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Declaration of the Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Support of Freedom of Expression in Ecuador

Feb. 24, 2012
Contact: Deborah Hakes in Atlanta +1 404 420 5124

(En español)

We, the undersigned, Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, express our deep concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression in the Republic of Ecuador.

We are especially alarmed by the modifications to the electoral legislation that limit the media's coverage of the 2013 presidential campaign. These limitations prevent the people from obtaining the information that is essential for them to freely form opinions and to choose their electoral preferences without constraints of any form.

Also of concern is the application of Articles 489, 491, and 493 of TITLE VII of the Ecuadorian Criminal Code, entitled "Crimes Against Honor," for the purpose of limiting freedom of expression, silencing criticism, and impeding debate over public matters. Both cases go against the fundamental components of democracy, as provided by article 4 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, to which Ecuador is a signatory.

We are convinced that the penalization of free speech considered offensive by authorities constitutes intimidation and undermines the international obligations to which the Republic of Ecuador has voluntarily committed. These obligations are contained in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 13 of the Inter-American Convention of Human Rights.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights determined in Clause 11 of its Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in 2000 that penal sanctions are not only excessive and disproportionate, but also constitute a form of censorship. These measures therefore, have no justification in the political and social interests of a state.  These regulations were ignored in the irregular trials held against three journalists, the newspaper El Universo, and its directors.

It should also be noted that the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in Article 1, establishes democracy as a collective good elevated to a right of the people, which governments in the hemisphere are obligated to promote and protect.

We make a fervent, unequivocal, and respectful appeal to the government, the judiciary, and the electoral authorities of the Republic of Ecuador to honor their international obligations, especially within the context of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We also ask that they correct decisions, measures adopted, and legal processes that curtail electoral equity and freedom of expression so that Ecuador may restore its full compliance with its international obligations.

Diego Abente
Former Minister of Justice and Labor of Paraguay
Mariclaire Acosta
Former Undersecretary for Democracy and Human Rights of Mexico
Nicolás Ardito Barletta
Former President of Panama
Carlos Ayala Corao
Former President Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Cecilia Blondet
Former Minister for the Advancement of Women and Human Development of Peru
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Former President of Brazil
Jimmy Carter
Former President of the United States of America
Jorge Castañeda
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico
Joe Clark
Former Prime Minister of Canada
Humberto de la Calle
Former Vice President of Colombia
César Gaviria
Former President of Colombia
John Graham
Chair Emeritus, Canadian Foundation for the Americas
Torquato Jardim
Former Justice of the Superior Electoral Tribunal of Brazil
John Manley
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
Barbara McDougall
Former Minister of External Affairs of Canada
Pedro Nikken
Former President
Inter-American Court for Human Rights, Venezuela
Robert Pastor
Former Director of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs
National Security Council
Andrés Pastrana
Former President of Colombia
Sonia Picado
Chair of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights
Sergio Ramírez
Former Vice-President of Nicaragua
Ronald M. Sanders
Member Eminent Persons Group of the Commonwealth
Jorge Santistevan de Noriega
Former Human Rights Ombudsman of Peru
Eduardo Stein
Former Vice President of Guatemala
Alejandro Toledo
Former President of Peru
Joaquín Villalobos
Founder of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), Signatory of the Peace Agreements of  El Salvador in 1992

Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter:

The Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter group is composed of former presidents, prime ministers, cabinet ministers and human rights leaders from the Western Hemisphere who seek to increase the visibility of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and to prevent democratic tensions from erupting into crises. The Friends visit countries to assess democratic tensions, encourage citizens and governments to make use of international resources to defend their democracies and resolve constitutional conflicts, and recommend ways for the OAS to apply the charter in a constructive and preventative manner. The Carter Center serves as secretariat for the Friends. Learn more >

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