Seventeen states request respect for freedom of expression
They made these observations on 21 May 2012 during a session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the states assessed Ecuador using the mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Estonia, United States, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, France, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were the countries that presented observations to the Ecuadorian State that it should promote and respect freedom of expression and eliminate laws that criminalize opinion. Some of them also requested that Ecuador should make possible a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to examine the situation of freedom of expression in the country.
The European countries' delegations were the most critical. Sweden, for example, mentioned the case that led to the conviction of a former feature writer and the directors of the newspaper El Universo; and although President Correa abandoned the lawsuit, it recommended that the Ecuadorian State should protect freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, Switzerland emphasized that an atmosphere of censorship and self-censorship prevails in Ecuador and that the State has the obligation of respecting this fundamental right, while Luxembourg expressed concern for the intimidations against Ecuadorian journalists.
Among countries in the Americas, the United States was one of the most critical, showing its concern for attacks against journalists and because in Ecuador freedom of expression is not fully guaranteed. Canada and Costa Rica also issued recommendations to establish measures that guarantee the protection of this fundamental right in accordance with international regulations.
The criminalization of social protest and free association concerned Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Luxembourg, all of which recommended that guarantees should be in place to allow opposition groups and communities to protest freely, without being condemned as terrorists or saboteurs. In regard to this issue, Spain recommended reviewing the restrictive legislation against NGOs and the criminalization of social protest in the country.
Faced by these pronouncements, the Ecuadorian delegation, led by Vice-president Lenin Moreno; the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño; the Minister of Justice Johana Pesántez and the National Communication Secretary Fernando Alvarado affirmed that the press is neither censored nor persecuted in the country and that there are no jailed journalists in Ecuador. “Freedom of expression is absolutely and wholly respected in Ecuador”, stated Minister Patiño.
The 17 observations exceed in number those issued against Venezuela during last October's UPR, when 13 recommendations concerning freedom of expression were presented, all of them were eventually rejected by that government.
The official report will be presented on Friday 25 May and the Ecuadorian government will have to accept or reject the recommendations issued today, as well as those that the states present in writing.
Fundamedios will attend this session and will provide news coverage through its twitter accounts, @LoFundamental and @Fundamedios, and its Facebook pages Fundamedios and LoFundamental.
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Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios