20 June 2013

Press groups ask the IACHR for a pronouncement against Ecuador’s communication law

Miami (June 19, 2013)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today joined other press organizations in the region in sending a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) which expresses great concern with restrictions on the work of the press contained in Ecuador’s recently approved Communication Organic Law. The letter, sent to IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza, was signed, in addition to the IAPA, by Ecuador’s Newspaper Editors and Publishers Association (AEDEP), and the Andean Group of Informational Freedoms (GALI), made up of the Bolivia National Press Association, Ecuador’s Fundamedios and representatives of the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) of Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. It asks the IACHR “for a strong statement against the bill approved by Ecuador’s National Assembly, and which has to be submitted for presidential approval in the next few days. If enacted, it would represent in itself a violation of the principles established in Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights … and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression adopted by the IACHR.” Enactment of the Law “signifies imposition of restrictions on the work of the press that are unacceptable in a democratic society,” the letter states. It also detailed some of “the aspects of the law that threatens freedom of the press and of expression in Ecuador,” and which it described as “contrary to the international standards developed on the matter, and going against the current advances that have been achieved in the region on the right to free speech,” among which it mentioned the following: –             Ethics codes and standards imposed by law, thus violating the principle that ethical conduct may not be imposed by governments under any circumstances. –             Prior censorship through the emergence of “media lynching” legal statutes, under which dissemination of information dealing with vague and subjective concepts is prohibited. –             The creation of an Information Supervisory Office appointed from a short list presented by the Ecuadorean President, with powers for supervising and punishing news media and journalists. –             The appointment of an Information and Communication Development Regulatory Council with exclusive representation of the branches of government and without representation of the public or the news media. –             Empowerment of the Regulatory Council to issue rules that include sanctions, breaking with the principle legally consecrated in the Constitution and international human rights instruments in force in Ecuador. –             The imposition on news media of content and program allotments. The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.