Report to the 76 IAPA General Assembly
October 21-23, 2020

During this period, freedom of the press was affected by several conflicts over information published in relation to the pandemic, with the Standing Committee for the Defense of Human Rights being the one that warned about the government's infringement on freedom of expression under the pretext of the pandemic.

President Lenin Moreno, on national network, asked officials to verify and clarify the information when the health situation became unbearable in the city of Guayaquil, where videos and photos of bodies abandoned in the streets began to circulate on social networks and in the media.

The vice president of Gráficos Nacional - publisher of the Extra newspaper - Galo Martínez Leisker, said he would not hide the reality of the country - when the Council for the Regulation, Development and Promotion of Information and Communication, encouraged Extra and the official media to "not misinform, as well as not to alarm the readers through the publication of spectacular or sensationalist headlines, images or photographs."

On May 9, the journalist for the newspaper La Hora, Nilo Domínguez, received intimidating messages and threats, after accompanying prosecutors in a raid on the Social Security Hospital in Babahoyo. During the operation, in which the overpricing of medical supplies to combat the pandemic was being investigated, journalist Omar Mora, collaborator of the hospital director Liliana Junco, demandend to removal of Domínguez, who was authorized to attend by the prosecution. Later, the collaborator accused Domínguez - via WhatsApp - of having received bribes "from a politician" for broadcasting the coverage live.

In May, there were demonstrations of discontent by social groups against the government because of the way the pandemic was being handled and because of the budget cuts to universities. On May 14, Valentina Encalada and Miguel Canales, photographers for the daily Expreso, were attacked while covering the demonstration called by the Coordinator of Social Organizations of Guayas: "We are in mourning and resistance."

On May 29, the website of radio La Calle received several communications coming from the Presidency of the Republic stating the station had a 24-hour deadline to eliminate from its site all the photos of the President of the Republic, or else the website would be permanently closed. According to a press release from the Presidency, the images of the President are being misused by certain troll centers.

On July 24, the digital website La Historia denounced that the Presidency of the Republic - via the Iomart Group PLC, based in Glasgow, United Kingdom - has tried to shut down five investigative reports produced by this media, dealing with the acts of corruption that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. Media director Marlon Puertas, said the reason was an alleged copyright infringement on photographs generated by the Presidency and the Secretariat of Communication.

At the beginning of August, the social media accounts of the newspaper La Hora, in the province of Los Ríos, were hacked by supporters of the president of the National Assembly, César Litardo, who took the opportunity to post favorable information and videos about the politician and his administration . La Hora reported on the event on its social networks, but the National Assembly requested that the information be withdrawn as it considered it harmful to its image. On September 18, a similar event affected the Facebook page of La Hora, which reported it to Facebook in Argentina. The claim has not yet been resolved.

On September 29, a National Police officer filed a criminal complaint against journalist, Anderson Boscan, of La Posta website. The reason for the lawsuit is Boscan's criticism over the lack of security for members of the police force in dealing with the health emergency produced by Covid-19. Major Fabián Salas Duarte accuses Boscan of violation of privacy.

During this period, 23 journalists have died after being infected with Covid-19.

Other outstanding events during this period:

There were several attacks on the media. On May 31 the headquarters of the Teleamazonas channel suffered an attack with explosives, which caused damage to its installations. The website Periodismo de Investigación suffered a cyber-attack that took the site down. This happened shortly after publication of 'La crónica de #ElGranReparto', which explained the ties that ex-legislator Daniel Mendoza supposedly had with current government officials in the distribution of public hospitals.

On June 16, the Fundamedios website reported that 12 journalists from various media outlets were attacked by members of the National Police, during the hearing of the mayor of Quito, Jorge Yunda - accused of irregularities in the acquisition of materials to deal with the effects of the epidemic.

On June 22, during coverage of the death of the Guayas Prefect, Carlos Luis Morales, Teleamazonas reporter Carlos Sacoto was attacked and threatened with death by officials of the Guayas Prefecture. Sacoto indicated that the officials accused him of having damaged the public image of the deceased.

Several journalists were threatened in June and July as a result of the Bucaram family's involvement in a corruption complaint about medical supplies during the emergency. Dayana Monroy, a journalist from Teleamazonas channel, said that Jacobo Bucaram Pulley, son of former president Abdala Bucaram, threatened her.

The Fundamedios website asked authorities to protect Xavier Bonilla - known as Bonil - due to threats after the publication of a graphic opinion (La columna de Bonil) in El Universo, where he featured Jacabo Bucaram Pulley in cartoons calling him "The Roadrunner".

Cartoonist Jorge Cadena Valverde - known as Cazurro - who has a space on Facebook, was threatened for publishing a caricature of Finance Minister, Richard Martínez.

On August 21, journalists, civil society organizations, and legal experts criticized the CFN's decision to classify the sale of Banco del Pacífico as reserved. The information about the negotiations will be considered classified for a period of 15 years. The CFN authorities were asked to make the information open and public.

On September 30, the National Electoral Council (CNE) issued a provision that requires members of the Provincial Electoral Boards to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement for the involvement of personnel in the National Electoral Council.