CPJ: Nations urge Ecuador to guarantee freedom of expression

May 25, 2012 8:57 am0 commentsViews: 5

Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patiño said ‘ignorance’ was behind international criticism of press freedom conditions in Ecuador. (AP/Dolores Ochoa)

Stressing concerns of human rights groups about the deterioration of press conditions under the administration of President Rafael Correa, 17 members of the United Nations submitted recommendations to Ecuador on freedom of expression issues before the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. While Ecuador tried to pass off the criticism as resulting from ignorance, the states’ observations made clear that the international community is fully aware of Correa’s repressive tactics against the local media.

Using a mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review, established by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2006, U.N. member states assess the degree to which countries are fulfilling their international human rights obligations. Under this procedure, states have the right to raise questions and make recommendations to the government of the country under review; each state is reviewed every four years. The process provides the opportunity to redress human rights violations, and requires governments to publicly state which recommendations they will implement. Non-governmental organizations can submit their own reports and recommendations, which are compiled by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and can be utilized by member states.

Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, the United States, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, France, India, Sweden, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom all introduced recommendations Monday before the Council, most of them related to Ecuadoran legislation that criminalizes speech.

Most of the recommendations, 12 out of 17, came from European states. Belgium was the first one to speak out: “We have reports on freedom of expression abuses, the improper use of criminal law, persecution of journalists…, we expect the compliance with international law on freedom of expression and that the visit of the rapporteur on freedom of expression will be accepted.” Correa likely paid close attention; he studied economics in Belgium, and his wife is a Belgian native. Read More…