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Ecuador: UN expert urges government to guarantee freedom of the press after last week’s violence

GENEVA (7 October 2010) – Following violent acts in Quito last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, urged the Government of Ecuador to guarantee the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of press. On Thursday 30 September, a section of the police force violently attacked President Rafael Correa, who was prevented to leave the hospital, in violation of his fundamental rights.

“In moments of political turmoil, the possibility to receive clear and accurate information is essential,” said the independent expert, who also called on the Ecuadorian media “to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and ethics.”

Mr. La Rue reiterated the importance of freedom of the press in line with principles of diversity and plurality to inform the society objectively, taking into account that, in this case, “a great part of the police force was mobilized by interested sectors, based on alleged misinformation regarding the new proposed regulations regarding labour conditions.”
“These acts reveal the fragility of some Latin American democracies, as this event took place a little more than a year since the military coup d’état which overthrew the Government in Honduras,” the Special Rapporteur noted with concern.

In his view, “the recent event may constitute an attempt to undermine the democratic institutions of Ecuador, with the purpose of initiating a coup d’état, even though some statements have been made to the contrary.”

Frank La Rue was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2008 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. The UN first decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine questions relevant to the right to freedom of opinion and expression in 1993. The mandate, since reviewed and extended in 2008, involves reporting annually to the Human Rights Council on issues related to freedom of opinion and expression.

Learn more about the mandate and activities of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, please visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Ecuador: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/ECIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Momoko Nomura (Tel.: + 41 22 917 9304 / e-mail: mnomura@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org