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Ecuador[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Ecuador's child protective system, the National System of Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents, is a formal one, comprised of the Public Defender's Office, the Offices of the Community Defenders of Children and Adolescents, and the Special Police of Children and Adolescents.  The system is supported by foster family agencies and institutional shelters and it provides various services such as parenting workshops and “programs of specialized attention.”  Child protective proceedings take place in court before specialized Judges of Children and Adolescents.  The judge hears the advice of the community defender of children and adolescents as to the best interests of the child and, in addition, asks the child his or her opinion directly. Thus, in most cases, the child speaks to the judge directly.  Foster children, however, are sometimes provided with legal representation by their foster family agency.

The Code of Childhood and Adolescence is the legal document governing child protection, as well as adoption, custody, and the juvenile justice system.  Passed in 2003, it replaced the more rudimentary Children's Code (1992), effectively enacting the principles of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in their entirety.  Article 12 of the CRC, giving the child the right to express his or her views in any proceeding affecting the child, is substantiated several times in Ecuador's Code of Childhood and Adolescence, most directly in Article 60.  Article 60 states:

Children and adolescents have the right to be consulted in all of the matters that affect them.  This opinion shall be taken into account in proportion to his age and maturity.  No child or adolescent shall be obligated or pressured by any means to express his opinion.

According to the Constitution of Ecuador, provisions in treaties that do not run counter to the Constitution and other laws form part of the legal order of the country; thus, the CRC has legal force in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian legal system gives precedence first to the Constitution, then to legislation deriving from treaties and other instruments ratified by the Government and lastly to internal laws and secondary legal provisions.[2]

 

Sources of Law

Original text

A.    Código de la Niñez y Adolescencia, Codificación No. 2002-100. R.O. 737, 3 de enero, 2003[3]

1.      Libro Primero – Los Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes como Sujetos de Derechos, Tìtulo III - Derechos, Garantías y Deberes, Capítulo V – Derechos de participación

a.                Artículo 60 - Derecho a ser consultados

Los niños, niñas y adolescentes tienen derecho a ser consultados en todos los asuntos que les afecten. Esta opinión se tendrá en cuenta en la medida de su edad y madurez.

Ningún niño, niña o adolescente podrá ser obligado o presionado de cualquier forma para expresar su opinión.

2.     Libro Segundo – El Niño, Niña y Adolescente en sus Relaciones de Familia, Título II – De la Patria Potestad

a.             Artículo 108 - Suspensión de la representación legal por causa de conflicto de intereses

Se suspende la representación legal tratándose de actos, contratos o juicios en los que exista o pueda existir intereses contrapuestos entre el hijo o la hija y quien o quienes la ejercen. En estos casos ejercerá la representación. el padre o la madre que no se encuentre en conflicto de intereses, o el curador especial que nombre el Juez si el interés los inhabilita a ambos.

 

3.     Libro Tercero – Del Sistema Nacional Descentralizado de Protección Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia, Título VIII – Procedimiento Administrativo de Protección de Derechos

a. Artículo 236 – Legitimación activa

Sin perjuicio de la facultad de los órganos competentes para actuar de oficio y de los casos en que se concede acción pública, pueden proponer la acción administrativa de protección:

1.     El niño, niña o adolescente afectado;

2.     Cualquier miembro de su familia, hasta el cuarto grado de consanguinidad y segundo de afinidad;

3.     La Defensoría del Pueblo;

4.     Las Defensorías Comunitarias; y,

5.     Cualquier otra persona o entidad que tenga interés en ello.

a.               Artículo 238 – Audiencia

En la audiencia se oirán los alegatos verbales de las partes, comenzando por el denunciante, concluidos los cuales se oirá reservadamente al adolescente, en todo caso, o al niño o niña que estén en condiciones de expresar su opinión.

A continuación, el organismo sustanciador procurará la conciliación de las partes, si la naturaleza del asunto lo permite, de conformidad con la ley. Así mismo, puede remitir el caso a un centro especializado de mediación.

Si las partes concilian, se dispondrá una medida de protección tendiente a favorecer las relaciones entre los afectados y se determinarán los mecanismos de evaluación y seguimiento de la medida. En caso contrario, si existen hechos que deban ser probados, el organismo sustanciador convocará de inmediato a una nueva audiencia para la rendición de pruebas, la que deberá celebrarse a más tardar dentro de los siguientes cinco días hábiles.

El organismo sustanciador tendrá la facultad de disponer las pruebas e investigaciones que considere necesarias.

4.     Libro Tercero, Titulo X – La Administraciòn de Justicia de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Capítulo IV – Prodecimientos Judiciales, Sección segunda – El procedimiento contencioso general

a.                Artículo 273 - Audiencia de conciliación y contestación

La audiencia de conciliación será conducida personalmente por el Juez, quien la iniciará promoviendo en las partes un arreglo conciliatorio que, de haberlo, será aprobado en la misma audiencia y pondrá término al juzgamiento.

Si no se produce conciliación, el Juez escuchará de inmediato las réplicas y contra réplicas de las partes, comenzando por el de contestación del demandado, quien, luego del alegato del accionante, tendrá la oportunidad de hacer una breve réplica. Concluidos los alegatos, oirá reservadamente la opinión del adolescente, necesariamente, o del niño o niña que esté en edad y condiciones de prestarlo.

Antes de cerrar la audiencia, el Juez insistirá en una conciliación de las partes; si no la hay y existen hechos que deban probarse, convocará a la audiencia de prueba que deberá realizarse no antes de quince ni después de veinte días contados desde la fecha del señalamiento.

 

B. La Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño[4]

1.   Artículo 12

1. Los Estados Partes garantizarán al niño que esté en condiciones de formarse un juicio propio el derecho de expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que afectan al niño, teniéndose debidamente en cuenta las opiniones del niño, en función de la edad y madurez del niño.

2. Con tal fin, se dará en particular al niño oportunidad de ser escuchado, en todo procedimiento judicial o administrativo que afecte al niño, ya sea directamente o por medio de un representante o de un órgano apropiado, en consonancia con las normas de procedimiento de la ley nacional.

 

 

C. Decreto de 16 Marzo, 1989 [5]

 

1.      Artículo 1

La ratificación de la Convención de los Derechos del Niño a aprobarse por todos los países del mundo en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas a fines de 1989.

 

Translated text[6]

A. Code of Childhood and Adolescence, Codification No. 2002-100. R.O. 737, January 3, 2003

1.      Book One – Children and Adolescents as Subject to Rights, Title III –Rights, Guarantees, and Responsibilities, Chapter V –Rights of Participation

a.                Article 60 – Right to be consulted

Children and adolescents have the right to be consulted in all of the matters that affect them.  This opinion shall be taken into account in proportion to his age and maturity.

No child or adolescent shall be obligated or pressured by any means to express his opinion.

2.     Book Two – The Child and Adolescent in Their Familial Relationships, Title II – On Parental Authority

a.     Article 108 – Suspension of legal representation due to a conflict of interest

The legal representation shall be suspended in acts, contracts, or judgments in which there exists or there may exist opposing interests between the child and whoever exercises it.  In those cases, the mother or father who is found to not have a conflict of interest shall exercise the representation, or if interests disqualify both, a special guardian named by the Judge shall exercise it.

3.     Book Three - National System of Protection for Children and Adolescents, Title VIII – Administrative Procedure of Protection of Rights

a.     Article 236 – Active legitimization

Without damage to the power of the competent organizations to act officially and in the cases in which public action is granted, the following are able to propose administrative protective actions:

1.     The affected child or adolescent;

2.     Any member of his or her family, up to the fourth degree of blood-relation and second in relations by marriage;

3.     The Town Defender's Office;

4.     The Community Defender's Office; and,

5.     Any other person or agency that has an interest in him or her.

b. Article 238 – Hearing

In the hearing the verbal allegations of the parties shall be heard, beginning with the denouncer, concluding with those who shall be heard reservedly, the adolescent, in all cases, or the child who is able to express his or her opinion.

In the continuation, the substantiating organization shall procure the conciliation of the parties, if the nature of the subject matter permits it, in conformity with the law.  In the same way, it may refer the case to a specialized mediation center.

If the parties conciliate, a measure of protection shall be ordered tending to favor the relationship between those affected and the mechanisms of evaluation and pursuit of the measure shall be determined.

The substantiating organization shall have the power to order the tests and investigations that it considers necessary.

4.     Book Three, Title X –The Justice Administration of Children and Adolescents, Chapter IV – Judicial Procedures, Section Two –The General Contention Procedure

a.     Article 273 – Hearing for conciliation and contention

The hearing for the conciliation shall be personally led by the Judge, who shall initiate it by promoting in the parties a conciliatory understanding that, in having it, shall be ratified in the same audience and shall put and end to the judgment.

If conciliation is not achieved, the Judge shall immediately listen to the replies and counter-replies of the parties, beginning with the contention of the defendant, who, after the allegations of the accuser, shall have the opportunity to make a brief reply.  In concluding the allegations, the opinion of the adolescent, necessarily, or of the child who is of an age and condition to give it shall be heard reservedly.

Before the hearing comes to a close, the Judge shall insist upon a conciliation of the parties; if there is not one and facts exist that must be tested, he or she shall summon a hearing of evidence that must not take place before fifteen or after twenty workdays after the date of the appointment.

 

B.    Convention on the Rights of the Child

 

1.   Article 12

 

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

 

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

 

C.    Decree of March 16, 1989

 

1.      Article 1

The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to be approved by all of the countries in the world in the General Assembly of the United Nations by the end of 1989.

 

 

Additional Resources and Links

Government of Ecuador

http://www.presidencia.gov.ec/

 

National Congress of Ecuador

http://www.congreso.gov.ec

 

Derecho Ecuador — Legislation of Ecuador

www.dlh.lahora.com.ec/paginas/judicial/paginas/Pjudicial2.htm

 

National Institute of Children and Families

http://www.innfa.org/

 

Defensoría del Pueblo/ Public Defender's Office http://www.defensordelpueblo.org.ec/index.php

 

Domestic Violence Unit of Prevention & Protection http://www.quito.gov.ec/segur2/index.htm

 

Nuestros Niños — Program of Child Development

http://www.nuestrosninos.gov.ec/

 

Inter-institutional Committee for the Application of the Code of Childhood and Adolescence

http://www.ninezmbs.gov.ec/

 

National Counsel of Children and Adolescents

http://www.cnna.gov.ec/

 

National Youth Office

http://www.juventudecuador.gov.ec/

 

Ten Year Plan for the Integral Protection of Children & Adolescents www.frentesocial.gov.ec/p_decenal/frames/M_Principal.htm

 

Ministry of Social Wellbeing

http://www.mbs.gov.ec/

 

Observatory of the Rights of Children & Adolescents

http://www.odna.org/

 

UNICEF — Ecuador

http://www.unicef.org/ecuador/

 

Supreme Court of Ecuador

http://www.justiciaecuador.gov.ec/

 

 


Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] See Ecuador's Political Constitution of 1998, Article 163 (stating that the norms contained in international treaties form part of the legal ordering of the country and prevail over other laws), available at http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Ecuador/ecuador98.html.

[3] Código de la Niñez y Adolescencia [Code of Childhood and Adolescence], No. 2002-100. R.O. 737, Jan. 3, 2003 available at http://www.dlh.lahora.com.ec/paginas/judicial/paginas/Cod.Ninez.Adolescencia.htm#anchor71536, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] La Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño, Artículo 12, available at http://www.unicef.org/spanish/crc/fulltext.htm.

[5] República del Ecuador, Congreso Nacional, Decreto de 16 Marzo, 1989 [Decree of March 16, 1989], available at http://200.24.209.162/intranet/publico/navegar/navegar_documento.asp?codigo=I-89-257&path=/proyectos/1988-

1989&numero=1&hojas=1&tipo=PRO&defWidth=856&serial=5759, and also here, and also as .pdf Document.

[6] Translations are unofficial; they were prepared by students Zoë Klugman and Samantha Tweedy.

 

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