Report to the Midyear Meeting 2019
March 29 to 31
Cartagena, Colombia
Just days before one year since the kidnapping and murder of the news team of the newspaper El Comercio comprising Javier Ortega, Paúl Rivas and Efraín Segarra justice is still pending. The victims' families do not rest and demand clear information about the operations carried out in the area of the crime, the Colombian-Ecuadorean border. Similarly, journalists from their trench are gathering information that contributes to the case. That is what was done by Arturo Torres and María Belén Arroyo with their book "Hostages, why did they execute the El Comercio journalists?" a text that contains testimonies, official documents and conversations between the Ecuadorean authorities and dissidents of the Óliver Sinisterra Front.

The Organic Communication Law (LOC), that which for more than five years was regarded as a "gag law," is undergoing promising changes. Among the amendments the Communication Superintendence (Supercom) was eliminated, as was the figure of media lynching, which some public officials used to punish media and journalists. The codes of ethics were also eliminated.

During the signing of the Declaration of Chapultepec by President Lenín Moreno on February 20 IAPA President María Elvira Domínguez praised the LOC amendments, although she warned that it still contains several articles, among them that which establishes that information is a public service, which "contravene international convention values."

In this process of reforms the audiovisual professional association manifested its lack of conformity with the attempt to amend Article 98 of the LOC, that which prohibits the import of advertising pieces made abroad. But the full National Assembly ratified it with 108 votes in favor. Another of the articles that were added to the debate and that are maintained is number 42, on the free practice of communication and the obligation of professionalization.

Article 106 made changes on property, redefining that there be assigned 56% of the radio-electric spectrum for the private sector, 34% for the community and10% for the public. In addition the grant of frequencies will have a duration of 15 years with the possibility of renewal. The previous law distributed 33% of the ownership for each sector.

Carlos Ochoa, former Communication Superintendent who committed a serious crime in manipulating 300,000 pocket texts of the LOC to punish the media, is outside the country, while the order of imprisonment and red alert by the Attorney General was rejected by Interpol.

Among the cases that went against freedom of expression was the suspension of a host of a television program. On October 4 and 5 Mauricio Ayora, host of Despier TC, complained of the automatic payments that private entities make to bank accounts for a service, without the authorization and knowledge of the assignees. The journalist was reprimanded by the director of the program and suspended for 15 days. The general manager of the Public Media Company of Ecuador, Martha Moncayo, denounced an act of intimidation after receiving at the TC Television installations a funeral arrangement that included a note supporting the punished journalist.

On November 12 journalist Henry Córdova was sentenced to 20 days in jail and the payment of $5,000 indemnity. The conviction came after the denunciation made by member of Congress of the Social Christian Party (PSC) Roberta Zambrano, who accused him of "political violence" last July.

Access to pubic information tends to be interrupted. On November 13 Quito journalists revealed via Twitter the restriction to enter the State Attorney General's Office in the capital to obtain information. On November 19 journalist Luis Muñoz complained on social media about the impediment that he had to carry out coverage outside the Social Rehabilitation Center (CRS) in Latacunga, this on the part of the National Police, a constant practice since the country's former Vice President, Jorge Glas, was hospitalized there, according to Fundamedios.

In the publicly-owned newspaper El Telégrafo on March 1 61 employees took a stand at their installations calling for their salaries pending since two months ago.

On January 8 the satellite television company Televisión Satelital S.A.T. V. SAT was declared dissolved and in liquidation by the Companies, Values and Insurances Superintendence. This was after the channel was the object of controls and intervention on the part of that body. Superintendent Víctor Anchundia expressed to the news media that the action was due to the fact that the channel did not present the balances nor the financial states of recent years. It could be reactivated when the requested information is given.

Journalistic websites once more are being subjected to complaints or criticisms. The Investigative Journalism Source received notifications that warned of its disqualification and claims for supposedly violating the law "for treatment of non-authorized or agreed personal data," a complaint coming from Galo Chiriboga, former National Attorney General. This because of the notes "Galo Chiriboga's Fiscal Paradise," "Ecuador Finances With Reserved Expenses the Espionage of Julian Assange" and a report on the contracts of President Lenín Moreno's daughters.

Threats to journalists continued on social media. On November 1 Carlos Jijon, editor of La República, said he had received a death threat via Twitter. The same thing happened to Andrés Reliche, who on November 9 announced that he had decided to do self-censorship and silence his account on political topics after receiving threats.

On December 3 the National Police reported to the Attorney General's Office details of a possible attempt with explosives against journalist Fernando Villavicencio and politician CléverJiménez. Following this they received police protection.

As an attempt at control and to break the appropriate decision of the government having adhered to the Declaration of Chapultepec government Congressman Daniel Mendoza submitted a bill for an Organic Law on Responsible Usage of Social Media, which violates freedom of expression and freedoms in general.