SEATTLE — Located on the west coast of South America, Ecuador is home to a population of 16.39 million people. Unfortunately, these people have been unable to secure their basic human rights over the past decade. This changed when President Lenin Moreno publicly stated his respect for free speech and civil society after taking office in May 2017. This is the complete opposite of his predecessor Rafael Correa, who was in office from 2007 to 2017. Correa was an open supporter of censorship and often attacked freedom of speech and freedom of association.
President Moreno Promotes Transparency and Fairness in Ecuador
Moreno’s term has seen several improvements in human rights in Ecuador. The Correa administration had a practice of threatening and harassing independent journalists, human rights defenders and critics. President Moreno ended this practice by allowing public media outlets to have access to an independent editorial line to protect the human right to uncensored news.
President Correa was found to be harassing judges, prosecutors and public defenders after emails surfaced between him, the Council of the Judiciary and the Justice Ministry, pressuring them to take certain positions in several court cases. Under Moreno, judicial independence and transparency have increased through new reforms to keep political interference out of court cases. In 2017, President Moreno vowed that he would never contact a judge for the purpose of influencing any judiciary process.
In 2016, there was a confrontation between Ecuador’s military and the indigenous Shuar people over a mining camp that was built on ancestral lands without consent. President Moreno’s administration pardoned six activists and 12 indigenous people who had been sentenced as a result of the nationwide protests.
International Organizations Acknowledge the Progress on Human Rights in Ecuador
“During his first year in office, President Moreno has set a new tone and direction for the government that has generated a climate that allows for the exercise of basic rights and an open debate,” José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement for the organization. “President Moreno has showed a positive degree of openness to our recommendations and willingness to keep adopting measures to protect fundamental rights.”
With the human rights reforms President Moreno has planned for Ecuador, it seems that a better future is just around the corner. President Moreno asserts that he is open to conversation and growth. The growing discussion about human rights in Ecuador is helping the country see that there is a significant human rights problem.
“Be sure that this government respects human rights, that it respects the rest and is even extremely tolerant of criticism, of media,” Moreno said during a May 2018 meeting with Human Rights Watch at the Carondelet government palace.
There is positive progress in implementing proper human rights in Ecuador, and they will surely become more available to all. With President Moreno opening the doors to relationships with advocacy groups such as Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, there is a lot of hope that in the near future, everyone in Ecuador will be guaranteed their human rights.
– Jenny S Park