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Ecuador Restricts Freedom of Speech

Ecuador Press Freedom
Ecuador Press Freedom

The United States is very concerned about the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association in Ecuador.

Fundamedios, an Ecuadorian free-speech group founded in 2006, may soon have to close its doors. The Ecuadorian government announced on September 8 its decision to initiate legal steps intended to dissolve Fundamedios. The United States, said State Department spokesperson John Kirby, is "very concerned about the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association in Ecuador."

Under President Rafael Correa verbal and legal attacks against the media and civil society have intensified. According to the latest State Department human rights report, new regulatory bodies established under the law have issued a series of sanctions, fines, and forced corrections and retractions, primarily against independent media.

Fundamedios, which started the year before Ecuador's current President Correa took office, defends journalists and news outlets that have been targeted by the government for lawsuits and fines. Fundamedios has also been highly critical of a restrictive new communications law that went into effect in 2013.

Many rights groups, said Spokesperson Kirby, have spoken out against the Ecuadorian government's latest action against Fundamedios. Human Rights Watch said in a statement, “The Correa administration wants to punish an organization for tweeting articles with news and opinions it doesn’t like. This is an egregious abuse of power and a clear example of this government’s authoritarian practices.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement: “We urge Ecuadorian authorities to immediately withdraw this politically motivated procedure and allow Fundamedios to continue its work without any government interference.”

An active civil society and tolerance of dissenting views are vital components of any democracy. The U.S. shares international concern over the Ecuadorian government's efforts to silence critical voices and deny its citizens access to a diversity of information and ideas.

The U.S. "calls on the government of Ecuador to honor its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights by upholding freedom of expression and association as fundamental democratic rights."