Ecuadorian government once again criticized for attempting to regulate journalism

By Liliana Honorato

The government of Ecuador has received various criticisms in the last few days due to what Reporters Without Borders has called an excess of presidential attacks on opposition journalists for closing several media outlets, and for the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ecuador to lift the temporary suspension of the application of the so-called Code of Democracy, which means that the restrictions on press coverage of election campaigns are now in effect, the news agency EFE reported.

The Code of Democracy regulations, which say that media outlets will have to abstain from promoting favorable or harmful messages about candidates or political topics, whether directly or indirectly, “are so broad, that they had been constitutionally challenged for establishing prior censorship measures,” the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios said.

On Tuesday, July 17, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) sent an open letter to the Director of Telecommunications of Ecuador, Fabián Jaramillo Palacios, expressing serious concern for the large quantity of radio stations that have been closed in the country, at least 11 since the month of May. CPJ said that it was “concerned that some closures could have been motivated by the stations' criticism of authorities.”.

Reporters Without Borders also expressed concern for the attacks that the journalists Gustavo Cortez, general editor of the newspaper El Universo, and César Ricaurte, director of Fundamedios, have received recently from the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.

For more details on the complex panorama of freedom of the press and of expression in Ecuador, see this interview of Ricaurte by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, which took place during the 10th Austin Forum of Journalism in the Americas last May.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.