PRESS RELEASE

 

N 13/06

THE IACHR EXPRESSES CONCERN

FOR THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ECUADOR

 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights presented its annual report, wherein it included a section on the situation of human rights in Ecuador.  In the said section, the Commission discussed the institutional deficiencies of the country during the time-period covered by the report.  In this regard, the Commission maintained that the substitution of a president elected by a popular vote, and before the termination of his mandate, is a serious matter, and that it requires a critical observation from the perspective of defending democracy and fundamental liberties.  In turn, the Commission condemned the disproportional use of force during large-scaled protests, and profoundly lamented the loss of human life.  The Commission also highlighted that the strengthening of democracy and the consolidation of the State of Rights through a re-construction that respects the separation of powers is an area that deserves priority.  Towards this end, the Commission recommended that the appropriate measures be adopted in order to reinforce judicial independence, honesty and judicial professionalism, as a means to regain the confidence of the population.

 

With respect to the situation of judicial power, the Commission observed that the institutional crisis have particularly affected the judicial power due to irregularities such as the dismissal of magistrates, among others.  The Commission noted the necessity of establishing a balance between independence and the rendition of accounts, signaling that in any hierarchical level, the judicial independence must correspond with ethical limitations stipulated by the law.  As such, the Commission understands that the main problem to overcome is not only with respect to the formal reorganization of the judicial power, but also the recuperation of public confidence in the judicial institutions of the State.

 

In addition, the Commission recognized the efforts of the Government of Ecuador in the process of re-establishment of the judicial power, principally reflected in the assignment of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, whose election was a result of an innovative process that included the participation of some recognized international organizations as observers.  In this regard, the Commission expressed its hope that these trends continue to grow stronger in the future.

 

The Commission also provided information on the state of the efficacy of judicial guarantees in Ecuador, and noted its concern with respect to the fact that, at the time of the preparation of the report, the Constitutional Tribunal had not been reconstituted.  The Commission reiterated that the legislation that provides for the presentation of the recourse of habeas corpus before a mayor, who forms a part of the executive wing of the local government, is not in accordance with the required standards in the American Convention.  With respect to the recourse of habeas data, the Commission noted with pleasure, the promulgation of the Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information in the year 2004, also recognizing that the integration of the said norm in the daily life implies a change in the social paradigm of the population and their representatives, for which the Commission recommended that it will follow-up this observation with special care.

 

With respect to the protection of individual rights, the Commission mentioned that the adequate administration of justice is an essential element for guaranteeing that the responsible individuals for violations of rights to life and other rights are identified, declared responsible and punished.  At the same time, the Commission noted that to date, Ecuador has not ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Forced Disappearance of People.  On the right to personal integrity, the Commission mentioned its concern for the information received that point to the excessive use of force on the part of the public agents when repressing public protests and rallies.  Also, the Commissioned noted its concern with respect to the petitions in which the cases of torture and maltreatment on the part of the State are alleged.  At the same time, the Commission urged the State of Ecuador to make a preferable use of an ordinary jurisdiction on military and police forces when the violations of human rights are concerned.  Finally, regarding the right to personal liberty, the Commission reiterated its concern for the situation of overcrowding and violations in jails, emphasizing that this situation requires the prompt attention of the Government.

 

Finally, the Commission highlighted that political stability is a fundamental component for allowing the development of effective policies that protect human rights.  The Commission recognized the consensus achieved for the nominating of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, noting the importance of respecting the independence of the judicial power.  At the same time, the Commission valued the efforts of the Ecuadorian society for attempting the reestablish the state of rights, and the reorganization of the judicial branch.

 

Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006