Human rights: Sweden vs Ecuador

Is Julian Assange’s new best friend Ecuador a paragon of freedom, compared to Sweden, which he and his followers denounce?

On its website, the American-based Committee to Protect Journalists writes:

Ecuador not fit to champion free expression

The Quito government’s decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum comes at a time when freedom of expression is under siege in Ecuador. President Rafael Correa’s press freedom record is among the very worst in the Americas, and providing asylum to the WikiLeaks founder won’t change the repressive conditions facing Ecuadoran journalists who want to report critically about government policies and practices.

Research by numerous international human rights defenders–including CPJ, Human Rights Watch, the Ecuadoran press group Fundamedios, and the Organization of American States’ special rapporteur for freedom of expression–has concluded that the Correa administration does not brook dissent and is engaged in a campaign to silence its critics in the media.

Some comparisons of Sweden and Ecuador in the human rights area:

Ecuador

Amnesty International: Spurious criminal charges were brought against human rights defenders, including Indigenous leaders. Human rights violations committed by security forces remained unresolved. Women living in poverty continued to lack access to good quality and culturally appropriate health services.

Human Rights Watch: Prosecutors have applied a “terrorism and sabotage” provision of the criminal code in cases involving protests against mining and oil projects and in other incidents that have ended in confrontations with police. Involvement in acts of violence or obstructing roads during such protests should be ordinary criminal offenses. Yet Ecuador’s criminal code includes, under the category of sabotage and terrorism, “crimes against the common security of people or human groups of whatever kind or against their property,” by individuals or associations “whether armed or not.” Such crimes carry a possible prison sentence of four to eight years. In July 2011 the Center for Economic and Social Rights, an Ecuadorian human rights group, reported that 189 indigenous people were facing terrorism and sabotage charges. Most of them were in hiding and only eight had been convicted.

Sweden

Amnesty International: The Swedish authorities considered a large number of asylum applications to be “manifestly unfounded”. The accelerated asylum-determination procedures applied to these cases did not meet international standards for refugee protection. There were forcible returns to Iraq and Eritrea. Concerns remained about the thoroughness of police investigations into rape cases.

Human Rights Watch: The European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council conclusions on unaccompanied migrant children focus too much on how to send them back to their countries of origin and too little on how to guarantee their safety.

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