Court Invalidates Pardon for Two Ecuadorean Journalists
A recent decision by a local court to invalidate President Rafael Correa’s pardon of Ecuadorean journalists Juan Carlos Calderon and Cristian Zurita for their book, El Gran Hermano, is another blow to press freedom in Ecuador. The court ruled that the pardon is not an admissible legal procedure in civil matters. Freedom House calls on the government to withdraw the lawsuit, which is the only legal way to end the trial. With the ruling and the resumption of the trial, the two journalists will likely face a $2 million dollar fine. President Correa publicly pardoned the two journalists on February 27. Their book, El Gran Hermano, exposed the million dollar contracts of the President Correa’s brother with the government.
Freedom House has continued to monitor violations of freedom of expression in Ecuador and expressed serious concerns about cases such as El Gran Hermano, as well as the case against newspaper El Universo. Earlier this month, Ecuador’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence against the newspaper El Universo, rejecting the appeal filed by the newspaper and upholding a three-year prison sentence against three executives and a fine for $40 million for libel against Correa. Hostile rhetoric against the press by public officials, particularly the president, as well as attacks and intimidation of journalists and the use of defamation laws pose some of the most serious threats to press freedom. Correa has engaged in regular harsh verbal diatribes against the press, calling them his “greatest political enemy,” “ignorant,” “corrupt” and “deceitful.”
Freedom in the World 2011: Ecuador
Freedom of the Press 2011: Ecuador
Video: Freedom of Expression in Latin America: New Trends, Old Challenges (in Spanish)