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12 Jun 2019

Swedwatch (Sweden)

Ecuador: Labour rights defender supporting banana sector workers risks persecution

"Defender working on banana sector risks persecution", 14 May 2019

In Ecuador, Jorge Acosta risks prosecution for “creating economic panic” for reporting on labour rights and environmental issues in the banana sector. Companies purchasing bananas from Ecuador should make public their position regarding defenders’ rights and this specific case. Agribusiness has surpassed the mining sector as the most dangerous sector for human rights and environmental defenders globally, with Latin America being the worst continent...[1]...Jorge Acosta [is the] coordinator of the banana workers’ union ASTAC (Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas y Campesinos), which organises around 1,500 banana workers across the country[2], [he] is a well renowned human rights defender who has worked for over ten years to address labour rights, health and safety issues and environmental impacts in the banana sector... [O]n April 18, Jorge Acosta was notified that an official complaint had been presented to the Ecuadorian Attorney General by a private individual. The complaint accused Jorge Acosta of “creating economic panic”, a crime chargeable with five to seven years in prison... The accusation against Jorge is a threat to freedom of speech and association and exemplifies a global tendency to try to quiet defenders through lawsuits... According to Jorge...he has also received a number of threats, including death threats... In April 2019, the Ecuadorian Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo) published an extensive study of working conditions in the banana sector. The study confirmed what ASTAC has been stating for years... 

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