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Ecuador's communications body claims that organizations cannot defend freedom of expression

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 23 October 2015.

On 20 October 2015, the Communication Secretariat (SECOM) refused Fundamedios the constitutional right of being an association that defends freedom of expression, by not allowing it to register an amendment to one of its organisational statutes whose main objective is the defense of this fundamental human right.

The argument presented by Secom, the government entity that has regulated Fundamedios since the beginning of 2014, is that “it is not appropriate that a non-profit organization should assume powers legally conferred to the public administration”.

The document issued by Secom states: “In accordance with Article 11 item 9 of the Constitution, the highest power of the State consists in respecting and enforcing the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, as a result, it is inappropriate and incongruous that a private legal entity should, through internal statutory amendments, assume the quality of advocate or protector of fundamental rights when the supreme law clearly establishes that such obligation is the responsibility of the Ecuadorian State. Also, the Constitution, in Article 99, categorically determines that citizen action should be presented to the relevant authority in accordance with the law and should be exercised individually or on behalf of the community, when the violation of a right occurs or there is a threat that it may be affected. In other words, constitutionally established mechanisms exist for the defense of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and association. It is not appropriate, therefore, that a non-profit organization should assume powers legally conferred to the public
administration”.

The document, signed by the director of legal advice, Christian Hernández, ends by requesting that Fundamedios adjust its general aim to the specified regulations and gave it 20 days to respond.

This action takes place after Secom resolved on 25 September of this year to terminate the process of dissolving Fundamedios for allegedly breaching its own statute.

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