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President proposes restrictions to journalistic work during 2013 elections

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 4 January 2012, Rafael Correa sent to the National Assembly his objections to a bill to amend the Electoral Organic Law, known as the "Democracy Code", establishing restrictions to journalistic work during the campaign for the 2013 elections.

The prohibition to “promote directly or indirectly, through special reports or any other kind of message, that tend to have an effect, whether positive or negative, on any candidate, postulate, option, electoral preference or political thesis”, is among the reforms introduced by the president.

In a different objection, the chief of state proposes prohibiting the media from broadcasting during the “close season”, i.e., the 48 hours before the elections and until 5:00 pm on the day itself, “any kind of information issued by public institutions, as well as electoral propaganda, opinions or images...”.

Lack of compliance would be regarded as an electoral infraction to be sanctioned with a fine ranging from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars, as established by art. 277 of the Democracy Code. Concerning infractions, the president proposed that moves against the exercising of the people's rights should be “judged in the penal system rather than the electoral area of jurisdiction...”.

Jurist Medardo Oleas, an expert on electoral issues, described the president's objections as “inadmissible” and as having a "perverse intention”, because “the president cannot make prohibitions”, especially as the media “have been the only ones to report about who are the candidates."

Oleas considers the articles to be a “violation” of the Constitution itself and of Ecuadorians' right to be informed.

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