Press Release

IACHR Grants Protection Measures in Favor of Paola Pabón, Christian González, and Virgilio Hernández in Ecuador

December 9, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - San Salvador, El Salvador / Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 58/2019 on December 6, 2019, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Paola Pabón, Christian González, and Virgilio Hernández in Ecuador. These beneficiaries are currently deprived of liberty, and they are allegedly being subjected to threats and harassment.

When assessing the issue, the Commission took into consideration the fact that the allegations happen in a polarized context that was particularly exacerbated in the wake of recent social protests, which were followed by a state of emergency and allegedly also by many human rights violations. In connection with this precautionary measure, the IACHR considered the alleged risks faced by the proposed beneficiaries given alleged threats and harassment associated to their roles as leaders of the political opposition. As evidence, the Commission considered the way Ms. Pabón was subjected to a raid and subsequently arrested, the allegedly stigmatizing remarks made by high authorities, and the existence of death threats against her even in prison, as noted by the parties who requested this precautionary measure. The fact that knives were found in cells near Ms. Pabón’s and were allegedly intended to be used against supporters of former president Rafael Correa, the constant threats issued against Virgilio Hernández at a facility that allegedly fails to ensure his safety, and the threats issued against Christian González within prison facilities using knives and other sharp objects were all cited as further examples.

The IACHR has closely monitored the situation in Ecuador in the context of the social protests that took place over the period October 3–13, 2019 and conducted an in loco visit to that State in October 28–30. During that visit, the IACHR was able to visit the Mixed Regional Social Rehabilitation Center Sierra Centro Norte Cotopaxi, where Ms. Pabón is currently incarcerated, and the Men’s Temporary Detention Center “El INCA,” where Mr. González is held. Particularly in the first of those facilities, the Commission was able to note the prevailing atmosphere characterized by harassment, which got worse as the official delegation met with Ms. Pabón. Indeed, it proved impossible to adequately interview Ms. Pabón, given the perceived attitude of prison authorities.

The IACHR requested information from the State in the context of this precautionary measure. The State said that the criminal proceedings that were ongoing against beneficiaries complied with due process and with domestic legislation. However, the Commission observed that the State had not clearly said whether the relevant authorities had investigated the alleged risks for beneficiaries’ lives and personal integrity, considering their profiles and personal circumstances, particularly given the serious allegations made concerning grave threats.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of the IACHR’s Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked Ecuador to adopt any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Paola Verenice Pabón Caranqui, Virgilio Hernández, and Christian Fabián González Narváez. In particular, the State should seek out and implement the measures that are most appropriate for the personal circumstances of each of these beneficiaries and create the conditions necessary to ensure and protect beneficiaries’ rights. The IACHR further asked the State to come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives regarding any measures that need to be taken and to report on any actions adopted to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

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. 319/19