Protect Free Speech in Ecuador

Target: President of Ecuador Rafael Correa

Goal: Don’t silence media criticism of public officials.

The Ecuadorean National Assembly recently passed a law, titled ominously “The Communications Law,” that will allow the state to try any journalist or news outlet that fails any of an expansive number of requirements. It is apparent upon browsing these regulations, including such items as “[a journalist must] respect people’s honor and reputation,” as well as prohibiting journalists from “undermining the credibility” of any person or legal entity, that this law is an attempt to silence media criticism of government officials. The law will also allow the government to order media outlets to make written apologies after failing the requirements.

There is also concern that the new law will allow more direct media censorship from the government, by way of expansion to its requirement that information delivered from news outlets be “verified”. The party to “verify” this information as truthful would be, of course, the Ecuadorean government.

Vigorous debate and the potential for the media to criticize the government and government officials are necessary for a democratic society to exist. This is why censorship of the media is directly at odds with the U.N.’s Declaration of Principles on the Freedom of Expression. Similarly, the American Convention of Human Rights explicitly prohibits censorship of media or individual spoken word.

This is not the first free speech issue in Ecuador’s recent history: President Correa has a history of using his powers to target enemies in the press, as well as simultaneous lawsuits and promotion of government media.

This “Communications Law” is incredibly toxic to the freedom of expression in Ecuador, and must be repealed before it is misused.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Rafael Correa,

The Ecuadorean National Assembly recently passed a “Communications Law” that greatly infringes on the rights of media outlets in Ecuador. Under this law, the government will effectively be able to censor and try any journalist or news outlet that publishes “unverified” information, or fails to “Respect people’s honor and integrity.” This law will prevent any of the dissent that characterizes a healthy, democratic society.

This law is in direct violation of the U.N. Declaration of Principles on the Freedom of Expression, as well as the American Convention of Human Rights, both of which prohibit censorship of the media. The Communications Law must be repealed if Ecuador is to become a functioning democracy.

Photo credit: Roosewelt Pinheiro via Wikimedia Commons

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  • alper arslan
  • jeff barrow
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  • Olivier Zimmermann
  • Olivier Zimmermann
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