The worrying human rights situation in Ecuador has given rise to an association of civil society organizations and individuals from different sectors. The Platform for the Defense of Democracy & Human Rights in Ecuador seeks to contribute to the construction of a democratic Ecuadorian society and State. In its first report, the group summarizes the continuing violations of rights with the following categories:
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1) Implementation of a system of censorship and other violations of the right to freedom of expression.
2) Media lynching as a government strategy
3) Incitement to hatred
4) Verbal and psychological aggression as a control mechanism for freedom of thought
5) Persecution of civil society organizations and repressive regulations regarding the rights of association
6) Violation of freedom of association
7) Violations of the rights of women and ethnic minorities
8) Absence of guarantees for an independent judiciary
9) Excessive use of the state of exception
10) Disproportional use of the criminal charges of sabotage and terrorism; and violations of the rights of participation.
Among the most significant points, the report concludes:
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• Ecuador is heading towards a crisis of profound dimensions, exacerbated by the persistence of a development-based management model and institutionalization, which has led to a political hardening and authoritarian law enforcement, in addition to the manipulation of institutions.
• Regarding the right to information, in summary, the repeal of the Organic Communications Law (LOC for its Spanish acronym) is recommended and, with it, the concept of media lynching. Public and seized media outlets should no longer be used to disparage, discredit and endanger those who think differently from the Government. In this regard, there should be a review of the disproportionality with which public servants use the media against ordinary citizens.
• Regarding the right of association, the State must ensure that civil society is organized freely, as established in the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and the Constitution, and that NGOs are not closed without respect for due process. This is concomitant with freedom of association.
• Regarding the rights of women, it is recommended to end the judicialization of abortion using informers in the medical profession.
• With regard to minority rights, the State must ensure that this sector benefits from all the guarantees established by the Constitution and the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights.
• It is imperative to evaluate the disproportionate use of the state of exception.
• To fulfil the right of participation, it is recommended to depoliticize appointments for public office, bringing transparency to the process and returning the appointment of key authorities to the Assembly.
• Regarding justice, the independence of operators is essential.
The report presents a disturbing conclusion: “Ecuador presents numerous social deficits that have been used by the State to generate patronage systems.” This patronage operates on the basis of a perverse exchange: the population accepts the violation of civil and political rights in exchange for economic benefits arising from State spending.
In summary, and this is most worrying, violations of human rights in Ecuador are not exceptions; on the contrary, they originate from a political model of transgression whose raison d’etre is the expansion of state control over civil society. It is the worst case scenario.