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Public Statements

Recognizing Janet Hinostroza

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I want to bring to the attention of my colleagues a courageous Ecuadoran journalist who has been recognized by the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press.

Janet Hinostroza has anchored the investigative news show ``30 Plus'' for the past decade and hosted the news program ``La Mañana de 24 Horas,'' both on the private Ecuadoran television channel Teleamazonas. She also hosts a radio program on 98.1 FM Mundo and is the local correspondent for Univision, while managing a production company specializing in journalistic programming and audiovisual products.

Ms. Hinostroza has attracted the wrath of the Ecuadoran authorities for reporting on such important issues as human and arms trafficking, the Ecuadoran police, corruption, and extrajudicial killings. She recently investigated a scandal involving a loan by a state-owned bank to a businessman who defaulted. I am informed that her reporting uncovered irregularities in the loan and connected the businessman to the then-head of Ecuador's central bank, who was President Rafael Correa's cousin. As a result, she received anonymous phone calls threatening her safety and she had to temporarily leave her television news program.

Teleamazonas, like many Ecuadoran news outlets that engage in reporting critical of the government, is regularly targeted with harassment by official censors. Ms. Hinostroza's program is required to designate regular time slots, legally reserved for reporting official information in times of crisis, to present presidential rebuttals to her reports, contrary to Ecuador's broadcast laws.

In recognition of Ms. Hinostroza's brave and important work and commitment to fighting for a free press, next month the Committee to Protect Journalists will award Ms. Hinostroza the International Award for Freedom of the Press.

Unfortunately, the harassment of Ms. Hinostroza is only one example of a steady deterioration of democratic principles in Ecuador. It is the responsibility of democratic governments to foster an environment of pluralism, and nothing is more basic to that than public access to information from a free press. Instead, the Ecuadoran Government has carried out a relentless assault on the media, and recently it went a step further by restricting the autonomy of nongovernmental organizations.

A decree adopted in June creates burdensome new procedures for nongovernmental organizations, both Ecuadoran and international, to obtain legal status to operate in the country. Like a free press, civil society plays a crucial oversight role in any democratic society. The Ecuadoran decree is similar to what we have seen in other countries whose repressive governments are using laws and decrees to silence their critics.

I ask unanimous consent that excerpts from a recent report by Human Rights Watch about the Correa government's latest efforts to consolidate power and silence its critics be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:


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