Ecuador criticized for media lynching law

The Inter American Press Association has expressed its strong condemnation to the government of Ecuador over the punishment meted out to television channel Teleamazonas for having engaged in media lynching, an offense under the controversial Communication Organic Law.

Feb. 13, the Information and Communication Superintendence, the agency charged with overseeing compliance with the law in effect since 2013, punished Teleamazonas for media lynching, based on what it called harmful comments against Luis Chiriboga, president of the Ecuadorean Football Federation in a humorous sports program.

Gustavo Mohme, association president and editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared, “This punishment puts in flagrant evidence the fact that the Ecuadorean gag law has created new press crimes or new forms of penalizing opinion and information, with a new kind of lynching that, due its generalized nature, can be applied arbitrarily to any case.”

According to the Andean Foundation for Social Observation and Study of Media, this is the first punishment for media lynching in Ecuador. The formal complaint filed on Dec. 29 by Chiriboga against the television channel and four journalists has its origin in the comic slot in the sports program “Dream Team,” where one of the personalities, represented by a puppet, referred to vote buying so as to obtain his re-election, in an apparent allusion to the president of the Ecuadorean Football Federation.

The punishment imposed by the Superintendence calls for a public apology to Chiriboga. The Communication Law’s Article 26 on media lynching prohibits the dissemination of information that directly or through third parties is produced in a collusive manner and published repeatedly through one or more news media with the purpose of discrediting a natural or legal person or reducing his or her public credibility.”

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