HUMAN RIGHTS ALERT
October 16th, 2019. Quito, Ecuador – The undersigned organizations have vigorously and permanently condemned various systematic and general violations that occurred from the 3rd of October within the framework of the National Strike and the executive decree declaring a state of emergency.
During those 11 days we registered facts related to arbitrary and illegal detentions, serious violations of due process of a various people within the context of social protest, for example, the refusal of judges to receive writs of Habeas Corpus, lack of communication of detainees with their lawyers or family members, transfer of detainees to military or police establishments not authorized for detentions, lack of time and means necessary for the exercise of an effective technical defense, and lack of guarantees so that detainees could choose their defense lawyers.
At the same time, we denounce the failure to observe the principal of minimum penal interventions with respect to conduct that does not constitute a crime, especially social protests and the right to meetings and association; the failure to individualize criminal responsibility within police reports and certain judicial resolutions; the lack of interpreters or application of intercultural standards for people pertaining to indigenous nations or groups; and cruel and degrading treatment, among others.
Additionally, human rights lawyers that assist with Criminal Detention Centers and arraignment hearings are under the obligation to raise alerts regarding presumptively modified police reports so that the deadlines within the criminal process do not expire (for example, the hearing within case 17282-2019-0 was rescheduled three times) or the presentation of collective police reports despite differing circumstances and hours of detention. In other cases, even when the Prosecutor’s Office did not have sufficient elements in order to convict and the judge did not present charges, a criminal investigation was announced. As already noted, there is also evidence of irregularities in the registration and places of detention, such as the 72 people who were detained at the National Assembly and moved to the police station of the Intervention and Rescue Group-GIR in Pusuqui, north of Quito; and, at least 17 people were victims of judicial false positives, in which criminal conduct was imputed without sufficient evidence.
In particular, in this alert, we want to call attention to the importance of guaranteeing at all times and for all people the human and constitutional right to due process jointly with all other guarantees, which should be exercised independently of the conditions and regardless of the act that might have been committed. State obligations regarding human rights are not conditioned by the guilt or innocence of the person detained o subject to criminal procedures1 .
In accord, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights has indicated that judicial guarantees, especially those linked to due process, are not subject to suspension, even in situations when a state of emergency has been declared: “(…) the principles of legal due process cannot be suspended based on situations of exception (emergency) in that they constitute necessary conditions so that procedural instruments as regulated within the Convention can be considered as judicial guarantees.”2
With great concern, we have seen to date at least 500 people detained, linked to prior investigations or prosecutor’s instructions without having individualized in a clear manner their supposed responsibilities before the commencement of said process.
The excessive use of criminal law, that could have the ends of persecuting or criminalizing the practice of the recognized right to resistance, in the case of indigenous or social leaders could paralyze or weaken their legitimate action3 . This is a clear violation of the internal law and international standards.
As a result, we make an URGENT call to the judicial power to maintain independence in all procedural actions in which it should intervene; make rational, proportional and of last resort the use of criminal law; be rigorous in the observance of national and international standards of due process and human rights of indigenous peoples; and above all take into account the history of serious violations of human rights. We emphasize that generalized repression within the context of social protest has been duly denounced by various actors, among them: the undersigned organizations; the National Institution on Human Rights (Defensoría del Pueblo del Ecuador) and organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International, all of which express concern with these facts and have noted the state obligation to undertake exhaustive and impartial investigations of the violations of human rights registered.
We urge the international organisms on the protection of human rights to, within their abilities, warn the Ecuadorian State of its obligation to act in accordance with international standards on human rights, due process, and the rights of indigenous peoples in relation to all persons processed within the framework of social protest.