The 41st Session of the Universal Periodic Review

7th November - 18th November 2022

Ecuador Review - 4th Cycle 

7th November 2022


By Juanita Beltrán Bayona / GICJ

Executive Summary

On November 7th, during the 41st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Ecuador marked the beginning of the 4th cycle of the region under the supervision of the Working Group in the Human Rights Council. The UPR grounds on the examination of three main reports: the national report, the UN compilation report, and the stakeholder´s information report. Ecuador's first, second, and third cycles of the UPR reviews took place in April 2008, May 2012, and May 2017.

The review process handled different issues that the Ecuadorian delegation addressed in the introductory presentation of the report. The Ecuadorian delegation, headed by Mr. Juan Carlos Holguín, outlined the implementation of organic laws, strategies, campaigns, and initiatives for the benefit of all the multicultural groups in Ecuador.

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) welcomes the efforts of Ecuador on their 4th periodic review striving for ensuring the compliance of human rights in the country to put an end to high rates of gender violence, and discrimination of minorities and protect fundamental rights to freedom of expression and standard of living, especially in the penitentiary system.


Created by resolution 60/251 of the General Assembly paragraph 5.2 2006, the UPR establishes a cooperation mechanism promoted by the states that examine the compliance of the commitments regarding human rights of the 193 member states of the United Nations every four and a half years. Therefore, the process constitutes an opportunity for all states to demonstrate how they have improved their human rights situation.

Ecuador submitted the country report for the fourth cycle on August 15th, acknowledging their progress in the prior recommendations on the third cycle. The delegation presented the emerging issues that Ecuador is facing including the challenges of COVID-19, the prison system crisis, and issues regarding the alarming rates of gender-based violence. Additionally, the delegation presented the implementation of recommendations from the third cycle on topics such as civil and political rights, Economic, social, and cultural rights, cooperation with the UN bodies, legislative frameworks for equality and non-discrimination, gender equality, environment development, and vulnerable groups in situation of mobility. Ecuador highlighted mainly the establishment of the National Opportunity Creation Plan of Development 2020-2025. This plan intends to eradicate poverty and ensure social inclusion. This resulted from prior recommendations suggesting an advance to pursue a fair national wealth distribution, as well as the proper integration of the indigenous communities.

Interactive Dialogue

Mr. Juan Carlos Holguín, Minister of Human Mobility, thanked the international cooperation for the support in the terrorist attacks on the 2nd of November perpetrated by transnational criminal structures, killing 5 police officers. He continued by emphasising the success of the vaccination plan, the organic law reforming 14 articles of the law of human mobility, and the comprehensive plan for the investigation of human trafficking. Following that, the minister of government, Mr. Jimenez focused on the organic law for free speech and communication, defending the freedom of expression.  Afterward, the Secretary for Human Rights, Mrs. Florez, highlighted the creation of a ministry of women and human rights, as well as the opening of the "centros violeta" and laws that benefit the LGTBQ+ community. The Minister of Education, Ms. Brown, pointed out the plurinational council for bilingual and cultural education in most schools of the country and the defense of the right to identity by ensuring birth registration without charge. Finally, the Secretary for the Management of Afro Ecuadorian peoples presented on the implementation of the recommendations to establish the agenda for the rights of indigenous communities protecting patrimonies following the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.

Penitentiary system

Ecuador´s penitentiary system has been confronted with an array of challenges during the past years. From the rapid growth of the prison population, which has been causing higher rates of overcrowding, to the lack of effective crime prevention. The conditions of the people's privacy are precarious. According to the stakeholder's report, several organizations referred to the crisis in the prison system, reporting that a total of 316 detainees lost their lives in state custody. Additionally, the sub-committee on the prevention of torture came to visit the prisons and saw firsthand the conditions in which prisoners were living. Therefore, the OHCHR encouraged the state to provide social rehabilitation services and guarantee security in prisons.

The delegates of Portugal, Romania, Chile, and several others, welcomed the efforts made by Ecuador on the first national census of the prisons country-wide. However, they recommended the country formulate concrete policy to reduce the rates of violence in the prisons and overcrowding. Also, delegates of the United States of America and Germany called for the implementation of more resources to increase security and social services in prisons. Ecuador replied that to accomplish these goals an essential step is to carry out the first penitentiary census. Also, the state has been granting pardons through executive decrees which have resulted in an 18% reduction in the population density in penitentiary centers. 

Gender-based issues and equality

Considering the high rates of gender violence and femicides, the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Aomen noted in the UN report the persistence of gender discrimination and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by indigenous, Ecuadorian women of African descent and Montubio women. Ecuador outlined the engagement in dialogue with the support of the UN Women Gender Buro and the EU to create the ministry of women and human rights.

The delegates of Portugal, Costa Rica, and South Africa, among other delegates, underlined the importance of tackling gender violence by enforcing sexual education in schools as a mandatory subject. At the same time, the delegates of Switzerland, Ukraine, Spain, and other delegates, recommended training legal prosecutors, judges, and officials to implement the law for women's equality and further legislate public policy to eliminate acts of violence ending in femicide. Additionally, the delegate of Denmark, among others, outlined the protection of the victims of gender violence during the process of the prosecutions and called for the empowerment of women in the 2025 Ecuadorian elections.

Right to freedom of expression

In 2022 the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concerns regarding the reported use of violence against children by the security forces of Ecuador during the protests led by the indigenous communities. Special rapporteurs also noted the acts of violence against human rights defenders, including leaders of Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio communities. During the third cycle, the joint submission JS16 stated concerns about the void that remained in the right of freedom and recommended an inspection of the Criminal Code to eliminate articles that criminalize expression in all its forms. Several delegates, including the delegates of Ivory Coast, Canada, and France stated that it is essential to protect the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression. Of major importance are articles 182, 336, 339, 345, 346, and 365 of the Ecuadorian Integral Organic Penal Code to establish the criminal types in advance. Different delegations, including the delegate of Greece, recommended adopting an adequate framework to protect journalists. In response to the comments, the delegation of Ecuador reiterated the new organic law of communications and free speech signed by President Guillermo Lasso in the hands of the national assembly, which seeks to repeal 91 articles eliminating all risk of censorship, power of intervention, and concept of the right of truth from the state. This included incentives for the media to act independently.

Minority rights

Another important topic during the review was the defense of the rights of minorities. In the stakeholder's report, major concerns were expressed regarding the full enjoyment of territorial rights of indigenous people, as well as the negative impacts of extraction projects involving the exploitation of natural resources on the territories of these communities. This leads to a lack of consultation on consent to realize extraction activities. For this reason, the delegates of Honduras, Estonia, and Canada called for the guarantee of the right to free consultation under article 57 of the Constitution. Additionally, the delegates of Colombia and the Bahamas recommended the adoption of employment policies and access to credit and technology in rural areas. Ecuador highlighted the progress in adapting bilingual frameworks in schools to preserve indigenous languages. Ms. Vargas, the Special Rapporteur, stated the introduction of the agenda of rights equality to improve the consultation process to protect national patrimonies. She highlighted various other initiatives stipulated in the Opportunity Creation Plan of Development 2020-2025.

Regarding the rights of children and adolescents in rural areas, Ecuador plans to implement the National Plan on Health and Sexual Health, seeking to eradicate corporal punishment. During the interactive dialogue, the delegates of Chile, the United Kingdom, and Georgia, among others, pointed out the efforts to protect intersex children and the enforcement of the Ecuadorian organic law (T165416) for children´s protection. Belgium recommended measures to prevent violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

Regarding migrants and refugees, Ecuador is one of the top 3 countries to host people in mobility in the region. Efforts to eliminate migratory discrimination have been registered through the 2021 comprehensive plan for the care and protection of the Venezuelan population. Nevertheless, the stakeholder's report notes that as part of the 2021 reform of the organic act on human mobility, grounds for being refused entry to the country and for returning inadmissible persons had been introduced without any formalities. This allows for deportations to be executed lacking a procedure to identify international protection needs.

Treaty Ratifications

Since 2017, Ecuador ratified all the core United Nations human rights instruments. Furthermore, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent stated that Ecuador ratified all the major regional human rights treaties. Additionally, Ecuador has also ratified the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement). However, prior recommendations on the ratification of the Migrant Workers Convention 1975 (no 143) of the ILO and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child have not been so far accomplished.

Position of Geneva International Centre for Justice

Geneva International Center for Justice (GICJ) welcomes the efforts made during the Universal Periodic Review during its 4th cycle. We call on Ecuador to continue taking the necessary measures to improve the human rights framework within the legal constitution of the country. We urge Ecuador to drastically reduce the high rates of femicides in the country as a result of gender-based violence and provide protection to the victims thereof. We think the right to freedom of expression is of paramount importance. Therefore, we appeal to Ecuador to protect the free press without criminalizing opinions, especially of human rights defenders belonging to indigenous communities that have been apprehended by the state in the context of protests. We urge Ecuador to protect the rights of minorities and evaluate carefully the deportations of human mobility considering the international protection guidelines, if applicable in each case.

UPR, 41st session, Geneva, UN, Geneva4Justice, GICJ, Ecuador, 4th cycle, Human Rights, Fundamental rights, UN Mechanism

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