The UN Child Rights Committee today expressed deep concern over the information it has received about the use of violence against children by the Ecuadorian security forces during recent protests and strikes led by indigenous people.
Soldiers and riot police fired tear gas and pellets at protestors in the capital, Quito, and in other cities, when indigenous Ecuadorians, including children, took to the streets to demand that the authorities cut fuel prices and reduce the cost of living. The Committee issued the following statement in response to a large number of indigenous children and adolescents subjected to violent repression:
“According to various reliable sources, potentially lethal forms of ammunition, such as pellets, have been authorised to suppress protests. We have also received reports of children being exposed to the serious side effects caused by the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of tear gas.
We have also received reports of many children wandering alone in the country’s capital, unprotected and out of contact with their caregivers or adult family members due to the State’s repressive actions. We are also concerned about the significant number of injured adolescents.
These testimonies indicate the profound confusion, anguish and fear experienced by children and adolescents as a result of the chaos caused by uncontrolled repression, which has even spilled over into some peaceful neighbourhoods. The brutal eviction of non-violent assembly sites, such as the Casa de la Cultura, where many mothers gathered with their children and adolescents, was especially serious and unjustifiable.
While welcoming the lift of the state of emergency and the talks between Government officials and indigenous peoples, the Committee demands that the State immediately and completely cease the use of force, which falls outside established international standards, and which is impacting children and adolescents involved in protests and demonstrations. The Committee urges immediate investigations into reported incidents of excessive use of force and violence by security officers against children.
The Committee reminds the State of the latest recommendations made in 2017 to:
(a) Promote, protect and facilitate children’s freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and repeal laws and regulations that allow for the imposition of sanctions in relation to the exercise of the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly;
(b) Expedite the adoption of a protocol on how to deal with children in the context of public demonstrations, and ensure that the protocol complies with the Convention;
(c) Establish a complaint mechanism for children who have suffered any form of violence, excessive use of force or arbitrary detention during public demonstrations, and establish appropriate sanctions for public officials who violate children’s right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly (CRC/C/ECU/CO/5-6).
The Committee calls on all parties, including those involved in the protests, to pay special attention, listen to, care for, and protect all children and adolescents during the demonstrations.
The Committee underscores that the authorities’ violent suppression will have impacts on children and adolescents, leaving indelible marks throughout their lives. The Committee will continue monitoring the situation closely.”