UN Committee denounces the “violent repression” against indigenous children during the protests in Ecuador

Panoramic view of Quito, the capital of Ecuador

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child denounced that soldiers and riot police they fired tear gas and pelletss against groups of indigenous protesters, including children and adolescents, when they took to the streets to demand that the authorities reduce fuel prices and the cost of living.

The Committee issued a statement in response “to the large number of indigenous children and adolescents subjected to a violent repression”.

“According to several reliable sources, potentially lethal forms of ammunition, such as buckshot, have been authorized to suppress protests. We have also received information from children exposed to the serious side effects caused by the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of tear gas.

In addition, they have received information from many boys and girls who wander alone through the country’s capital, without protection and without contact with their caregivers or adult relatives “as a consequence of the repressive actions of the State.” They are also concerned about the significant number of injured adolescents.

© Unsplash/David Golding

Panoramic view of Quito, the capital of Ecuador

“Brutal eviction of assemblies”

The members assure that the children are experiencing “profound confusion, anguish and fear” as a consequence “of the chaos caused by uncontrolled repressionwhich has even spread to areas identified as peaceful.

“The brutal eviction of non-violent assemblies in places like the House of Culture, where many mothers met in the company of children and adolescentswas especially serious and unjustifiable”, they maintain.

While welcoming the lifting of the state of emergency and the talks between government officials and indigenous peoples, the Committee demands that the State cease immediately and completely the use of force outside international standards and immediately investigate reported incidents.

It calls on all parties, including those participating in the protests, to protect all children and adolescents during the demonstrations.

According to press reports, the dialogue between the Government and the indigenous movement was left in suspense on Tuesday after an attack in which a soldier died, which led the president, Guillermo Lasso, to break off talks with Leonidas Iza, the main promoter of the mobilizations.

At least four other people have died and a hundred have been injured in the ten days of protests.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in South America urged this past Saturday all political and social actors in Ecuador to “urgently initiate a meaningful dialogue in good faith”, which offers a way out of tensions and violence.

Committee Recommendations

The Committee reminds the State of its latest recommendations made in 2017, so that:

  • Promote, protect and facilitate the freedom of association and peaceful assembly of children, and repeal laws and regulations that allow the imposition of sanctions in relation to the exercise of the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly
  • Speed ​​up the adoption of a protocol on how to treat children in the context of public demonstrations, and ensure that the protocol is in line with the Convention
  • Establish a complaint mechanism for children who have suffered any form of violence, excessive use of force or arbitrary detention during public demonstrations, and establish appropriate sanctions for public officials who violate children’s right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly

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