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Ecuador: UN expert welcomes moves to protect and promote freedom of expression, urges concrete measures

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QUITO (11 October 2018) – A UN 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, the 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 destigmatise 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 organisations.

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.
          
The full preliminary observations of the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Ecuador may be found at: 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.

ENDS

David Kaye (USA) began his appointment as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014, appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva (after the visit): Ms. Marina Narvaez (mnarvaez@ohchr.org/ + 41 22 917 9615)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org