Ecuador: Manuel and Manuela Acquitted of Charges of Terrorism!

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On January 25, 2016 the Court in Garantías, Bolívar province acquitted – two votes to one - Manuel Trujillo and Manuela Pacheco of charges of “organized terrorism.” Both Mr. Trujillo and Mrs. Pacheco are human rights defenders: Mr. Trujillo is a community leader and President of the San Pablo de Amalí community in Bolívar province; and Mrs. Pacheco is a member of the community active in defending the right to water and land.

Oral argument began on 19 January 2016 in the trial for “organized terrorism” (art.160.1 of the Penal Code of Ecuador). Proceedings were adjourned until 25 January when the acquittal was announced.

On 15 January, FIDH, through the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, sent an open letter (in spanish) to the judicial and governmental authorities ) of Ecuador. It rejected prosecution of human rights defenders and the unwarranted recourse to the Penal Code for the criminalization of human rights defenders.

The announcement of the charges brought against these activists caused great alarm, especially as it came just two days after the publication of a FIDH, CEDHU, and INREDH report entitled “Criminalización de la Protesta Social frente a proyectos extractivos en Ecuador” (in spanish) (Ecuador: Increase of the criminalisation of social protest in the context of extraction plans). Mr. Manuel Trujillo’s was one of the cases discussed in the report.

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