Ecuador - 1) How is wife-beating dealt with by the courts? 2) Information on organization and structure of the judiciary in Ecuador; 3) Information on police corruption; 4) Treatment of Roman Catholic clergy and members [ECU3157]

1) Information on how courts in Ecuador deal with cases of wife assault could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC. However, one source states that traditions favour men and constitutional equality is not matched in practice. [ World Human Rights Guide, (London: The Economist, 1986), pp. 82-83.] The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p. 549, also states that despite Constitutional legislation on the contrary, women still suffer discrimination under civil law. In the First Regional Human Rights Forum in Northern Ecuador, [ Andean Newsletter, (Lima, Andean Commission of Jurists), October-November 1989, p. 5.] sexual discrimination in Ecuadorean society was denounced.

2) According to the Encyclopedia of the Third World, (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1987), p. 581, the system of administration of justice is divided, in decreasing order of hierarchy, as follows: Supreme Court, Higher Divisional Courts, Provincial Courts, Cantonal Courts and Parochial Judges. According to Europa Year Book 1989, (London: Europa Publications, 1989), p. 916, the organization is as follows (again, in decreasing order of hierarchy): Supreme Court, Higher or Divisional Courts, and Provincial Courts. Provincial Courts are reportedly established in 15 towns, with 35 Criminal, 42 Provincial, 87 Cantonal and 445 Parochial judges. Special Courts deal with juveniles and labour disputes.

For other details on the civil judicial system, please consult the Europa Year Book 1989 at your regional Documentation Centre. For information on the separate police judicial system and reports on police abuse which may be relevant for question No. 3, please find attached a copy of pages 77-81 of Human Rights in Ecuador (Washington/Lima: Americas Watch/Andean Commission of Jurists, March 1988). The last page makes a reference to the military judicial system; information on it could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

For a recent comment on judicial practice and performance, please refer to the chapter on Ecuador in Country Reports for 1988, particularly the section on the Judiciary and Right to a Fair Trial. The Critique: Review of the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: Human Rights Watch, July 1989), p. 49, comments favourably on the accuracy of the Department of State publication for 1988 and adds that during the Febres administration (which ended in 1988) many cases of human rights violations including physical abuse by the police have been well-documented.

The book Human Rights in Ecuador, pages 51 and 52, reports that the Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees, which is an autonomous body regarded as the highest authority regarding constitutional matters and violations of constitutional rights, lacks the capacity to enforce its rulings.

The Supreme Court reportedly has primary jurisdiction in cases against ministers, while Congress is able to initiate criminal proceedings against top government officials and allow these cases to be tried in lower courts. [ Human Rights in Ecuador, p. 11.]

Human Rights in Ecuador (page 49) reports that police chiefs are authorized to exercise certain judicial functions.

3) In addition to the sources already available to the requester, Human Rights in Ecuador (pages 7 and 8) reports the case of a former Secretary of Public Administration of then-President Leon Febres who escaped justice with the complicity of the police, who refused to carry out the Supreme Court's orders and arrest him and were supposed to be guarding his house when he escaped. Pages 9 and 10 report a police attempt to intimidate Congress to avoid the impeachment of the then-Minister of Government through a public manifesto claiming that the Minister's trial was "an attack on the honour of the police". Page 1 of the report indicates that, as of the date of publishing, there was no evidence that police who are guilty of abuses against civilians are punished, and page 2 states that "the impunity with which violence is used [in urban and rural land conflicts] suggests official complicity", in a paragraph referring to police performance.

The 1989 Critique (p. 49) states that despite the pro-human rights stand of the new government of Ecuador, "whether that posture can be translated into effective control of the police and armed forces remains to be seen". A recent pronouncement by the Ecuadorean Episcopal Conference on Human Rights reported that police abuses continued to occur in May and June of 1989. [ Andean Newsletter, October-November 1989, p. 6.] Please refer to answer No. 3 for an additional report on police unlawful activities. Other reports on police corruption could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

4) Information on particular treatment of Roman Catholic clergy and members of that church could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC. According to the Country Reports for 1988, p. 548, the clergy in Ecuador are prohibited from being elected to Congress, the Presidency or the Vice-Presidency of the country. Approximately 90 percent of the Ecuadorean population reportedly belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. [ Europa Year Book 1989, p. 916.]