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Fundamedios condemns decision against precautionary measures on Democracy Code veto

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 24 January 2012 - Fundamedios condemns the decision made by Ángela Sarmiento, Second Examining Judge of Pichincha, to refuse the request for precautionary measures presented by the National Journalists' Union (UNP) against the veto of the amendments to the Democracy Code, through which restrictions to the press during electoral campaigns have been established. The judge's decision is based on no substantial argument, but just accepts what was expressed by the Counsel General. We must point out that the judge presents no fundamental argument, but just limits herself to accept what was expressed by the Presidency's Legal Adviser.

The new regulations would come into force on 4 February 2012, introducing preemptive censorship to the contents of the media and journalistic coverage of the upcoming electoral campaign. For this reason, bearing in mind that this would be a clear infringement of human rights and of the constitutional and legal principles that establish that all Ecuadorians have the right to inform and be informed without preemptive censorship, Fundamedios calls all journalists and the media to exercise their constitutional right to resistance and disobey the regulations contemplated in the amendments to the Democracy Code, which limit the work of the press.

Article 98 of the Constitution that has been in force since October 2008 establishes that “individuals and collectives may exercise the right to resistance when confronted by actions or omissions by public authorities or non-State natural or legal persons who infringe or could infringe on their constitutional rights, and demand the approval of new rights".

Journalists must continue to inform the public about every aspect of the upcoming campaign, with no limitations. In addition, the media must not limit themselves to assuming editorial lines, even if these are expressed in the support of those candidacies that they consider the most convenient for the country. Journalists and the country's private media must not accept, moreover, any kind of negotiation with the Electoral Council that may imply the validation of a piece of legislation that attempts against fundamental rights, in the drafting of bylaws that make it possible to apply restrictions to journalistic work.

Fundamedios, for its part, announces it will present an action before the Constitutional Tribunal on the unconstitutionality of the amendments to the Democracy Code.

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