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News crew threatened by hospital security personnel

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 18 November 2011, security guards at the Carlos Andrade Marín public hospital in Quito threatened members of an Ecuavisa television station news crew and prevented them from carrying out their work. A day earlier, the television station had reported on complaints from members of the public about the poor standard of medical care in the hospital's emergency department.

In a segment broadcast by the station on its evening news, journalist Karla Delgado said that "the presence of cameras in the Carlos Andrade Marín hospital has become a problem for the hospital's security personnel, after a series of complaints were presented about a lack of attention to patients in the emergency department."

One of the images broadcast by the station shows a security guard covering a camera lens with his back and threatening the camera operator saying, "Touch me again and you die."

After these incidents, Delgado said that the health center's directors eventually agreed to issue a statement, but they were "inexplicably guarded by security personnel."

News programme host María Isabel de Lebed publicly condemned the incident and the threats. "The hospital must clarify what happened and punish those responsible for this abuse. Above all, it should facilitate access to information, as stipulated in the Constitution," she said during the broadcast of the news programme.

Freddy Barros, Ecuavisa's news director in Quito, told Fundamedios that the security guards' actions were uncalled for and he condemned the hindrance to the journalists' work and the fact that one of the camera operators received a death threat. "We demand respect for freedom of information and call for the member of the hospital's security personnel who was responsible for these actions to be punished," he stated.

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