Ecuador completes second universal period review

Ecuador completes second universal period review

The second Universal Period Review (UPR) report of Ecuador was considered during the 13th session of the Human Rights Council, on May 21 2012.

Led by the Vice-President Mr Lenin Moreno Garcès, the high-level delegation, which also included the Ecuadorian Minister of Justice, engaged proactively in the interactive dialogue. Indeed, as noted by the ‘International Service for Human Rights’, as a member of the Human Rights Council until 2013, this display of commitment to the process is important.

As highlighted in the national report submitted as part of the review process, the human rights agenda in Ecuador has received a boost under the new Constitution and the
Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo), as the institution responsible for protecting and promoting human rights, has been strengthened. The Defensoría has a number of powers which are recognised as essential for torture prevention, including “verifying, on its own initiative or as requested, the effectiveness of legal safeguards and rights-protection mechanisms; investigating facts or incidents that involve human rights violations; ensuring that the right to due process is upheld; and preventing all kinds of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” (Ecuador national report, UN Doc.A/HRC/WG.6/13/ECU/1, 8 March 2012, at para.14). A further positive step in the state implementation of torture prevention mechanisms, as reported in the national report, comes as a result of the adoption of recommendations made following Ecuador’s first periodic review in 2008.  In compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in November 2011 the Ombudsman’s Office was designated the national mechanism for the prevention of the aforementioned crimes in the country’s prisons

In spite of the very positive achievements by Ecuador regarding its commitment to human rights obligations and the prevention of torture, there is still scope for further improvement. In a report submitted to the Human Rights Council prior to the UPR, CAT reiterated its recommendation that Ecuador ensure that torture be considered an offence in domestic law and adopt a definition consistent with the Convention. As the HR Committee noted with concern the continued occurrence of cases of ill treatment during police detention, without those responsible being brought to justice in most cases, CAT also recommended that Ecuador ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into all complaints of torture or ill-treatment (‘Compilation’, UN Doc.A/HRC/WG.6/13/ECU/2, 12 March 2012).

The main recommendations made to Ecuador following the review were as follows:

  • Continue efforts in social development
  • Develop new programs to combat discrimination
  • Establish a system of universal birth registration
  • Adopt special measures providing access to collective rights of indigenous people and adopt mechanisms ensuring the rights of indigenous people to be consulted
  • Facilitate a constructive dialogue between stakeholders to promote freedom of expression
  • Comply with international obligations especially in regards to freedom of expression and freedom of the press
  • Continue reforming the judicial system and expedite that reform. The reform should provide for provisions ensuring the independence and the impartiality of the judiciary as well as protecting judges from undue influence.

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