José Serrano Salgado, and other staff of Centro de Derechos Económicos Sociales (“CDES”)

Re: José Serrano Salgado, and other staff of Centro de Derechos Económicos Sociales (“CDES”)

To: Ing. Raul Baca Carbo, Minister of Interior

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier

Date: 2004-04-27

LRWC is gravely concerned for the safety of Mr. José Salgado, and other members of CDES, following an attack against Mr. Salgado on April 23, 2004. The attack appears to be related to Mr. Salgado’s work (on behalf of CDES) with the Sarayaku people in Pastaza province.

I note that I previously wrote to you regarding concerns about the safety of human rights advocates who support the Sarayaku on April 8, 2004. LRWC is alarmed that advocates are again apparently being harassed because of their work with this indigenous group.

The following facts of Mr. Salgado’s case are relevant. On April 23, 2004, Mr. Salgado was travelling in his car on the Vía Norte-Sur in Quito when he was stopped by three men who emerged from a green vehicle without number plates. The men wore civilian clothing and balaclavas. At least one of the three carried a revolver.

As Mr. Salgado stopped his car, one of the assailants entered and sat in the passenger’s side front seat and said, “Hijo de puta, hijo de puta, bajáte del carro”. Mr. Salgado complied, and another of the men stuck a revolver to his arm. The men then said to Mr. Salgado, “Hijo de puta, ya para esto, ya no puedes continuar con esto, oiste, ya no puedes continuar”. Mr. Salgado was then forced back into the driver’s seat of his vehicle. His assailants occupied the front and rear passengers’ seats.

While the man in the front passenger’s seat pointed a revolver at him, Mr. Salgado was told to remove his shirt and shoes and surrender his wallet and watch. Thinking that the attack was an ordinary robbery, Mr. Salgado told his assailants to take his vehicle. The attackers said that they were not interested, and demanded Mr. Salgado’s mobile phone. Mr. Salgado replied that his mobile phone was at home, the assailants said, “sabemos que tienes un celular, danos el celular”. After Mr. Salgado again denied having his telephone with him, one of the men on the back seat replied, “Cuidado, si haces algo te matamos, pero ya para hijo de pouta, ya paren. ¿Para qué vas al Puyo carbon? ¿Para qué?”

Before leaving, Mr. Salgado’s attackers said, “hijo de puta, esta vez te decimos así, pero la próxima te matamos, oyes carbon, les matamos”. The assailants then took Mr. Salgado’s car keys and told him to wait 20 minutes before leaving, or he would be killed. LRWC understands that Mr. Salgado and CDES filed a complaint regarding this incident on April 24, 2004.

It is apparent to LRWC that the threats against Mr. Salgado are likely aimed at discouraging CDES’s support for the Sarayaku population in the latter’s opposition to oil exploitation in their territory.

Mr. Minister and Madam Attorney General, LRWC again reminds the Government of Ecuador of its international legal obligations to protect human rights defenders such as Mr. Salgado and CDES, and they advocacy work they perform. The attacks and threats against Mr. Salgado are the latest in a series of acts of intimidation against human rights defenders involved with the Sarayaku. LRWC is aware, for example, that since February 2003, Amnesty International has documented a number of abuses against human rights workers who support the Sarayaku. LRWC is not aware of a government investigation into any of these abuses.

In accordance with our previous correspondence to you, LRWC calls on you to act on Ecuador’s international obligations by immediately initiating investigations into attacks against human rights workers advocating on behalf of the Sarayaku. In particular, we urge you to move expeditiously to investigate the attacks against Mr. Salgado. We urge you to make the results of all investigations public and to bring those responsible for wrongdoing to justice.

We further urge you to take measures to ensure the safety of Mr. Salgado and other members of CDES, in accordance with Ecuador’s international obligations, and the wishes of the affected persons.

Please advise LRWC, by mail, e-mail or fax of your course of action. LRWC awaits your response.