuay province. The charges were dismissed in August, but new charges for illegal obstruction of roads were brought against them and Carlos Pérez was sentenced to eight days in prison.
  • Marco Guatemal, President of the Indigenous and Peasant Federation of Imbabura, and two other Indigenous community members were accused of terrorism and sabotage also after participating in a protest against the water laws. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. Marco Guatemal was arrested in October after new charges for obstruction of roads were brought against him, but the charges were dropped in November.
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Human rights defenders

In July, human rights defender Marlon Lozano Yulán, a member of Land and Life Union which works with rural communities on land issues, died in Guayaquil after being shot by two unidentified assailants travelling on a motorbike. He had received threats prior to his murder. By the end of the year, no progress had been reported in the investigations into this attack.

On 25 November, Monica Chuji, an Indigenous leader and former minister, was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine for slander for criticizing the government in the press. However, following a public outcry, she was pardoned by the government and her case was archived, removing the opportunity for her to appeal the decision.

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Impunity

In his report published in May, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions expressed concern about impunity in cases of killings and abuses by police, hired gunmen and rural juntas, as well as illegal armed groups and the military in the area bordering Colombia.

  • In July, 12 police officers from the disbanded National Police Group on trial for the torture in 2009 of Karina, Fabricio and Javier Pico Suárez and the enforced disappearance of Georgy Hernán Cedeño were sentenced to between two and 10 months’ imprisonment. They were immediately released as they had already served their sentences.
  • In October the Attorney General announced he was replacing the team of prosecutors investigating the enforced disappearance of Colombian teenage brothers Carlos Santiago and Pedro Andrés Restrepo in 1988 because of lack of progress.
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Freedom of expression

Curbs on freedom of expression included the use of criminal defamation charges against journalists critical of the government or local officials.

  • In July, a judge ordered three directors and a former columnist of the newspaper El Universo to pay President Correa US$40 million in damages and sentenced them to three years’ imprisonment for criminal defamation. President Correa brought a criminal complaint against the four men in March, a month after an article was published referring to him as a “dictator” and suggesting that he might face criminal prosecution over the September 2010 disturbances when the armed forces rescued him from a hospital in Quito. He had sought refuge there from police officers protesting against proposed cuts in their pay and benefits. An appeal against the sentence imposed on the directors and columnist was pending in the National Court of Justice at the end of the year.
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