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Ecuadorian government shelves the dissolution process against NGO Fundamedios, but sends a "last warning"



The dissolution process against the Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study, also known as Fundamedios, was shelved following notification from the National Communications Secretariat (Secom) to the NGO, Fundamedios reported on its Twitter account on Sept. 25.

"Thank you for all of your support and solidarity. Notification that the process against Fundamedios is shelved," the organization published in its account.

According to the notification, Secom ensures that it made this decision accepting a request made to it by the Ombudsman of the country. However, in the same communication, it confirmed violations it said Fundamedios had committed and made a “final warning” for the organization to adhere to its statutes. That is, to avoid "raising unfounded alarms, for the sole purpose of affecting the prestige of Ecuador and its institutions [...]".

In this notice, the Secom also rejected "vigorously, the abuse of the right to defense exercised" by Fundamedios "using inappropriate and offensive terms against public servants and institutions of the Ecuadorian state."

On September 8, Secom informed Fundamedios that it had begun the process of dissolution on the grounds that the NGO had not met the current statute that prohibits it, as a social organization, to exercise political activities.

At the time, César Ricaurte, executive director of Fundamedios, described the accusation as "absurd" and said: "it seems that for Secom political journalism equals partisan politics,” reported newspaper El Comercio.

Therefore, on September 14, Fundamedios announced their right to resistance. In fact, Fundamedios created the blog Fundamedios in resistance! (Fundamedios ¡en resistencia!) in which it published the “day-to-day chronicles of the NGO following Secom’s notification.”

The news of the beginning of the dissolution generated a wave of rejection by national and international organizations, which did not hesitate to describe the process as one motivated by political causes.

This was expressed, for example, by Carlos Ponce, program director for Latin America and the Caribbean for Freedom House; and Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

On 15 September, an international forum of journalists and defenders of freedom of expression committed to a plan of action to address the challenges facing freedom of expression in Ecuador. The action plan addresses the specific case of the dissolution of Fundamedios.

The NGO has become one of the few voices in the country that monitors freedom of expression, or as expressed by journalist Martín Pallares, to the Knight Center, "a center to protect journalists.”

Fundamedios, which began in 2006, said it began one of its "fundamental tasks" to monitor freedom of expression in Ecuador after the government started using a discourse hostile to the work of the media.

This was not the first case against Fundamedios. In fact, the organization has a section in their site exclusively dedicated to detailing the actions of the government against it.

On January 16, 2014, Secom notified the NGO that it had been transferred under its control, and the next day asked for all of its financial information, according to Fundamedios.

On June 24, 2015, Secom sent an official letter in which it spoke of a possible dissolution after asserting that the NGO was deviating from its stated objectives.



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