MIAMI, Florida (July 22, 2019)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its pleasure at recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in favor of four journalists of the Ecuadorean newspaper El Universo concerning a case that dates back to the time of the Rafael Correa government.
IAPA President María Elvira Domínguez, editor of the Colombian newspaper El País, expressed satisfaction with an IACHR report that "vindicated journalists Emilio Palacio and brothers Carlos, César and Nicolas Pérez, impacted like numerous Ecuadorean journalists and media by the policies of censorship, persecution and repression by the Rafael Correa government during a decade."
The IACHR so far has not made public the report with the recommendations, but its existence became known in Ecuadorean media. Among the IACHR recommendations the Ecuadorean government sets down that columnist Palacio and the editors of the newspaper El Universo, Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, will have to be awarded morally and economically for the persecution and harassment suffered.
The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, editor of Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, added, "In this way there is closed one of the most bizarre and sad chapters that have been lived by many Ecuadoreans who were sued, prosecuted and punished for exercising their right to opinion and criticism, as well as for denouncing corruption following journalistic investigations."
In 2011 the Ecuadoran judiciary sentenced Palacio and the Pérez brothers following a lawsuit filed by President Correa, who considered that he was maligned in a Palacio column published in El Universo. Palacio and the three newspaper editors were sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay Correa $40 million in indemnity. After the sentencing President Correa pardoned those convicted. During those proceedings Palacio went into exile in the United States in 2011.
According to those in the know, IACHR also recommends that the government publicly apologize in an act of recognition of international responsibility and requests amendments of the Communication Organic Law. The changes in this law were already initiated by the government of the current president, Lenin Moreno, that concluded in an IAPA approach. On February 20 this year President Moreno signed the Declaration of Chapultepec.
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.