As Ecuador gets ready to hand over Assange, don’t let Lenin Moreno off the hook

Even as Ecuador looks very ready to hand over Julian Assange to the UK government, and months after Lenin Moreno’s government ruthlessly trampled over Assange’s right to free expression (Assange is an Ecuadorian citizen since about December of 2017), widespread ignorance about Ecuador shields its government from accountability.

The only thing Lenin Moreno ‘s government has done well since coming into power in May of 2017 is knowing which cynical moves will be ignored or even praised by the western media and corrupt NGOs. Turning over Assange would be an addition to a long and growing list of Moreno’s outrageous acts and statements.

Months after receiving Ecuadorian citizenship, Assange, who has been under arbitrary detention for several years according to a UN panel, was blocked by Moreno’s government from using the internet, receiving phone calls, and from receiving visitors (except for a few of his lawyers). 

Here is a scholarly analysis (in Spanish) by Oswaldo Ruiz-Chiriboga explaining how Moreno has trampled all over judicial independence and shredded Ecuador’s constitutional order.

Ruiz-Chiriboga’s analysis focuses on the “Balda case” that has been used by Moreno to get an arrest order issued for former president Rafael Correa, but in explaining the numerous grave irregularities in that case, Ruiz-Chiriboga also provides a broad and devastating analysis of Moreno’s destruction of the rule of law in Ecuador.

I will happily post a link to an English translation of the paper when one is available, but below I’ll list (and in some cases elaborate a bit on) a small subset of Ruiz-Chiriboga findings:

1)      The Supreme Court judge handing the “Balda case” against Correa is being evaluated by the JC-t. What is the JC-t?

2)      The JC-t is a “transitional” Judicial Council that disciplines, trains and oversees judges. It has already appointed a slew of “transitional” judges at the provincial level. The JC-t is a body appointed by the CPCCS-t. What is the CPCCS-t?

3)  The CPCCS-t is a “transitional” body that, through a national level referendum in February, was empowered to replace the existing CPCCS (a “Citizens Participation Council“ whose constitutional terms had not yet expired). The CPCCS oversees the public selection processes or choosing the members of the judicial council and other “control authorities” like bank regulators. However, the CPCCS-t has expanded powers and has claimed (and exercised) powers beyond what the February referendum granted it. It was hand-picked by Lenin Moreno.

4)      The February referendum questions – that led to the creation of this extraordinarily powerful CPCCS-t that was hand-picked by Moreno – was not approved by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. Moreno publicly demanded the Constitutional Court approve all the questions. He then simply called the referendum by decree. The CPCCS-t is now claiming it has the power to “evaluate” the Constitutional Court. One more thing, the February referendum included 6 other questions totally unrelated to the creation of the CPCCS-t. It was a textbook example of how to use a referendum to assail constitutional rights and democracy.

5)      The acting attorney general pursuing Correa was appointed and even unconstitutionally sworn in before the CPCCS-t. The president of the CPCCS-t (Julio Cesar Trujillo) made clear to the acting attorney general that he will be closely watched and promptly replaced if his performance is deemed inadequate by the CPCCS-t.

6)      Julio Cesar Trujillo said Correa is wise not return to Ecuador since he would probably be lynched in the streets. Trujillo’s remark is a not so subtle hint that Moreno and his allies (including both public and private media) would allow Correa to be attacked by thugs.  Trujillo has also publicly called Correa a thief and the worst president in Ecuador’s history – the kind of guy Moreno picked to have sweeping powers over the judiciary, prosecutors and numerous other authorities.

Incidentally, an Ecuadorian journalist (Ramiro Cueva) who owns a media outlet, was arrested in Belgium for threatening Correa while he was shopping with his daughter. Correa lives in Belgium with his wife (who is from there) since leaving office. While president, Correa had often talked of repaying his wife for living away from family for many years by moving to Belgium after he left office. This incident is quite representative of Ecuador’s rancid private media and the elite Lenin Moreno serves.

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