While the new Constitution promulgated in 2008 contained clauses referring to the environment and its protection, over the last couple of years, the government has permitted multinational corporations to enter and exploit oil and gas reserves to the detriment and devastation of the environment and indigenous communities. HRDs working to protect the environment increasingly find themselves targeted and in need of protection.
A presidential decree in 2013 targeting civil society organisations has so far only resulted in one entity being closed down (Fundación Pachamama) but the threat of closure looms large over more (Fundamedios) and has a deeply chilling effect on journalism. What's more, the President's use of state controlled media to harass, stigmatise and defame HRDs by name (especially on his 3-5 hour Saturday morning TV program) has made many HRDs wary.
Human rights defenders have been victims of a wide range of violations in Ecuador, such as police brutality, judicial harassment, arbitrary detentions, smear campaigns, threats, harassment and the oppression of indigenous and campesino communities. Recent incidents have shown that the situation for human rights defenders in Ecuador is precarious. Throughout the month of August 2015 thousands of people gathered in different parts of the country to protest against President Correa's proposed amendments to the constitution that would allow him to run for re-election indefinitely. During this demonstration, many HRDs were detained and beaten by the police.