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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Ecuadorian project seeks to make politicians and citizens commit to respecting freedom of expression



With the aim of improving the conditions for the exercise of freedom of expression in Ecuador in the coming years, civil society organizations created a document that establishes the way to achieve this with the commitment of political actors and citizens.

‘Roadmap for Freedom of Expression 2017-2019’ was produced by journalists, lawyers, academics, politicians, trade and opinion leaders, business owners, students, social activists, philosophers, artists and writers. It was designed “for the new government” considering that the country will have both presidential and legislative elections in May of this year.

Cover of the document and Ecuadoran project, Road Map for Freedom of Expression 2017-2019. Screenshot.

“The context that the election campaign of 2017 offers, with all its fullness, is the appropriate circumstance for all of us to converge around a common agenda to save the right to freedom of expression, journalism and media, asphyxiated by the system of coercion and censorship that the authoritarian institutional structure created by the government of Rafael Correa, in Ecuador, has brought,” the first point in the document reads.

To achieve the commitment of the majority of political actors, the public forum Freedom of Expression: the Road Map, took place on Feb. 1. At the ceremony, the political actors received the roadmap and commitments were made by representatives of the majority of political parties and movements that will participate in the next elections. At the end of the forum, these representatives signed the Road Map.

However, Alianza País, the party of President Correa, was not present, according to newspaper La Hora.

The situation of freedom of expression in Ecuador has been a recurring concern for national and international organizations. According to figures provided by Ricaurte in this forum, in this decade, 2,100 attacks against journalists have been reported and “the State has not recognized not even one and has promoted impunity,” according to a statement from the organization.

In this sense, one of the points propose by the document is a protocol of protection for journalists within the framework of the obligation of States to do so.

Another aspect addressed in the document is the Communications Law, approved in 2013, which has been identified by organizations like Fundamedios as one of the main causes of harm to freedom of expression. The Inter American Press Association has called it “the worst gag law” on the continent.

That is why The Road Map calls for “political forces” to replace “the abusive” law and to modify at least six other legal bodies that in their concept “constitute the toolbox of the state of propaganda and the system of censorship and persecution that has been established in our country.”

One of these legal bodies is the Secretariat of Communication (Secom for its acronym in Spanish) for which the document urges to “stop being a persecutory agency against media and journalists.” The Road Map also aims to reform the production of national channels and the management of state resources.

The roadmap is an initiative of the nonprofit Fundamedios, the Ecuadorian Association of Newspaper Editors and Publishers (AEDEP), Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar and WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.



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