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Inter-American Commission agrees to rule on case that saw Ecuadorian paper handed $40 million fine

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 21 December 2015.

On 17 December the newspaper El Universo reported that the Inter-American Commission on human rights (IACHR), through a background report, has accepted the petition that alleges the responsibility of the Republic of Ecuador, for the alleged violation of legal safeguards, freedom of thought and expression, and a request for legal protection, in the case called “Emilio Palacio Urrutia and others”, which originated in the criminal complaint for slander by President Rafael Correa against the former editorial writer Emilio Palacio, and the newspaper's directors, Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez.

The IACHR holds that it has jurisdiction to examine complaints concerning articles 8, Legal Safeguards; 13, Freedom of Expression; and 25, Legal Protection. The regulation provides that at this stage the parties may reach an amicable solution. After this stage, and in the absence of such a settlement between the parties, the IACHR will make a determination on the merits of the claim, and will eventually sue the Ecuadorian State for violation of the American Convention on Human Rights, sending the case to be judged on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica.

El Universo reported that in the letter accompanying the admission of action against the Ecuadorian State, the IACHR explained that, after examining the petition for reference, it approved the Report on Admissibility N° 66/15 on 27 October 2015, in accordance with Article 46 of the American Convention on Human Rights and set a deadline of four months for the submission of additional observations on the merits.

On February 16, 2012 the Criminal Division of the National Court of Justice confirmed on appeal the sentence of three years in prison and the payment of USD40 million for offending the president against El Universo's directors and its former editorialist. However, on February 27, Rafael Correa announced his “forgiveness without forgetting” and stated that “he would grant the remission of the sentences they deservedly received”, originally linked to an opinion article by Emilio Palacio entitled “No to lies”, published by El Universo on February 6, 2011.

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