Journalist´s Sentence of Imprisonment Upheld in Ecuador

Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia) has once again voiced its concern in connection with Fernando Villavicencio, the author of the book Ecuador Made in China, after Ecuador´s National Court of Justice denied the appeal for reversal of the decision sentencing Villavicencio to 18 month imprisonment in April this year on slander charges against President Rafael Correa.

Indeed, we have already pointed out that such sentence, together with a disproportionate economic sanction also involving Congressmen Cléver Jiménez and Carlos Figueroa, constituted a serious violation of elemental principles established by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and the Organization of American States regarding freedom of expression and Criminal Law.

“Ecuador is using libel and slander as a way of censorship of dissident voices.” The decision by the National Court confirms the fact that the purpose of the laws passed in Ecuador is to restrict any type of dissent in that country.

Such decisions contradict the OAS Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression providing that “Privacy laws may not inhibit or restrict investigation and dissemination of information of public interest” and that “Public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by society. Laws that penalize offensive expressions directed at public officials, generally known as ‘desacato [contempt] laws,’ restrict freedom of expression and the right to information.”

Faced with this scenario, international agencies and Courts must take quick and resolute action to prevent greater violations of elemental rights in Ecuador and in the entire region.

Fundación LED and Red Latinoamericana en Defensa de la Libertad de Expresión (in Spanish, Latin American Network for the Defense of Freedom of Expression)shall keep on working to revert the serious situation that freedom of press and expression are presently undergoing in some countries of Latin America and to enforce current international treaties.