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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 183rd session
(Geneva, 15 October 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González and Mr. Pablo Vicente Tapia Farinango, member and substitute member, respectively, of the National Congress of Ecuador, who were murdered in broad daylight in the centre of Quito on 17 February 1999 along with a legislative assistant, Mr. Wellington Borja Nazareno, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/183/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 182nd session (April 2008),

Taking account of the information provided by the President of the Special Commission of Inquiry and the Commission's legal adviser at the hearing held with the Committee on 15 July 2008,

Recalling the following:

  • the Special Commission of Inquiry (CEI) set up immediately after the murder to help elucidate the crime has from the outset sharply criticized the conduct of the investigation authorities, in particular the line of inquiry that the police presented in their preliminary report and as announced on 19 February 1999 by the then President of the Republic, namely that the motive for the killing was Jaime Hurtado's links with the Colombian guerrilla movement, which conclusion has subsequently never been elaborated or substantiated;

  • the CEI has pointed to numerous inconsistencies in the police investigation and concluded that deliberate efforts were made by some police officers to thwart its conduct; the CEI also expressed its strong disapproval of the inactive attitude of the prosecuting authorities and the courts when it came to shedding full light on the murder, in particular that they took the preliminary police conclusions at face value;

  • the CEI conducted an extensive inquiry that took account of Mr. Hurtado's critical stance on the then Government and his investigations into corruption cases, which are said to have led him to unravel a web of drug trafficking featuring high-profile figures from both banking and political circles; none of the serious leads presented in this regard in the CEI's extensive reports has so far been seriously investigated or taken into account by the prosecuting authorities;

  • on 23 October 2003, the judge in the case declared the plenary phase of the trial open against six accused, while ordering a stay of proceedings against 21 other persons, mainly police officers; on 20 December 2005, Mr. Freddy Contreras Luna was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his involvement in the triple murder; he started serving his sentence on 20 January 2006; an appeal against the ruling is pending before the Supreme Court; on 3 February 2007, Mr. Steven Ponce was arrested in the United States of America, extradited to Ecuador and subsequently sentenced to 16 years in prison for his part in the crime; the CEI affirms that neither of the judgments takes into consideration any of its findings; the proceedings against the four accused who are at large remain suspended and those against the 21 other persons continue to be stayed,
Considering that the CEI has completed its inquiry and is now concentrating on ensuring that the full truth is ascertained about the triple murder and its mastermind(s), and that in this respect it is participating in the appeal proceedings in the case of Mr. Contreras, arguing that the basis for his conviction in fact invalidates the preliminary findings of the police on the motive of the murder, and in order to ensure that the Court takes full account of its conclusions,

Considering that the CEI is preparing a submission to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to obtain a ruling that the State of Ecuador has failed to comply with its duty to advance the cause of justice in this case and to provide the victims' families with reparation,

Considering that in Ecuador the offence of murder is subject to a ten-year statute of limitations,

  1. Urges the authoritiesto take full account of the CEI's findings since its thorough investigation has provided substantive leads and revealed serious contradictions and omissions in the conduct of the competent authorities in this case, which, if not taken seriously, can only lend credence to the allegation that a deliberate effort has been made to prevent the full truth from emerging;

  2. Trusts that, at this crucial juncture, the authorities are doing their utmost to ensure that the accused who remain at large are apprehended and can still be prosecuted, particularly since such proceedings would offer a fresh opportunity to give critical consideration in court to all the material on file in this case, in particular the work of the CEI;

  3. Is confident that in the meantime the appeal proceedings concerning Mr. Contreras are taking due account of the findings of the CEI, and wishes to be kept informed in this respect;

  4. Would also appreciate being kept informed of developments regarding the submission of the petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to inform the competent authorities, the CEI and the source of this resolution and to seek the requested information from them;

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 120th Assembly of the IPU (April 2009).
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