University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Ecuador, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.96, Doc. 10 rev. 1 (1997).





This Report is a product of the Commission's on-going observation of the human rights situation in Ecuador. In accordance with its mandate, defined by the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights, its Statute and its Regulations, the Commission monitors human rights developments in each member state of the OAS, and from time to time deems it useful to report the results of its study concerning a particular member state and formulate corresponding recommendations to assist that state in upholding its inter-American human rights obligations.

This report covers the period to September of 1996, principally taking into consideration developments since the inauguration of the Durán Bailén Administration in mid-1992, but also making reference to previous events where useful to fully explain a particular situation. The subsequent Administration, under the leadership of President Abdalá Bucaram, assumed office on August 10, 1996. Pursuant to Congressional appointment, the Government is currently presided over by President Fabián Alarcón Rivera.

The report was prepared on the basis of information gathered by the Commission in the course of monitoring the human rights situation in Ecuador, including relevant data available from governmental and non-governmental sources, as well as material available from other intergovernmental organizations, media reports, and data gathered pursuant to the processing of individual petitions. Additionally, the Commission was able to directly observe the human rights situation in Ecuador, and count on the valuable assistance of the Government and people of Ecuador, when it carried out an on site visit to that country in November of 1994.

During its 85th Regular Period of Sessions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights EIACHRI agreed to request the consent of the Ecuadorean Government to carry out an on site visit to that country. After initial discussions concerning the timing of the visit, on August 4, 1994 the Government of Ecuador issued its consent for the Commission to carry out its in loco observation from November 7 through 11, 1994.

Comprising the Delegation of the Commission were Prof. Michael Reisman, Chairman, Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, First Vice-Chairman, Dr. Leo Valladares, Second Vice-Chairman, and Ambassador John Donaldson, Member. The Delegation was assisted by Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary of the Commission Secretariat, Dr. Domingo Acevedo, Legal Advisor, and Dr. Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, Staff Attorney. Administrative support was provided by Mrs. Gabriela Hageman and Mrs. Rosario McIntyre.

During its visit, the Commission met with then-Vice President of the Republic, Dr. Alberto Dahik Garzozi; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Dr. Francisco Acosta Yepes, the Chief Presiding Judge of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, Dr. Hugo Ordoñez Espinosa, and the Attorney General of the Nation, Dr. Fernando Casares; the Speaker of the National Congress, Dr. Heinz Moeller; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Galo Leoro Franco the Minister of Mines and Energy, Dr. Gustavo Galindo; the Minister of Defense, General José Gallardo Román; the Minister of Government and Police, Dr. Marcelo Santos, and that Ministry's Director of Social Rehabilitation., Dr. Juan José Páez, the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the National Congress, Deputy Juan José Castelos, and other Members of the National Congress; and with the General Commandant of the National Police, General Miguel Rocero Barba.

The Commission met with representatives from a range of nongovernmental organizations working in the field of human rights: Sister Elsie Monge and Sister Laura Glynn of the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission; Dr. Gloria Maira and ,Dr. Javier Mena of the Latin American Human Rights Association; Dr. Luis Macas of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Mr. Valerio Grefa-of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Communities of the Amazon Basin (COICA); Mr. Edmundo Vargas of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorean Amazon (CONFENIAE), and representatives from organizations including ECUARUNARI, FICI, the Federation of Indigenous Organizations of Napo (FOIN) and OINAE. Hearings were held with individuals and institutions representing a range of social sectors, and offering information on the situation of human rights in Ecuador. These included environmental organizations such as-Acción Ecologica, Ecosciencia, CEDENMA and the Fundación Natura, as well as such institutions as the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights; the Children's. Forum; the Latin American Council of Churches; the Committee to Assist Refugees and Those Displaced by the Violence the Ecuadorean Aids Assistance, Education and Prevention ' Foundation; the Ecuadorean Commission on HIV-AIDS Human Rights; the Afro-Ecuadorean National Confederation; and the Permanent National Forum of Ecuadorean Women.

During its visit the Commission received a considerable number of individual complaints filed in accordance with the terms of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission held hearings with relatives of the detained and the disappeared, and with other petitioners wishing to offer information concerning individual complaints.

In Quito, the Commission visited Rehabilitation Centers No. 1 (former García Moreno Prison), No. 2 (the Ambato Street Prison), No. 3 and No. 4, as well as the Women’s Social Rehabilitation Center (El Inca Prison). The Commission met with prison authorities and a number of inmates at each facility.

One Commission delegation travelled to Guayaquil to examine the conditions at the Men's Coastal Prison and the Women's Prison. The delegation met with the Governor of the Province, Dr. Angel Duarte Valverde, and with the Chief Justice of the Provincial Supreme Court, Dr. Cristóbal Orellana, as well as with other officials of the Guayas Province. The members of the delegation met with representatives of the Ecuadorean Human Rights Defense Front (FEDHU), and the Service for Peace and Justice (SERPAJ).

Another delegation travelled to the interior of the country, and visited various points beginning in Lago Agrio, continuing to Shushufindi, and ending in Coca. This delegation inspected a number of oil production facilities and well wastepits, their impact on the local environment, and the resulting effect on the local population. It met with representatives of the Cofan, Siona-Secoya, Shuar, Achuar, Quichua and Huaorani peoples, as well as with representatives of the Amazonian Defense Front, the Federation of Communities, the Parliament of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorean Amazon (FCUNIAE), the Francisco de Orellana Human Rights Commission, campesinos from the organization La Delicia and the locality of Primavera, and with representatives of the Carmelite and Capuchin Missions.

The information gathered from these meetings with governmental and nongovernmental representatives of Ecuadorean society has been highly valuable in preparing this report. The Commission has made reference to the various types of information received in preparation for, during and after its observation in loco, in accordance with the regulations which govern its work. In keeping with the practice of the Commission, documentary materials and individual petitions received during the on site visit have been duly processed following the applicable rules. The information provided by the Ecuadorean Government has been very useful, and the Commission has reviewed with attention the official documents and legal materials provided during the visit. The Commission remains appreciative of the facilities provided by the Government of Ecuador, and acknowledges the cooperation of its authorities and of the people of the country, all of which enabled the Commission to carry out its work.

Consequently, this report examines the human rights situation in Ecuador in light of the information and documentation compiled through the Commission's normal procedures, as well as in light of the insights and extensive data gathered during its on site visit. The impressions formed and information received during that visit, necessarily preliminary in nature, have been subjected to detailed research and analysis in order to present this special report. The Commission's on site visit to Ecuador provided an opportunity for it to further develop its relationship with the governmental and non-governmental sectors working in favor of human rights, thereby strengthening its ability to work with these sectors to continue advancing the promotion and protection of these rights.

The "Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Ecuador" was approved by the Commission on October 18, 1996, during its 93rd regular session. In accordance with Article 62 of the Commission's Regulations, the report was transmitted to the Government of Ecuador on November 27, 1996, with a request that it submit the observations deemed pertinent within a period of three months. On February 25, 1997, the Government requested a one month extension of the time in which to submit its response, given that it was in the midst of a period of transition under the new President, Dr. Fabián Alarcón Rivera.

The Government presented a comprehensive set of observations in relation to the report by means of a communication dated March 19, 1997. It also noted the recent appointment of Ambassador José Ayala Lasso as Foreign Minister, and Economist César Verduga as Minister of Government. The Government indicated that the report had been analyzed in great detail, and that it valued the contents, conclusions, and recommendations offered, which would constitute an important element inits efforts to improve certain mechanisms and consolidate others devoted to the realization of human rights in the country. The Government recognized the objective character of the report,: and indicated that its observations were presented in order to provide the Commission with additional information about certain positive measures referred to in the report. The Commission has studied these observations, incorporated a number of them into thee sections to. which they correspond, and approved the definitive version of this report.

The Commission values the positive and constructive attitude reflected in the observations submitted by the Government of Ecuador, and the openness with which the, latter is addressing certain deficiencies which affect the ability of the country's inhabitants to fully enjoy their rights and freedoms. Accordingly, in the exercise of its mandate and in the spirit of collaboration, the Commission presents this special report with its corresponding recommendations, and reiterates its willingness to work with the authorities of Ecuador in order to, strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. The Commission hopes the positive initiatives referred to in this report will be complemented by additional measures to implement the recommendations offered in favor of consolidating human rights protection.


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