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Government launches smear campaign against human rights organisations

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 6 January 2012 - A message entitled "Compromiso Ciudadano" was issued on 4 January 2012 by the Ministry of Culture inviting its employees to join a campaign against the alleged "complaint presented by Fundamedios against Catalina Botero of the IACHR". The campaign was initiated on Facebook by supporters of the Ecuadorian government under the logo "MORE of us are honest and we will vote YES". They also announced that they would now use the name "correistas.com".

The Ministry of Culture explained the dissemination of this information stating that it is "committed to the politics of the Citizens' Revolution and Good Living".

A photograph of César Ricaurte, Executive Director of Fundamedios, covered with the word NO in red, has been used as the front page of this campaign initiated by groups that are close to the government and promoted through ministries and other state entities. Its goal is to collect 10,000 signatures by 9 January in support of a letter addressed to Catalina Botero, the OAS' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States (OAS). Thus far 3,898 signatures have been collected.

The letter, which is aimed at discrediting Ricaurte, states that "he is not the Ecuadorian people's spokesperson" and that he has worked in the past for large Ecuadorian media outlets such as "El Comercio", "El Universo" and Ecuavisa.

The campaign was also publicized on 17 December in a piece published in the state newspaper "El Telégrafo", which detailed the steps necessary for joining the campaign. The item was also posted on the Presidency's website and the online paper "El Ciudadano".

This action is a follow-up to the discrediting and harassment campaign initiated against a group of journalists and human rights defenders who, on 25 October, attended a hearing about the Situation of the Freedom of Expression in Ecuador before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

An example of this was the broadcasting of several radio and television programs, as well as pronouncements made by high-ranking public officials, President Rafael Correa among them, with the objective of disqualifying Fundamedios before the IACHR.

Fundamedios condemns the use of state resources to persecute and discredit journalists and human rights organizations.

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