In the Context of Demonstrations in Ecuador, the IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression Stress Inter-American Standards on the Right to Protest

November 5, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression continue to monitor protests in Ecuador. Both institutions urge the State to comply with inter-American standards and ensure freedom of expression and the right of assembly in the context of civic demonstrations.

The IACHR notes that several protests have taken place since October 26 in various provinces in Ecuador, reportedly reflecting socioeconomic complaints. According to publicly available reports, the first day of protests featured violence against both demonstrators and the police. The actions of protesters—particularly those gathered at Santo Domingo Square in Quito—affected unrelated individuals and public property. Civil society organizations have recorded 37 arrests in the demonstration context.

The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression condemn all acts of violence committed during demonstrations. They call on the State to investigate allegations of crimes perpetrated during protests, and to try and punish anyone found responsible for them. The Commission stresses, as it did in its report , that the fact that some people engage in acts of violence during a protest does not in itself make the whole protest illegitimate. The State has a double duty to contain all potential violence and to ensure the right to demonstrate by protecting anyone expressing their discontent.

"Organizations and organizers of a demonstration or protest should not be held responsible in their capacity as such for any acts of violence that may be committed by participants and third parties," the report says. The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression call on the State to ensure due process for the people arrested in this context and to take inter-American standards into account in all its ongoing efforts, at the institutional, civic, police, and judicial levels.

The Commission and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression commend the State on its call for dialogue with various sectors and ask that it ensure that talks remain effective and inclusive, particularly by taking into account the representatives of vulnerable groups. The two institutions further ask that talks address the legitimate demands of the people, with the utmost respect for human rights and within the democratic context of the rule of law. They also note that they will continue to monitor events and to provide support in case new protests take place.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 294/21

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