President of Ecuador Suggests Doing Away with Print Media

Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia) has expressed its concern about the statements made by the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who announced he would suggest calling a referendum to do away with print newspapers so as to “stop the indiscriminate felling of trees.”

Environmental protection is the excuse used in this new attempt at controlling the basic inputs to exercise the right to freedom of press and for the existence of independent media.

The referendum on the elimination of print newspapers and their transformation into a digital format is another move forward in the delicate scenario of freedom of press rights as we see them in that country. Among other things, the Organic Communications Law which was passed this year governs content, establishes the responsibility in connection with any information or opinions disclosed—subjectively using the expression “media lynching”—and adopts a deontological code for the “correct” performance of the duties of the media or the journalists.

These actions translate into regulatory standards and guidelines which are typical of authoritarian regimes estranged from the democratic values to which every society aspires.

The threatened eradication of the principal input for the publication of print media is an attack against freedom of expression and freedom of press.

Through this attempt, which we have repudiated, the Government of Ecuador is violating Section 13, subsect. 3, of the AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, namely: “The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means, such as the abuse of government or private controls over newsprint, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemination of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.”

At Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia), together with Red Latinoamericana en Defensa de la Libertad de Expresión (Latin American Network for the Defense of Freedom of Expression), we shall continue reporting, making visible and warning about actions such as these that affect and do not respect the right of freedom of expression and prevent democracy from being fully effective in Argentina and in the countries of the region.