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Correa, Ecuadoran press brace for more war

AFP
As President Rafael Correa is re-elected in a landslide, Ecuadoran reporters prepare for another four years of conflict with his left-leaning government. Among Correa's weapons is likely to be passage of a restrictive communications law.
Also in the series:
Part 1: Repression deepens
Part 2: Breakfast bulletin
Part 3: Law dulls reporting

Calls for journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility are very often code for censorship. Yet unethical journalism can also imperil the press. By Jean-Paul Marthoz

The News of the World scandal, in which the British Sunday tabloid hacked voicemails of celebrities and ordinary citizens, led to a divisive debate on how to regulate the media in the U.K. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

Surveillance, restrictive Internet legislation, and cyberattacks compel CPJ to add cyberspace to the list of places trending in the wrong direction. By Maya Taal

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood try to push a journalist, center, away from the police academy where ousted President Mohamed Morsi was on trial on the outskirts of Cairo, November 4, 2013. Perhaps nowhere did press freedom decline more dramatically in 2013 than in polarized Egypt. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Bolstered by a landslide re-election, President Rafael Correa continued his offensive against Ecuador's critical press. His victory allowed him a significant win: the approval of a communications law that establishes regulation of editorial content and gives authorities the power to impose arbitrary sanctions and censor the press, according to CPJ research. At least one investigative newsmagazine shut down after the passage of the law, though economic concerns were also at issue. But while the president battered the press at home, he ran up against challenges abroad. In a serious blow to Correa, the Organization of American States voted to discard proposals introduced by Ecuador that would seriously weaken the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression. Although none of these proposals passed, a last-minute change to the resolution meant the debate would be allowed to continue. Local press freedom organizations documented dozens of anti-press violations throughout the year, including attacks, threats, harassment, obstruction, and arbitrary lawsuits.

Bogotá, February 3, 2014- The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the decision by Ecuador's media oversight agency on Friday to use the country's communications law to sanction the leading local daily El Universo over a critical cartoon. The agency fined the daily and demanded that the cartoonist "correct" the cartoon within 72 hours, according to news reports.

Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, on a visit to Moscow in October 2013. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Seven months after Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa flirted with the idea of offering asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, intercepted communications and leaked emails are again making headlines in the Andean country. This time, the story is not about international surveillance but a window onto the latest front in the ever-escalating war between the president and his critics.

Clockwise from top left: Nedim Şener, Janet Hinostroza, Nguyen Van Hai, Bassem Youssef (AP, Sebastián Oquendo, To Coucle Refaat, Free Journalists Network of Vietnam)
Press freedom award winners announced 

Four journalists--Janet Hinostroza (Teleamazonas, Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Capital Broadcast Center, Egypt), Nedim Şener (Posta, Turkey), and Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay, Vietnam)--will be honored with CPJ's 2013 International Press Freedom Awards in recognition of their courageous reporting in the face of severe reprisal.

Upon receiving the news, Hinostroza told CPJ: "It will be an honor for me to receive this recognition, which will drive me to continue working for freedom of expression in my country and support the different processes that are being developed around the world to defend this right."

Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.

Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.

A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.

Like the death of a loved one.

That's how Juan Carlos Calderón, editor of the newsmagazine Vanguardia, described the June 28 closing of the newsweekly that for eight years published hard-hitting investigations about public officials and faced frequent government harassment. Yet the final days of Vanguardia were almost as controversial as its stories.

In a Hong Kong mall, a television monitor shows Snowden. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Edward Snowden's global travels have highlighted the chasm between the political posturing and actual practices of governments when it comes to free expression. As is well known now, the former government contractor's leaks exposed the widespread phone and digital surveillance being conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency, practices at odds with the Obama administration's positioning of the United States as a global leader on Internet freedom and its calls for technology companies to resist foreign demands for censorship and surveillance. 

Opposition lawmakers protest the approval of the Communications Law in the National Assembly. (AFP/Eduardo Flores)

After inspecting a hydroelectric project in northern Ecuador last year, President Rafael Correa complained about the scant press coverage of his visit and suggested it was part of a media blackout. "Did the Ecuadoran media conspire to ignore this important event? It seems like that is the case," Correa told the crowd at a town hall meeting. "In this country, good news is not news."

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Killed in Ecuador

2 journalists killed since 1992

1 journalist murdered

1 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

1 Journalist killed, the first work-related fatality since 2005.

Country data, analysis »

Critics Are Not Criminals: Campaign Against the Criminalization of Speech
Contact

Americas

Senior Program Coordinator:
Carlos Lauría

Research Associate:
Sara Rafsky

clauria@cpj.org
srafsky@cpj.org

Tel: 212-465-1004
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Fax: 212-465-9568

330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor
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Blog: Carlos Lauría

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