Indigenous peoples affected by the 7 April 2020 oil spill in the Amazon were denied truth, justice and reparations. Detainees faced risks to their rights to life, integrity and security. The Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion on grounds of rape.
Protests erupted after the first round of the presidential election in February amid claims of fraud. In the second round of the election in April, Guillermo Lasso emerged as the winner, defeating Andrés Arauz.
There were protests during the year by Indigenous peoples, farmers, transport workers and students, among others, against government policies related to extractive projects and austerity measures.
By 31 December, more than 70% of Ecuador’s population had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. As of 31 December, the Ministry of Health reported 551,620 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 33,682 related deaths since 29 February 2020.
Indigenous peoples’ rights
In March, the Orellana Provincial Court rejected an appeal submitted by communities affected by the 2020 oil spill in the Coca and Napo rivers. In May, the Constitutional Court agreed to review rulings in the case and in June it agreed to review a request to protect their human rights.
Indigenous peoples continued to be at higher risk from the pandemic due to long-standing inequalities and discrimination resulting in lack of access to drinking water, food, medical supplies, health services and Covid-19 tests.
Human rights defenders
By the end of the year, authorities had yet to design and implement a national policy for the protection of human rights defenders at risk.
Human rights defenders, including Carlos Jipa, María Espinosa, Vivian Idrovo and Xavier Solis, continued to face criminal proceedings for allegedly endangering the physical integrity of a judge and his family. The proceedings followed a criminal complaint by the judge who, on 1 September 2020, had rejected a petition for precautionary measures submitted by the human rights defenders on behalf of Indigenous peoples affected by the 2020 oil spill. The defenders had complained that the judge had not ensured due process guarantees.
Freedom of expression and assembly
While investigations continued into the human rights violations committed during October 2019 protests, no law enforcement officials had been charged or prosecuted by the end of the year.
At least 316 people deprived of their liberty were killed in prisons in clashes between rival gangs, including 79 people on 26 February, 119 people on 28 September, and 62 people between 12 and 13 November. Among them was environmental activist Víctor Guaillas, sentenced to five years in prison for “sabotage” in connection with the October 2019 protests. The deaths occurred in a context of overcrowding, neglect and a failure to ensure the prison population’s human rights.1
Sexual and reproductive rights
In April, following campaigns and legal proceedings initiated by Ecuadorian human rights and feminist groups, the Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion where the pregnancy is the result of rape.2