Free «Freedom of Speech in Ecuador» Essay Sample

Ecuador is a state, which continues to develop in its political culture, political operations, governmental and societal evolvement. The facts demonstrate that the state has a heritage of presidential unreliability and volatility combined with the political unpredictability. The current paper will demonstrate the right of freedom of speech and expression in Ecuador and explain how the freedom of speech is actually controlled by Ecuadorian government and to which extent it should be controlled to be democratic.

Ecuador is a constitutional multi-party republic, which has an elective president and unicameral assembly. Voters re-elected President Rafael Correa and selected affiliates of the National Assembly in elections, which were free and open in general terms in February 2013 (Morla, 2015). The state present advancements will determine its future, while the degree to which it overpowers its past in order to originate a new heritage, which is unambiguously Ecuadorian, will define its development (Fuentes, 2012). The governing regime rarely permits to demonstrate the substantiality of life in Ecuador (Quito, 2014). As a matter of fact, individual freedoms are being profaned in Ecuador on a daily basis, and there are numerous examples of the abuse of power during the last seven years of the so-called “Citizen Revolution” (Morla, 2015). The president of Ecuador, Correa, may claim the evolvement of rail connectivity in Ecuador and government outgoings on highways, but that does presuppose that people should embrace the despotic loftiness and nature homicide as a norm (Fuentes, 2012).

 Freedom of speech is a primary and fundamental right. It can be neither private nor public, as it is a human right. Freedom of speech concerns a political right to express one's opinions, thoughts, and ideas (Otis, 2013). This term is also connected to freedom of expression, which incorporates any action of searching, obtaining and providing information or ideas, in spite of the medium utilized (Vivanco, 2013). In fact, the majority of expressions are absolutely innocuous and should be secured under the right to freedom of expression from interventions by the state (Otis, 2013). Nevertheless, sometimes the search, obtaining and expression of the data or ideas incorporates expressions, which a limited number of communities could tolerate, including the instigation to kill or market the pornography to children (Vivanco, 2013). Therefore, freedom of speech is not unmitigated and can be restricted if it contradicts other rights. This is the only case when the authorities are allowed to restrict the freedom of speech. In fact, international law proclaims freedom of speech and expression to be the rule. All restrictions concern the exceptions that are allowed merely to protect the rights or reputations of other people, national safety, public order and health, and morals (Morla, 2015).

It might look surprising, but Correa has been a media sweetheart prior to his inauguration in 2007 (Morla, 2015). Afterwards, the adversarial relationships of the President Rafael Correa with the press and media have appeared to be the most determinative features of his six-year ruling. After Rafael Correa has been re-elected in February 2013, he proclaimed and enacted a new extensive Communications Law in June. This law regulates broadcasts and print media, which trims press freedom. The government of the president protracts to expose affiliation of the media to public accusations. The facts demonstrate that denunciators utilize extensively ample sabotage and counterterrorism offences against the majority of government critics who become engaged in public deprecations (Leon, 2015, p. 95).

The Communications Law, which the Ecuadorian National Assembly has appointed on June 14, 2013, profoundly disrupts the freedom of speech (Otis, 2013). This law incorporates extensively ample language, which will restrict the free expressions of various journalists and media releases. The law, which concerns both broadcasts and printed media, incorporates the following difficult and problematical allocations. Firstly, the law bans the so-called “media lynching”, which is outlined as the distribution of conceptual and reduplicative data, either immediately or using third parties, via media releases, with the objective of disrupting the prestige and the status of an individual or legal object or depressing their trustworthiness (Leon, 2015, p. 97). This allocation allows the authorities to order the media release to publishing public excuses and claims that are subjected to penal and civil approbations, superimposed by the courts (Quito, 2014).

Secondly, it extorts media releases to publish their own codes of conduct in order to enhance their inner practices and their communications operations grounded on a set of instances, including the respect of honor and reputation of people. Despite the fact that self-adjustment and control of this nature is not in itself problematical, the law demonstrates that any national subject or company is able to report that a media release profaned the instances, and government authorities are able to emit a written warning, or superimpose sanctions (Leon, 2015, p. 98). Thirdly, it claims that journalists have to apply the administrative deductions of distributed content via the media, which disrupts constitutional rights, especially the right to intercourse, and the public safety of the State. Journalists, who are considered to infringe such liability, could be subjected to civil, penal or other instances (Otis, 2013). In fact, international bodies from the Inner-American, United Nations, and Europeans human rights programs have long assaulted the usage of penal accusations to react to media statements made against public officeholders, contrary to the inquisitiveness of stimulating resonant public discourse indispensable in a democratic society (Quito, 2014). In fact, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, accepted by the Inner-American Commission of Human Rights, claims that protection of the reputation of public officeholders has to be assured merely via civil instances (Morla, 2015). This new law paves the way to censorship as well. This law claims that people have a right to calibrated, collated, accurate and contextualized public data. In addition, the article 18 of the Ecuadorian Constitution claims that the population of the state has the right to obtain veracious and calibrated information (Leon, 2015, p. 99). This claim is directly contradicting the Declaration of Principles concerning freedom of speech, which declares that before determining such expressions, as veracity, timelessness or detachment, it is important to understand whether they are consistent with the right to freedom of verbiage acknowledged in all international instruments (Vivanco, 2013). For instance, Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights distinctly bans antecedent censorship. The Declaration of Principles, however, claims that antecedent censorship, immediate or implied intervention, or oppression elicited upon any utterance, thought or data transferred via any methods of spoken, written, artistical, discernible or electronic intercourses should be forbidden by law (Quito, 2014). Limitation to the free communication of thoughts and ideas, together with the arbitral infliction of data and the infliction of hindrances to the free current of information infringe upon the right to freedom of speech and expression (Otis, 2013).

The facts demonstrate that the government had suggested Communications Law in 2009 for the first time (Morla, 2015). Nevertheless, this law encountered resistance and objection in the National Assembly. On the other hand, the new National Assembly, which has been formed in May with a larger number of members from the political party of President Rafael Correa, Alianza País, sanctioned a changed version of the genuine bill (Alvaro, 2014). Ecuador’s national parliament easily voted and approved the Law, several days before it came into the force. After the President’s confirmation of the Law, which appeared on 24th of June, the penalization of the law seemed unthinkable due to the fact that a great part of the Parliament favored its confirmation. This ‘Ley Organica de Comunicacion’ is utilized by the states regime as one of its numerous censorship implementations to restrict critics and disagreements (Quito, 2014).

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In fact, Gabriela Rivadeneira, who is known to be the president of Congress, honored this reform for interdicting such operation as “lynching by media” (which stands for the character homicide), and claimed that this new law would subdue the pretended habit of press and media concerning inhibiting, disturbing and annoying citizens (Alvaro, 2014). A lot of journalists are afraid that this law practically incarnates censorship. In fact, they are absolutely right. For instance, Xavier Bonilla, a local political cartoonist, has been litigated for publishing a drawing, which depicted the house chasing of a fellow journalist. In fact, the president Correa approached him as a ‘murderer with ink’ (Vivanco, 2013). Afterwards, Bonilla has been induced to issue an amendment, while his newspaper, El Universo, which is the biggest newspaper in Ecuador, was given a huge fine. This newspaper has formerly been on the acquiring the end of a legal operation from the government (Leon, 2015, p. 103). President Correa libeled them for slander and imposed a fine of 40 million of the U.S. dollars in 2011 (Leon, 2015, p. 103). The criminal journalist and the owners of the newspaper were sentenced to prison, even despite the fact that the case was later discharged (Morla, 2015).

When the Ecuadorian Communications Law entered into force on June 26th, 2013, it induced an amusing but obscure normative structure in the states political scenery (Alvaro, 2014). Obscure wording in a number of articles of the Law affords the Communications and Information Superintendence (also known as Supercom) the pliability and circumspection when rendering this Law. In addition, due to the fact that this is an apparatus, which applies a eloquence quite analogous to that of the government, Supercom operated as a justice and a side during the legal proceedings against El Universo and its cartoonist Xavier Bonilla (known as ‘Bonil’) (Leon, 2015, p. 105). As it was mentioned above, Bonil published a cartoon, where he depicted a police chase in the home of a journalist and a delegate deputy of the opposition, Fernando Villavicencio (Leon, 2015, p. 105). The caption of the cartoon stated that “Police and Public Ministry raid Fernando Villacencio’s home and confiscate documents related to corruption cases” (Quito, 2013). After the cartoon’s publishing, Supercom stated that the cartoon delegitimized the authorities and supported social dismay in their report. Supercom demanded the emendation of cartoonist’s issue within 72 hours, it also imposed administrative measures upon El Universo newspaper (Quito, 2013). It is obvious that the apparatus supposed to and licensed to regulate intercourses in Ecuador regarding the cartoon created by Bonilla as being a hazard to the authorities and an endurance for various social disorders (Leon, 2015, p. 105).

The sanctions of this Communication Law against this particular cartoonist started from the cartoon, which Bonilla issued in December 2013. This cartoon regarded the criticism of the backdrops of incessant coherences between the private media and the government of President Rafael Correa (Leon, 2015, p. 107). In reality, this coherence appeared as more obvious in June 2013, when a fresh Communications Law was appointed and took effect (Alvaro, 2014). The coherence appeared in a form of opinions’ polarization encompassing it. The facts and statistics demonstrate that this paved the start for the 2013 Communications Law, which reformed its predecessor of 1975, to become fervently debated and discussed (Quito, 2014). On the one hand, the government honored and glorified its adjuncts, which were supposed to guarantee more expense on television for national products, and penalizing antecedent censorship organized by editors and media owners. The adjuncts were also supposed to distribute television and radio frequencies on an honest and upright ground, which stands for 33% for public media, 33% for privately-possessed media and 34% for community-possessed media (Leon, 2015, p. 109). In fact, the new Communications and Information Regulation and Development Council has been specifically originated within the body of this Law (Higuera, 2015). This council had a license to regulate universal accession to intercourse and data, arrange apparatuses for the gratification of rights, regulate contents, elaborate and release ordinances for the consummation of its functions, elaborate reviews in order to resolve the consummation or lengthening of television or radio frequencies contracts (Quito, 2014). Nevertheless, this Council is typically depicted as a predator having sharp teeth and claws, which would attack both, the ones being harassed and not (Otis, 2013). In addition, the council works together with the Supercom, and performs inspection, audition, interference and control, having arduous capabilities (Higuera, 2015). Thus, both the council and Supercom ensure that the guidelines arranged by the Council are esteemed and performed. On the other hand, there is a growing concern regarding these apparatuses (Otis, 2013). Therefore, such private media employees and multinational human rights companies as Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and the Committee to Protect Journalists base their concern on the ground of the fact that both institutions and their chief figures share their political opinions and ideas with the government (Otis, 2013).

In addition, this new law, which still can be changed with a help of presidential veto, prohibits the intentional delinquency of public interest topics. In fact, the president Correa had libeled that the media have not covered the recent presidential visit to an outside natural-gas platform, which has been nationalized several months ago (Quito, 2014). This demonstrates that the law allows censorship under the state-of-extremity regulations determined in the 2008 constitution (Keane, 2008, p. 856). Thus, it means that media industries will be fiscally accountable in solidarity in slander cases, while a new adjuster who is close to the presidency will be responsible for numerous administrative sanctions and the application of extensive new regulations controlling local audio and video content, incorporating advertising (Higuera, 2015).

A huge number of radio frequencies need to retrace to the governmental control, and to become re-allotted among the private, public and noncommercial sectors. On the one hand, the law proponents claim that this law will provide the silent majority of Ecuadoreans with a voice (Higuera, 2015). On the other hand, the extent for regulative circumspection demonstrated in the small bill print make the critics, who understand that this is as another volley in the president Correa’s war against the press and media, worried (Otis, 2013). President Correa has already changed Hoy, which is a Quito-grounded newspaper, which he will proceed against due to its headline claiming he had announced a gay marriage as a “novelty” (Vivanco, 2013). In 2011, the president started 80 million dollars litigation against one newspaper and its main newspaper satirist, who was afterwards provided with an asylum in the United States (Vivanco, 2013). In fact, the supporters of the president’s point designate that there is no journalist in prison for libeling. However, this is merely caused by the fact that the president and other government officeholders have demonstrated mercifulness to the people criminated to big penalties and time-periods in jails. The facts demonstrate that the police have shortly taken into custody various individuals for supposedly showing the presidential motorcade their middle fingers (Otis, 2013).

The new regulative authorities have added fuel to such fears. People understand that this is a regulation, which will strengthen a condition of propaganda in the state and which will rob people of the right to freedom of expression and of the right of information accession (Vivanco, 2013). Journalists continue to fight for their right to freedom of speech and expression, but they are afraid and have all reasons to be afraid (Higuera, 2015). For instance, El Universo, which is a state daily newspaper, swears to protract their editorial policy regardless of what it observes as the attempt of government in restricting free reporting. Nonetheless, journalists and newspaper satirists utter concerning the increasing self-censorship stimulated by the fear of retaliations (Otis, 2013).

It is also frightful that the majority of Ecuador neighbors do not understand that there should be some limit in controlling freedom of speech and expression by the Ecuadorian government. For example, only Adam Namm, who is the ambassador of the United States, carefully admonished Ecuador concerning the right to freedom of speech (Higuera, 2015). On the other hand, such district organs as the South American Union and the Organization of American States did not dare to make at least moderate criticism (Alvaro, 2014). Nevertheless, international organizations and other countries should take Ecuador and its attitude to the freedom of speech and expression into account, as the limitation of freedom of speech does not only concern the penalties and prisons, but they have actually reached the Internet (Higuera, 2015).

In fact, a number of Ecuadorians have observed that the content enigmatically disappears from their personal Facebook profiles and pages, Twitter accounts, and even YouTube videos. The content, which has disappeared, addressed a broad variety of themes. Nevertheless, they have merely one thing in common: all of these posts criticized, mocked, or exposed the Ecuadorian government (Vivanco, 2014). For instance, in September, immediately after a forcible and aggressive police crackdown on Protestants in Quito, Facebook deleted a link posted by an Ecuadorian in his individual account of a video agglomerating images of police trespass supposedly performed in the process of these protests. In addition, the video incorporated photos and audio clips of President Rafael Correa, which have been excluded from his weekly television show on the public-owned TV channel, in which he congratulated the police for their operation (Vivanco, 2014).

On the other hand, for example, the Twitter account of Diana Amores, who is a translator who frequently shares humoristic and sarcastic tweets with her 4,000 followers, has been appended in April. A number of examples of Twitter deleting images, which Dana had shared, incorporating various cartoons has followed this action. For instance, Amores had uploaded an image, on which the Simpsons were lying on the floor at the same time when a television in the backdrops demonstrated the logo of Correa’s weekly broadcast on the display. She also accompanied the tweet with the jestingly alluded phrase concerning the toxic influence of the broadcasts (Vivanco, 2014). Furthermore, Pocho Álvarez, who s a well-known film-maker, revealed that his video named “Assault on Íntag” has been deleted from his YouTube account in October 2013. This is a nine-minute nonfictional program concerning the persecutions experienced by an indigenous community, which was opposing the mining in the district.

 
   

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