World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Ecuador, 20 April 2011

Protest Campaign - Ecuador, 20 April 2011

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His Excellency President Rafael Correa
President of Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador

20 April 2011


Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at recent state intimidation of the press, in particular your filing a criminal complaint of malicious slander against the daily El Universo.

According to reports, you have prepared a criminal defamation complaint against the company El Universo, editor-in-chief Carlos Pérez Barriga and opinion editor Emilio Palacio. The suit seeks US$80 million in damages and a three-year prison sentence for the newspaper's main directors and Mr Palacio. The complaint has reportedly been filed at the Guayas 15th Criminal Investigations Court and the judge is waiting for your signature of authentication before proceedings might begin.

The case stems from an article entitled "No a las mentiras" (No to lies) written by Mr Palacio on 6 February about a police uprising on 30 September 2010. We respectfully remind you that it is wholly inappropriate for a nation’s president to seek to imprison journalists and bankrupt a newspaper because of an opinion article.

We are also concerned that the action against El Universo forms part of a pattern of harassment of the press that will come to a head in a referendum on 7 May. Among the possible outcomes of the referendum is the creation of a Regulatory Council empowered to regulate media content and establish ultimate responsibility for content, and a ban on privately-owned news companies, their directors and principal shareholders from owning any shares outside the news business. The defamation case and other recent attacks on the press appear to be part of a campaign to intimidate the media and achieve the desired outcome in the referendum.

We respectfully remind you that jailing journalists for carrying out their professional duties is a clear breach of numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.'

We call on you to ensure that the charges against El Universo are dropped and that you immediately end all state intimidation of the press. We ask you to do everything in your power to ensure that, whatever the outcome of the referendum, in future your country fully respects international standards of freedom of expression.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,


Gavin O’Reilly
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-04-26 15:44

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...