Press Release

IACHR and its Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression Report on Follow-up after the Murder of Members of a Team of Ecuadorian Reporters

May 11, 2018

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Santo Domingo - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression, meeting in the Dominican Republic for the Commission’s 168th Period of Sessions, again condemned the brutal murders of Ecuadorian journalists Javier Ortega and Paúl Rivas Bravo and of Efraín Segarra, who worked for the same newspaper, in an unknown area on the border between Ecuador and Colombia. The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship urge the authorities of both countries to keep working towards identifying and punishing those who perpetrated the crimes and to keep up their efforts towards handing over the bodies to the victims’ families.

The Inter-American Commission had granted precautionary measures in favor of Javier Ortega Reyes, Paúl Rivas Bravo and Efraín Segarra Abril. In that decision, it had asked both States to report on the actions they had taken to investigate what had happened.

By the deadline it had set in its first message on the matter, the IACHR received information from both States regarding the measures they had taken with relation to the kidnappings, along with official confirmation of the murders of all members of the team of reporters. The Commission also received information on developments regarding these events from representatives of the victims’ families. In their message, the victims’ families requested the creation of an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts.

At the same time, the Ecuadorian President said, in two messages issued by the Foreign Minister, that—as he established a framework for dialogue with the victims’ families—he had decided to create an international mechanism. He noted that he believed the IACHR’s role and involvement in such a mechanism would be particularly important. The Commission welcomes that recognition and the State’s invitation to build an international mechanism.

The IACHR has assessed the Ecuadorian State’s proposal and has decided to build a follow-up team with a special, differentiated focus on the Commission’s precautionary measures. Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, the IACHR’s Rapporteur for Ecuador, will lead that team with the support of the Commission’s Executive Secretary or of someone designated by the Executive Secretary, along with the technical staff of the precautionary measures section and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

Within the IACHR’s mandate, the special follow-up team will stand by the families of the victims and provide technical support to the investigations carried out by national authorities and institutions. This team will be active until the end of the year. 

The IACHR will immediately convene a working meeting involving representatives of the State of Ecuador and of the victims’ families and the petitioners of the precautionary measure, to put the special follow-up team in motion straightaway.

“The IACHR stresses its willingness to cooperate with the fulfilment of the State’s international obligations, with the aim of enforcing victims’ right of access to justice,” said Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño.

The Special Rapporteurship further noted that it had received an invitation from the Ecuadorian State to conduct a working visit to the country, in order to verify Ecuador’s compliance with its international obligations on promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression.

“I acknowledge and appreciate Ecuador’s invitation and I will announce the dates of the visit in the coming days. That visit will also be a good opportunity to follow up on this case,” said the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Edinson Lanza.

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. 106/18