Amnistía Primero campaigners appeal to government to release imprisoned activists
During Ecuador´s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2017, the country's Minister of Justice Ledy Zúñiga asserted that there are no political prisoners or human rights defenders currently in detention. Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de Ecuador (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), however, countered the Minister's claim, responding with a civic campaign - "Amnistía Primero” (Amnesty First) - to petition the government to release activists and human rights defenders currently in prison. The Minister's statement also conflicts with CIVICUS and its partners' joint submissions to the UPR, which found that:
"[B]oth the old and new criminal laws have been routinely used to harass and persecute HRDs. Anti-government protesters have often been arbitrarily detained, charged with terrorism and sabotage and subjected to judicial procedures without due process guarantees, both before and after the enactment of the new Criminal Code".
Before Ecuador's presidential election on 19th February 2017, five media outlets were taken down in less than 72 hours following numerous cyber attacks. Some of the attacks occurred just minutes after the portals published news of the alleged involvement of members of Ecuador’s government in corruption scandals that impacted other Latin American countries. On 20th February, several other news portals suffered similar attacks such as Ecuadorchequea.com and the digital radio stations - Rayuelaradio and Ecuadorenvivo.com.
El Observatorio Ciudadano por una Comunicación de Calidad (Citizens Observatory for Quality Communication), which has connections to the party in power, presented a complaint against several media outlets in Ecuador for not reproducing a report by the Argentinean publication Página 12 on the alleged enrichment of Lasso, Ecuador's opposition presidential candidate. The Observatory accused the media outlets of "prior censorship," which is punishable under the country's Communication Law. The Inter-American Press Association has denounced the use of this law as a means to harass and control the media sector in Ecuador.
The new president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, announced his commitment to respecting freedom of expression. In his first meeting with the international press on 25th May 2017, he stated that there will be positive developments forthcoming with regard to those who have been persecuted or prosecuted for freely expressing their opinions.
LGBTI activist Diana Maldonado and other activists participating in recent protests have been the victims of harassment and intimidation by unidentified people taking photos of the activists and following them.