Friday, 11 September 2015
Who is affected: Fundamedios, an Ecuadorian NGO that monitors, researches and defends the right to freedom of expression.
What happened: The Ecuadorian government has issued the NGO with an order to close down, saying the NGO was spreading messages with political overtones not conducive to social development. The NGO gathers statistics on abuses of freedom of expression by the government and issues alerts when journalists report being harassed in the country. Fundamedios had been warned in June to stop issuing alerts, and had previously been asked for their financial information by the Ministry of Communication.
What are the implications: From 2008-2012, the NGO has recorded nearly 600 attacks on journalists, but if the NGO is dissolved there will be no other NGOs in the country to monitor freedom of expression. The NGO has 10 days to appeal against the judgement.
According to Amnesty International this is the latest in a pattern of restrictive measures by President Rafael Correa’s government to crack down on protesters. In 2013, the govenment issued a new protest law, and in January,Fundacion Pachamama, an NGO that had campaigned on the behalf on indigenous communities whose land the government had sold off was ordered to close under Ecuador’s Decree 16.
According to James Savage from Amnesty International: “We need to put this closure in the context of the greater freedom of the right to protest. We are concerned this latest action is another attempt by President Correa to restrict the core human rights of freedoms of assembly, association and expression in Ecuador. We’ve already seen land and environmental defenders locked up on spurious charges, new laws restricting the right to protest and and reports of excessive use of force by police and military against mass protests, and the issuance of Decree 16 giving President Correa sweeping powers to dissolve NGOs.”