Ecuadorian Police Crackdown on Protesters

Protesters carry flags and banners while marching in Quito, Ecuador on August 12, 2015.  Protesters carry flags and banners while marching in Quito, Ecuador on August 12, 2015. © 2015 Reuters

According to Human Rights Watch, Ecuadorian Police used excessive force, arbitrary detentions, and illegal home searches against protestors across the country.


The Human Rights Watch report, “Ecuador: Crackdown on Protesters” describes the abuses of police committed against protesters during August 2015. Protesters were engaging in anti-government protest pertaining to a variety of issues. Among them are environmental policies, extractive industries projects, the end of presidential term limits, and more. The protests were largely peaceful with only isolated incidents of protesters engaging police forces.

The police forces engaged in excessive force, arbitrary detentions and illegal home searches against primarily peaceful demonstrators or innocent bystanders. Human Rights Watch conducted interviews, examined videos, medical reports, and police reports regarding many of the clashes with police forces. On August 15, President Correa declared a state of emergency due to volcanic activity that allowed him to call in the Armed Forces and National Police and restrict some rights of citizens.

Many of the cases studied by Human Rights Watch indicate an excessive use of force against peaceful protesters or bystanders. Men and women of all ages were beaten with batons and punched both in the streets and within their own homes. Other beatings occurred when individuals tried to intervene on behalf of someone being beaten by the police, such as the case of a woman who was beaten trying to protect a pregnant woman. The police fired tear gas into homes with children and directly at people, causing multiple injuries. One man from Loja Province was struck in the jaw by tear gas with such force that he lost five teeth and his jaw was damaged. Many were arbitrarily detained, and some women were even threatened with rape.

On October 13, 2015, Human Rights Watch submitted a request to the office of the Attorney General asking for information about alleged attacks against security officers and about abuses committed by security officers. The office responded with a list of 130 open cases against individuals, but no information regarding abuses by police forces.  President Correa has also congratulated security forces for their “professionalism”, stating that the responses were justified due to violence by protestors.

Human Rights Watch believes that individuals who committed crimes against police forces should be properly held accountable, but so too should the police forces that committed the abuses, yet were not investigated or prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office.

 

To read the full report:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/10/ecuador-crackdown-protesters

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