Despite some improvements, freedom of expression violations continue in Ecuador

Association

The president of Ecuador launched a public consultation to amend the constitution. According to his administration, the potential changes should help the government work more efficiently and strengthen democratic institutions. In a press statement, Plataforma para la Defensa de la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos (Platform for the Defense of Democracy and Human Rights) reiterated the importance of consulting with and including civil society organisations in the process of developing the amendments. The Platform also publicised its proposals for amendments on presidential reelections, the composition and functions of the Council of Citizen Participation, judicial independence and the modifying the electoral system. 

Peaceful Assembly

As reported previously on the Monitor, a civic campaign - "Amnistía Primero” (Amnesty First) - was organised to petition the government to release activists and human rights defenders currently in prison. Thus far, the president has granted several pardons. On 16th August 2017, however, Secretary of Policy Management Paola Pabón indicated that no further pardons will be granted specifically to the indigenous leaders in a list compiled by Confederación de Nacionalidades Índígenas de Ecuador (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador - CONAIE), since their cases do not comply with the legal requirements for the pardons. In response, CONAIE asserted that indigenous leaders expect more pardons to be granted, declaring that:

"There is progress and we hope to continue working. We will continue insisting on this right".  

In connection with the constitutional consultation, in September 2017 union workers and others members of civil society marched in several cities throughout Ecuador. Demonstrators called on the government to continue including the public in consultations on constitutional amendments.  

Expression

Since mid-2017, within the framework of the National Social Dialogue promoted by President Lenin Moreno, Dialogue Roundtables on Communication have been organised in Ecuador. These meetings have focused on topics such as sanctions against media and regulatory media agencies, advertising patterns and the intercultural quota

These debates, organised by the Ministry of Communication (SECOM), will provide contributions for reforming the Communication Law. Several reforms to the law have been submitted, including the Central Democratic Movement's proposal to replace SECOM by a Council for the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression. 

The organisation Fundamedios reported at least 20 freedom of expression violations over the last two months. It documented restrictions on journalists reporting in the National Congress who have claimed they are not able to move freely around the building. Since the report, some of the restrictions on journalists' movement have been lifted. 

It was also reported that government supporters verbally and physically attacked at least five journalists during a vice-presidential hearing at the Office of the Prosecutor.