In response to the killing yesterday of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:
“Amnesty International is extremely concerned at the current state of violence in Ecuador, which is facing a sharp increase in its homicide rate as well as a series of killings of candidates for public office in recent weeks, culminating with the seemingly politically motivated killing of Fernando Villavicencio last night. The victims of the current spate of political violence deserve truth, justice and reparation and authorities must take swift action to investigate these crimes. At the same time, the state of emergency declared in response to these events must not open the door to grave human rights violations that could undermine the security of Ecuador’s population as a whole.”
Over the past few months, Ecuador has been facing a crisis of insecurity, primarily concentrated in the coastal areas near the cities of Guayaquil and Esmeraldas and linked to activities of organized crime. On 3 May, the president issued a decree allowing for the deployment of armed forces in the entire national territory “to repress the terrorist threat” in the country, without placing any time limit on this order, in contravention of international standards on the deployment of armed forces for public security tasks, which call for such decisions to be time-bound and geographically limited. On 17 May, the president dissolved the Legislative Assembly by decree and called elections for August 20. The recent 60-day state of emergency declared today in response to the killing of Villavicencio is the latest in a series of emergency decrees from the president and suspends a series of rights including the right to freedom of assembly, as well as allowing both police and armed forces a wider mandate to enter residences and premises to carry out searches, seize property and to access correspondence.
The state of emergency declared in response to these events must not open the door to grave human rights violations that could undermine the security of Ecuador’s population as a wholeErika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
In the context of the state of emergency and the suspension of certain rights, Amnesty International reminds Ecuador´s authorities that certain rights must never be subject to derogation, in line with the Covenant on International, Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the American Convention on Human Rights. Of relevance to the recent deployment of armed forces throughout the country are the right to life, the prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, the principle of legality, meaning the requirement of both criminal liability and punishment being limited to clear and precise provisions in the law, and the recognition of everyone as a person before the law.
In the current context, Ecuador´s highest officials must call on all public servants to be extremely vigilant of human rights standards, including the Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation of Provisions in the ICCPR and the Inter-American standards on the matter, in order to avoid possible arbitrary acts that could lead to grave human rights violations and crimes under international law.