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Ecuador
24.09.03
Urgent Interventions

Ecuador: death threats against three members of the alternative press

Case ECU 240903
Death threats / Harassment

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Ecuador.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed of the death threats having been proffered against journalists Mr. Kintto Lucas (from Quincenario Tintají and IPS Agency), Marlo Carrión (from Periódico Opción and Cequipus), Pablo Dávalos (from ALAI), journalists and/or analysts of the alternative press in Ecuador, and other two citizens, in Quito.

According to the information received from the Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos (APDH), a member of the OMCT network, on September 23rd, 2003, it was announced that on the previous day obituary notices concerning journalists and media analysts from the alternative Press: Mr. Knitto Lucas, Mr. Marlo Carrión, Mr. Pablo Dávalos and two other citizens whose names remain unknown, were sent to the “El Comercio” newspaper from Quito. Mr. Pablo Dávalos was reportedly informaed by one of the Editors-in-Chief of “El Comercio” that these obituary notices were sent to the journal for publication. They concerned persons who were still alive, and are considered as being death threats.

The afore-mentioned messages, which are a form of death threat already known in other countries in Latin America, especially in Colombia, as “sufragio” (suffrage) or “esquela mortuoria” (obituary notice), were sent by unknown persons, thought to be members of the so called “Legión Blanca”, a death squad that has in the past been linked to the Intelligence and Security organizations of Ecuador.

Members of the media, like Tintaji, ALAI, OPCION, and Mr. Marlo Carrión and Mr. Kintto Lucas, have previously appeared in death threat lists that were announced by e-mail and post mail and were supposedly sent by the “Legión Blanca”, just a month after Mr. Lucio Gutiérrez’s government took office. At that time, Ecuadorian human rights defenders were also threatened, (please see Observatory Urgent Appeal ECU 003/0108/OBS 073.1, from February 24, 2003).

According to the information, this event coincides with a national context marked by strong governmental pressure against the press; attempts to pass a new law which would constrain the freedom of expression, known as the “Ley Mordaza” (“Gag Act”), in order to “sanction gossip, calumny and press rumor”, according to certain governmental spokespersons; and following the first such prison sentence having been passed against editorialist Dr. Rodrigo Fierro Benítez, who was charged with alleged “slander”; as well as deteriorating relations between the media and President Lucio Gutiérrez’s regime.

Moreover these events occur at a time when alternative and independent media, such as Tintají, IPS, ALAI, OPCION, in which the victims of these obituary notices are members, have been critical of the President and his Government, notably concerning the ending of governmental alliance with the indigenous people and social movements.

The International Secretariat of OMCT s gravely concerned for Mr. Knitto Lucas’, Mr. Marlo Carrión’s and Mr. Pablo Dávalos’ physical and psychological integrity, as well as that of the other threatened citizens and calls upon the authorities to guarantee thei personal integrity at all times.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Ecuador urging them to:

i. immediately take all the appropriate measures to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Knitto Lucas, Mr. Marlo Carrión, Mr. Pablo Dávalos;
ii. order an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.

Adresses

· Dr. Lucio Gutiérrez, Presidente de la República del Ecuador, Palacio de Gobierno, García Moreno y Chile 1043, Quito, Ecuador. Fax:. (+59 3) 258.07.35; (+59 3) 258.07.79 E-mail : despresi@presidencia.ec-gov.net, E-mail provisional: soc_patriotica@hotmail.com
· Dr. Mario Canessa, Ministerio de Gobierno y Policía, Belalcázar y Espejo, Quito, Ecuador. E-mail: gicela.abac@mingobierno.org.ec Fax: + 593 258.00.67
· Dra. Mariana Yepez de Velasco, Ministra Fiscal General del Estado, Av. Eloy Alfaro N32 240 y República, Quito, Ecuador. Fax: + 59 3 2 255.94.47, E-mail: fiscalia@uio.satnet.net
· Gral. Edgar Vaca Vinueza, Comandante General de la Policía Nacional, Ramírez Dávalos 612 y Av. 10 de Agosto, Quito, Ecuador. Fax: + 593 250.60.66
· Gral. Nelson Herrera Nieto, Ministro de Defensa Nacional, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, La Exposicion 208, (La Recoleta), Quito, Ecuador Fax: + 593 258.04.31
· Gral. de Division Oswaldo Jarrin Roman, Jefe del Comando Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas, La Exposicion 208, (La Recoleta), Quito, Ecuador Fax: + 593 258.33.94
· Misión Permanente de Ecuador ante las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra. 145, Rue de Lausanne, 1202 Ginebra. Tel. : (+41 22) 731.48.79; FAX: (+ 41 22) 731.26.76. E-mail: mission.ecuador@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the embassies of Ecuador in your respective country.

Geneva, September 24th, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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