A United Nations human rights expert 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.
David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, said he had visited Ecuador at the invitation of the government following promises made by President Lenin Moreno to reinvigorate freedom of expression after 10 years of its increasing repression.
“I learned that these promises are real and that the process of change has genuinely begun. Even with those commitments,” the Special Rapporteur cautioned, “the Government and the people of Ecuador have a lot of work to do. Some of that work involves legal change. In other respects it is not merely law that is required.
“There is a strong need for a broad commitment to implementation at every level of government, a cultural shift inside and outside public institutions in thinking about open government and citizen participation, and a major effort to destigmatize and promote independent media, the profession of journalism, and community and public media development,” he said the end of his week-long visit.
The Special Rapporteur met Government authorities, including the President, several ministers, members of the National Assembly, judicial authorities, journalists, academics, and civil society organizations.
In particular, Kaye praised Moreno and the assembly for agreeing to dismantle a media watchdog agency that had the authority to fine media outlets for publishing and broadcasting information it considered counter to the government’s interests.
The expert’s preliminary observations address a number of key issues in Ecuador’s transition, starting with recommendations concerning repressive media law, the Ley Organica de Comunicacion.
He also urged strong promotion for independent journalism and the safety of journalists; a government-wide effort to expand and guarantee access to information held by public authorities, including by developing strong whistleblower protections for both public officials and private employees; and several steps to improve the rights people in Ecuador enjoy online, especially by strengthening digital security and personal data protection and denying government the right to use copyright law to limit the dissemination of public information.
Kaye’s comments came in addition to the observations he made in his Special Rapporteur’s preliminary report on freedom of expression in Ecuador: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23713&LangID=E
The Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to the Human Rights Council on the main findings of his visit and make recommendations on the promotion of the right to freedom of expression in Ecuador.