The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: International Herald Tribune on President Correa vs the media

Ecuador’s Assault on Free Speech

Ecuador’s highest court has delivered a staggering, shameful blow to the country’s democracy, siding with President Rafael Correa’s campaign to silence and bankrupt El Universo, Ecuador’s largest newspaper. Last week, the court upheld a $42 million criminal libel judgment against Emilio Palacio, El Universo’s editorial page editor, and three of the paper’s directors. The ruling also ratified three-year prison sentences for all of the men.

In 2010, Mr. Correa filed a criminal suit against the editor and the directors — claiming “aggravated defamation of a public official” — after Mr. Palacio wrote a column accusing Mr. Correa of ordering the army to open fire on a hospital during a police protest. Throughout, the proceedings have been riddled with outrageous irregularities. It was decided at the lower level by a “temporary magistrate,” who, according to an independent forensic analysis, may have outsourced the job of writing the decision to the president’s lawyer.

Mr. Correa, who is expected to seek re-election next year, vowed more suits would follow. His relentless campaign against free speech also includes harassing his critics and forcing independent broadcasters off the air and has rightly drawn criticism from the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the Organization of American States. Mr. Correa has also been pushing the O.A.S. to make “reforms” that would silence the special rapporteur.

On Tuesday, at the request of the newspaper’s lawyers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted an injunction requesting Ecuador to suspend the sentences pending a full review by the commission at a hearing on March 28, according to a spokesman for the paper. The commission’s quick action is welcome. But it may not be enough to keep Mr. Correa and the Ecuadorean courts from enforcing the court’s judgment at any time — a move that would freeze the paper’s assets and close it down. The United States and other democracies need to loudly protest Mr. Correa’s assault on a free press and his cynical hijacking of Ecuador’s judicial system.

Source: The New York Times

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

Editorial: Selvavidasinfronteras.org

Selvavidasinfronteras.wordpress.com

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 23 February, 2012.

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