Ecuador: Call for release of Milton Chacaguasay

***UPDATE: English PEN welcomes the early release of La Verdad editor Milton Chacaguasay Flores, who had been imprisoned since November 2008 for allegedly libelling a judge. Chacaguasay was reportedly freed on parole in May 2009 after serving six months of his 10-month sentence. For more information, please click here. *** 

English PEN renews its call for the release of La Verdad editor Milton Chacaguasay Flores, who has been imprisoned since November 2008 for allegedly libelling a judge. Sentenced to 10 months in prison on 15 November, Chacaguasay has now served over half of his term and is therefore reportedly eligible for early release.

English PEN believes that Chacaguasay’s conviction and imprisonment is in violation of the right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Ecuador is a state party. It calls for his immediate release and for the decriminalisation of libel and other press offenses in the country.

Background:

On 15 November 2008, a criminal court in the south-western province of El Oro sentenced Milton Chacaguasay Flores, editor and director of the weekly newspaper La Verdad, based in Machala, southern Ecuador, to 10 months in prison for allegedly libelling a judge. The judge who brought the case in late 2007 claimed that Chacaguasay had accused him of corruption in a report published in La Verdad in September that year.

According to the editor, the report in question was not written by him or his staff but by a third party who had paid for its publication. The piece reportedly requested the National Judiciary Council to review a sentence issued by the judge, who was not named, that was considered to be unfair.

Chacaguasay was acquitted of the charges in May 2008 but was found guilty on appeal before a different court on 15 November and sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment. In February 2008, the same court had given the editor an eight-month prison sentence for allegedly libelling the leader of the Christian Social Party, whom Chacaguasay had reportedly linked to corruption in Machala municipality.

Chacaguasay was arrested and jailed on 30 November and since December has been serving his 10-month sentence in a maximum security prison in Quito. As he has now served more than half of his sentence, he is reportedly eligible to be considered for early release for good behaviour.

Useful links:



• Update by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) – 15 April 2009: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30832

• Letter by the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) – 23 March 2009: http://www.wpfc.org/ProtestsEcuador32309.html

Please send appeals:

 


• Protesting the fact La Verdad editor Milton Chacaguasay Flores remains imprisoned since November 2008 for allegedly libelling a judge. The WiPC believes his conviction and detention to be in violation of the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Ecuador is party.
• Pointing out that as Chacaguasay has served more than half of his 10-month sentence he is now eligible to be considered for early release for good behaviour, and asking that the editor be released immediately.
• Urging the Ecuadorian authorities to decriminalise press offences in line with article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

 

Appeals to:

President Rafael Correa
Palacio de Carondelet, García Moreno 1043, entre Chile y Espejo, Quito, Ecuador
Fax: 593 2 258 0714
Salutation: Dear Mr President/ Sr. Presidente

Justice and Human Rights Minister
Dr. Gustavo Jalk,
Ministro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Av. Amazonas 4545 y Atahualpa, Quito, Ecuador
Fax: 593 2 246 4971
Salutation: Dear Minister/Sr. Ministro

You may alternatively wish to send copies of your appeal via the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK, requesting that they forward them to the Ecuadorian authorities and asking for their comments:

His Excellency Eduardo Cabezas Molina
Flat 3b
3 Hans Crescent
London
SW1X 0LS
Fax: 020 7823 9701
Email: eecugranbretania@mmrree.gov.ec

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/ecuadorcallforreleaseofmiltonchacaguasay/

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