Ecuador’s Restrictive Press Law is Focus of March 5 Event with Sanctioned Cartoonist

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jane Riley Jacobsen (202) 378-9700/ jane@ned.org

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Endowment for Democracy and its Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) will host a March 5 luncheon discussion about Ecuador’s new communication law and how the government is using it to further restrict space for freedom of expression and independent news media in Ecuador.

The law, passed last year, put the news media in the category of a public service subject to government regulation. It also introduced the concept of “media lynching,” defined as reporting that negatively affects a person’s reputation without sufficient evidence. The law has led to increased self-censorship and reduced media coverage of political issues, especially of potential government corruption.

The event will feature cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who was the first to be sanctioned under the new measures. In January he was forced to draw a cartoon “correcting” a previous cartoon that Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa found offensive. Correa used a televised address to brand Bonilla a “shameless, ignorant, hating, coward disguised as a cartoonist” and an “assassin with ink.”

Bonilla’s newspaper, El Universo, was fined $93,000, equivalent to 2 percent of its quarterly revenues. The incident drew widespread international condemnation, not least because of the absurdity of requiring that opinion, expressed as a cartoon, be corrected. For his part, Bonilla said he feels for Correa “an infinite humor.”

Others scheduled to speak on the panel are Martha Roldós, a former opposition legislator who fought against the passage of the communications law, challenging it before the constitutional court, and Carlos Lauría, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior program coordinator for the Americas.

WHAT: CIMA/NED Event: Ecuador's Communications Law and the Bonilla Case
WHO: Xavier Bonilla, Cartoonist for Ecuador’s El Universio; Martha Roldós, Fundación Mil Hojas ; Carlos Lauría, Committee to Protect Journalists
WHEN: Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: National Endowment for Democracy, 1025 F St., NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004
CONTACT: Jane Riley Jacobsen 202-378-9700 or jane@ned.org

This event is open to the media and interested journalists should register here or through www.cima.ned.org/events.

 

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