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IAPA welcomes Ecuadorian Constitutional Court’s decision to review lawsuit against Communications Law

By Maria Hendrischke

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, signs into law the Organic Communications Law in June 21, 2013. Photo: Presidencia de la República de Ecuador.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) applauded the decision by the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court to accept a lawsuit filed last year challenging the legality of the country’s controversial Organic Communications Law. IAPA was hopeful the action will refuel the debate over governmental measures set by the law that limit freedom of expression in the country.

“This action gives rise to hope that in Ecuador there will be reconsidered the piece of legislation that has become a muzzle of the independent and critical press and individual journalists and, in the best of cases, an incentive to practice self-censorship out of fear of financial and criminal action reprisals,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.

Last year around 60 citizens – among them politicians, judges, writers and journalists – filed a lawsuit against the law describing it as unconstitutional and accusing it of contravening international human rights’ treaties. The Constitutional Court admitted the lawsuit on Jan. 23.

The plaintiffs also called for the suspension of the application of the law as a precautionary measure but the request was denied.

The lawsuit consists of 23 rebuttals and specifically claims irregularities in the process of passing the law. Furthermore, it highlights that Article 5 of the law defines “communication” as a public service, whereas Ecuador’s constitution does not describe it as such.

The cartoonist Xavier Bonilla was the first media employee summoned by the Superintendent of Information and Communication, a body created under the new Communication law in October 2013. Bonilla has been accused of “perverting the truth and promoting social unrest” for publishing an editorial cartoon hinting on police corruption.

Since Ecuador’s National Assembly passed the law in June last year, national private media outlets and IAPA have sharply criticized it for endangering freedom of expression and discouraging investigative journalism, which could lead to media self-censorship due to fear of judicial consequences.


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