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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights orders suspension of sentences against "El Universo"

(WiPC/IFEX) - 22 February 2012 - The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the Inter American Commission on Human Rights' (IACHR) recent intervention in the criminal libel case against the Ecuadoran daily newspaper, El Universo. On 21 February 2012, the Commission ordered the Ecuadoran government to suspend the enforcement of the sentences handed down to the directors and former editor of the newspaper, pending a hearing between both parties. The hearing is scheduled for 28 March 2012 in Washington, DC.

In its statement, the IACHR said: "The facts reported to the Commission could constitute irreparable damage to Emilio Palacio's, Carlos Nicolás Pérez Lapentti's, Carlos Pérez Barriga's and César Pérez Barriga's right to free expression. Therefore, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calls on Your Excellency's government to immediately suspend the execution of the sentencing of 15 February 2012, with the object of guaranteeing freedom of expression."

On 20 July 2011, former editor of the newspaper Emilio Palacio and directors Carlos Nicolás Pérez Lapentti, Carlos Pérez Barriga, and César Pérez Barriga were sentenced to three years each in prison for publishing an article that President Correa said offended his honour. The ruling also awarded Correa $40 million in compensation. This decision, which represented a crushing blow to freedom of expression in Ecuador, was upheld by the Supreme Court on 16 February 2012.

On 16 February 2012 the WiPC of PEN International called on Ecuador to desist from executing sentencing pending a hearing before the IACHR.

On 8 February 2012, PEN International issued a statement on the worrying state of free expression in Ecuador, calling for the withdrawal of the case against El Universo and the decriminalizing of libel.


• Protesting the three-year prison sentences and US$40 million in fines imposed on El Universo columnist Emilio Palacio and the newspaper's directors Carlos Eduardo Pérez Barriga, César Enrique Pérez Barriga, Carlos Nicolás Pérez Lapentti on 20 July 2011, and upheld on 16 February 2012 for allegedly libeling President Rafael Correa;
• Welcoming the Inter American Commission on Human Rights' order that Ecuador desists from executing the sentences, pending a hearing between both parties;
• Calling on Ecuador to act in accordance with the IACHR's decision;
• Urging the President and government to decriminalize defamation and all other press offences in line with article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and the jurisprudence of the Inter American Court of Human Rights.


Presidente Rafael Correa
Palacio de Carondelet, García Moreno No. 10-43, entre Chile y Espejo, Quito, Ecuador
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Fax: +593 2 258 0714
Salutation: Dear Mr President/ Sr. Presidente

Justice and Human Rights Minister
Johana Pesántez Benítez
Ministra de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Av. Amazonas No. 34-451 y Atahualpa, Quito, Ecuador
Fax: +593 2 292 3804/ +593 2 246 4914
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Minister/Sr. Ministro

And/or via diplomatic representatives of Ecuador in your country.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 28 March 2012***

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