Attacks on Ecuador's media have soared in year since alleged coup attempt, report says

  • By Guest
  • October 12, 2011

One year after the alleged attempted coup d’etat that shook Ecuador on Sept. 30, 2010 (known as 30S), Fundamedios published a report about attacks against the media and freedom of expression in the country. The report studies attacks before and after 30S, and shows a significant increase in the number of aggressions against journalists in the last year.

Fundamedios reports 211 attacks against journalists in the year since 30S, which account for "52 percent of all attacks against freedom of the press in Ecuador during the last four years."

Perhaps most interesting among the findings is the identity of the offenders. The majority of aggressions -- 143 -- can be attributed to the Ecuadoran authorities. Of these, 100 were attributed to government officials, including police, who were responsible for 39 attacks. It’s important to note that police were the ones leading the rebellion, and in the 12 hours the offensive lasted, Fundamedios reported 32 violations against freedom of expression, nearly all of them conducted by police.

El Diario reported that during 30S, journalists reported being shoved, hit, beaten, maced, shot with rubber bullets, or having things such as rocks and water bottles thrown at them by police to deter them from covering the event. Several reporters were detained, many had their cameras confiscated or were forced to delete photos, and one reporter’s camera was set on fire.

But apart from police, another 61 attacks were carried out by other government employees, most notably Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, who was responsible for 23 of these aggressions, followed by his cabinet members, who carried out another 11 violations.

The remaining 43 aggressions fall to the hands of the state, which “through administrative, legislative or judicial means…violated the right to freedom of the press,” according to the report.

So while on the day of 30S, a vast majority of attacks against the press were conducted by mutinous police, the year since shows a different pattern, with the Ecuadoran government and its representatives committing about 49 percent of all aggressions against the press. While Ecuador is one of the most restrictive countries in terms of freedom of expression, the aggression points to a wider trend in Latin American countries, where freedom of the press is often violated by governments in power.

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