Jorge Acosta - Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas y Campesinos (ASTAC) (Trade Union of Agricultural Workers and Farmers)
Union leader and human rights defender Jorge Acosta is the coordinator of the banana workers’ union ASTAC (Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas y Campesinos), which organises around 1,500 workers across Ecuador. For more than a decade, ASTAC has highlighted labour rights, health and safety issues and environmental impacts related to the banana sector. On 7 February 2020, Acosta was arrested and detained for several hours after having requested court documents from a case related to the dismissal of banana workers attempting to form a trade union. He was accused of violating a judge’s privacy when he insisted the documents were public and subsequently tried to film the response of a judge when his request was denied.
It is not the first time that Jorge Acosta has faced legal accusations related to his work. In April 2019 a complaint filed by a private individual accused him of “creating economic panic”, a charge that carries up to seven years in prison. Following public and international pressure, including from companies importing bananas from Ecuador, the charges were never pressed. The accusations against Acosta are deemed to be part of a global trend towards the silencing of human rights defenders through strategic lawsuits.