Last Updated 10 November 2016

Ecuador is a presidential democracy with a constitution that declares Ecuador to be secular. The people are a patchwork of indigenous communities, including people of colonial Spanish origins.

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Constitution and government

Ecuador is among the countries showing the biggest swings away from religiosity. In 2005, 85% of Ecuadorians declared a religious affiliation. In 2012 this had reduced to 70%, according to the Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism (2012) by Win-Gallup.

The constitution refers to the state “Guaranteeing secular ethics as the basis for public service and the legal regulatory system”, but the preamble invokes: “the name of God and recognizing our diverse forms of religion and spirituality”.

Education and children’s rights

It also states that public education shall be universal and secular at all levels, however Ecuador has had a long history of provision of private education by religious organizations. This has declined and public provision has grown. Public schools are prohibited from providing religious instruction.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Free speech limitations

The constitution provides for freedom of speech. However, some self-censorship is exercised, especially regarding politically-sensitive issues and stories about the armed forces. Defamation is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. In 2011, three executives and a former columnist from opposition daily newspaper El Universo were sentenced to jail terms and a massive fine for “libelling” President Correa.

Under a law which requires the media to give the government free space or airtime, governments can and have required TV and radio to broadcast programmes produced by the state.

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