Critics of the authorities, including human rights defenders, faced prosecution, harassment and intimidation; the rights to freedom of expression and of association were restricted. The right to free, prior and informed consent relating to development projects which adversely affected livelihoods, was denied to Indigenous Peoples.
The UN Human Rights Committee expressed concerns about violations of the ICCPR including: the repeated use by police of force against peaceful demonstrations; legal provisions which threatened the rights to freedom of association and assembly; delays to legislative reform to allow adequate consultation with Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities and other communities. It recommended that increased efforts be made to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and that violence against women and sexual violence in schools be addressed.
Freedoms of expression and association
In April, Indigenous Peoples’ leaders appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and condemned restrictions on their right to freedom of association.
In September, the authorities dissolved the National Union of Teachers (UNE), on grounds that it had not registered its executive board with the authorities.
In December, the Interior Ministry filed a complaint against the Ecological Action Corporation, accusing it of violent acts after it published information about the possible environmental impact of mining activities on the Morona Santiago province. Consequently, the organization remained under threat of closure.
Indigenous Peoples’ rights
In January, the Kichwa People of Sarayaku denounced government negotiations aimed at granting permission to international companies to extract oil from their territory without consulting the community.1
In June, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a resolution in the Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayaku v Ecuador case. It acknowledged that the state had complied with most of the orders contained in its 2012 ruling. The Court requested further information from the government regarding the obligation to provide permanent training and capacity building to help judicial functionaries resolve cases where the rights of Indigenous Peoples had been violated. In December the Court held a hearing on state compliance with court orders relating to the removal of explosives from Sarayaku territory and the right of the people affected by such measures to enjoy prior consultation. The Court is expected to issue its resolution in 2017.
In December, following a series of violent acts and harassment by the authorities against the Shuar Indigenous Peoples for their opposition to a mining project in Morona Santiago, the government declared a state of emergency in the area and arrested the President of the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centres, Agustín Wachapá.
Human rights defenders
In January, campesino leaders Manuel Trujillo and Manuela Pacheco were accused of “terrorism” after they participated in a campaign to oppose the construction of a hydroelectric plant that the community believed would restrict their right to water.2 They were acquitted later that month due to lack of evidence.
In July, a co-ordinator of the Ombudsman’s Office rejected a complaint by the Women Defenders of Mother Earth Front who alleged that they were assaulted and arbitrarily arrested during a peaceful protest against a mining project in the province of Cuenca. The women requested that the decision be reviewed in line with the Ombudsman’s procedures. There was no decision by the end of the year.