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Reporters assaulted at two universities

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 7 July 2009, "El Comercio" newspaper journalist Mariela Rosero and photographer Martín Jaramillo were assaulted by a group of students near the Central University campus, in Quito.

The incident took place when the journalists were leaving the campus after having been prevented from covering a university council meeting. They were approached by ten people who, according to Rosero, belong to the University Left-wing Revolutionary Front (FRIU). The group of students rushed towards Jaramillo, pepper sprayed him in the face and snatched his camera. Rosero was also affected by the pepper spray.

Rosero and Jaramillo said that just before they were assaulted, Marcelo Rivera, the president of the University Students' Federation (FEUE), had hurled insults at them. In the past, Rivera has accused Rosero of distorting and manipulating information. The journalist has covered university-related issues for two years. She said that she has been assaulted by members of the FEUE on several occasions.

The journalists were taken to a hospital for treatment.

In a separate incident, on 13 July, reporter Rafael Castro and camera operator Jorge Cabezas, of the "En busca de respuestas" programme broadcast by Ecuador TV, were beaten by a teacher and a student at the Guayaquil State University.

The incident took place when the journalists were obtaining footage for a report on a new law that impacts higher education. They were taken by surprise when two men began to insult, beat and reprimand them for being on the university grounds. Cabezas was kicked in the back and received injuries to his face.

The television programme's director, Juan Carlos Ortiz, went to the university to find out more about what had happened and was able to identify the media personnel's assailants as Alex Gutiérrez Vega, a university professor and a member of the Democratic Popular Movement (MPD) political party, and his son, university student Alex Gutiérrez Gómez.

The university's dean, Carlos Cedeño, expressed his apologies over the incident. Ortiz told FUNDAMEDIOS that a complaint will filed against Castro and Cabezas's assailants.

FUNDAMEDIOS and IPYS condemn these assaults on media personnel and call on the authorities at both universities to ensure that journalists can carry out their work on their respective campuses.

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