OJALA recognizes Ecuador’s Attorney General, Diana Salazar Méndez, for her fruitful support of research project

On November 21, 2023, researchers from the Observatory of Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America (OJALA), Francia Jenny Moreno and Jacqueline Pabón Espinoza, presented in Quito a plaque to Ecuador’s Attorney General, Diana Salazar Méndez, for her support to OJALA’s research project in Ecuador since July 2021 (see photographs 1 and 2). This research project is entitled “A Multifaceted Examination of the Application of Ethnoracial Law for the Benefit of Afrodescendants in Contemporary Multiculturalist Ecuador,” it is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Florida International University (FIU), and will conclude in August 2024.

Thanks to the Attorney General’s valuable support, OJALA’s researchers on this project were able to coordinate online “Training workshops for operators of the judicial system on the application of ethnoracial legal instruments (collective rights and crimes of discrimination and hatred) for the benefit of Afrodescendants in Ecuador.” These workshops were carried out in close collaboration with Ecuador’s judicial school (judges), the school of the Public Defender’s Office, and the training program for prosecutors. The workshops took place in February, March, and May 2023. In the OJALA team, the work of Raquel Escobar was essential for the effective coordination of communication with these schools, and for taking care of the many online workshops’ logistical details.

The workshops ran over four days, with one module unfolding each day. These modules were entitled “International Human Rights Instruments on Racial Discrimination,” “Regulation of Discrimination and Hate Crimes in Comparative and Ecuadorian Law,” “Crimes of Discrimination and Hatred in the Comprehensive Penal Code of Ecuador,” and “The Utility of Strategic Litigations for the Antiracist Movement.” These workshops were led by renowned experts in law and racial justice, including John Antón Sánchez, a researcher-professor at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (IAEN) in Quito, Ecuador; Gina Gómez de la Torre, lawyer and former prosecutor, Quito, Ecuador; Juan Montaña Pinto, researcher-professor at the Universidad Central del Ecuador, Quito; and the team from ILEX Acción Jurídica Colombia, represented by its subdirector, Audrey Mena Mosquera.

At the beginning of each workshop, the OJALA research team asked the participants (all operators of the judicial system) to individually answer the questions presented to them in a previously designed survey to assess the knowledge they had at that time (before the workshops) about ethnoracial legal instruments. Thanks to this strategy, the research team successfully collected a total of 1,310 surveys. This means that beyond contributing to the training of operators of the judicial system, the initial support from Attorney General Diana Salazar allowed the OJALA team to collect significant quantitative and qualitative data on the operators’ pre-workshop knowledge of ethnoracial legal instruments.

For the Public Defenders’ workshop, the OJALA-NSF project also benefited from the strategic support of the UNESCO Chair of Afro-Andean Studies at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar-Ecuador (UASB-E), which provided free-of-charge the usage of its online teaching platform. In addition to working as researchers for the OJALA-NSF project, Francia Jenny Moreno Zapata and Jacqueline Pabón Espinoza have affiliations with the UASB-E. Florida International University (FIU), at the request of OJALA, recently renewed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UASB-E and its Chair of Afro-Andean Studies.