Freedom of association

Government of Ecuador halts plans to shut down NGO after pressure from civil society

02/20/2017 ecuador ngos

The government of Ecuador opened an administrative proceeding late last year to shut down the NGO Acción Ecológica due to its alleged participation in “violent events and acts” within the context of the conflict between the Shuar community and the mining project of the company ECSA. Not long afterwards, 224 civil society organizations and 232 individuals sent the country’s government a letter in support of the NGO, emphasizing its more than 30 years of work defending the environment through non-violent means. This pressure prompted the government to halt its plans to close the organization.

The administrative proceeding was opened because Acción Ecológica denounced what it called serious environmental impacts that would result from the mining activity in the Cordillera del Cóndor region of the country and because it requested a “commission of peace and harmony with nature” to be set up to resolve the conflict. Conectas and the other signatories of the letter pointed out, however, that “Acción Ecológica is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and, as such, we understand that it is logical and within its mandate as an organization to take interest in and warn about possible violations of the rights of the Shuar people”.

The letter also praised the work of the NGO: “at a time in which we face such serious environmental challenges at a local level and as a global community, we believe that the work of organizations like Acción Ecológica is imperative, and we express our solidarity in this moment, as well as our solidarity and concern about the situation of the Shuar people”. “Exercising freedom of expression about the environmental and social impacts of a given project should not be criminalized,” they concluded.

Finally, the signatories made an appeal for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflict in the Cordillera del Cóndor. Acción Ecológica, meanwhile, released a statement informing that the government has abandoned its attempt to shut down the organization and expressing gratitude for all the support it received.

Click here to read the letter in full.
Click here to read the statement by Acción Ecológica.

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