Human Rights Watch (HRW) has just released a news piece calling for Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, to rescind a newly adopted decree introducing policy that allows the government to control the behavior of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country.
HRW reports the decree requires native NGOs to obtain legal status and international organizations to go through a screening process before they are allowed to operate in the country. The decree also allows the government to dissolve groups if they “compromise public peace.”
Media and NGOs Contend with Increasing Governmental Control
HRW Americas Director, José Miguel Vivanco, said, “The Correa administration has damaged free speech, expending a lot of its energy focusing on the media, and now it’s trying to trample on independent groups. Officials can now essentially decide what groups may say or do, seriously undermining their role as a check on the government.”
Vivanco also stated, “Instead of adopting reasonable measures to facilitate the work of nongovernmental organizations, the Correa administration is following the lead of countries such as Russia, Bahrain, Uganda, and Venezuela, which have imposed unjustified restrictions that violate fundamental rights and limit spaces that are critical to democratic society.”
Fundamedios, Ecuador’s largest independent news media NGO, challenged the decree in court, only to have the judge reject the case. The organization is in the process of appealing the decision.
The decree was adopted in June, around the same time a censorship law restricting freedom of the press was also implemented. NGOs have one year from that date to comply.