Report to the 76 General Assembly
October 21-23, 2020
This period has been strongly influenced by the effects of Covid-19, and by a constitutional process that has raised a series of situations that affect press freedom.

On October 25, an extraordinary plebiscite will be held on the constitutional reform made at the end of 2019. Although the discussion on the content of the Constitution has not yet begun, ideas have already been raised that generate concern about the possible regulation of media and the recognition of the right to protect personal data and the right to one's own image. It is worrying that academic sectors seek to recognize the "right to communication" as a broader right than those already recognized in the current Constitution, with characteristics similar to the 2008 Constitution of Ecuador. Academics suggest that limitations be incorporated into ownership, right of access to the media and a regulatory function of the State on media content.

In September, the Electoral Service Council issued a rule for the plebiscite that establishes restrictions on the number of media representatives at each polling place, allowing the Armed Forces to limit entry and expel journalists.

The Government considered that the media are essential services, but the distribution of newspapers and newspapers, as well as the sale of newspapers in the street and at newsstands were affected. Several companies were forced to carry out massive layoffs, some newspapers had to suspend their printing and concentrate on digital distribution, and others closed.

The government established general economic aid measures, with plans to make employment more flexible, suspension of the employment contract, and with soft loans guaranteed by the State. Specific measures in favor of the media were not included and, indeed, access to credits with official guarantee has been more limited for the media.

Several bills related to advertising bans in the media on alcoholic beverages and drugs are still pending in Congress.

In September, on the occasion of the discussion of a bill that sought to sanction the crime of incitement to violence, characterized as hate speech, the Chamber of Deputies approved norms that introduce criminal sanctions to those who justify, approve or deny violations during the military regime, as recorded in reports recognized by the State, such as the so-called Rettig and Valech commissions, among others. An attempt is thus made to introduce an extreme version of the crime of "denial". The press has shown its concern since in a democracy both the content of documents of State commissions and the decisions of the courts must admit the right to disagreement and criticism, otherwise it would generate an inhibitory and discouraging effect on freedom expression.

The Senate will have to approve or reject the reform. His decision is expected to conform to international standards on freedom of expression.