Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange
On June 19, 2012, the Australian citizen Julian Assange, showed up on the headquarters of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with the purpose of requesting diplomatic protection of the Ecuadorian State, invoking the norms on political asylum in force. The requester has based his petition on the fear of an eventual political persecution of which he may be a victim in a third State, which can use his extradition to the Swedish Kingdom to obtain in turn the ulterior extradition to such country.
The Government of Ecuador, faithful to the asylum procedure, and attributing the greatest seriousness to this case, has examined and assessed all the aspects implied, particularly the arguments presented by Mr. Assange backing up the fear he feels before a situation that this person considers as a threat to his life, personal safety and freedom.
It is important to point out that Mr. Assange has made the decision to request asylum and protection from Ecuador because of the accusations that, according to him, have been formulated for supposed “espionage and betrayal” with which the citizen exposes the fear he feels about the possibility of being surrendered to the United States authorities by the British, Swedish or Australian authorities, thus it is a country, says Mr. Assange, that persecutes him because of the disclosure of compromising information for the United States Government. He equally manifests, being “victim of a persecution in different countries, which derives not only from his ideas and actions, but from his work by publishing information compromising the powerful ones, by publishing the truth and, with that, unveiling the corruption and serious human rights abuses of citizens around the world”.
Therefore, for the requester, the imputation of politic felonies is what backs up his request for asylum, thus in his criteria, he faces a situation that means to him an imminent danger which he cannot resist. With the purpose of explaining the fear he has of a possible political persecution, and that this possibility ends up turning into a situation of impairment and violation of his rights, with risk for his integrity, personal security and freedom, the Government of Ecuador considered the following:
Accordingly, the Ecuadorian Government considers that these arguments back up Julian Assange’s fears, thus he can be a victim of political persecution, as a consequence of his determined defense to freedom of expression and freedom of press, as well as his position of condemn to the abuses that the power infers in different countries, aspects that make Mr. Assange think that, in any given moment, a situation may come where his life, safety or personal integrity will be in danger. This fear has leaded him to exercise his human right of seeking and receiving asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom.
Article 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador defines clearly the right to grant asylum. Regarding those dispositions, the rights to asylum and shelter are fully recognized, according to the law and international human rights instruments. According to such constitutional norm:
Moreover, the right to asylum is recognized in the Article 4.7 of the Organic Law of Foreign Service of 2006, which determines the faculty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration of Ecuador to know the cases of diplomatic asylum, according to the laws, the treaties, the rights and the international practice.
It is important to outline that our country has outstood over the last years for welcoming a huge number of people who have requested territorial asylum or refuge, respecting with no restriction the principle of no return and no discrimination, while adopting measures towards granting the refugee status in an efficient way, bearing in mind the circumstances of the requesters, most of them Colombians escaping the armed conflict in their country. The High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees has praised Ecuador’s refugee policy, and has highlighted the meaningful fact that these people have not been confined to refugee camps in this country, but they are integrated to society, in full enjoyment of their human rights and guarantees.
Ecuador states the right to asylum in the universal brochure of human rights and believes, therefore, that the effective application of this right requires the international cooperation that our countries can provide, without which its enouncement would be unfruitful, and the institution would be completely ineffective. For these reasons, and bearing in mind the obligation that all the States have assumed to collaborate in the protection and promotion of Human Rights, as it is established in the United Nations Letter, invites the British Government to provide its contingent to reach this purpose.
For those effects, Ecuador has been able to verify, in the course of analysis of the judicial institutions regarding the asylum, that to the confirmation of this right attend fundamental principles of general international law, which because of their importance have universal value and scope, for they are consistent with the general interest of the international community as a whole, and count with the full recognition of all the States. Those principles, which are contemplated in the different international instruments, are the following:
Ecuador considers that the right applicable to Mr. Julian Assange’s case is integrated by the whole principles, norms, mechanisms and procedures foreseen on the international instruments of human rights (regional or universal), which contemplate among their dispositions the right to seek, receive and enjoy asylum for political reasons; the Conventions that regulate the right to asylum and the right of refugees, and that recognize the right to not be surrendered, returned or expulsed when there are founded fears of political persecution; the Conventions that regulate extradition and that recognize the right to not be extradited when this measure can mask political persecution; and the Conventions that regulate the humanitarian right, and that recognize the right not to be transferred when there is a risk of political persecution. All these modalities of asylum and international protection are justified by the need to protect this person of an eventual political persecution, or a possible imputation of political felonies and/ or felonies connected to these last ones, which, to Ecuador’s judgment, not only would put at risk the life of Mr. Assange, but would also represent a serious injustice committed against him.
It is undeniable that the States, having contracted with so numerous and substantive international instruments- many of them judicially binding- the obligation to provide protection or asylum to people persecuted for political reasons, have expressed their will to establish a judicial institution of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, founded as a right in a generally accepted practice, which gives those obligations an imperative character, erga omnes that, being bonded to respect, protection and progressive development of human rights and fundamental freedoms, are a part of the ius cogens. Some of those instruments are mentioned bellow:
The Government of Ecuador considers important to outline that the norms and principles recognized in the international instruments mentioned, and in other multi lateral agreements, have preeminence over the internal laws of the States, thus such treaties are based in a universally oriented normative by intangible principles, from which a greater respect is derived, guarantee and protection of human rights against unilateral attitudes of the same States. This would subtract efficiency to the international law, which otherwise has to be strengthen, so the respect of fundamental rights is consolidated in function of integration and ecumenical character.
On the other hand, since Julian Assange requested political asylum to Ecuador, dialogues of high diplomatic level have been held, with the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States.
In the course of these conversations, our country has appealed to obtain from the United Kingdom the strictest guarantees so Julian Assange faces, with no obstacles, the judicial process open in Sweden. Such guarantees include that, once treated his legal responsibilities in Sweden, he would not be extradited to a third country; this is, the guarantee that the specialty figure will not be applied. Unfortunately, and despite the repeated exchanges of texts, the United Kingdom never gave proof of wanting to achieve political compromises, limiting to repeat the content of the legal texts.
Julian Assange’s lawyers requested the Swedish justice to take statements of Julian Assange in the premises of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Ecuador translated officially to the Swedish authorities its will to facilitate this interview with the purpose of not intervening or obstacle the judicial process that is carried out in Sweden. This is a perfectly legal and possible measure. Sweden did not accept it.
On the other hand, Ecuador searched the possibility that the Swedish Government would establish guarantees to avoid the onward extradition of Assange to the United States. Again, the Swedish Government rejected any commitment on that sense.
Finally, Ecuador directed a communication to the Government of the United States to know officially its position on the Assange’s case. The consults referred to the following:
The answer of the United States has been that they cannot offer information on the Assange’s case, with the allegation that it is a bilateral matter between Ecuador and the United Kingdom.
With these antecedents, the Government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition to protect those who seek shelter in its territory or in the premises of its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to the citizen Julian Assange, on the basis of the request presented to the President of the Republic, through a written communication dated in London on June 19, 2012, and complemented by a communication dated in London on June 25, 2012, for which the Ecuadorian Government, after carrying out a fair and objective assessment of the situation exposed by Mr. Assange, attending his own sayings and argumentations, intakes the requester’s fears, and assumes that there are indications that allow to assume that there may be a political persecution, or that such persecution may be produced if the opportune and necessary measures are not taken to avoid it.
The Government of Ecuador has the certainty that the British Government will know how to value the justice and rectitude of the Ecuadorian position, and in consistency with these arguments, trusts that the United Kingdom will offer as soon as possible the guarantees or safe conducts necessaries and pertinent to the situation of the asylum requester, so their Governments can honor with their actions the fidelity they owe to the international laws and institutions that both nations have contribute to shape along their common history.
It also trusts to maintain inalterable the excellent bonds of friendship and mutual respect that unite Ecuador and the United Kingdom and their respective people, confident as they are in the promotion and defense of the same principles and values, and because they share similar concerns about democracy, peace, Good Living, which can only be possible if the fundamental rights of all people are respected.
NEWS RELEASE No. 042
Brilliant read! Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange