*Ecuador: journalists abducted on the border with Colombia*

The abduction of three employees of daily newspaper /El Comercio – /including a reporter and photographer – on the border between Colombia and Ecuador is deeply concerning, said PEN International today.

The disappearance of the journalists on 26 March was confirmed by Ecuadorian Minister of the Interior, César Navas, who said. “Three employees of /El Comercio/ were kidnapped yesterday. This occurred in the early hours of the morning in the parish of Mataje, San Lorenzo administrative region, Esmeraldas province.”

The journalists – whose names have not been revealed for security reasons – were carrying out their work as journalists in the area, where the Ecuadorian armed forces are carrying out an offensive against dissident elements of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

According to widespread media reports, a wave of violence has been spreading across the area since January 2018 due in part to the peace process in Colombia and drug trafficking.

PEN International calls on the authorities of both countries to safeguard the security, freedom of expression and peace of its citizens and journalists, and to act swiftly to secure the release of the three journalists.