|Elections coverage gag in Ecuador raises IAPA concern|
Miami (January 16, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today voiced concern at proposed amendments to the electoral law introduced by the government of Ecuador that would limit press coverage and the people’s right to be duly informed during the period leading up to presidential and congressional elections in January 2013.
Approval could be given on February 4 to the amendments to the Electoral and Political Organizations of the Republic of Ecuador Organic Law, known as the Democracy Code, which seeks to authorize a partial veto by President Rafael Correa and include bans on the dissemination of electoral propaganda and news coverage during the run-up to voting.
One of the amendments proposed by the Correa government would require “news media to abstain from making direct or indirect propaganda, whether through special reports or any other form of them, that seeks to influence in favor of or against particular candidates, stands, options, electoral preferences or political views.”
It would also “prohibit during the election campaign the contracting and dissemination of propaganda and advertising on the part of those subject to the law regarding the electoral process in the press, on radio, television, billboards and any other news medium.”
Gustavo Mohme, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said that the proposed new requirement “is a direct attack on press freedom and free speech and the public’s right to information.”
He added that the new action amounts to a triple gag – “it muzzles any entity that wishes to express through advertising its support or disdain of a candidate, it censors the media so that they cannot carry out their social role to inform or exercise their editorial criteria in the climate of diversity and plurality required in a democracy, and what is worse it prevents the people from being able to receive information and learn of their leadership options.”
These dispositions would be regulated by the National Electoral Council and come into force for the presidential and congressional electoral campaign scheduled for 2013.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.