Human Rights Watch denounces human rights violations in Ecuador after decree of armed conflict

Human Rights Watch denounces human rights violations in Ecuador after decree of armed conflict

The American organization Human Rights Watch denounced on Wednesday that Ecuador is registering a series of human rights violations without those responsible being held accountable to justice, after President Daniel Noboa decreed the state of internal armed conflict in January amid a spiral of violence generated by criminal gangs.

In a letter sent to president Daniel Noboathe human rights defense group questioned the existence of an internal armed conflict, arguing that this “seems to lack legal basis” and specified that this condition implies “prolonged armed violence between government authorities and organized armed groups.”

Juanita Goebertus, director of HRW’s Americas Division, noted that such a situation has contributed to “serious human rights violations by security forces,” including at least one alleged extrajudicial execution and multiple cases of arbitrary detentions. , mistreatment and lack of judicial prosecution of some 13,000 detainees.

In the midst of a spiral of violence, which included the Jailbreak of the criminal leaders Adolfo Macías and Fabricio Colón Pico and the take live on January 9 by hooded armed men from a state television channel, Noboa decided to subscribe to the state of internal armed conflict to confront criminal groups.

He then identified 22 organized crime gangs, which the government described as terrorists, and authorized joint action by the armed forces and the police, both on the streets and in prisons, considered by the police as crime command centers. organized.

In a case documented by Human Rights Watch, soldiers killed 19-year-old Carlos Javier Vega on February 2 in Guayaquil and wounded his cousin Eduardo Velasco. The Armed Forces said that the young people had tried to “evade control, attacking military personnel” and described them as “terrorists.”

The family of Vega and Velasco reported that there had been an abuse of force and that the two young people had left home to sell a dog puppy.

Human Rights Watch contradicted the Army’s version that the young people were involved with criminal groups based on interviews with witnesses, relatives and lawyers of the victims, as well as videos and photographs, and court documents.

For the human rights organization, the Ecuadorian government “has not presented sufficient evidence to conclude that there is an armed conflict with any of those 22 organized crime groups,” identified by the authorities and which served as the basis for such declaration.

Likewise, he stressed that many people who were reported as detained apparently were never brought before a prosecutor or a judge. According to the report, many of the more than 13,000 people reported as detained appear to have been held in custody for brief periods outside the legal process and, according to videos and photographs posted on the Internet—which Human Rights Watch claims to have verified—were subjected to reprimands, beatings and other degrading treatment.

Regarding the situation in prisons, the HRW report states that the military, which has controlled Ecuadorian prisons since January, has kept detainees incommunicado, sometimes hindering their right to consult with lawyers or obtain medical assistance.

Another case collected by the organization mentions that, in a court hearing, a detainee described how the military hit him with a cable on the back and stepped on his finger. “Since yesterday they couldn’t hit me supposedly because I was sick, they made me open my legs and hit me in the testicles,” he said.

HRW highlighted that the document sent to Noboa is the product of work carried out between January and April, after interviews with a dozen victims of abuse, their families, lawyers, with information from ministries and State institutions, analyzing photographs, videos , review files and virtually attend court hearings.

Goerbertus called on President Noboa to “respond to (criminal) violence with an effective security policy that protects Ecuadorians,” strengthen the judicial system, create a well-trained and resourced investigation unit in the Attorney General’s Office, so that Prosecutors do not depend on the police.

He also called for increasing the number and capacity of forensic investigators, prosecutors and judges who investigate and prosecute organized crime and corruption cases and increasing funding to protect judicial officials, among other actions.

Homicides in Ecuador increased by 574.30% between 2019 and 2023, a period in which violent deaths rose from seven to more than 47 per 100,000 inhabitants, citing figures from the Ecuadorian Organized Crime Observatory. The government has said that as a result of its policy, homicides fell by 27%, although the police have recorded 1,875 murders this year as of May 11. Kidnappings and extortions have also increased.

According to the authorities’ explanation, the criminal gangs Choneros and Los Lobos, partners of Colombian, Mexican and Albanian drug traffickers, are fighting for control of the territory and drug trafficking routes. Ecuador is considered a storage and export center for large quantities of drugs, according to the police.

Connect with the Voice of America! Subscribe to our channels Youtube, WhatsApp and to the newsletter. Turn on notifications and follow us on Facebook, x and instagram.

Source link