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2013 concludes with 174 attacks against freedom of expression in Ecuador, report says

Graph of aggressions against freedom of expression in Ecuador since 2008. Source: Fundamedios' report "The stifling silence."

With 174 documented aggressions against media outlets, journalists and citizens,  2013 was one of the most violent years against freedom of expression in Ecuador, according to a recent report from NGO Fundamedios.

The report “The stifling silence” – which was published on Jan. 6, Journalists' Day in Ecuador – states that last year surpassed by two incidents the number of aggressions recorded in 2012 (172), thus becoming the most violent year against the press since Fundamedios began documenting cases in 2008.

According to the report, 2013 was characterized by the new legal limitations imposed by the country's controversial Communications Law, the increase in censorship and public officials' hostilities against the press.

“2013 could be summed up in three words: fear, censorship and polarization," the report said.

Most aggressions came from public officials with 82 recorded attacks (47 percent of the total number of cases), followed by 53 attacks coming from the government (32 percent) in the form of administrative or legal measures. According to the report, the most common type of aggressions wer government officials' stigmatizing public attacks (29 cases, or 16 of the aggressions).

"In this case, it is habitual for the president to attack journalists and citizens when he feels offended by their opinions," the report said.

In particular, the use of national TV and radio broadcasts increased by 400 percent, with 817 government messages aired during the year.

"With the almost exponential growth of this service, free of cost for the government, it is evident that Ecuador has become the state of 'government propaganda,'" the report said.

And with 13 documented incidents, cases of censorship almost doubled compared to last year.

Tensions between the press and the government have increased since President Rafael Correa took office in 2007.


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