|IAPA concerned at attack against freedom of the press in Ecuador|
Miami (June 14, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today labeled the recent declaration by the government of President Rafael Correa, prohibiting ministers and officials from giving interviews to privately-owned news media, as an attack against freedom of information.
The Chair of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, called the Ecuadorean government’s measure discriminatory. Mohme added that this measure “fails to comply with the principles of Ecuador’s Law on Access to Public Information and is a serious violation of the principle of transparency that public servants must observe as a mandate in a democracy.”
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, regretted that the government continues with “its intolerant approach towards privately-owned news media for the mere fact of carrying out their role as watchdogs, criticizing, expressing opinions, investigating, and denouncing government matters that are of public interest.” He added that to deny information or only offer it to state-owned media not only went against freedom of the press, but also against the public’s right to be informed.
President Correa said in his Saturday address that he was “seriously considering” asking his ministers to grant interviews only to state-owned media, accusing privately-owned media of being corrupt and merely working “to line up their pockets.”
Communications Minister Fernando Alvarado said this week that officials would not give interviews to privately-owned media because “they have commercialized information” and “they are not what journalism is all about.” On the other hand, Political Coordination Minister Betty Tola yesterday confirmed that there is a presidential decree ordering ministers not to give interviews to privately-owned media.
In Ecuador, it is common practice for officials to withhold official information from journalists, to not hold press conferences, and from their position of power, to initiate lawsuits against media outlets and journalists that investigate cases of corruption or criticize government actions. The legal action against El Universo and other media, as well as against the book “El Gran Hermano” (Big Brother) are some examples of these practices.
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.