The undersigned organizations and activists firmly reject the violent repression, arbitrary arrests and the use of surveillance technologies to intimidate, harass, persecute and silence defenders of human rights and nature in Ecuador in the context of the protests started on June 13th, 2022.1
Ecuador has a worrying record of human rights abuses in recent years that include the surveillance and criminalization of social movements, as well as attempts to silence critical voices against the established powers.2 3 The use that has been given to the Integrated Security Service ECU911, a powerful institution dependent on the Presidency of the Republic that concentrates the video surveillance systems deployed at national level, as an espionage device against opponents of the governments in power has been widely documented. and denounced.4 5
As a consequence of the events recorded in the first days of the protest, we believe that these abusive practices still continue. They include:
- The installation of video surveillance cameras outside the headquarters of social organizations involved in the protests, as is the case of the one installed at the headquarters of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) in the early hours of June 13th;6
- The arrest of more than 30 demonstrators and the leader and president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador - CONAIE, who was held incommunicado for hours on June 14th, 2022;7
- The seizure of electronic devices of social activists in the context of demonstrations;
- Coordinated denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on media outlets and websites, suspension and blocking of social network accounts of social organizations participating in the protests.8
Also worrying are the reports of threats and attacks on journalists, as well as reports of excessive use of force to break up gatherings in a context of rapid militarization of the streets. It should be emphasized that between 2007 and 2021, 3,045 attacks against the online and offline press were recorded, of which 289 occurred in 2021, with the State being the main aggressor in 130 incidents.9
The Ecuadorian State must guarantee freedom of assembly, association and expression, both on the Internet and in the streets, complying with the provisions of various international human rights instruments that ratify this, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights. As the United Nations Human Rights Committee has recognized, this right also applies in digital environments, since it enables public expression and participation in democratic societies.
It is crucial that the Ecuadorian people is able to use digital technologies, particularly the internet, to coordinate actions, report on protests in real time, denounce acts of police violence, access information from various sources, communicate to protect their personal safety, ask for support or seek medical or other assistance.
Any state or private intervention aimed at reducing the free flow of information violates the exercise of the right to protest and other related rights, in addition to affecting the access to information of millions of people who, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, depend on digital media.
Therefore, we call on the Ecuadorian State to:
- Immediately stop the excessive use of force by the police and the army, end the repression in all the cities of the country and fulfill their responsibility to guarantee the right to protest.
- Ensure the free flow of information of public interest and establish all the necessary guarantees, so that the independent media and citizens carry out their work of covering the protests without obstruction.
- Strengthen the rights of civil society to use digital technologies that allow them to exercise their right to protest, online and offline.
- Implement urgent measures to ensure a safe and enabling environment for all human rights defenders and investigate reports of online and offline attacks, harassment and intimidation against them.
- Guarantee that the application of exceptional measures is carried out in strict compliance with international and national human rights standards and in accordance with the principles of legality, proportionality, necessity and non-discrimination.
- Refrain from using the ECU911 integrated video surveillance system to persecute and harass human rights defenders.
- Follow the recommendations -made in 2018 and reiterated in 2019- by the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (RELE-IACHR) to guarantee the protection of the right to life, personal integrity and freedom of protesters during peaceful meetings and demonstrations.10
- Taller Comunicación Mujer https://tcmujer.org
- Navegando Libres https://navegandolibres.org
- LaLibre.net Tecnologías Comunitarias https://lalibre.net
- Derechos Digitales https://derechosdigitales.org
- Código Sur https://codigosur.org
- Sursiendo https://sursiendo.org
- Fundación InternetBolivia.org https://internetbolivia.org
- Rhizomatica https://rhizomatica.org
- TEDIC https://www.tedic.org
- Voices for Interactive Choice & Empowerment http://www.voicebd.org
- Pangea - Internet ético y solidario https://pangea.org
- REDES, Redes por la Diversidad, Equidad y Sustentabilidad A.C. https://www.redesac.org.mx
- Hiperderecho https://hiperderecho.org
- Colnodo https://www.colnodo.apc.org
- Fundación Karisma https://karisma.org.co
- Coding Rights https://medium.com/codingrights
- Centro de Investigación en Tecnologías y Saberes Comunitarios (CITSAC) www.citsac.org
- comun.al, Laboratorio de resiliencia digital https://comun.al
- JCA-NET(Japan) https://www.jca.apc.org
- Fantsuam Foundation https://www.fantsuam.org
- Digital Empowerment Foundation https://www.defindia.org
- CITAD https://www.citad.org
- Jokkolabs Banjul https://jokkolabs.net/banjul/
- Ciberseguras https://ciberseguras.org
- May First Movement Technology https://mayfirst.coop
- Asociación para el Progreso de las Comunicaciones (APC) https://apc.org
- MariaLab https://marialab.org
- Media Awareness and Justice Initiative https://majinigeria.org/
- Zenzeleni networks NPC https://zenzeleni.net
- Fundación para la Red Abierta, Libre y Neutral guifi·net https://fundacio.guifi.net
- Centro de Autonomía Digital (CAD) https://autonomia.digital
Alianza por los Derechos Humanos Ecuador. “Pronunciamiento desde la Alianza por los Derechos Humanos sobre las acciones legítimas de protesta social y la respuesta estatal de criminalización por parte del Gobierno Nacional”, 14 de junio de 2022. ↩
Asociación para el Progreso de las Comunicaciones, Digital Defenders Partnership, Taller de Comunicación Mujer, LaLibre.net Tecnologías Comunitarias. “Derechos digitales en el contexto de las protestas y movilización social en Ecuador en octubre de 2019”, 29 de octubre 2019. ↩
Asociacion para el Progreso de las Comunicaciones & Derechos Digitales. Contribuciones sobre derechos humanos en el entorno digital en Ecuador, 2022. ↩
El Comercio. “Lenín Moreno dice que el ECU 911 se usó de manera ‘perversa’ para espionaje”, 25 de abril de 2019. ↩
New York Times. “Hecho en China y exportado a Ecuador: el aparato de vigilancia estatal”, 24 de abril de 2019. ↩
Cuenta Twitter CONAIE. “Confirmada la persecución e intimidación, de madrugada instalan cámaras Hikvision de videovigilancia con enfoque directo a la sede de la CONAIE”, 12 de junio de 2022. ↩
DW. “Detenido el líder indígena de Ecuador promotor de protesta contra el Gobierno”, 14 de junio de 2022. ↩
Cuenta Twitter CONFENIAE. “Denunciamos intentos de HACKEO a las páginas oficiales de Comunicacion de la Confeniae http://confeniae.net”, 14 junio de 2022. ↩
Fundamedios. Ecuador 2021: Y a los periodistas nos siguen pegando bajo. ↩