Ecuador: Government has interfered in criminal proceedings against Ola Bini

Ecuador: Government has interfered in criminal proceedings against Ola Bini

Amnesty International announced today in a public statement it will continue to monitor the criminal proceedings against digital rights defender Ola Bini in Ecuador, after identifying human rights violations and undue interference by the government, including president Lenín Moreno and minister of government María Paula Romo.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PRESS RELEASE

Under embargo until August 26, 2019 at 00:01 local time in Quito (06:01 BST)

Ecuador: Government has interfered in criminal proceedings against Ola Bini

Amnesty International announced today in a public statement it will continue to monitor the criminal proceedings against digital rights defender Ola Bini in Ecuador, after identifying human rights violations and undue interference by the government, including president Lenín Moreno and minister of government María Paula Romo.

„The case of Ola Bini shows a serious contradiction in the Ecuadorian criminal system. Frequently, attacks on human rights defenders remain unpunished, while unfounded accusations against them are immediately investigated,“ said Fernanda Doz Costa, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Director.

On 11 April this year, Bini was arrested by police after minister of government María Paula Romo accused him of „cooperating with attempts to destabilize the government“.  On 20 June, 70 days later, a court ordered his release after acknowledging that his detention was illegal and arbitrary, violating international law and affecting Bini’s rights to personal liberty and to a fair trial.

Amnesty International noted that undue interference by authorities, such as the president, the minister of government and the attorney in charge of the case, has violated the independence of the investigation, due process and the right to the presumption of innocence, since their public accusations against Bini have not yet been proven by an independent, objective and impartial investigation.

Faced with this, the organization warns of the risk that the Attorney’s Office in charge of the case will present illegally obtained evidence and asked the judicial authorities to verify that any evidence used against Bini has been obtained in accordance with international law.

The misuse of the criminal system against people who defend digital rights and privacy could create an intimidating environment and fear among those who carry out this work in Ecuador.

Additional information:

On the morning of 11 April 2019 – at a press conference in which she communicated the government’s decision to withdraw diplomatic asylum from Julian Assange – the then minister of the interior and current minister of government, María Paula Romo, accused Bini of „cooperating with attempts to destabilize the government“.

Ola Bini was detained in the afternoon of 11 April at Mariscal Sucre airport in the city of Quito without a warrant and without evidence that he had committed a crime in flagrante delicto. Moreover, during the initial period of detention, he was not informed of his rights or given the reasons for his detention in his native language. He was not allowed to communicate, had no access to a lawyer and the Swedish embassy was not notified of his detention.

On 16 April, at a public event in Washington D.C., the United States, the President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, said Bini had been “discovered hacking government and individual accounts and hacking telephones”.