Target: President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa
Goal: End the use of defamation laws to target critics of the government
Ecuadorian opposition legislator José Cléver Jiménez Cabrera and two union members have been convicted for defamation charges. Criminalizing citizens for speaking their minds is a violates their freedom of speech, an inherent human right. Unfortunately, President Rafael Correa is abusing his power by targeting his enemies.
On September 27, 2013, Jiménez – an indigenous lawmaker from an opposing party – was brought forth in the National Court of Justice where they upheld his charge of slander and sentenced him to 18 months in prison. He was also forced to make a public apology to the president and then pay him $140,000. Jiménez can not afford to pay the compensation, nor will he make the public apology, so he is filing for a second appeal. The two union members were charged with the same crime, although one got a sentence of six months.
The charges come after Jiménez and the two union members were investigating the president’s responsibility in a violent incident that took place on September 30, 2013. The incident involved police detaining the president in a police hospital after the administration reduced the police’s benefit. The military broke into the hospital, rescued Correa, and dubbed the police action an ‘attempted coup.’ Jiménez and the union members then issued a statement that the president was “promoting political chaos, promoting civil disobedience, altering constitutional order, and promoting rebellion of public force.” They also accused the president of placing civilians in danger for storming a hospital. Unfortunately the attorney general who was investigating this matter could not find sufficient evidence to open a case against the president. The resulting investigation – led by Jiménez and the union members – forced Correa to file a complaint against them with the National Court of Justice.
It is obvious that the president feels threatened by these legislators, pinning their investigation efforts with defamation charges. The president is violating their rights to freedom of speech and violating their right to investigate whether a wrong has been done. Sign this petition and demand the president to drop their charges.
Dear President Rafael Correa,
I am writing this letter to demand you to stop prosecuting your critics with defamation charges. For you to go after your opposition in such an aggressive and violent way only proves that you are a poor leader. All of your citizens should have the right to freedom of speech, and yet when people criticize you, you slap them with a prison sentence as with the case of Jiménez and two other union members. You need to stop targeting your enemies for saying something you disagree with, as it is a violation of human rights and comes off as a petty move.
I am sure you wouldn’t want to be sent to prison for 18 months for stating your political views on a person, so why would you do this to a lawmaker? I am urging you to stop this prosecution of your citizens and treat them with respect and dignity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Diaz via Wikimedia