Ecuador files petitions of “Urgent Action” regarding La Hora’s report of alleged Indigenous massacre

Posted on April 15, 2013 • Filed under: Ecuador, Latin America Indigenous Issues reported that the Ministry of Justice turned in two “Urgent Action” petitions (proceedings prior to a lawsuit) to the nation’s Attorney General’s Office against the news agency, La Hora, for having published sensationalist information that had not been confirmed nor verified on the alleged massacre of indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

On the April 10th edition of La Hora, on its front page and in section B1, the news agency alludes to an uprising in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in which a presumed massacre by the Huaorani nation of a secluded indigenous people takes place. The event has not been able to be verified.

The articles referencing the event were titled Massacre of indigenous peoples in the hands of the IACHR (front page) and Case of isolated indigenous peoples is asked to go to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (page B1). On April 4th, under the title, Red alert declared in Huaorani communities, the press agency published photos and a video displaying explict images of indigenous people stabbed by spears.

In a letter written to the State Attorney General’s Office the Minister of Justice, Johanna Pesántez, requests that the agency be ordered to send an authentic and certified copy of the publication. The press agency must demonstrate they have the signature of the responsible author, individual in charge of production or the individual responsible for the publication such as the editor and other corresponding individuals.

In her argument, the Ministry of Justice declares that the front page, “with a clear sensationalist intention, makes reference to the incident and literally states: ‘even though such orders came from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Ecuadorian government has faithfully abided by the guidelines.’”

Nevertheless, the official adds, the edition’s cover as well as the content, mentions that those who have reported this event is a “group” of people, that in 2006 made a request for preventative measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, favoring isolated indigenous peoples, to be led by Fernando Ponce.

The minister also explaiend that in the lines prior to the article on page B1, it stated that in 2011, a group of citizens presented a lawsuit against crimes of genocide and ethnocide which did not pass the pre-trail investigation in the State Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General did not declare any imputations nor presented accusations.

“Unfortunately, it has resulted in that a series of conflict by indigenous groups, in open confrontation for centuries, is manipulated by the staff of a news agency with the purpose of discrediting the national government and even leading national and international public opinion to believe that the government of Ecuador has not complied with their international obligations,” Johanna Pesántez states. For the minister, the text published by La Hora should be considered an alleged unlawful act.
In another letter, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Carmen Simone, presented another “Urgent Action” petition against La Hora for the publication of graphic images of the alleged massacre of indigenous peoples. These were published on April 4th under the title of, Red alert declared for Huaorani communities, in which five photos and a video were released.

The official is petitioning that the Attorney General’s Office request the news agency to provide the original filming of the video, the original photo images and the names of those responsible for the entire article. The Ministry of Justice requested the original filming, the transcription of the news investigations as well as the video from two expert witness in preparation for corresponding legal proceedings. Read Article
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