We, the 24 member organisations of the IFEX-ALC network, condemn the threats, attacks, harassment and censorship being perpetrated against media outlets and journalists in Ecuador, as well as the repression of citizens who have taken to the streets to express their discontent with economic measures announced by President Lenín Moreno.
The protests began on 3 October after the government announced the elimination of fuel subsidies. In response to the protests the government declared a 30-day state of emergency, which was subsequently validated by the Constitutional Court.
According to the national Ombuds Office, five people have been killed thus far as a result of the demonstrations. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression have documented the detention of hundreds of people, in addition to injuries to dozens due to excessive use of force by the National Police and some violent protestors.
Until Sunday, 13 October, 127 journalists and 6 media outlets that were covering the protest were assaulted, kidnapped, attacked, set on fire and / or detained within the framework of the protests.
Demonstrators have likewise verbally and physically assaulted several journalists. On 10 October a group of 32 Ecuadoran and foreign journalists were held hostage by demonstrators when they were covering events at a cultural organisation venue. One of the journalists was seriously injured as he was exiting the venue.
More than 36 journalists have been attacked by state security forces while covering the demonstrations. The assaulted journalists were fully identified and were in full exercise of their work.
Actions have also been carried out against locally-based media outlets, including an order for the Pichincha Universal radio station to suspend broadcasting. In addition, there were reports of blocking by the National Telecommunications Corporation of images, sound recordings and videos on social media for several hours early in the morning on 6 October. The blockages took place as images of police repression of the protests were being circulated. Managers have denied these attacks and have indicated that there have been attacks against the infrastructure that has caused service interruptions in some areas of the country.
On 12 October, theTeleamazonas television station was attacked by demonstrators who set fire to a bus that was parked inside the media outlet’s facilities. The El Comercio daily newspaper’s offices were also attacked by demonstrators. In addition, theTelesur network suspended its programming on some pay TV platforms, and other public media outlets have evacuated their staff.
Freedom of expression has been the target of attacks for several years in Ecuador and the work of journalists has been stigmatised by high-level officials, especially during the government of former president Rafael Correa. The events of the last few days demonstrate the country’s unfavourable freedom of expression environment.
We, the IFEX-ALC network’s 24 member organisations, call on the Ecuadoran government to:
- Comply with international human rights treaties ratified by Ecuador that protect the rights of citizens to be informed and guarantee the full exercise of journalism in order to provide reliable information on matters of public interest. The provision of access to the free press and independent news is a right of all citizens and an obligation of all democratic governments.
- Respect and guarantee human rights, particularly citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, and immediately halt the repression of those who are peacefully protesting against the economic measures announced by the government.
- Respect and guarantee freedom of expression on the Internet in the same manner as for media outlets, refraining from implementing restrictions or blocking entire web sites, IP addresses, web portals, network protocols or particular uses (such as social media). These actions represent extreme measures, analogous to applying freedom of expression prohibitions to the press or broadcasters.
- Promptly and thoroughly investigate and bring to justice individuals and state agents responsible for the attacks on journalists, in addition to conducting investigations into censorship measures applied by government authorities.
- Promptly and thoroughly investigate the reports of excessive use of force by state agents against demonstrators.
IFEX-ALC, which forms part of the broader global IFEX network, is comprised of 24 organisations in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries dedicated to defending freedom of expression and press freedom.
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Source: MEDIA FEED