ECUADOR There is concern about the manipulation of the justice system and the tendentious use of certain news outlets for their owners' purposes, resulting in a sustained loss of readers' trust in the credibility and independence of the press in general. At the Forum of Chapultepec in August, members of the public were able to participate in many discussions about the role of the media in a democracy and the necessity to preserve the freedom of expression. But Ecuador is still going through a dangerous period of instability which makes it very difficult to practice journalism freely. These are the most important events: -On April 30, the National Congress imposed a 10 per cent tax on and the distribution of newspapers. Calling the tax a threat to press freedom, Ecuadorean newspapers are demanding that it be revoked. -On April 29, a criminal judge in Guayas called on journalists and editors of news outlets in Quito to testify in a trial about alleged offenses in the case of the Banco del Progreso, removing them from their normal jurisdiction in an obvious attempt to intimidate them. The judge was punished by the Judicial Council two months later, but the journalists' complaint has not been resolved. -On the night of May 22, police officers in a patrol car shot at Joaquin Hernandez, an editorial writer for Hoy and professor at the University of Guayaquil, who was driving in the city. The police officers were patrolling under a government program to prevent crime. Although the highest police officials made public apologies and offered to investigate the incident, to punish the guilty policemen and to compensate the victim, so far the guilty parties have not be punished nor has the victim been paid. -On July 7, police officers attacked a photographer for the newspaper El Universa and took his equipment while he was covering demonstrations in Manta. -On August 25, executives of the newspaper El Telegra(a, which is owned by the banker accused in the Banco del Progreso case, reported to the congressional Tax Committee alleged advertising discrimination against the newspaper by the government and some public agencies. The newspaper Hoy, which published an investigative series about the use of children in television programs with sensationalistic sexual content, was attacked in June by an economic group that owns several broadcast outlets. It called executives of the newspaper "leftists [and] ex-guerrillas who receive benefits from the current government." -During the Chapultepec Forum, the Inter American Press Association presented a detailed study comparing Ecuadorean legislation and the principies of Chapultepec. Based on the study it can be concluded that while the Constitution has sorne principies that restrict freedom of expression, the true threats can be found in various regulations in the Code of Criminal Procedure. So far, the National Congress has not begun to consider the constitutional reforms that should be approved to guarantee complete freedom of expression in accordance with the Declaration of Chapultepec, which has been endorsed by the legislature's main leaders.