The UN denounces that the Ecuadorian authorities discriminated against an indigenous activist for not recognizing his marriage


The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has denounced this Tuesday that the Ecuadorian authorities discriminated against an indigenous rights activist for refusing to recognize the validity of his marriage, made official by a traditional ceremony.

“Refusing to recognize the marriage of indigenous peoples and asking them to remarry before Civil Registry officials is discriminatory,” said Committee member Michal Balcerzak, adding that this “could contribute to endangering cultural practices and amount to a forced assimilation.

Specifically, the Committee has denounced in Geneva this denial of rights to the indigenous leader Yaku Pérez Guartambel, who is a member of the Kichwa Kañari people, and married in 2013 with Manuela Lavinias Picq, a journalist and teacher of Brazilian and French nationality, through a ceremony made official by the traditional authorities of that town.

Two years later, both were arrested during a demonstration in favor of indigenous rights. The Ecuadorian authorities then revoked the visa of Lavinias Picq, who had to leave the country, according to a statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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“The lack of recognition of Mr. Yaku Pérez’s marriage constitutes an act of discrimination that prevents him from enjoying the same civil rights as those whose marriages are officiated by Civil Registry officials,” said Balcerzak.

After that, Yaku Pérez requested the registration of his marriage in the General Directorate of the Civil Registry, and his request was denied on the grounds that his marriage was not legally valid. In this way, the Ecuadorian officials demanded that he perform the ceremony before the Civil Registry.

Thus, the indigenous leader decided to file a complaint with the Committee, explaining his case, for which this body finally determined that Ecuador “violated its obligation under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”

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“The Committee recalled that the Political Constitution of Ecuador defines said State as an intercultural and plurinational State, which must guarantee collective rights to indigenous peoples that allow them to freely maintain and strengthen their identity, ancestral traditions and social organization,” he indicated. .

The Committee has asked the authorities to register Yaku Pérez’s marriage with the Civil Registry, to compensate him and apologize for the violation of his rights. In addition, he has requested the modification of the legislation so that it does not happen again.

“The recognition of the legal effects of marriages officiated by traditional indigenous authorities, far from depriving the State party of its jurisdiction over civil law, implements the necessary cooperation and coordination that must be the core of the relationship between the ordinary system and the indigenous system,” added Balcerzak.

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