El Universo case in the Inter-American Court: Jurisprudence in favor of freedom of expression, request Emilio Palacio and César Pérez
That there is justice and jurisprudence is felt through a sentence in favor of the free exercise of freedom of expression in Ecuador , Palacio, former opinion director of the Guayaquil newspaper, and Pérez, current general manager and director of the medium, sued in the first of two days of collection of testimonies and criteria of specialists. The Inter-American Court reviews what happened with the judicial process that former President Rafael Correa brought against El Universo for an opinion column, which ended with sentences against Palacio and directors Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez.
Correa, then president of Ecuador, denounced them for the publication of the article ‘No a las mentiras’ (February 6, 2011), which addressed the police revolt of September 30.
Palacio, in his speech, affirmed that he suffered physical and psychological damage during this period in which he found himself in a “forced exile” in Miami, United States , a city to which he moved 11 years ago.
Palacio claimed that his case constituted a persecution . He said that the ex-president had a political problem , as he had to demonstrate that a Communication Law was necessary after a popular consultation in the country.
“A climate of fear was established in Ecuador , there were ten murders of critics of the Government . Then I realized what he was playing with: that I leave Ecuador or that they kill me. That’s why I left, ”Palacio said.
He also said that he tried to do journalism , but did not succeed because he did not get funding due to a widespread fear in Ecuador on the part of advertisers.
After Palacio, Pérez intervened. He explained that in the history of the newspaper there have never been processes against the medium or its managers. “There had been civil or criminal lawsuits against columnists that were always abandoned along the way, but never before had a manager been sued or criminally charged for an opinion piece by a third person.”
He added that, in the citizen links every Saturday, the ex-president sustained “insults and insults” against them. “He told us corrupt , that we are useless, miserable, hypocritical, cynical, horrible chubby, he told one of our journalists, the perverse told El Universo (…) my children witnessed all these attacks , this humiliation from the can”.
Pérez recalled that the Ecuadorian justice ruled in first and second instance in favor of Correa and established a sentence of three years in prison for the accused and the payment of USD 40 million as compensation for injuries. In 2012, and after the cassation, the ex-president announced the remission of the sentence. According to Palacio, forgiveness was useless.
The manager of El Universo added that during this period his family has experienced a “constant level of stress, fear and anxiety” due to the uncertainty .
“Hopefully that sentence can be erased so that no one even dares to cite it as jurisprudence (…) I hope that the Court does justice, the justice that I did not find in my country, and that it be a sentence that deepens and feels jurisprudence not only in Ecuador , but at the regional level, in favor of the free exercise of freedom of expression ”.
Pérez added that Correa was a censor who used the justice operators in his favor. “We did not have impartial judges , we had submitted judges who were later promoted.” The latter in relation to judge Juan Paredes who went from being temporary to permanent after the first instance.
At the beginning of the day, Amparo Esparza, on behalf of the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office , indicated that the State has recognized that the plaintiffs’ rights were violated . However, Palacio replied that nothing has changed in the country and that the documents that appear in the international process do not speak of reparation, that it is not only financial compensation .
After the hearing on Monday, June 14, the day is expected to resume on Tuesday, June 15 with the statement of Toby Daniel Mendel, a specialist who will issue a criterion on freedom of expression . He was proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights . The decision of the Inter-American Court will not be known at the end of the session. This resolution will probably take about two months.