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A reprehensible event

The abduction of three journalists of Ecuador's newspaper El Comercio has sparked a massive outcry from all sectors of society
A reprehensible event
Protesters in Quito, Ecuador, demanding the safe return of the three abducted journalists – Photo:José Jácome/EFE
04/04/2018
09:02
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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The abduction of three journalists of Ecuador's newspaper El Comercio by an alleged dissident group of the guerrilla group FARC – which has recently agreed on a peace process with Colombia's government – has sparked a massive outcry from all sectors of society. We can add today the voice of the Grupo de Diarios América (America Group of Daily Newspapers) (GDA), which gathers 11 of the most important daily newspapers in Latin America – of which El Comercio is one of our partners – and a group which has always advocated for the freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

On March 26, journalist Ortega Retes, Efraín Segura Abril, and cameraman Paúl Rivas Bravo were in the community of Mataje, in the province of Esmeraldas – in the border area between Colombia and Ecuador – investigating the deterioration of public order in the area when they were suddenly taken by an armed group. From then on, their disappearance became a key local and regional topic that must not go unnoticed. Neither the abducted journalists nor any one else, regardless of social status, should be victim of such actions.

Journalism advocates for individual freedoms, respect for human rights, and the defense of democracy and the common good. Its historical mission has been, and will always be, that of promoting truthful and timely information. Thus, it should not be used as an intermediate for the vindication of causes sheltered under the tragic and inhuman act of depriving someone of their freedom.

The GDA demands their abductors, regardless of origin, to respect the life and integrity of the journalists and collaborators of El Comercio – who have been held for 11 days – and at the same time requests that the corresponding authorities do not desist in their efforts to find our colleagues and free them, safe and sound.

Similarly to what the Inter-American Press Association (SIP) and several journalistic organization from both nations have stated, the press has been kidnapped here and the citizens have been denied their basic right to be properly informed.

Let us take the advantage of this event to remember that attacks and violence against news outlets and journalists in America Latina rages unabated. Threats, murders, intimidations, and attempts to prevent the press from speaking in all possible manners are still a constant in countries such as Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, among others. Those who advocate for free and inclusive societies and find support in an institution system free of suspicion should see the press not as an enemy but as a valid supervisor of their actions, and a loyal representative of the audiences it serves. Therefore, it is essential that in the places where threats are greater, better security protocols be implemented to prevent further journalists and collaborators from becoming the new victims of the injustice of an abduction.

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