During Rafael Correa’s decade as president of Ecuador, the political opposition complained of repeated violations of their civil liberties, as Correa used the judicial system to further his authoritarian government. In order to shed light on the abuses Angélica Porras, and others, launched The Forum for Truth and Justice: Persecuted Politicians Never Again, in order to document Correa’s transgressions in illegitimate prosecution of political opponents.
The case involves a systematization in the persecution of opposition leaders through the criminal justice system, with eagerness and intimidation, explains Alejandra Cevallos Cordero, vice president of the group.
The PanAm Post contacted her in order to understand the seriousness of the political persecution against her and how this demonstrates the political and judicial climate that existed in Correa’s time.
Cevallos is a lawyer and currently a professor of criminal law at the Central University, a project that she undertook because of the need to “defend myself from the state”, in her words.
What is the Forum of Truth and Justice?
The forum is an effort by the judiciary to outline the evidence regarding the systematization of political persecution through the judicial system. The criminal justice system of the state was used as a tool of social control, to avoid criticism of the government, and to silence dissenting voices by means of criminal law, causing citizens to fear the repressive apparatus of the state.
Through case analysis, we seek to determine what the persecution patterns were and to collect statistics on them.
The purpose of the forum is to establish a precedent of justice. Because we are talking about acts of judicial corruption, the Plenary Session of the Judicial Council aims to highlight these cases of persecution in order to highlight those responsible, restore institutionality to the judicial system, and prevent these events from occurring again; presenting a historical memory to the country.
What is the function of the Judicial Council?
The Judicial Council is an administrative control body over the jurisdictional power of the state. In the constitutional reform that was made in 2011, under Correa, the Constitution was modified in such a way that the Judicial Council was modified to assume new powers of control over the jurisdictional organs, greater than those that it should have, since the way that is now structured has allowed for greater centralized control and less judicial independence.
These organizations have the possibility to sanction and dismiss judges very easily. Rumor has it that if the judges did not act as the previous members had, who were dismissed from office by the CPCCS-T because corruption was evident, they were immediately dismissed from their posts.
What is your role at the forum and what has it been like to be an activist?
I am the vice president of the forum, delegated by the commission of civilian victims. As a delegate of my committee and vice president of the forum, my job is to support victims who want to make complaints and do not know how to do so, giving them the necessary advice to bring the information that is required and upload the information onto the website of the Judicial Council.
I select the most relevant cases together with the other members to hold hearings, which will be mainly open to the public, where the irregularities committed by the justice system will be exposed. I also am taking a leading role with the preparation of the final report that will be delivered in December.
I was persecuted by the Correa government for having given an interview on a program called ECTV in 30S. My sin was to belong to the Christian Social Party, a political opposition party that was vital to put together the plot of the script prepared by the National Secretary of Communication (SECOM) to stigmatize us. At the beginning, the Communication Secretary of the government spoke of an armed coup, then, with the passing of days, a soft coup where the opposition parties conspired to overthrow the Correista government.