Press Release

IACHR Requests Provisional Measures in Favor of Members of Ecuador’s Citizen Participation Council

February 6, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) on February 6, 2018 a request for provisional measures in favor of Edwin Leonardo Jarrín Jarrín, Tania Elizabeth Pauker Cueva and Sonia Gabriela Vera García, so the Court may order the State to refrain from dismissing the current members of Ecuador’s Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS, by its Spanish acronym) and from creating a Temporary Council that may endanger the effectiveness of the rule of law—including the principles of the separation of powers and judicial independence, which are crucial for the effective enjoyment of human rights.

On December 28, 2017, the Inter-American Commission was asked to request from the I/A Court H.R. provisional measures in favor of Edwin Leonardo Jarrín Jarrín, Tania Elizabeth Pauker Cueva and Sonia Gabriela Vera García, members of the CPCCS appointed for the period 2015-2020 who—based on the Council’s internal rules—may only be dismissed if impeached by the National Assembly. The information received by the Commission concerned the referendum proposal, which was not subjected to prior constitutional control. That proposal included a question about terminating the positions of CPCCS members early and creating a Temporary Participation Council with seven members appointed by the National Assembly, chosen from shortlists of three candidates put forward by the President.

The available information indicates that the Temporary Council would be competent to evaluate the performance of various high officials and, if deemed necessary, to dismiss and appoint them. Those high officials include the Ombudsperson, the State’s Comptroller General, the Attorney General, the head of the National Election Council, and judges of the Election Dispute Court and the Judicial Council.
The referendum proposal was passed in a popular vote on February 4, 2018, and its results are in the process of being validated by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

The IACHR considered that the situation mentioned by the proposed beneficiaries might meet the requirements of extreme gravity, urgency and a risk of irreparable damage stated in Article 63.2 of the Convention for provisional measures to be applicable.

Concerning the requirement of extreme gravity, the Commission said the Inter-American Court might consider that the popular participation mechanism is allegedly being used to escape the legal procedure to dismiss the current Citizen Participation Council. Further, the Commission said that the Court might assess the extremely broad competences granted to the Temporary Council, which include the chance to appoint—among others—various auditing authorities, the highest electoral authorities, the highest criminal prosecution officials and the members of the Judicial Council, who in turn can dismiss all judges in the country. While the Temporary Council’s power to dismiss is set to be regulated to ensure due process, the Commission noted that it paves the way for uncertainty regarding the objective assessment criteria. The Commission further mentioned the lack of prior constitutional control over the referendum proposal as another element that the I/A Court H.R. might assess.

Concerning the requirement of urgency, the IACHR noted that it has been met, since the results of the referendum’s third question—which voters answered yes—are already known, and that once those results are validated by the relevant authorities it is set to be implemented immediately.

Finally, concerning the requirement of irreparable damage, the Commission considered that, if the result of the referendum’s third question (regarding the Citizen Participation Council) is implemented, the Council’s current members would be dismissed and an institutional mechanism would be set in motion whose existence and concrete impact on the process of designating the country’s most important authorities would be difficult to reverse.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 021/18