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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

IPI calls for investigation into killing of Ecuadorian journalist

Fausto Valdiviezo gunned down after leaving mother’s home 

By: Jan Beyer, IPI Contributor

Employees and journalists protest against the government's seizure of a television station in Quito July 8, 2008. Ecuador's leftist government seized two small television stations on Tuesday in a debt dispute, drawing complaints that it was repressing free speech and apparently prompting the finance minister to resign. The words on the wall read, "Freedom of Speech". REUTERS/Guillermo Granja

VIENNA, Apr.16, 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today urged Ecuadorian authorities to conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into the killing of journalist Fausto Valdiviezo.

Valdiviezo, who for more than three decades worked as journalist and newscaster for several channels such as Ecuavisa, SíTV, and RTS y TC Televisión, was killed on Thursday, Apr. 11, in the Guayaquil district of Atarazana.

As the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo reports, two hooded persons fired several shots at Valdiviezo’s car, mortally wounding the journalist, after he left his mother’s house.

Paramedics from a nearby military hospital tried, but failed, to keep him alive.

Events that unfolded prior to the attack appear to suggest that the attack was not unexpected.

According to information from the Quito-based El Comercio newspaper, the journalist had escaped an assassination attempt just the day before.

The investigating police indicated that a clue regarding the identity of the assailants existed but provided no further comment.

Ecuadorian journalists have been physically and verbally attacked before.

The government of recently-reelected President Rafael Correa has repeatedly referred to critical journalists in vitriolic terms.

In meetings with government officials during a press freedom mission to Ecuador in 2012, IPI expressed concern that verbal attacks and a hostile environment could lead to physical violence against media workers.

IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills, who led the mission, said: “While we do not know for sure yet why Fausto Valdiviezo was killed, I would like to reiterate my concern that a climate of hostility directed at critical journalists can contribute to a situation in which some people feel that it is acceptable to target reporters because of their work.” He added: “It is crucial that the perpetrators of attacks against journalists be brought to justice so that a climate of impunity – which can fuel further attacks - is not established.” 

 
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