Defamation Laws In Ecuador

The defamation law in Ecuador is governed by Articles 491, 492 and 493 of the Ecuador Penal Code, and the penalty shall constitute imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine.

The current and most significant issue on defamation in Ecuador pertains to a libel case filed by the President of Ecuador against the Ecuador newspaper, El Universo. In a report on February 16, 2012, the Supreme Court of Ecuador upheld a conviction of three years imprisonment and a $40 million judgment against El Universo in a case involving an opinion made by the newspaper’s editor against the Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa.  The opinion column described President Correa as a dictator.  As a result, President Correa sued El Universo, arguing that the article unjustly claimed that Pres. Correa ordered security forces to open fire at a hospital full of civilians.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) which concluded in a special report that Ecuador’s defamation laws have been systematically used to punish critical journalists, criticized the above Supreme Court’s decision.

Subsequently, President Correa granted pardon to the directors and the columnist responsible in the publication at the El Universo.

Finally, the Human Rights Watch, in its World Report 2012 (Ecuador) reported that criminal defamation laws that restrict freedom of expression remain in force and President Correa has used these laws repeatedly against his critics.