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U.S. Concerned by Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Ecuador
September 19, 2012

U.S. Statement on the UPR Report Adoption  for Ecuador
Delivered by Osman Tat

21st Session of the Human Rights Council

September 20, 2012

The United States would like to thank His Excellency the Permanent Representative of Ecuador for his update this morning.

We welcome the Government’s decision to accept recommendations to combat gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, and to strengthen efforts to eradicate child labor.

We note that Ecuador considers recommendations made by 17 countries on freedom of expression and journalist protection have already been implemented or are in the process of implementation.  Although we are pleased to learn that Ecuador has agreed to accept a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, we remain concerned about the ongoing pressures against journalists and attacks on freedom of expression in Ecuador.  We urge the Government to take seriously its commitment to these recommendations, to recognize the vital role of a free press, and to take the necessary steps to create a society in which independent journalists can operate freely and without fear.

We also observe that recommendation 135.31 calling for the Government to respect the independence of the judiciary and guarantee access to justice is considered to have been implemented or in the process of implementation.  We encourage Ecuador’s continued efforts to promote an independent judiciary and to ensure that the Transitional Judicial Council appointed to reform the justice system operates independently of the government.

The Government of Ecuador declined to support our recommendation to accept visit requests from the OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and to eliminate laws that criminalize opinion.  Although there are no existing laws that “criminalize opinion” per se, there are laws that criminalize insult and defamation, and we urge Ecuador to repeal criminal defamation laws and adopt international standards on freedom of expression (see recommendation 135.38).

Thank you.