CPJ wrote to Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa today to urge him to denounce the jailing of two journalists for defamation and to bring his country's press law in line with international standards of freedom of expression and rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
December 11, 2008
President Rafael Correa
Palacio de Carondelet
García Moreno 1043, entre Chile y Espejo
Via facsimile: 593-2-258-0714
Dear President Correa,
We are writing to express
alarm at the imprisonment of two Ecuadoran journalists and to call for their
immediate and unconditional release. Furthermore, we urge you to use the
authority of your office to reform
Aponte, a reporter for local radio station Luz y Vida in the southwestern city
The case against Aponte stemmed from a June 2007 segment of the journalist's talk show "Primer Plano." The former Loja mayor, José Bolívar Castillo Vivanco, filed defamation charges against Aponte, alleging the journalist called him a thief during the show, according to Fundamedios. Aponte denied the charge, local press reports said.
In a similar case, Milton Nelson Chacaguasay Flores,
director of the weekly publication La Verdad
in the city of
In late 2007, Machala Judge Silvio Castillo filed slander
charges against Chacaguasay claiming the journalist had offended him in a
September 2007 article published in La Verdad
that accused Castillo of corruption, according to Fundamedios. After
Chacaguasay presented evidence that the article was paid for by a third party
and was not written by him or any member of his staff, a criminal judge in
Laws that criminalize speech are incompatible with the
rights established under Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights,
In April 2007, Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa signed
a bill that effectively eliminated libel and slander at the federal level,
directing such complaints to the civil courts.
In August 2004, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights overturned
the 1999 criminal defamation conviction of Costa Rican journalist Mauricio
Herrera a reporter with the daily La Nación. The court ruled that
the verdict violated the right to free expression and ordered
In September 2004, the
Despite growing consensus among international bodies that civil remedies provide adequate redress for press offenses, outdated criminal defamation laws remain on the books in your country. CPJ believes that civil, not criminal, law provides the appropriate redress in cases of defamation.
We call on you to publicly condemn the jailing of
journalists, and we ask the Ecuadoran judicial authorities to release Apponte
and Chacaguasay immediately and unconditionally. We urge you to present
legislation before the Constituent Assembly to repeal criminal defamation
provisions, to align
Thank you for your attention on this urgent matter. We await your response.