Author Topic: Rafael Correa's persecution of journalist Fernando Villavicencio submitted to UN  (Read 6270 times)

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Rafael Correa's persecution of journalist Fernando Villavicencio submitted to the UN

The reasons: failure to comply, espionage and attacks on freedom of expression

Fernando Villavicencio Valencia is an Ecuadorian journalist and writer, author and co-author of over 10 books. He is currently working for the investigative journalism web sites PlanV and Focus. Under Rafael Correa's government, Fernando Villavicencio was the victim of judicial, media, political and police persecutions. He was sentenced for requesting a judicial investigation into the police coup of September 30th 2010 in which five people died. The IACHR issued some Precautionary Measures but they were ignored by Correa. Villavicencio's house was violently raided under Rafael Correa's orders in December 2013 and wrongly accused of espionage. He is also facing prosecution from the government for writing the book Ecuador made in China, where he reveals the oil deals negotiated by Ecuador. In July 2015, he petitioned the United Nations and filed a complaint against the government.

Complaint filed with the UN

Ignacio Boulin, lawyer for the Latin American Centre for Human Rights (CLDH), represented the Ecuadorian journalist and activist Fernando Villavicencio Valencia. Last July, he presented David Kate, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression and Opinion with a complaint against Rafael Correa's government concerning the constant violation of Villavicencio's rights, as well as political and police persecutions and serious other violations. He also stated that the activist was the victim of interferences concerning the legal proceedings which had started over a year ago after a violent raid on his home, as well as on parliament member Clever Jimenez's home and office, all this stemming from false accusations of espionage.

The complainant argues that the Correa's government violated the Inter-American Human Rights, has acted against Fernando Villavicencio's interests, is in contempt of the Precautionary Measures issued by the IACHR , the body that ordered the suspension of the sentence against the journalist and his two companions in March 2014, and instead he unleashed inhumane political and police persecution, forcing them to survive a year in exile and underground. According to the statement, the Ecuadorian State chose to disregard the Precautionary Measures ordered by the Commission and thus, its president, Rafael Correa carried on with the execution of the sentence. The IACHR argues that there is prescription over the main accusation as well as the additional penalties (payment of $ 140,000 US dollars and a public apology). However, the President has initiated new criminal proceedings against Villavicencio , for an alleged contempt of the court, and intends to obtain another prison sentence.

Regarding the espionage allegations, which are the reasons behind the raid, the CLDH argues that they are a pretext to justify a violent attack so the government could get hold of information concerning various corruption cases which Villavicencio was investigating. As evidence, Villavicencio notes that on November 2nd 2013, Rafael Correa, ordered Paul Romero and Rommy Vallejo, from the National Intelligence agency - SENAIN, to put Villavicencio and Jimenez under surveillance.
Weeks later, on December 26th 2013 at midnight, the attorney general together with a dozen heavily armed police forces from the GIR and several intelligence agents raided their homes and the Parliament, at Rafael Correa's and Alexis Mera's requests. Hours after the raid, President Correa and his legal adviser said some "terrible things" had been found, revealing that he had broken the chain of evidence and due process. So far, the "terrible things" have not been made public.

But other Ecuadorian prosecuting authorities confirmed the falsity of the accusation, stating days later that the alleged hacking of government emails had been carried out a year earlier by Chevron and not by the defendants.

The complaint to the UN also includes the criminal prosecution by Petroecuador against Fernando Villavicencio concerning his book Ecuador Made in China, an investigation which for the first time revealed one of the biggest corruption cases : the sale of Ecuadorian oil destined to Petrochina and sold on to the North American market through private traders, thus generating losses of $ 2 per barrel for the country.

Another issue taken up with the Special Rapporteur are the accusations from former security adviser to Rafael Correa, Jaime Yanez Sanchez, Luis Eduardo Yanez Sanchez's brother, representative of the Global Fund FONGLOCONS construction company accused of money laundering and of fictitious exports by means of the Sucre Sistema. Villavicencio issued a tweet in which he highlighted the family ties between the two individuals and that Jaime Sanchez currently works at the Ministry of the Interior.

Some of the requests addressed to the Special Rapporteur are as follows:

· Send an urgent communication to the Government of Ecuador, advising them of the situation and asking for Mr. Villavicencio's rights to be protected.

· Remind the State of Ecuador of their obligations regarding freedom of expression.

· Request an urgent meeting with the Ecuadorian Government to analyse the overall protection of freedom of expression situation.

· Request a report from the State of Ecuador describing how they fulfill their obligations to protect the freedom of expression enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States and the guidelines developed by this Special Rapporteur in its annual reports.

· Request a report from the State of Ecuador concerning the existence of surveillance mechanisms to which Mr. Fernando Villavicencio, his family and colleagues are subjected to.

· Request from the State of Ecuador a report on the existing convictions for alleged damage to the reputation of public officials by journalist criticising the government and politicians and/or citizens in general.

· To issue a public letter to the State of Ecuador to urge them to cease the persecution of critical voices.


Who is Fernando Villavicencio?

Ecuadorian, married to Veronica Sarauz; father of three children: Amanda, Tamia and Martin; journalist, writer, investigator of corruption cases, social and political activist. He has participated in several Ecuadorian social movements, and when he was 16-year-old he was the leader of the Coordination of Social Movements, and leader of the then state-owned Petroecuador's union.

As an investigative journalist and analyst, he has discovered important information regarding the hydrocarbon policy. He has had a special interest in investigating dozens of cases of corruption in oil, mining, electricity and telecommunications organisations all under the control of the state.

During his 18 years in journalism, he also worked for important radio networks. He has published his investigations, essays and opinions in important national and foreign media, such as the magasines Vanguardia, El Universo, Plan V Magazine, Focus, Rebellion and Argenpres amongst others.

He is an author and co-author of ten books, some of which are:

· “La Rebelión del Arcoíris”, based on the 2000 indigenous mobilization which overthrew of Jamil Mahuad.

· “Ecuador Peaje Global”, about the turn in Rafael Correa's government policies towards emerging BRIC economies, especially China's power and the role of the company Petrobras in Ecuador with its questionable contracts.

· “El Discreto Encanto de la Revolución Ciudadana”, a book containing several investigations into the corruption of Rafael Correa's government.

· "Ecuador Made in China", a book that reveals that Petrochina and its commercial division Taurus Petroleum are used as a go-between when it comes to Ecuadorian oil which instead of being taken to refineries in China, as stated in the Strategic Alliance Agreement, is instead sold onto the US market, especially to the Chevron refinery in California. This intermediary set up creates a loss of $ 2 to $ 3 per barrel.

· ¨Los secretos del feriado bancario¨, in which the secrets of one of the most significant economic damage to the national economy are revealed, as seen during the 1999 bank holiday.

· “Sarayaku, la derrota del jabalí“, a personal testimony of the persecution suffered by Villavicencio at the hands of the repressive apparatus of Rafael Correa's government during his stay in Sarayaku with indigenous people,

by Fernando Villavicencio

IACHR : The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity. Created by the OAS in 1959, the Commission has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Together with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (“the Court” or “the I/A Court H.R.), installed in 1979, the Commission is one of the institutions within the inter-American system for the protection of human rights (“IAHRS”).