Ecuador moves up visit by UN expert on threats to independent judiciary

4 March 2005

The Government of Ecuador has agreed to move up to this month the visit by a top United Nations legal expert who is seeking to assess “the serious crisis” that “could irreversibly affect the independence of the judiciary” in the South American country.

Last month the UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, said the Government had suggested the first week of May, due to reasons of availability, although he had asked to visit in mid-February.

“Considering the gravity of the situation and recent developments, the Special Rapporteur has made it known to the Government his interest in undertaking a visit at an earlier date,” he said then, citing urgent concerns over judicial independence after a move by Congress to replace 27 of the 31 Supreme Court judges with magistrates of its own choosing and the resignation of the court’s president.

In a statement yesterday, Mr. Despouy said the Government had now decided that the visit will take place before he presents his reports to the Commission on 1 April.

“The Special Rapporteur will undertake this visit in light of the serious crisis affecting the Ecuadorian judiciary, in particular in the context of measures adopted with regard to the Supreme Court and the Constitutional and Electoral Courts,” the statement added.

“In the view of the Special Rapporteur, such measures could irreversibly affect the independence of the judiciary in Ecuador.”


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