REPORT No. 66/15
PETITION 1436-11
REPORT ON ADMISSIBILITY
EMILIO PALACIO URRUTIA ET AL. (El Universo Newspaper)
ECUADOR
OCTOBER 27, 2015
I.

SUMMARY

1.
On October 24, 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a petition alleging the international responsibility of the Republic of
Ecuador (hereinafter “the State” or “Ecuador”) for the violation of Articles 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right
to a fair trial), 13 (freedom of thought and expression), and 21 (right to property) of the American Convention
on Human Rights (hereinafter the “American Convention” or the “Convention”), in relation to Articles 1.1 and 2
thereof, to the detriment of Emilio Palacio Urrutia, journalist and editorial columnist of the newspaper El
Universo, and the newspaper’s directors Carlos Nicolás Pérez Lapentti, Carlos Eduardo Pérez Barriga, and César
Enrique Pérez Barriga (hereinafter “the petitioners” or “the alleged victims”).
2.
The petitioners alleged that they were sentenced, in a trial plagued by irregularities, to three
years in prison and ordered to pay thirty million dollars in damages for the alleged commission of “the offense
of serious criminal defamation of an authority [injuria calumniosa grave a la autoridad].” The stated that the
complaint was brought against them by the President of the Republic, Rafael Correa, after El Universo published
an opinion column by journalist Emilio Palacio regarding an issue of public interest. They maintain that the
convictions imposed are contrary to the international human rights obligations of the State, especially the right to
freedom of expression; that they arose in a context where the Judiciary lacks independence, and that they
demonstrate “the systematic way in which the State of Ecuador uses the government to persecute and censor
journalists.” They asserted that “the domestic remedies have been exhausted,” and that the rest of the
requirements provided for in the American Convention have been satisfied, and they asked the Commission to
declare this petition admissible.
3.
For its part, the State alleged that the petition fails to meet the requirements established in
Article 46 of the Convention, that the facts stated therein do not constitute human rights violations, and that it
is therefore manifestly groundless. It asked the IACHR to declare the petition inadmissible “because, at the
domestic level, the National Court of Justice granted the request to commute the sentences [filed by Rafael
Correa] of Messrs. Emilio Palacio Urrutia, Carlos Nicolás Pérez Lapentti, Carlos Eduardo Pérez Barriga, and
César Enrique Pérez Barriga, and forgive of the obligation to pay damages, and consequently ordered that the
criminal case against the petitioners be shelved.”
4.
After examining the positions of the parties in light of the admissibility requirements
established in Articles 46 and 47 of the Convention, the IACHR decided to declare the petition admissible with
respect to the alleged violation of Articles 8, 13 and 25 of the American Convention in connection with the
general obligations enshrined in Articles 1.1 and 2 thereof. It also concludes that the petition is inadmissible
regarding the alleged violation of Articles 7 and 21 of the American Convention. In addition, the Commission
decided to give notice to the parties, publish this decision, and include it in its Annual Report to the General
Assembly of the Organization of American States.
II.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION

5.
This petition was received by the IACHR on October 24, 2011, together with a request for
precautionary measures. After the adoption of precautionary measures (infra para. 6), on February 21, 2012
the IACHR instructed the Executive Secretariat to expedite the evaluation of the petition, as provided for Artcile
29.1. iv) of its Rules of Procedure. On March 8, 2012, the IACHR forwarded the pertinent parts of the petition

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