United Nations human rights experts have criticized the government of Ecuador for trying to ‘asphyxiate’ civil society, after issuing an order for the closure of an NGO which supports environmental and indigenous rights, according to reports:
On 18 December, ‘Acción Ecológica’ called for a Peace and Truth Commission to explore the attacks on indigenous and environmental rights. Two days later, the Ministry of the Environment initiated the dissolution process, giving the group 24 hours to respond and ten days to present defense evidence. The move against ‘Acción Ecológica’ comes amidst a conflict involving indigenous Shuar people who are trying to halt mining on what they claim to be their territory. The campaign group, which has vocally supported the indigenous protesters, is the latest in a series of organizations to be targeted by the government…..
The UN experts have already censure the government for dissolving groups such as ‘Pachamama’ and the ‘Unión Nacional de Educadores’, and also attempting to close the NGO ‘Fundamedios’* over the past three years.
“The Government of Ecuador seems to be systematically dissolving organizations when they become too vocal or challenge government orthodoxy,” they said in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“The Government of Ecuador seems to be systematically dissolving organizations when they become too vocal or challenge government orthodoxy,” they said. “This strategy to asphyxiate civil society has been implemented via two decrees – 16 and 739 – which give the authorities powers to unilaterally dissolve any kind of organization.”
The experts warned that “the direct consequences are the progressive silencing of any group that challenges or offers alternative ideas to those of the government and thereby reducing visibility of the situation of vulnerable and marginalized people.”
*A partner of the National Endowment for Democracy.