World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


World’s Press Condemns Ecuadorean Sentence Against Newspaper

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World’s Press Condemns Ecuadorean Sentence Against Newspaper

2012-02-17

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has condemned a high court decision in Ecuador against the newspaper El Universo and its directors, Carlos, Cesar and Nicolas Perez, and the sentence against journalists Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita in a separate case.

The National Court of Justice of Ecuador on Wednesday upheld a libel judgment, a 40 million dollar fine and 3-year prison sentences against El Universo and its officers.
 
In a statement, WAN-IFRA said: "the use of excessive fines and jail sentences violates international standards freedom of expression. President Rafael Correa and his government have made these practices a political tool through which to attack political enemies, intimidate any critical voice and control the public debate."

The origin of the claim was an article critical of the President entitled "Stop the lies" of February 6, 2011, written by the newspaper’s former opinion editor, Emilio Palacio. The journalist is currently exiled in the United States following his sentence of three years in prison in December 2011.

In another case, a regional civil court sentenced journalists Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita on 6 February to pay 1 million dollars each in moral damages to the President, following the publication of an article on cases of official corruption and alleged knowledge of it by the president.

"The lawsuits against journalists and the aggressiveness of President Correa against the profession have strongly damaged the international image of Ecuador", said the WAN-IFRA statement. "The severity of claims, the series of irregularities that have characterized both lawsuits, and the judgments in favor of President Correa, ignore all democratic principle of freedom of expression, tolerance and separation of powers."

WAN-IFRA reiterated its call to President Rafael Correa to "withdraw the lawsuit against the newspaper, its directors and its opinion editor, Emilio Palacio, as well as claims against Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita."

 For more information, see the WAN-IFRA recent report on the situation of press freedom in Ecuador at http://tinyurl.com/73untbl

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.

Learn more about WAN-IFRA at http://www.wan-ifra.org or through the WAN-IFRA Magazine at http://www.wan-ifra.org/magazine

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis, rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 07. Fax: +33 1 42 78 92 33. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: larry.kilman@wan-ifra.org

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