Observing the evaluation and preparatory trial hearing of the Ola Bini case

 

Publication date: 
mars 2020
Author: 
Various

Ola Bini is a computer expert and human rights defender recognised worldwide, who is facing a political-judicial process in Ecuador since April 2019. In regards to this, the Ecuadorian and international civil society organisations signing below have decided to attend, as observers, the preparatory hearing and trial evaluation of 5 March 2020.

This decision is based on a shared concern: the possible lack of guarantees to ensure Bini a fair trial within the framework of the constitutional state of rights and justice. From the beginning it has been shown that this case is crossed by political interests and with the constant undue interference of the national government. [1] Indeed, top authorities of the executive branch, such as President Lenín Moreno and the Minister of Government María Paula Romo, have carried out public interventions in order to pressure the judicial function. [2] This action has aroused multiple rejections and the constant questioning of more than 100 national and international organisations and institutions. [3]

On the other hand, observing this hearing is essential since this process constitutes a paradigmatic case for Ecuador and the region. A judicial decision based on undue political pressures, and not on technical criteria, will have negative consequences for the protection of human rights defenders in general and for the validity of digital rights in particular. [4]

Internet access is increasingly relevant in all social processes; therefore, to persecute and criminalise activists whose technical knowledge is key to protecting human rights in the digital field implies a severe increase in the risk of its massive violation. [5]

As observers, we hope and we will be present at the hearing in order to ensure that the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial judicial authority is respected and for the decisions taken to meet technical and expert criteria, taking into account the need to ensure the full validity of human rights inside and outside the digital environment.

Signatories:

Access Now

Asociación de Software Libre del Ecuador (ASLE)

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Brasil de Fato (BdF)

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos Segundo Montes Mozo S.J. (CSMM)

Colombia Informa

Comité Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (CDH)

Derechos Digitales

Ecuador Today

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Fundación Karisma

Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH)

Indymedia Ecuador

La Libre

Marcha Noticias

Mídia Ninja

Observatorio de Derechos y Justicia (ODJ)

Wambra

[1] Amnesty International (AI) has made its concern public regarding such interference: https://www.amnesty.org/es/latest/news/2019/08/ecuador-gobierno-interfiere-en-proceso-penal-contra-ola-bini/.

[2] The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has requested that all political actors refrain from involvement in the case: https://www.eff.org/es/deeplinks/2019/08/ecuador-political-actors-must-step-away-ola-binis-case. Likewise, the Observatory of Rights and Justice (ODJ) has drawn attention to these statements and their negative effects on judicial independence in this case: https://drive.google.com/file/d/18LfOSp1XWefCzY7cPuJ7UwnYh56sP9MG/view.

[3] Both the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) have called attention to Bini's detention (https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2019/04/15/nota/7287350/relatorias-onu-oea-cuestionan-stop-wave-bini). In addition, the UN sent a letter to the Ecuadorian government: https://freeolabini.org/es/LetterUN/. For more information, review the following public reactions of support: https://freeolabini.org/es/statement/; https://freeolabini.org/es/statement-defensores-DDDD/.

[4] The first antecedent about the lack of technical rigor for decision making happened in the context of the reformulation of charges against Bini. International organisations that are experts in the field called attention to this instance: https://freeolabini.org/es/recommended_readings/report/ and https://www.eff.org/es/deeplinks/2019/08/telnet-not-crime-unconvincing-prosecution-screenshot-leaked-ola-bini-case.

[5] On this issue there have also been statements from, among others, the Free Software Association of Ecuador (ASLE), the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Segundo Montes Mozo S. J. Human Rights Documentation Center (CSMM), the Standing Committee for Rights Humans (CDH), the Regional Foundation for Human Rights Advisory (INREDH) and Indymedia Ecuador. See, for example, https://www.apc.org/en/search/node/ola%20bini%20language%3Aen and https://www.facebook.com/inredh.derechoshumanos/videos/336202877136352/.

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