Mission to Ecuador spotlights urgent need to prioritize journalist safety
Quito, April 20, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the Ecuadorian government’s commitment to fund and implement mechanisms that will advance press freedom and improve journalist safety in the country, following a meeting with representatives from CPJ and the local press freedom organization Fundamedios on Tuesday, April 18.
The government’s secretary of the administration, Sebastián Corral, agreed during the meeting to deliver critical funds to the existing mechanism to protect journalists, as well as additional funding to support the attorney general, and new efforts to combat misinformation.
The CPJ delegation traveled to Quito to meet with President Guillermo Lasso to discuss the deteriorating press freedom conditions and the impact of the public safety crisis on journalists throughout the country, as documented by CPJ and Fundamedios.
Lasso was not able to attend the meeting due to illness, but the delegation met with Corral, other government representatives, local journalists, editors, members of the national assembly, authorities, representatives from foreign embassies, and international donors.
Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna and Senior Consultant for Latin America Carlos Lauria led the CPJ delegation, together with former CPJ awardee Janet Hinostroza and Fundamedios Executive Director César Ricaurte.
“The government’s commitment to investing in mechanisms that bolster journalist safety is consequential and supports Ecuador’s expressed commitment to press freedom,” said Martínez de la Serna. “In a country confronting a public safety crisis, Ecuadorian journalists’ ability to report on sensitive issues of public interest is crucial for the country’s democracy.”
“This CPJ mission has confirmed the serious deterioration of press freedom conditions for the Ecuadorian press due to several forms of violence,” said Ricaurte. “The government’s commitment and the request to international donors to become more involved in efforts to protect journalists are specific results from this mission that we value positively, and that we hope will be a first step for Ecuador receiving more attention from the international community.”
In recent months, Ecuadorian journalists have increasingly come under attack. CPJ found that at least five Ecuadorian journalists had bombs mailed to them and that local journalists were forced into exile due to death threats. Fundamedios and other local press freedom groups have documented a serious spike of violence against journalists coming from different actors, including protesters, organized crime, and government officials.
In 2022, the killing of three journalists—Gerardo Delgado, Mike Cabrera, and César Vivanco—and the disappearance of journalist Fernando León, further emphasized the dire state of press freedom in Ecuador. (Mike Cabrera and César Vivanco are not included in CPJ’s 2022 killed report as CPJ was not able to establish their killings were related to their work as journalists.)
Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the killing of two Ecuadorian journalists and a driver working on the Ecuadorian-Colombian border assignment for the daily El Comercio. The case remains unsolved.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide.
Media contact: [email protected]