Ongoing legal and policy changes to protect freedom of expression, welcomed by UN Special Rapporteur

Peaceful Assembly

On 13th September 2018, thousands of citizens marched in Quito to protest against a series of "economic, social and foreign policy" decisions taken by the government of President Lenin Moreno. Among the policies rejected, are the government's austerity measures, an increase in the price of gasoline and some tax measures. Citizen's Revolution Movement organised the protests. This movement is a branch of ruling party Alianza Pais, that remains loyal to former President Rafael Correa. 

Expression

David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, who visited Ecuador from 5th to 11th October 2018, has "welcomed and strongly encouraged the ongoing legal and policy changes initiated by the Ecuador Government to promote and protect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression." 

In the preliminary report, Kaye stated that "Government officials (...) appear to recognize that several provisions of Ecuadorian law are inconsistent with the freedom of expression as guaranteed under international human rights law." For example, the Ley Orgánica de Comunicación (Organic Law of Communication, LOC) and the Comprehensive Organic Penal Code. 

Regarding the LOC, Cesar Ricaurte, Director of local organisation Fundamedios said that they expected the legislation "could be reformed before the end of 2018." He added that: 

“The Group [has tried] to promote the reforms to the Communication Law under the common principle that unites us, which is compliance with international standards.”

To comply with these standards, it is necessary to eliminate restrictive legal figures, as well as the elimination of the Superintendency of Information and Communication (Supercom), an institution mandated to monitor compliance and authorised to impose fines and administrative sanctions and bring criminal charges for violations of LOC. Supercom, is currently in a "transition period" with the "view to its imminent disappearance."