Ecuador rights abuses under state of 'armed conflict': HRW | World News - Hindustan Times
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Ecuador rights abuses under state of 'armed conflict': HRW

AFP |
May 22, 2024 10:45 AM IST

Ecuador rights abuses under state of 'armed conflict': HRW

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa to reverse his declaration of a state of "internal armed conflict" in the gang-violence torn country, saying it had opened the door to rights abuses.

Ecuador rights abuses under state of 'armed conflict': HRW
Ecuador rights abuses under state of 'armed conflict': HRW

Despite Noboa's efforts to reduce violence blamed on an escalating war between rival gangs, the security situation "continues to be dire," HRW Americas director Juanita Goebertus Estrada wrote in an open letter addressed to Noboa.

Not only that, but there have been "multiple instances of serious human rights violations committed by security forces."

Noboa declared a state of emergency in January after a dangerous narco boss Jose Adolfo Macias, alias "Fito" escaped from maximum security detention.

As gangsters vowed "war" in response, setting off explosions and kidnapping police officers, the president then declared the country to be in a state of "internal armed conflict" and ordered the army to "neutralize" 22 criminal groups.

HRW, in an assessment of the Noboa government's actions, concluded there appeared to be no legal basis for such a declaration, which allows for broader use of force and "opens the door to human rights violations."

The letter said "many people" detained since January "were apparently never taken before a prosecutor or judge," some of them beaten by soldiers and police.

It noted reports of at least "one apparent extrajudicial killing, several arbitrary arrests, and many cases of ill-treatment in prison which may in some cases amount to torture."

Long a peaceful haven sandwiched between top cocaine exporters Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has seen violence explode in recent years as rival gangs with links to Mexican and Colombian cartels vie for control.

Gang wars have largely played out in the country's prisons, where criminal leaders such as Fito wield immense control.

The battles have left hundreds of inmates dead since 2021, their bodies often found dismembered, decapitated or incinerated.

Estrada urged Noboa to review his declaration, limit the role of the armed forces and strengthen disciplinary measures in the police and military.

The president should also condemn reported human rights violations, "making it clear that such cases will not be tolerated," she wrote.

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This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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